Brigadier General James Johnston Pettigrew

James J. Pettigrew commanded a brigade in Henry Heth's division. On 30 June, Pettigrew was ordered to march to Gettysburg to investigate reports of there being a large quantity of shoes in the town. Approaching via the Chambersburg Pike, Pettigrew noticed John Buford's Union cavalry on McPherson's Ridge. Aware of Robert E. Lee's order to not bring on an engagement, Pettigrew turned about and returned, reporting his sighting to Heth and A. P. Hill. Hill and Heth believed that it was Pennsylvania Militia and not Union Regulars that Pettigrew had seen and, on 1 July Hill sent Heth's entire division, supported by the division of Dorsey Pender back to Gettysburg, where they encountered not only Buford's cavalry, but also John Reynolds' I Corps. In the ensuing battle, Heth was wounded, and command of the division passed to Pettigrew.

On 3 July, Heth's division, commanded by Pettigrew, formed a single line on the left of George Pickett's division in James Longstreet's assault on Cemetery Ridge. Pettigrew's left flank, occupied by John Brockenbrough's brigade was subjected to enfilading fire from Franklin Sawyer's 8th Ohio, and crumbled. Pettigrew's North Carolinians, disorganized, reached the Union lines, but did not breech them.* During the assault, Pettigrew's right hand was crushed by a cannister shot.

Pettigrew was know for his, well justified, reputation as a scholar. He could speak French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and read Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic.

* This controversy is fueled by conflicting Virginia and North Carolina Official Records and the fact that the Union lines in front of Pettigrew were approximately 50 yards (46 metres) farther back than those in front of Pickett.

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Created 11 NOV 1999; Modified 23 JUL 2014