“Like Grass Before a Sickle”

  • 2012

“Like Grass Before a Sickle”

Author:
David Carter
Abstract:

The essay is a comparative analysis of the battle of Gettysburg and the assault on Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts in July of 1863 during the American Civil War. The thesis argues that General George E. Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg and the attack on Fort Wagner that was led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw were ill conceived and represented poor tactics, a miscalculation of enemy forces, and overconfidence.

This paper examines each battle, paying close attention to their similarities, the rationale behind them, and the flawed decisions that led to such high casualty rates. The thesis of this paper is supported by an analysis of the operational and tactical objectives. Further, the evidence in support of the conclusions offered include primary source documents in the form of firsthand accounts of the battles, secondary sources, and maps and sketches depicting the events at Gettysburg and Fort Wagner.