Born in Richmond, Va. On January 28,1825,Pickett graduated from West Point in l846,last in a class of 59. Among his several classmates who became generals were George B. McClellan and Thomas J. Jackson. In the war with Mexico Pickett was brevetted lieutenant and captain for his service in the Siege of Vera Cruz and during the subsequent advance on Mexico City. He served in Texas, Virginia, and Washington Territory until 1861, when he resigned his commission to enter the Confederate army.
First a colonel, then a brigadier general, as of 14 Jan. 1862, he served under Maj. Gen. James Longstreet during the Seven Days' Campaign and was wounded at Gaines' Mill. As a major general, 10 Oct. 1862, commanding a division, he was at Fredericksburg.
His name in Civil War history was secured in a losing cause, the charge against the Federal center on the third day at Gettysburg. Following bloody but inconclusive movements 1-2 July, Lee ordered the massive assault, which followed an intensive but basically ineffectual cannonade. Under Pickett's immediate command were the brigades of Brig. Gens. James L. Kemper, Richard B. Garnett, and Lewis A. Armistead. According to reports, Pickett was in excellent spirits and expected to carry the Union defenses. At mid-afternoon the forward movement began with the troops dressed as if on parade as they marched into the Federal guns. Pickett, as division commander, attempted to coordinate the ill-fated movement and, contrary to the view of some critics, acquitted himself bravely and well. But the task was impossible, and he ordered his men to withdraw when clearly they could not break the Union center.
Notwithstanding the bravery of his troops and his own efforts on the field, Pickett's military reputation was afterward in decline. He fought in battles at New Berne, Petersburg, and Five Forks. General R. E. Lee relieved him of his command after Sayler's Creek, only days before the final surrender at Appomattox. Following the war he was an insurance salesman in Richmond and died in Norfolk July 30, 1875.