The Battle of Gettysburg: Pickett's Charge, by Peter Frederick Rothermel, 1869.
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An oil on canvas of an epic Civil War battle scene.

Credit: Courtesy of the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Just outside of Gettysburg, near 3:00 p.m. on the sweltering afternoon of July 3, 1863, General James Longstreet reluctantly ordered the attack. His command set nearly 14,000 gray-clad men in motion across open fields toward a stone wall. "It was", according to historian James McPherson, "a magnificent mile-wide spectacle, a picture-book view of the war that both sides remembered with awe until their dying moment-which for many came within the next hour." The Union troops behind the stone wall had nothing to do but watch, and wait. The resulting carnage would be forever known as "Pickett's Charge."

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