George E. Pickett

Photograph courtesy of Jamie Longstreet Paterson.
  On January 19, 1880, Virginia’s General Assembly considered many topics such as the use of convict labor by the Kanawha and James River Canal Company, compensation for county sheriffs and commonwealth attorneys and the upcoming Yorktown Centennial in 1881. During that session, Mr. S. B. Witt of the City of Richmond presented a bill to the legislators for the relief of Sally E. (sic) Pickett, widow of George E. Pickett, deceased. Mrs. Pickett had submitted a claim for compensation to the General Assembly for services provided by George Pickett during 1874 and 1875. The bill was referred to the Finance Committee for specifics and consideration.

The Chairman of the Finance Committee, B. J. Barbour, wrote to James Lawson Kemper, who had been the governor of Virginia during the period Mrs. Pickett had specified. In a response dated February 5, 1880, Kemper wrote from his home in Madison, Virginia, “It would afford me pleasure to render any kindness to the family of my old commander and friend, General Pickett, but in this matter I do not see that I can.” Kemper went on to say that during 1874, Virginia’s Adjutant General William Richardson sustained a severe injury which rendered him unfit to fulfill his duties to the Virginia Volunteer Militia. General Pickett was asked to assist the Militia and the disabled Richardson by serving as the Militia’s “Special Agent” and he agreed. Kemper wrote, “ He (Pickett) was prompted by his desire to promote the efficiency of the Volunteer Militia, especially the First Regiment in which he manifested a very warm interest.” Further, Pickett took the position stating that he was assisting Virginia and the disabled William Richardson and need not accept pay for his work.

Pickett’s Service Was “In Best Interest of Volunteers”

During George Pickett’s term as Special Agent of the Virginia Militia, he drew ordnance supplies and oversaw the distribution of them to the volunteer commands in need of them. Under Section 21 of the Volunteer Militia law approved 24 April 1874, Pickett arranged for the disposal of supplies that were not needed by the Militia and exchanged them for supplies the volunteers required. Governor Kemper wrote,” He was in frequent communication with me up to the time of his last illness. His every transaction was strictly proper, judicious and conducive to the best interest of the volunteers.” But Kemper reiterated that George Pickett did not wish to receive compensation for his service to the Militia.

In spite of Pickett’s viewpoint that he should not be paid, members of the General Assembly disagreed. On February 18, 1880 the Finance Committee read what, by that time, had become H. B. (house bill) 248 requesting payment for Pickett’s assistance to his state. Three days later, Senator James Frazier moved to take up H. B. 248 in advance of other bills under consideration. Senator Richard R. Farr, a former Mosby’s Ranger from Fairfax County, moved to consider the amount that should be specified in the bill and $3,000 was inserted. The third and final reading of the bill was on March 3, 1880, at which time it passed.

H. B. 248
In Senate March 3, 1880
Senate Committee
An Act
For the relief of Sallie E. (sic) Pickett,
widow of General George E. Pickett, deceased.

Whereas, the late General George E. Pickett did, during the years eighteen hundred and seventy-four and seventy-five, secure for the State of Virginia certain ordnance stores, amounting in value to thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) and upwards, in exchange for two thousand three hundred and seven (2,307) Colt’s (sic) army pistols which the said Pickett had obtained from the United States government; and whereas, it is alleged that in the course of the said exchange, about one hundred and fifty tents were furnished to the State of Virginia in excess of what she was entitled to receive; and whereas, in consequence of this alleged excess of tents there was an individual claim made for the sum of sixteen hundred and ninety-two dollars, and twenty-five cents ($1,692.25) as due from the Commonwealth to one James W. Frazier, which said claim was subsequently assigned to Sallie E. (sic) Pickett, widow of the aforesaid George E. Pickett, deceased; and whereas, the said Pickett was at great personal expense in securing the said ordnance and quartermaster stores; and whereas, in view of all the foregoing facts, it appears just and proper that a reasonable compensation should be made for the services so rendered by the said George E. Pickett, deceased;

  1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, That (sic) the sum of three thousand dollars ($3,000) be and the same is hereby appropriated, to Sally E. (sic) Pickett, assignee as afore said, and widow of the said George E. Pickett, deceased, with the distinct proviso that the payment of the said sum of three thousand dollars ($3,000) shall be in full satisfaction of the claim of the said Sally E. (sic) Pickett for the services and expenses of her husband, George E. Pickett, as aforesaid, as also of the assignment of the said Frazier, and of any and all claims growing out of the transactions mentioned above.
  2. This act shall be in force from its passage.

Benjamin W. Lacy
Speaker House of Delegates
James H. Walker
President of Senate

Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia
Acts of the Assembly, Enrolled Bills, 1879-1880, page 243

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