SEEING THE ELEPHANT-PART 4

SEEING THE ELEPHANT-PART 4

Once we halted behind our artillery, we were given the command “Front”. This put up in a brigade battle line. We were also commanded to load our muskets. Our artillery quit firing, which allowed us to move through their battery and advance on the Union Infantry that was threating the taking of our cannon.

On the other side of the artillery we marched forward with our rifles “At the Shoulder”. Another of our infantry units which had been trying to keep the Yanks at bay was off to our left. There was a gap between their right flank and our left flank. They moved to close the gap and present a united front to the Union Infantry that was advancing toward us.

Our Brigade Commander suddenly called a halt and gave the command to Ready, Aim and Fire. I had been given instructions on how to fire my musket during the morning drill. The first time I fired my musket it was a real rush. It wasn’t really loud due to the small amount of power I had put in the cartridges I had rolled before I left Little Rock on Friday. It was more like a whoosh instead of a bang.

Our first volley I was told was a little ragged. It didn’t sound like our 120 muskets went off at the same time. It really didn’t matter to me. I was elated just to shoot.
We were ordered to advance and to load as we moved forward. I know that I was very unprofessional trying to get my musket loaded while advancing. I had a hard enough time getting it loaded standing still. Anyway I was on the front rank so I couldn’t hurt anybody unless I swung my musket too far to the left or right while loading. I tried to keep the weapon in front of me as much as I could.

Anyway, we kept moving forward and engaged the Yanks at about 100 yards. Then Union Cavalry along with Union Infantry advanced and made a concerted effort to turn out right flank.

Our company was the right flank company. We didn’t know anything about maneuver. It was utter chaos. Our Company commander was calling for us to load and fire. Our Brigade Commander was yelling for our Company Commander to get the right half of our company to bend back so we that we would be 90 degrees to the rest of the company and thus could repulse any move to flank us. Yankee Cavalry were riding around our flank and firing at us. Yankee Infantry were advancing on us. We were getting yelled at to shoot faster. I was so uptight trying to keep up a good fire on the enemy that I was shaking so bad I was having a hard time tearing the cartridges and pouring the powder down the barrel of my musket. And it was almost impossible to get a cap to stay on the cone of the rifle. (The cap ignites the powder in the barrel.) I bet I lost about two caps every time I tried to put one on the cone. Pard finally yelled at me to squeeze the cap once it was on the cone and it wouldn’t fall off. All of a sudden the Brigade Commander began yelling at us because we were shooting straight at the Union Cavalry when they rode by. I was to find out later that the black powder we shoot can burn a person if it is fired straight at a combatant closer than 30 yards.

Needless to say I didn’t think reenacting would get my adrenaline flowing so freely.

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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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