PICKETT, George E. (1825-1875), General, C. S. A. Autograph letter signed ("G. E. Pickett") TO GEN. BRAXTON BRAGG, Head Quarters, Petersburg, 29 April 1864. 1½ pp., 4to.
GENERAL PICKETT SIFTS THROUGH SHAKY INTELLIGENCE ON THE EVE OF DREWRY'S BLUFF AND THE WILDERNESS FIGHTING. A very rare war-date autograph letter of Pickett, entirely on military matters. "I have the honor to enclose report of Capt. Causey rec'd this Evening, substance which came by signal line & was telegraphed today. It is impossible I should think that the numbers are so great unless Burnside's whole force is at Yorktown, or if true the Army in front of Genl. Lee must be defeated." History has immortalized him for Pickett's Charge on the climactic third day at Gettysburg, "although he did not command this attack, nor did his troops make up the largest part of it" (Boatner, 651). Sent south to recuperate after that disaster, Pickett returns to the Army of Northern Virginia here in the spring of 1864, just as the bloody campaigning season was about to get underway. Only a month before, Lincoln had given Grant overall command of Union forces, and the Confederate high command tried to guess where he would strike. They correctly anticipated he would move on the Rapidan, but they were far off the mark in assuming Burnside would play a key role in the campaign. Grant had taken the measure of this commander whom he described in his Memoirs as "an officer who was generally liked and respected" but who "was not, however fitted to command an army. No one knew this better than himself." We don't know the figure in Pickett's telegram, but the overall strength of the Army of the Potomac had climbed to over 100,000 against Lee's 64,000. But Lee wisely drew Grant into fighting in the deadly thicket of the Wilderness. Pickett plays a key role in this stage of the fighting, especially at the Battle of Drewry's Bluff on 4-16 May 1864. He also fought at Cold Harbor and in the Petersburg and Appomattox campaigns, surrendering with his Gettysburg superiors Longstreet and Lee in April 1865. PICKETT ALS ARE QUITE RARE.