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Ashley Wilkes for Real

For those who know it, the Huguenot-derived name “Pettigrew” immediately evokes the associated word, “Gettysburg.”  Brig. Gen. Johnston Pettigrew was prominent on the first day of that battle, as the commander of Pettigrew’s Brigade, and on the third day, as the commander of Heth’s Division, which included his brigade.  Pickett’s Charge might as well have been called Pettigrew’s Charge, or, as Clyde Wilson suggests, “Longstreet’s Assault.”  But as it is, there is still no Gettysburg without Pettigrew.  Not long after that Fourth of July that coincided with the fall of Vicksburg and Pettigrew’s own birthday, the Army of Northern Virginia was without Pettigrew.  He was killed in the chaos of a rear-guard action at Falling Waters, and his loss was much lamented, for it seems that everyone knew his quality.

Pettigrew’s Civil War career was not consonant with his ability, and that was almost certainly a matter of luck.  He was active in organizing the defense of Charles-ton before the Fort Sumter crisis but played no great role in the thing itself.  He was wounded and captured at Seven Pines or Fair Oaks Station, the beginning of the Seven Days.  Exchanged, he served under D.H. Hill in the abortive action at New Bern and at the affair at Blount’s Creek.  Clyde Wilson has not written for us the story of a Confederate...

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