Monday, July 1, 2013

Illinoisans played role at Gettysburg

This week marks the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, the most famous battle of the Civil War. The Union victory July 1-3, 1863, checked the northern invasion of Robert E. Lee and is considered the turning point of the war.

An Illinois flair was found in the opposing side at Gettysburg. Confederate Maj. Gen. George Pickett is best remembered for “Pickett’s Charge,” a sweeping frontal assault that failed July 3, the final and decisive day of the battle. Though born in Virginia, he spent his much of his teen years with an uncle, Andrew Johnston, who was a Quincy lawyer.

A newspaper editor and political force, Johnston used his connections to help secure an appointment to West Point for his nephew from Congressman John T. Stuart of Springfield, who was Lincoln’s law partner. Legend has wrongly claimed that Lincoln actually sponsored Pickett’s nomination, but Lincoln was not in the U.S. Congress at the time.

Dr. Cullom Davis, the former director of the Lincoln Legal Papers project, believes that Lincoln and Pickett would have had minimal, if any, contact. “I doubt that Lincoln was around Pickett very much,” said Davis, a professor-emeritus of history at University of Illinois-Springfield. “I don’t remember Pickett’s name in any of Lincoln’s documents. I can’t see much connection between them.”

Davis was featured by The Southern Illinoisan on July 1, 2013.

Read the article online