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View Full Version : Taking hits, what do you think



Brandon313
07-25-2006, 10:38 PM
Hey guys,
I dont know about you guys, but i have noticed that, nobody seems to take hits! Im sure this is widely discussed. My unit encourages taking hits. Especially at Manassas this weekend, since we were charged with taking Griffins battery. Before we were engaged, we were kneeling in the rain, looking out on the field. I saw the first line engaged with a few companies of yankees. They were firing into each other at a distance of no more than 35-40 yards apart. After about ten minutes, we hadnt seen ONE MAN take a hit. Sure it was early in the day, but it just kills the authenticity. I dont care how much money you spent on your kit, buying the completely handsewn EJ Thomas cartridge box, instead of a run-of-the-mill one, its not going to cut it if nobody is taking hits!

Our unit had over half of our men go down over the span of the fight on Saturday, most of then went down during the assault on the battery, taking cannister hits. I myself went down after the assault.
Our commanders lead by example, a good number of them went down as well.

I believe more units should encourage taking hits...what do you boys think??

VaTrooper
07-25-2006, 11:00 PM
Being in the cavalry it's not very often that you see someone take a hit. But Im looking foreward to the day when my horse allows me to do so.

cblodg
07-26-2006, 06:07 AM
Hey guys,
I dont know about you guys, but i have noticed that, nobody seems to take hits! Im sure this is widely discussed. My unit encourages taking hits. Especially at Manassas this weekend, since we were charged with taking Griffins battery. Before we were engaged, we were kneeling in the rain, looking out on the field. I saw the first line engaged with a few companies of yankees. They were firing into each other at a distance of no more than 35-40 yards apart. After about ten minutes, we hadnt seen ONE MAN take a hit. Sure it was early in the day, but it just kills the authenticity. I dont care how much money you spent on your kit, buying the completely handsewn EJ Thomas cartridge box, instead of a run-of-the-mill one, its not going to cut it if nobody is taking hits!

Our unit had over half of our men go down over the span of the fight on Saturday, most of then went down during the assault on the battery, taking cannister hits. I myself went down after the assault.
Our commanders lead by example, a good number of them went down as well.

I believe more units should encourage taking hits...what do you boys think??

This issue has been beaten to death and then some (no pun intended). I've always though of taking hits as something you did. Have I taken early hits, certainly; but it was in a spirit of being authentic, not shirking. I'll also carry a few extra rounds, so if I do take a hit in the middle of a battle as men run out of ammo, they know that most of the time, I've got rounds in my box. There is nothing more authentic than having a soldier search the "dead" to find ammo in my book.

Chris

2ndmarylandreb
07-26-2006, 11:28 AM
Taking a hit is something I look forward to. I know I took a hit both days. I even took an early hit on the 2nd day. I do have to say that the unit I am with ( 2nd Maryland Co. C) takes plenty of hits. I know that mostly everyone usually has a pretty good drive to the locations of these reenactments, but so do the spectators. So I say take hits and put on a good show.

skamikaze
07-26-2006, 11:41 AM
vincent's brigade is usually told NOT to take hits, however, our unit takes pride in our impression of dead and wounded soldiers and we will pull someone back up and make them do it again if they did it half-assed.

generally, the 95th walks off the feild with about 80-90% casualties to make up for all the units around us that wont die.

i had a good time at manassas with the rebs across from me who were doing it well.

MStuart
07-26-2006, 11:44 AM
Did they ever explain why they're instructed not to take hits?

On the face of it, sounds pretty counter-productive.

Mark

R.A. MacLean
07-26-2006, 12:03 PM
Yes this is an old topic and a problem that won't go away.

The "I didn't drive 3 hours to take a hit in the first 10 minutes of a battle" attitude is nothing new. The two issues regarding taking hits that really steams me is.

1) Units in close quarters and NOBODY takes a hit. From a distance I can let it slide to a point. But when you get up close, well it just gets plain embarrasing that nobody falls when a unit recieves a volley-especially a large one.

2) The mindset that "I've got to empty my Cartridge box before I take a hit." Does everyone understand that it's ok to take your unused cartridges home and use them at the next event? It's like rollover minutes on your cell phone, it's ok, really.

I think it's time some of us start investing into several decks of playing cards.

R.A. MacLean
Sgt. Major, Confederate Brigade,
NCWA

8thILCavalry
07-26-2006, 12:07 PM
I have heard this many, Many times from the Rebs. (I have never seen a dead cavalryman). And I have heard from our boys that the rebs are wearing bullet proof vests. Nobody takes a hit.
If you are in a battle with 50 on each side it is hard for people to take hits. because the public wants a lot of action and smoke but 50 people taking many hits, the battle will last 5 minutes.
Also if you are in a national with 2000+ people you don't want to travel that distance to get there and just take a hit on the first volley, and miss the battle because you are dead.
I am a dismounted Cavman and our group is known for taking 50% casualties, I alone am known as the best one to take a hit. But you can not always take a hit if you are a small number and you need to be victors on the field.

I have come across some people who never want to die. which is stupid.
I was in this one battle where our officers told us noone dies and we got charged big time by the Rebs and when they approached us, their head of command was screaming at the top of his lungs to his men that they don't die. So we have nothing but people screaming in the trenches NOONE DIES!! GETUP, YOUR NOT DEAD and the crowd can hear this. then everyone just passed each other with no one dying. It was embarrasing, so I said screw u, I got charged, IM DEAD, and I took a hit.

My biggest problem though is when I DO want to die because I am out of ammo or tired. The rebs forget how to load there guns, Because nobody fires. I am out there screaming SHOOT ME DOG GONIT!!! And if I do see someone take a bean on me and fire I usually take a wound or I have this trick of losing my hat like it was shot off. or I take a flying death leap.

blueYankee
07-26-2006, 01:17 PM
Could it be that some are actually reading the regulations (being sarcastic) such as the one below that comes from the Cedar Creek /Manassas reenactment??? Just how many powder burners go thru 200 rounds of ammo in one Weekend?? That would explain some of the "No Hit Takers".

BATTLES
1. Infantry participants should allow 200 rounds of ammunition for the weekend. Any participant running out of ammunition will be expected to become a casualty.

My unit enjoys taking hits..how dramatic can you get? We have some that actually enjoy surrendering to the opposing forces, Guns upside down, arms in the air, etc. But then again...They didn't have prison camps..(sarcastic again). I'll stop now.
Blue Yankee

tenfed1861
07-26-2006, 01:21 PM
If the battle calls for it,or I just feel like it,I take a hit.But there are sometimes when hits should be a nono.At the local skirmish,the Confederate numbered 800 strong against 30 Federal Homeguard.The Federals repulesed the rebs who charged the line 3 times.But out of all those charges,only 3 rebs were casulities.But at the local event depicting this battle,it's a laugh.The rebs make it seem like the 800 were slaughtered.I even watched one unit do what I called "Charge of the Hillbilly Brigade".This reb unit decided to do a bonzi charge,even though it NEVER HAPPENED IN THE REAL BATTLE!!!

In most battle we do,hits are a nessesity.We need to take hits.Heck,the Federals at the local skirmish had 12 men killed,(and whe I do Federal this year,I do plan on taking a hit in the battle both days).But there are times when only "light" casulities are needed.Heck,the skrimish line at the Battle of Richmond,KY took no casulities.Just hits are needed when needed,but not when not.
Cullen Smith

Loyal Virginian
07-26-2006, 01:46 PM
This issue has been thoroughly discussed, many times, over many years. But taking hits is so basic to reenacting, that it bears discussion again from time to time.

Should there be more or fewer hits? The answer, it seems to me, is yes, no, and it depends. The more fundamental question is what are we trying to portray, and then tailor hits as closely to that as possible.

A couple of points, while not trying to present every argument:

--With some notable exceptions, casualties in the Civil War came sort of stretched out, not huge numbers at once. Look at the casualty lists for the most intense battles, and it was the rare unit that had 50% or more casualties in a single battle. There are several reasons for this, but the most significant one was that these were human beings, and as casualties started to mount, either one side or the other would give way. Ten percent casualties in any one particular battle would represent high casualties (the word "decimate" means one-in-ten losses).

--The hits I do see at reenactments seem to me too heavily weighted toward KIAs instead of WIAs. In the real war, there were many more WIAs for every KIA on the battlefield. I would like to see more wounded as a share of hits, particularly walking wounded trailing back to the rear.

--Look at the historical scenario you are recreating and the unit you are representing and see what the casualties were historically. The unit we portrayed at the recent First Bull Run had one KIA in the real battle (with about a dozen captured). It did not seem right to me for our unit to take a lot of hits in this particular battle. Having said that . . .

--Sometimes you just have to take hits, planned scenario or not. Caught in an obvious crossfire, hit by a major close range salvo, under guns firing double canister at close range, you just can't not take the hit, even if it contributes to a bit of alteration of the historical scenario.

My own preference is to take a hit about a third of the time, and then usually it is a walking wounded hit. I go down, I crawl back up, and then limp to the rear. If our side is short on troops (which, wearing blue, has been known to happen), I may unobtrusively recycle back into the unit a bit later in the battle.

8thILCavalry
07-26-2006, 02:56 PM
My last battle a few weeks ago. I was completely destroyed. Being a new Corporal this year, Taking a hit is a little harder to do because you have to move the unit around and give firing commands. But sometimes you have no chose on taking a bullet.

Toward the end of a big battle at Wauconda,IL. Our skirmish line was ordered to move to the right. Me being the Corporal and File closure I was the first one heading in that direction, towards a flanking Dismounted Cavalry Reb skirmishers. I fired at them and actually killed one reb.
(real nice kill and fall).
But his buddy started opening up on me with his Henry Rifle behind some tree branches. Well I wasn't ready to be killed just yet. I opened up on him with my pistol and we were in a MAJOR gunfight with each other, I took a hit in the hip and then dropped my pistol to the ground and raised my Musket for one last shot with that, and then the Infantry fired a volley in my direction. Well I was done for. :o
I did such a backwards death leap that my Canteen and haversack flew off of me. Then I was a skirming dying wounded on the ground. The crowd went nuts with applause. As I was skirming on the ground, I started to reach for my pistol just to hang on to it so I didn't lose it, and that Dang Henry came out and put another bullet in me. Talk about Swiss Cheese. :)

It just takes the moment and the amount of HAM inside ya to take that HIT.

Bill_Cross
07-26-2006, 04:25 PM
Infantry participants should allow 200 rounds of ammunition for the weekend. Any participant running out of ammunition will be expected to become a casualty.
That's 100 rounds per day.

Astonishing. Someone should go look at the history. A NJ regiment that pulled out of the line at Chancellorsville because their pieces were fouled nearly caused the Union line to implode. But the commanding officer was exonerated because his men cleaned their weapons and moved back onto the line when they were able to offer some fire. You can't load a minie ball that quickly once the barrel becomes encrusted with black powder residue, but there are the officers yelling "pour it on, men!"

I always was amazed at big mainstream events by the emphasis on firing many rounds. Of course, they were loading in three (pour it in, cock the hammer, put on a cap). It's one reason why some authentics want to draw rammers: there's no other way to slow down you powder burners!

VaTrooper
07-26-2006, 05:27 PM
(I have never seen a dead cavalryman).

Ive seen two people with horses good enough to do it. A fella with the 2nd Va and a NC fella.

Jubilo
07-26-2006, 05:41 PM
Dear Sir ,
I too, was at 1st Bull Run on the Federal side and thought it strange that few hits were being taken . Being a Westerner I kept closed-mouthed . As a veteran of reenactments of Chickamauga , Franklin , and some of the better Gettysburg events , I have witnessed scores of casualties on both blue and gray . Some of the Tiger Rifles and the Fire Zouave took hits but over all hits was plumb scarce .
All for the old flag,
David Corbett

skamikaze
07-26-2006, 05:42 PM
i too have seen a few dead cav.

i also read a great artcile in either camp chase or civil war historian about taking hits. its the issue featuring the pioneer brigade.

there were few outright deaths on the feild and most hits were not serious enough to kill. so i believe in take a "wound" more than a hit. and, showing where you have been hit.

when i take a "belly shot" i frantically rip open my jacket and accountrements searching for my wound. i always die with a head shot. and i love getting shot in the back so i can sprawl all over.

we also need more company hits so the artillerymen can enjoy it.

Mark Wadsworth
07-26-2006, 05:50 PM
I like to take my hit early. That way I don't have to walk as far.

GrumpyDave
07-26-2006, 05:56 PM
I saw a really nicely written article on this exact subject somewhere... Now where was that? Anyone?

Bill makes a good point. And, off the top of my head I can think of this example. 20th Maine/15th Alabama. Fought for hours. Both Regiments only had 60 rounds per man. The fight ended because one side ran out of ammo and got aggressive. The other side was out of ammo (just about and had no water) and, ran. You don't see that last part much, ever.

captdougofky
07-26-2006, 07:18 PM
I love taking hits in the summer I always get wounded and manage to crawl to a shady spot, It does not happen much for being in artillery I love dying on the gun, the ol' limber is used as a shade tree for me. I like losing the battle because the battle comes to you as opposed to moving away. I know Yankees are hard to get on the ground here in Kentucky. As far as the uniform a lady once ask me how often I washed it years ago and I told her **** it ain't but a year old.

Always Doug Thomas
Lyons Battery
Kentucky

bob 125th nysvi
07-26-2006, 09:07 PM
Bill:

I could loan you one of my drafts. Not too tall. nice broad back to really set it up and once your off their going to stand rock still until all the local grass is gone.

Bob sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

bob 125th nysvi
07-26-2006, 09:32 PM
because it not only involves taking hits but how many and when. And then the big joker is how many men are involved. Having 50 drop out of 500 isn't too bad. Having 50 drop out of 100 looks stupid.

And an awful lot of that is going to depend on the scenario being played out.

Say the scenario involves three charges of the opposing line. How many men go down on 1 or 2 or 3? Do you end up retreating with just 5 guys?

If you look at Gettysburgh (very) roughly 1/3 of the total number of troops involved over the 3 days became casualties. So do you say 1/3 of everybody in every engagement drops? And when do they drop?

Or do a couple of guys drop at Culp's Hill and a whole lot drop at Cemetary Ridge? And how do you educate the public on why?

We also have the problem of different objectives. Reenactors want to 'really' portray the war.

Event organizers want the general public to come be entertained and come back next year. Particularliy if you're a public employee.

And the general public wants a good 'show'. If a little education is thrown in that's fine but NOT really that important.

I mean how many times have you been at a reenactment and someone asks 'Where can I get a good look at the cannons from?" They are there for the boom.

Now sometimes this can be mitigated by how an engagement plays out. My 1st Sgt died three times in our last reenactment because we moved over different parts of the field and spectators couldn't see he died and was back in action somewhere else later.

I always thought the solution was to assign casualties to a unit before the engagement starts and if you don't have enough volunteers you 'ask' for volunteers.

But this can be real tough in a tactical because no one knows how it is going to play out so when and where do you take your assigned casualties.

I hate to say it guys but this isn't a movie with assigned roles its more like playing cowboys and indians.

Maybe those who are advocating more casualties need to set the trend and take one for the team everytime until they feel it is being done right.

At our last engagement we lost every NCO, our officer and 33% of our privates. I think we over did our part.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

ley74
07-26-2006, 09:38 PM
Payne's Farm and Rich Mountain used fate cards. Worked well both times. While different types of events from CedarManassas, it could be done. Right?

RJSamp
07-26-2006, 10:02 PM
Bill:
once your off their going to stand rock still until all the local grass is gone.

Bob sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

Had a horse like that.....we'd put her on a picket rope to a pin in the ground....tethered to a hobble on one foreleg. And the horse would mow out a [erfect circle in a couple of hours.....

RJSamp
07-26-2006, 10:23 PM
If you look at Gettysburgh (very) roughly 1/3 of the total number of troops involved over the 3 days became casualties. So do you say 1/3 of everybody in every engagement drops? And when do they drop?

Or do a couple of guys drop at Culp's Hill and a whole lot drop at Cemetary Ridge? And how do you educate the public on why?

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

When we reenact a 3 day battle that had 175,000 soldiers and 51,000 casualties we reenact them in scripted 'battles', scenarios, vignettes.....

We don't do GBurg's 3 days in one day....or even the 1st day in one day..... we take a specific area of the battlefield (say the G135 'full' scale Pickett's charge without the Bliss Barn, Pender's Division, Brockenbrough's Brigade, a long gun line running down towards LRT, Wilcox/Lang's Forlorn and belated charge, the flanking attacks by the 8th OH and couple of NY Regiments against Pettigrew's left flank).....

you assign reenacting units to portray a specific scenario unit....and then you reenact the scenario. Casualties, movement, firing rates, charges, fleeing, et al are scripted in.....and yes, if 80% of the 24th MI becomes a casualty, with 6 flag drops, and two ammo resupplies .....then you fire off well over 60 rounds if you last that long.....scrounge ammo from others, and become a casualty if that's your fate. Then you resurrect and reenact another scenario that afternoon.....if the regiment you are portraying had only 22% casualties during this vignette and another 20% the in another scenario you take your 22% casualties, fail to take Culp's Hill, and fall back. After the battle your men resurrect, go to the ball and start the whole shooting match all over again.

When do the men drop? a) read and research b) assign fates c) tell the men what's expected d) have your company commanders order men to fall/become wounded on the next volley/canister shot. ReenACT. During Pickett's Charge my fate was to survive.....the guy next to me was hit just after crossing the 2nd fence screamed Oh My God 4 times and then fell down. He survived, had two kids and died in 1893 in Raleigh NC.

How do you educate the public? Tell them you have x,000 troops to reenact a 3 day battle that had 175,000 troops. You will be reenacting specific engagements within that battle that were the salient moments of the battle. The reenactors will assume roles of different units during these 'sub' battles.

the spectators know that we don't have enough reenactors to portray a single person on a man for man scale for the entire weekend....but you knew that.

VaTrooper
07-26-2006, 11:03 PM
Hopefully my guy will be good enough to atleast go with the herd and not trample the spectators soon. But I wouldnt trade him any horse on the field this weekend.

ChrisOwens
07-26-2006, 11:31 PM
Payne's Farm and Rich Mountain used fate cards. Worked well both times. While different types of events from CedarManassas, it could be done. Right?

I hate to sound like a boo bird, but I think you are talking apples and oranges here. Diffrent events, different mind sets, differnent ideas on how an event should be and what you walk away with from said events. Think about all the other things at a mega-stream event that for some reason can't be inforced(indians, pirates, kids in the ranks, obvious women in ranks, scenrios, etc. etc. etc....) The reason those at PF and RM made fate cards work is because they wanted it for the event as a whole. I have been in ranks with too many reenactors to count that have said something along the lines of "I didn't drive X amount of hours to take a hit in the first five minutes and not kill yankees".

I remeber at the 140th of Antiteam when the LR and others did Hill's march into the battle and what a great time that was, proably one of the best times I ever had at a MEGA event and all I heard from the guys in the mainstream umbrella unit I knew was that 1 out of 3 battles sucked because , "We only fired 8 or 9 rounds". Face it, to alot out there it is not about recreating an actual event but having fun blasting away at others for 2 hours. History be danmed! Again that is just MHO but I don't see how fate cards would work at an event like Cedarmanssas. EVERYONE has to be willing to go down, you can't just trust everyone else to.

Just my 2 cents,
Chris Owens

Rob Weaver
07-27-2006, 05:43 AM
In a small local event where numbers are small, both sides should spread out as skirmishers, fire slowly with aimed fire, and contact should be broken after a casualty or two. In big events, there should be casualties! Spectators ask if they really were as bad shots as we make it appear. Fate cards are a great idea. It's also a leadership issue. My guys won't mind if I tap them on the back and say "Take a hit soon." Officers and NCOs can take a hit, too. Your rank insignia aren't bulletproof either. Safety allowing, let the next guy down on the chain know you're going to take a hit and then go. There should also be a stream of walking wounded limping, crawling, holding hurt hands, etc. I have a period Testament that I shot with a .45 ball so that I can take and early hit, pull it out of my pocket and rejoin the fight!

Sgt. Rob Weaver
Pine River Boys
Co I, 7th Wisconsin Volunteers

bob 125th nysvi
07-28-2006, 09:12 PM
Some suggestions being thrown around here I think from a planning point of view are not practical.

Because in the middle of a battle a unit doesn't really know how many men it has and where they lost whom.

So you really can't say ok this unit loses so many men right here right now. You can say ok you started the day with "X" and finish with "Y". This % is KIA, this % is WIA, This % is MIA. Now play it out.

I like the idea of 'Fate Cards' because it incorporates a large degree of randomness which is a real element in war with some control if properly planned.

But again it involves a large degree of planning and I think most organizations are stretched to the limit just getting the event together.

Maybe units that are more interested in "reality" should take it upon themselves to plan it out instead of making others responsible. Take the randomness out of it and stage your 'production'.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

8thILCavalry
07-29-2006, 04:20 PM
What we need is someone to invent paintball guns that work like our weapons. Where we have to load one paintball at a time and have the cannons shot out different paintballs like Shot and Cannister. And just have us go at each other and take the right hits out of the battle. Use different numbers and different scenierios to see what kind of hits occur.
Because we all know that HITS HAPPENS. :D (oh thats bad)

Jeffrey Cohen
07-29-2006, 04:57 PM
Yessir! Just before my guns get rushed by the kevlar wearers {A new pharse?} We going to pull out our water pistols. A water balloon will take the place of cannister.

EasySam
07-29-2006, 05:07 PM
After doing this for 13 years, I have come to realize the condition of the ground has a lot to do with taking hits. At Prairie Grove, Ark. you can take a hit and fall into 6 inches of snow & ice. There have been many battles where you could take a hit and maybe drown or at least disappear into the mud. Then there are the fire ants - You always want to know where they are! I did an event in Wichita a few years ago, took a hit & went home with chiggers up to my armpits. Back when I was a Baby Private, I quickly learned not to necessarily take a hit just because I was hot & tired. I found it was hotter lying on the sun scorched ground. At many battles I was severely wounded but was just able to drag my poor shattered body to a big shady tree, where I gave up the ghost. I am sure most of you have experienced these same things.
One thing concerning casualties I would like to see done more often: Especially after a Saturday battle, do not quickly resurrect. Do more searching for friends/loved ones - carry off the dead & wounded.
One of the coolest hits I was involved in happened at Corinth 2005. After mounting the works a Federal Officer & I had our own personal thing. We both shot our revolvers at the same time, then shot again. He took a shoulder hit. I thought, "What a nice Yankee." I turned to my left and looked down into the works. Two federals had trained their Springfields on me. When they fired, my drummer, who was alongside me, and I went down. Bent my scabbard at a right angle and jammed 2 inches of dirt in my revolver barrel. Now I think spectators are a good thing, but theses folks were a couple of dozen miles away and probably couldn't see anyone taking hits. That Federal, my drummer & I all took our hits for the love of our sport. It was grand.

John1862
08-02-2006, 10:17 AM
At the 145th Manassas I heard we had 8000 reenactors, and at the original battle there were 60,680. 4700 of them died, which is 7.75%. 8,000 (reenactors) is 13% of the original 60,680 soldiers. SO...13% / 7.75% is 1.7%. Meaning (1.7%, 136) of the reenactors should have fallen either dead or with fatal wounds at the battle. I havent found the number of wounded but it would have been much higher than the casualties, also I dont know if the number 4700 is during the battle or in hospitals afterwards (fatal wounds).....It is likely that I just made a fool out of myself, but, whats have I got to loose; dare I ask.

tompritchett
08-02-2006, 10:25 AM
Actually to determine the number of reenactors that fell you could either multiply the 7.75% times the number of reenactors (8000) which would equal 620, or multiple the 4700 recorded deaths by the 13% ratio of reenactors to original participants which equals 611.

I work with numbers on a daily basis. :)

hiplainsyank
08-02-2006, 11:16 AM
I think especially when either the event is small, or your unit is small, fate cards can be very helpful to regulate the amount of casualties so they aren't too few or too many. Just as no casualties when units are slugging it out at 25 yards looks weird, so does a victorious unit that has taken 70-80% hits.

One set I saw actually put how many shots a soldier gets off before either being not fatally woundly, fatally wounded or KIA. It put it something like this:

"After 10 shots you are KIA for your country."

This could be something instituted on company or batallion levels, if not for the whole event.

And that article about getting hit in battle is "Taking Hits: The Behavior of Soldiers Wounded in Battle," by Kevin O'Beirne in Civil War Historian January/February 2006. VOl. 2, Issue 1.

Excellent read for all people interested in the Civil War, not just all reenactors (military and civilian).

YankRI
08-02-2006, 11:49 AM
The other side was out of ammo (just about and had no water) and, ran. You don't see that last part much, ever.

Dave,

I recall a certain Reb unit doing it at Mumford a couple of summers ago. ;)

Spoons

Pvt Schnapps
08-02-2006, 12:44 PM
On the other extreme of not taking hits are incidents like the banzai charge at the end of the 140th Augustburg, when it seemed that the whole of the Confederate force was competing to see who could die closest to the Union line. In the real Picket's Charge -- as in probably most assaults during the war -- many more had dropped out along the way, or got hit trying to get out of there. In another example, I think something close to half of the Irish Brigade who missed the evening roll call after the attack at Fredericksburg managed to show up in the ranks later.

The phenomenon was described pretty well by Ardant du Picq, a French officer of the time, in his "Battle Studies":

"To-day fighting is done over immense spaces, along thinly drawn out lines broken every instant by the accidents and the obstacles of the terrain. From the time the action begins, as soon as there are rifle shots, the men spread out as skirmishers or, lost in the inevitable disorder of a rapid march, escape the supervision of their commanding officers. A considerable number conceal themselves;they get away from the engagement and diminish by just so much the material and moral effect and confidence of the brave ones who remain.
...
"Let us take Wagram, where his [Napoleon's] mass was not repulsed. Out of twenty-two thousand men, three thousand to fifteen hundred reached the position. Certainly the position was not carried by them, but by the material and moral effect of a battery of one hundred pieces, cavalry, etc., etc. Were the nineteen thousand missing men disabled? No. Seven out of twenty-two, a third, an enormous proportion may have been hit. What became of the twelve thousand unaccounted for? They had lain down on the road, had played dummy in order not to go on to the end. In the confused mass of a column of deployed battalions, surveillance, difficult enough in a column at normal distances, is impossible. Nothing is easier than dropping out through inertia; nothing more common.

"This thing happens to every body of troops marching forward, under fire, in whatever formation it may be. The number of men falling out in this way, giving up at the least opportunity, is greater as formation is less fixed and the surveillance of officers and comrades more difficult. In a battalion in closed column, this kind of temporary desertion is enormous; one-half of the men drop out on the way...."

So what we really need aren't just more hits, but a lot more folks looking for cover and a way out. We do no justice to the men who fought the war by implying that they had nothing to be afraid of.