Mrs. General George E. (LaSalle Corbell) Pickett
Mrs. General George E. (LaSalle Corbell) Pickett

Despite Mother Nature's best efforts to rain on her parade, LaSalle Corbell Pickett proved as indominatible in death as she was in life. Not even chilly spring showers kept the crowds away from Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery, where some 500 people gathered on March 21 to pay their respects to Confederate General George E. Pickett's widow, whose dying wish to be laid to rest beside her husband was finally fulfilled sixty-seven years after her death. [See related story.]

Mrs. Pickett's remains arrived at graveside on a horse-drawn caisson Descendants of the Pickett and Corbell families, who had traveled to Richmond from across the country to attend the ceremony, representatives of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), the Military Order of Stars and Bars (MOS&B), the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), and the Children of the Confederacy (CofC), and members of several Confederate reenactment groups escorted Mrs. Pickett's remains to their final resting place immediately in front of the monument erected over her husband's grave in 1888. The bronze urn holding the remains had been placed in a thirteen-sided, velvet-lined casket constructed from redwood by family member Alan Pickett of Greensburg, Kentucky, and was borne to the gravesite on a horse-drawn caisson provided by the 2nd Virginia Cavalry.

Following an invocation by Mrs. Lynn Rose of St. John's Episcopal Church near the ancestral Corbell home in Chuckatuck, Virginia, Mrs. John H. Gum (President, Virginia Division UDC) and Charles D. McGuire (Commander, Virginia Society MOS&B) offered opening remarks. "General and Mrs. Pickett have been joined in heaven these many years," said Mrs. Gum, "and now their mortal remains are joined here on this hallowed piece of earth in the midst of the capital of the Confederacy...and in the company of the sons of the South who died on that distant battlefield defending the rights and honor of their country."

A granite grave marker was unveiled and dedicated, along with a bronze UDC member marker recognizing Mrs. Pickett's service as an Honorary President of the UDC General Organization. The dedication was carried out by Mrs. Gum, Mrs. S.C. Bell (President General, UDC), Mrs. D.H. Gilchrist and Miss Vicki Heilig (President and Vice President, DC Division, UDC), and Mrs. F.B. Fitzgerald and Mrs. A.H. Pritchard (Honorary Presidents of General, UDC).

Brief tributes were then paid to Mrs. Pickett by Mrs. Andrew Olen (President, LaSalle Corbell Pickett Chapter, UDC) and Robin Reed (Director, Museum of the Confederacy).

Christiancy Pickett, Jr., addresses the crowd
Christiancy Pickett, Jr., the eldest Pickett family member, spoke about his great grandmother and the significance the reburial had for the Pickett and Corbell families
Christiancy Pickett of Bountiful, Utah, the eldest living descendant of General and Mrs. Pickett, then offered remarks on behalf of the Pickett and Corbell families. Mr. Pickett recalled being taken, at the age of 4-1/2, to visit his grandmother and his great grandmother, who at the time were living together in Washington, D.C. He described LaSalle as a tall (almost 6 feet), elegant woman with snow-white hair dressed in an old-fashioned floor-length gown. He remembered being impressed with the beautiful lady but not realizing until much later that she was his great grandmother. Mr. Pickett thanked the UDC and the MOS&B for reuniting his great grandparents and remarked that the occasion was "a solemn but happy affair. It's more like a wedding than a funeral."

At the conclusion of Mr. Pickett's remarks, the Reverend Vienna Cobb-Anderson, Assistant Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond (also known as the Chapel of the Confederacy for its wartime association with Confederate government officals and generals), began the Rite of Christian Burial. Prayers were offered by Mr. Robert Barbour (Lieutenant Commander, Virginia SCV) and Mr. Spencer Burch (Vice President, Virginia Division CofC). Mrs. Pickett's casket was then lowered into the grave by Collin Pulley (Commander, Virginia SCV, and a national MOS&B official) and Gregory Collins (Lieutenant Commander, Virginia MOS&B). Members of the 42nd Virginia Infantry, Company I, then rendered military honors, holding a Stainless Banner over the open grave while Reverend Cobb-Anderson sprinkled earth brought from Chuckatuck onto the casket. Members of the Pickett and Corbell families were then invited to come forward and do the same.
Gregory Collins and Collin Pulley prepare to lower the casket into the grave
Gregory Collins and Collin Pulley prepare to lower the casket into the grave

Benediction was offered by Dr. Robert Johnston of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Petersburg, Virginia, where the Picketts were married. The Palmetto Sharpshooters then fired a muster volley in honor of Mrs. Pickett's wartime work for the Confederacy and her lifelong devotion to the Cause and in recognition of General Pickett's service to the Confederacy. The 2nd Virginia Cavalry also fired an artillery volley.

Prior to the graveside service, Virginia Division hosted a reception at the UDC's Memorial Building Headquarters for about 100 members of the extended Pickett-Corbell family, many of whom were meeting each other for the first time.

LaSalle Corbell Pickett's tombstone
The final resting place of LaSalle Corbell Pickett
On Easter Sunday 1874, 7-year-old Corbell Pickett, the second son of General and Mrs. Pickett, died of measles. His body was moved to Hollywood Cemetery and interred with his father following the General's death in 1875. Mrs. Pickett's reburial in Hollywood Cemetery has thus reunited her with her younger son as well as her husband.

The elder Pickett son, Major George E. Pickett, Jr., died at sea in 1911 returning from military assignment in Manila and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Virginia Division UDC and the Virginia Society MOS&B acknowledge the contributions of the following individuals and organizations:

  • Christiancy Pickett, Jr., for his invaluable assistance throughout the planning process
  • Hollywood Cemetery Company Board of Trustees ~ David Gilliam, Director
  • Joseph Gawlers Sons Funeral Home, Washington, D.C. ~ Thomas E. Hornbaker, Director
  • Stanley D. Graham ~ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Suffolk Monument Works ~ Suffolk, Virginia
  • Alan Pickett ~ Casket maker
  • The Reverend Vienna Cobb-Anderson ~ St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Richmond. Virginia
  • Mrs. Lynn Rose ~ St. John's Church, Chuckatuck, Virginia
  • Dr. Robert Johnston ~ St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Peterburg, Virginia
  • Sean Scully ~ The Washington Times
  • Virginia Grays Fife and Drum Corps ~ Peter Holman, Director
  • Company C, 2nd Virginia Cavalry, Botetourt Dragoons, Stuart's Horse Artillery
  • Captain William Latane Camp, SCV ~ Color guard
  • Palmetto Sharpshooters
  • 15th Virginia Infantry, Company A
  • 19th Virginia Infantry
  • 21st North Carolina Infantry
  • 23rd Virginia Infantry, Companies A-K
  • 42nd Virginia Infantry, Company I
  • Antonia Ford Chapter, CofC ~ Pages
  • The many individuals whose financial contributions made the ceremony possible

Photographs courtesy of Mr. B. Donald Boltz

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