THE GREAT BIRTH DATE CONTROVERSY

Baptismal font
Baptismal font in St. John's Episcopal Church -- the very one used to christen George E. Pickett.

The date of George Edward Pickett's birth has been the subject of much debate. Some historical books reflect January 28, 1825: others state January 25, 1825, the date that appeared originally on his monument in Hollywood Cemetery. A sketch of the general's life written by his grandson, George, III, in 1954 shows the date as January 18, 1825. (The Pickett Society arranged to have the correct birth date placed on his monument in 2007.)

Still another date emerges from the paperwork submitted at his July 1, 1842, enrollment at West Point, which gives his age as 17 years and 4 months, indicating a birthdate of March 1825. (According to the West Point Special Collections and Archives Division, 19th century Americans did not consider the exact day of one's birth to be as important as we do today. Evidently young Pickett was not particularly concerned with the month, either.)

The General further muddied the waters when he and Sallie Ann Corbell applied for a marriage license September 14, 1863. Pickett gave his age as 37, which would indicate that he was born in 1826 rather than 1825.

In an effort to lay the controversy to rest once and for all, the Pickett Society has obtained a copy of the General's baptismal record from historic St. John's Church in Richmond. At the time of young Pickett's christening on March 10, 1827, his parents, Robert and Mary, gave their son's date of birth as January 16, 1825.

St. John's Church in Richmond, site of Patrick Henry's famous speech as well as the christening of future Confederate General George E. Pickett St. John's Church


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Created: 8-21-00

Last modified: 2/5/10
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