Refighting Pickett's Charge: Mathematical Modeling of the Civil War Battlefield*

  • Refighting Pickett's Charge
  • Michael J. Armstrong, Steven E. Sodergren
  • Social Science Quarterly, May 2015, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12178

Could Pickett's Charge have won at Gettysburg?

What is it about?

We built a mathematical model to simulate the Confederate infantry attack on the last day of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. We then used the model to evaluate several decisions made by the commanders. What if Lee had put his reserves into the charge? What if Meade had not reinforced his line? What if the Confederate artillery had been better coordinated?

Why is it important?

The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the American Civil War. It provoked much controversy among the generals and politicians of the day. It continues to spark debate among historians and history buffs today. Could the Confederates have won, if they had done things differently?


Dr. Michael J. Armstrong
Brock University

I did this study while I was the Fulbright visiting research chair in war & peace studies at Norwich University. It won the 2017 Best Published Paper award from the Southwestern Social Science Association. It is an example of "digital humanities" research, which uses computer tools to study humanities topics.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Michael J. Armstrong