George E. Pickett in Life and Legend

Lecture Description

The man who gave his name to the greatest failed frontal attack in American military history, George E. Pickett is among the most famous Confederate generals of the Civil War. But there is a contrast between his public persona and private life.  Dr. Gordon’s talk, based on her 1998 book of the same title, will highlight Pickett’s formative years as a native, white Virginian, West Point cadet, and Mexican War veteran. When the Civil War began, Pickett rose quickly to become a major general, leading his division at the battle of Gettysburg. However, the charge that bears his name ended up haunting him until his death.  His story is not really one of valor and sacrifice; but one of bitterness and resentment, a sharp contrast to the public image that emerged after the war ended. Dr. Gordon further will discuss the central role that Pickett’s wife Sallie (or LaSalle as she liked to call herself) played in seeking to shape his postwar reputation.  Appointing herself her husband’s official biographer, LaSalle Pickett became a self-proclaimed authority on the war and an apologist for slavery. Her imprint on his legacy, and the prevalence of the Lost Cause, still lingers.


Civil War and Reconstruction Leadership

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