George Edward Pickett: A macro-historical/micro-historical perspective
Campbell, Marsha Maro
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The purpose of this study is to prepare a life history of George Edward Pickett (1825-1875). However, there are many historiographical problems which present a variety of interpretations of George Pickett. As a result, historians have drawn numerous conclusions about Pickett, many of which are based on narratives written decades after his death. This study will attempt to clarify that image by ascertaining which materials present a true image and which historical information distort the image purposefully. It is the intention of this thesis, therefore, to provide an interdisciplinary approach to the research problem. The quantitative methods for this study are based on census records, official U. S. military records, and statistical information provided by the United States government. The micro-historical model focuses on the personal life of George E. Pickett, utilizing letters, diaries and newspaper accounts. The macro-historical model for this research includes cultural and social trends, nineteenth century gender roles, and political issues. Manuscript collections located at the National Archives, the University of Virginia, Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Virginia Historical Society, as well as others, have contributed to the research strategy. Another important component of this examination will comprise the use of letters and works written by LaSalle Corbell Picket. This study provides an integrated view of the impact of the Civil War and the subsequent period on George and LaSalle Pickett by demonstrating the interdependence of legitimized myth and culture. And, this analysis will also contribute to a better understanding of the Victorian era gender roles. An historiographical essay provides the conclusion to this study. George Pickett was a member of the Pickett family of Virginia whose ancestors dated their arrival in the Virginia Colony to the early seventeenth century. His early years were undistinguished from other young men of his era; however, with the onset of a civil war his existence became closely entwined with notable figures of the nineteenth century whose endeavors helped shape the course of American history. Subsequent to his graduation from West Point in 1846, Pickett was assigned to diverse military stations in the United States. He fought in the Mexican War, and later received a transfer to the Washington Territory. However, in 1861 with the secession of South Carolina, PIckett resigned his position in the Federal army and returned to his home in Virginia. Promoted to the position of Major-General in the Confederate Army. George Pickett became celebrated by reason of misfortune. Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg left an ineradicable mark on the future for Pickett, and his life would never be the same.