Pickett's Charge in History and Memory

Front Cover
UNC Press Books, Jan 1, 2012 - History - 296 pages
2 Reviews
If, as many have argued, the Civil War is the most crucial moment in our national life and Gettysburg its turning point, then the climax of the climax, the central moment of our history, must be Pickett's Charge. But as Carol Reardon notes, the Civil War saw many other daring assaults and stout defenses. Why, then, is it Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg--and not, for example, Richardson's Charge at Antietam or Humphreys's Assault at Fredericksburg--that looms so large in the popular imagination?

As this innovative study reveals, by examining the events of 3 July 1863 through the selective and evocative lens of 'memory' we can learn much about why Pickett's Charge endures so strongly in the American imagination. Over the years, soldiers, journalists, veterans, politicians, orators, artists, poets, and educators, Northerners and Southerners alike, shaped, revised, and even sacrificed the 'history' of the charge to create 'memories' that met ever-shifting needs and deeply felt values. Reardon shows that the story told today of Pickett's Charge is really an amalgam of history and memory. The evolution of that mix, she concludes, tells us much about how we come to understand our nation's past.


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User Review  - ncunionist - LibraryThing

A pioneering study of the contested landscape of memory of an event versus the actual event, how that memory supplanted the actual events, and how that memory shaped / frame / reflected the society ... Read full review

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User Review  - ksmyth - LibraryThing

Reardon examines the charge with the intent of retrieving the reputation of the North Carolina regiments that participated in the famous charge. Okay, but frankly I didn't know their reputation was lost, much less care that it was found? Is this what doing history is really about? Ho hum. Read full review


Prologue History Memory and Picketts Charge
Chapter 1 Disconnected Threads
Chapter 2 Scarcely Anybody Can Give a Correct Account
Chapter 3 History as It Ought to Have Been
Chapter 4 Binding the Wounds of War
Chapter 5 Monuments to Memory
Chapter 6 Southern Dissenters Speak Out
Chapter 7 Virginia Victorious
Chapter 8 HandGrips at the Sacred Wall
Epilogue The Old Bright Way of the Tales

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About the author (2012)

Carol Reardon is professor of military history at Pennsylvania State University.

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