150th Gettysburg Sojourn, part 17

We were given the command to Forward March, and we began our assault uphill.

Our battalion is in one long line of four companies with a total of about 110 men. Our colors (flag) were in the center of the line. There were two companies to the right of the colors and two to the left. We were the last company on the left.

Wherever the colors go, our four companies have to follow. As we advanced up the hill, the colors meander left and right, and all the companies would have to shift one way or the other just to keep a straight line. This is what most people don’t understand when reading the histories or the historical novels: the logistics of keeping some semblance of order during an advance so a unit’s concentrated fire can inflict casualties on the enemy, causing him to break and flee.

Anyway, after about 50 yards we halted, dressed our companies’ lines to the colors, and began to fire by companies at Yanks in the tree line about 100 yards away.

The Red River Battalion boasts re-enactors of all ages

The Red River Battalion boasts re-enactors of all ages

As previously stated, our company is comprised of teenagers, young men, middle aged men and old men like me, but when we fire our muskets as a company, there is no unit that is any better. When we fire, it sounds as if one musket is fired multiplied by 20. This is a barometer indicating a veteran unit.

We stood and traded shots with the Yanks for about five volleys and then were commanded to advance again. So up the hill we went. We had a few men go down, so we dressed our lines on the move to fill the gaps.

Again, we stopped after about 50 yards and traded volleys with the Yanks. More of our men went down. Then, we were given the command to Charge Bayonets. The front rank lowered their muskets as if they had fixed bayonets (which they don’t, because it isn’t allowed in a reenactment scenario) and yelled, “Huh!”

The command was given to Forward March, and we went up the hill at the Double Quick toward the inevitable.



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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