THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN OF 1862: THROUGH ARKANSAS EYES
I have been in Civil War Reenactments were we have charged the enemy shoulder to shoulder in Battalion Line of Battle of 4 to 5 five companies consisting of about 125 to 150 men. In small battle scenarios we usually “take a hit”, fall and play dead when we want to. In large reenactments we usually are told when we reach a certain site in the battle or at a certain time a certain percentage of our unit has to “take a hit”. The only things we have to worry about are to make sure we get our hands close into our body, so they won’t be stepped on, and keep our rifle close, so it won’t get stepped on either.
However, in a real Civil War battle you were worrying if you would be killed or wounded. In the first part of the Civil War the opposing lines would stand and shoot at each other from 100 to 200 yards and, depending on the shooting skills, just knock down each other with a vengeance.
Doctors were feared about as much as the enemy. If you were hit with the 1 ounce soft lead Minnie Ball, which was shaped like a bullet and not a ball, it would spread out like a mushroom when it contacted anything solid. If it hit a bone, it would take out a section of the bone and a surgeon would have to amputate, since the medical knowledge of the day didn’t include bone grafting. So amputation abounded in both armies.
Before battles some soldiers would write their names on a slip of paper and pin it to their collar so their families would be notified if they were killed.