George Pickett was a career U.S. Army officer and Mexican-American War veteran who graduated last in his class at West Point (1846). He resigned his commission in 1861 to join the Confederate army and was first commissioned a colonel. He was then promoted to brigadier general in 1862 and was wounded the Battle of Gaines' Mill.
After recovering from his injuries, Pickett was promoted to major general and placed in charge of a two-brigade division of Longstreet's Corps in the Army of Northern Virginia. It was this division Pickett would lead up Cemetery Ridge at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, and to which Pickett would refer when Robert E. Lee directed him to organize his unit for the defense, when he said, "General, I have no division." Pickett lost over one half of his command in this attack, killed, wounded or captured, including all three of his brigadier generals. Although not directly responsible for the disaster, Pickett's name came to be associated with it and his reputation suffered.
After Gettysburg, Pickett commanded the Department of Southern Virginia and North Carolina, then served as a division commander in the forces opposing Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 advance on Richmond. Pickett's defeat at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865 precipitated Robert E. Lee's decision to evacuate Richmond, and after the Battle of Sailor's Creek, he was relieved of command. Following the war, Pickett became an insurance salesman in Richmond.