Civil War Transcendence, part 328

Looking at the Yank foray toward our company, deployed to the right of our cannon, I understood that the Yanks were really outmatched.  This bunch had to be from the Yank camp south of Frederick City, and they had to be mounted on the horses from the third corral that we were unable to liberate. This was good, because they probably were riding south and accidentally ran into Mosby’s command coming back from Braddock Heights. So I reasoned these Yanks weren’t any of the Yanks advancing from Middletown that Mosby’s unit had fired upon from Braddock Heights.

I happened to look at the left of the Yank line and observed only a skirmish line. So, they were employing almost all of their force against the right of our line.

I yelled at Zeke, “Let’s go.”

He was used to my weird ways by now and didn’t hesitate to follow. I nudged Stonewall, who once again rose to the occasion and moved quickly into a gallop.

I hurried to Major Mosby and shouted, “Those Yanks are from the Federal camp.  They only have a skirmish line on our left. If we attack their skirmish line, we can rout ‘em.”

He made a command decision and ordered, “Ride to the left, and tell Captain Owens to charge the Yankee line!”

I yelled, “Yes sir,” gave a quick salute and rode like the wind for the middle of Captain Owens’ line.

We found the Captain without any trouble. He was stationed behind the middle of his line with a courtier by his side.  I waved and shouted as we galloped toward him, “Major Mosby orders us to charge the Yank line and turn their flank.”

He recognized me but was sort of flustered by my abrupt arrival and brisk orders.

So I added, “The Yanks are understrength in front of your line. If ya charge, you can rout them and flank the Yank advance on our right.”

He grasped the situation and yelled back, “So be it.”  Then he roared, “Forward men at the double quick.”

Although Captain Owens’ men were fighting as dismounted cavalry, they knew how to charge as infantry.

It didn’t take long for the order to filter down the line. It was a haphazard formation as some squads were on the move before others advanced. The formation resembled an inverted “V” with the point of the “V” headed right at the middle of the Yank skirmishers.

Needless to say, when the Union skirmish line saw a full company coming at their position, they fired some quick rounds and then skedaddled.

I saw what was happening and yelled at Captain Owens, “Tha Yanks ahead of us are retreating. We need to turn yar line and hit tha Yanks attack on their right flank. I’ll help move the left wing of yar line and ya move the right.”

The Captain nodded and spurred his horse toward the right of his line yelling for them to ‘right wheel’ and keep firing. I rode to the left of the line and yelled for the troopers to keep a close tie to the men beginning to wheel to the right.  They understood immediately and began the maneuver.

However, we began to hear, “We are out of cartridges! We are out of cartridges!”

328-hand-to-hand

Also, we could make out that the fire from our company to the right of our cannon, facing the Yank advance, was dwindling.  Everyone was running out of ammo.

I commanded, “Forward. We’ll take ‘em barehanded.”

The men hesitated for just a moment, so I dismounted and handed Stonewall’s reins to Zeke. Then I ran out in front of the men and yelled, “Let’s go men.”

At the time, I didn’t realize how stupid my little gambit was. The good thing was; the men began to reform into a firm battle line while uniting with the right wing of the company. The bad thing was; the Yanks were mounted and began to fire into our line. Men were going down as we advanced.

Since I was out front as the leader of the left wing, I was the first to accost mounted Yankee troopers. I still had two fully loaded Colts, so I fired indiscriminately at any Yank I saw in front of me. I don’t know how many enemy I unhorsed, but it cleared out Yanks in front of me and created a bulge of sorts in their line that the men behind me flowed into creating a wide break.

Our Troopers actually got close enough to grab Yank troopers and pull them off their horses. It became melee. Men were pistol whipping each other and wrestling on the ground while riderless horses stampeded back and forth over the open field.

I had emptied my pistols and was reaching for my additional loaded replacement cylinders when I felt something slam into my head.  Then everything went black.

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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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