The Yankees Had Something to do With It

George Pickett wearing one version of Three Go...

The Yankees had something to do with it.

George Edward Pickett was a general in the Confederate army during the Civil War. He is most famous for leading Pickett’s charge on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. He had not been a particularly distinguished officer before the war, graduating last in his class as West Point. Still, he was capable enough to rise in the ranks and led the US forces in the Pig War with Britain. Although he personally detested slavery, he left the US Army when the South seceded in order to defend his home state of Virginia. He was promoted to general in 1862 and commanded a division under General Longstreet at the Battle of Gettysburg.

On the third day of the battle, General Lee decided launch a full scale attack on the center of the Union lines. He hoped that the previous days’ attacks on the Union flanks had drawn enough soldiers away to make it possible for the Confederates to smash through the center and defeat the Northern forces. Lee ordered three division to make the attack, Pickett’s division and two others led by Generals J. Johnston Pettigrew and Isaac R. Tremble. These last two divisions had already fought and were under strength but Pickett’s division was fresh. After a two hour artillery barrage, the three divisions attacked

At first the gamble seemed to be succeeding. Although Pettigrew and Tremble’s divisions did not get very far under the Union fire, Pickett’s division attacked the Union lines and a brigade led by General Lewis Armistad actually  managed to break through temporarily, but the Union’s position was too strong and when the Union soldiers rallied, they massacred the Confederates. Pickett managed to survive and when he made his way back to Lee, Lee asked him about the condition of his division and Pickett replied, “General, I have no division”.

Many years later, Pickett was asked why the South lost the Battle of Gettysburg. Should Lee have disposed his forces differently? Should the attack have begun earlier or later? After thinking about the question for a while, Pickett finally said, “I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it”.

As we go over the details of the results of the last election and try to figure out what we did wrong to cause our loss, let us not forget the possibility that the Democrats may have had something to do with it. It is possible that Obama won simply because he ran a better campaign. That is not to say we don’t have anything to learn from this defeat so that we can do better, but perhaps we should study what the Democrats did right as much as what we did wrong.



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