Why does Longstreet comment that Garnett would have to die in The Killer Angels?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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General Richard Garnett is one of Longstreet's brigade commanders serving in the division of General George Pickett. Dick Garnett is a proud man, coming from an old Virginia family; his cousin, Robert, was the first general--Confederate or Union--to die during the war. Richard Garnett had previously served under General T. J. "Stonewall" Jackson, commanding the Stonewall Brigade during Jackson's famed Valley Campaign of 1862. Garnett earned Stonewall's permanent wrath when Garnett, outnumbered 2-to-1, retreated without permission at the Battle of Kernstown. Jackson blamed Garnett for the defeat (it would be Jackson's only one during the war), relieved Garnett of command and began court-martial proceedings against him. The court-martial was suspended and Garnett was eventually transferred to Longstreet's corps, where he led Pickett's brigade for a time before Pickett was promoted. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Garnett was ill: He had an injured leg and a fever, and Pickett tried to convince Garnett to forego the assault on the Union center on the third day. Garnett would have to ride mounted during Pickett's Charge, making him an enticing target for Federal sharpshooters. But Garnett refused to consider missing the attack, believing that it was the only way of clearing his family name: to lead his men during the desperate charge. Though Jackson is now dead (Garnett apparently held no grudge and served as one of Stonewall's pall bearers); and Garnett's courage has never been questioned; and the court-martial forgotten by all but Garnett, Garnett believes that he can only repair his military reputation by a glorious act of self-sacrifice. Garnett recognizes that he probably won't return: he would be

... the only rider in a line a mile wide. They'll have every gun on that hill on him.  (Lew Armistead, Friday, July 3, Chapter 4)

Pickett will not "order him not to make the charge," recognizing it as

"... a matter of honor."  (Pickett, Friday, July 3, Chapter 4)

Garnett heroically makes it to within 50 feet of the Union guns before he is shot in the head. His horse is seen by General Lew Armistead, covered in blood, sprinting back riderless toward the Confederate lines. Garnett's body is never found or identified, but his name ascends into military legend following Pickett's Charge. Years later, the Garnett mystery emerges again when his sword is found in a Baltimore pawn shop.

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