Let me say that after 18 years in the Infantry ranks I still get a natural high when we come marching onto a field of battle and view the spectators. Many times they cheer or look at us with awe. I know they wonder what it would be like to be out there with us.

You would be surprised at the maneuvers the private in the line had to know. 19th Century infantry warfare was a complicated thing to learn. It has taken me 10 years to learn some of the maneuvers simply because you don’t use them every day. I also get a natural high when working with a veteran unit that knows how to maneuver into a battle line and make it look easy, which it isn’t.

When we go from a column on the march into a column of companies and then into a brigade battle line in a quick and easy manner a lot of us will scream the Rebel Yell. The exhilaration you feel when you do a maneuver well or if you volley fire 125 muskets and it sounds as if one musket has gone off, but multiplied 125 times, gives you a feeling of élan or esprit de corps. And you want to say to your ancestors, “that was for you.” You feel a pride for your unit and you appreciate being a part of it.

I have had the privilege of acting as a second sergeant for a few years. And it never ceases to amaze me the camaraderie you can feel to the men on either side of you in battle line that you might have never seen before, but you work well together in a battle. It raises your spirit to meet someone that has the same passion as you do and does work to the best of his ability. It brings a sense of worth, coordination and belonging that you usually don’t get from your day job.

So you might ask, “Do you have to go to such an extreme to get these feelings?” My answer is, if you love Civil War history and want to feel it in your bones, why not get as close to it as possible.

About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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