Civil War Transcendence, part 412


Riding and fighting had resulted in our battle line formation going to heck in a handbasket.

I yelled at the top of my voice, “Follow me,” and headed for a road due north and east of the pond. Coming to a small tree line on the other side of the road, I ordered, “Dismount. Secure your mounts, draw carbines and form battle line.”

The men dismounted, but didn’t draw carbines nor secure their mounts. So I had added a little oomph to my orders by yelling, “Tha next man that doesn’t obey orders is going to be court-martialed! Now listen to me!”

That got their attention, and they quickly tied their mounts to trees away from the prying eyes of the Yankees, drew their carbines and formed battle line in the small tree line.

I responded, “That’s more like it.”

I swiftly counted off the number of our troopers. There were twenty of us, counting me and Sergeant Kirkland. Our force and the Yanks were about even in numbers.

I looked for Sergeant Kirkland and saw him lined up about the middle of our battle line. I nudged the trooper next to me and said, “Pass it down tha line for Sergeant Kirkland to report to me.”

Dutifully, the trooper passed on the message and abruptly Kirkland dropped to a knee beside me. I had been kneeling and trying to see where the Yanks were located, but to no avail.

Turning to Kirkland, I said, “We need to keep tha Yanks engaged until Major Murphy arrives, but I don’t know where tha Yanks are.”

Kirkland responded, “Oh, they’re over in tha tree line. One bunch of them has set up a base of fire and another is moving to flank us on our left.”

I looked at Kirkland as if I had seen a ghost.

He grinned and said, “Captain, if’n ya will hold this position, I’ll take eight men and stop thar flanking force.”

It was all I could do in my shocked state to nod my head in abeyance.

Kirkland turned to the men and said in a low voice, “The next eight men in line follow me. The rest of you men join up with the Captain.”

Kirkland moved off toward our east and his designated eight men followed.

The rest of the men moved to where I was kneeling.  I motioned for them to look at me and said, “Tha Yanks are moving toward us. We must hold this position at all costs. We don’t want to let tha Yanks get our horses, plus we want to protect Sergeant Kirkland’s flank.”

Just about that time bullets began to fly from the woods south of the road and hit around us. The trooper next to me yelled and fell dead at my feet. Rage filled my heart to see one of my men killed by these invaders.

I yelled, “Open fire,” and began to shoot my pistol at the smoke created by the Yank volley.  I quickly emptied my pistol and reached for my second Colt.

At that time a Yank force began to cross the road toward our position.

I stood up next to the tree I had been kneeling behind and fired my Colt as fast as I could at the advancing horde. My men were also peppering the Yanks with fire from their carbines.

Four Yanks went down, and the rest of their number retreated into the trees from whence they came. Two of the Yanks weren’t moving, but two were dragging bloody legs as they crawled back to their line.

I looked down my line of troops and counted the number still standing. Another of my men was lying on the ground, but was being attended by his fellow troopers.  I moved in a crouch along our line and reiterated to each trooper, “If’n they charge again, use yar pistol first until it’s empty. Then use yar carbine.”

They all nodded they understood. When I got to the downed trooper, I stopped and viewed his wound. He had been shot in the fleshy part of his shoulder. It had bled a lot but the bullet hadn’t hit an artery. By the time I had gotten to him, his fellow troopers had staunched the bleeding and had the wound bandaged.

I asked the wounded man, “How ya doing?”

“Tolerable well, Capt’n,” he answered. Then pointing toward the road with his good arm, he boasted, “One of them Yanks out thar in tha road is my doing.”

I smiled and said, “Good job.”

He grinned back.

Suddenly there was a clash of arms to our east. Kirkland and his men had made contact with the Yank flanking force.


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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