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Poor Private
10-01-2007, 04:22 PM
I saw a reenactment battle recently that one of the tactics used by the union has me stumped.
What this company did was march into the battle in a column of 4's.
When they were in thier firing position the first group of 4 fired their muskets, then spilt into pairs and retreated to the rear , goin down either side of the column.
The column continued to advance and fire this way until the original front 4 were back in the front. They took hits so some 4's were 3's or even 2's.
I am courious as to what tacticle book they may have been using so that I could look it up.

lolifepvt
10-01-2007, 05:32 PM
We used to do this when we had drill---just for fun. Our captain dubbed it 'rolling thunder'. We thought it was something he had just come up with, as we were not aware of it being in any manuals. We only did it in an actual battle scenario one time at Resaca. It's pretty neat, if you have enough guys to effectively 'roll'. There again, not aware of it being in any of the manuals.


Lolifepvt
Greg Wright
28th Geo/123rd NY

Hardtimes
10-01-2007, 05:47 PM
When I used to attend the Mumford NY event it was called "Street fighting". It was also used at the 2006 "Death March" on the narrow trails. I'd guess it's a reenactor made up thing. I've always wondered if it had any basis in real CW history.
Bill O'Dea
Salt Boiler mess (http://rugglesrag.com/salt_boiler_mess.htm)

Poor Private
10-01-2007, 06:23 PM
So it seems like I am not the only one who has seen this? Was it effective?

tompritchett
10-01-2007, 06:42 PM
I saw this technique used several years ago at one of the Battle of Fredericksburg reenactments and asked the exact same question you did. Unfortunately, I am afraid that the resulting discussion may have been when we had the old forum software as I was not able to find it via the search function. I do not remember the details of the discussion but I do vaguely remember that there was some basis for the maneuver in the older manuals of the time. Essentially the unit is firing by the flank.

lolifepvt
10-01-2007, 06:49 PM
As Bill stated, it is probably a reenactor made-up thing, and not something I would readily recommend putting into a scenario until more historical research is done. This was about 15 years ago when we did it. Effective?? Well, depends on your perspective. For us, it was something that was just fun to do. Like yourself, the Federals were stumped, but on the other hand, they were also impressed. I kind of think of it as a way of developing co-ordination of marching and loading without hitting someone else in the noggin? I don't know....Any other opinions?


Lolifepvt
Greg Wright
28th Geo/123rd NY

lolifepvt
10-01-2007, 06:55 PM
Sorry, Tom. I replied before I read your post. If there is some fact to this, it would be interesting to find out more. Thanks.


Lolifepvt
Greg Wright
28th Geo/123rd NY

tompritchett
10-01-2007, 07:03 PM
Sorry, Tom. I replied before I read your post. If there is some fact to this, it would be interesting to find out more. Thanks.

No problem. Personally, I would hope that those individuals who responded with that information several years ago will weigh in once again as I would love to see it brought once more into the light of day.

GaWildcat
10-01-2007, 07:21 PM
Sounds like a modern "Ranger Roll".... fire and retreat, next guy fires and retreats etc etc etc, last fires, pitches a grenade, and hauls a.

I can say that in Skirmish order, firing in retreat is done thusly:

"In Retreat, March"

Skirmish line faces about and marches to the rear

"Commence Firing"

Ones stop turn and fire, turn and load on the march. When loaded and just past the Twos, twos stop, turn and fire and so on untill told to ceas firing, or told to halt.

toptimlrd
10-01-2007, 09:17 PM
I'll do some research, but I believe this is in one of the manuals as a method to fight in a confined area such as a town street where there is not enough room to form normal firing order.

cblodg
10-01-2007, 09:47 PM
As Bill stated, it is probably a reenactor made-up thing, and not something I would readily recommend putting into a scenario until more historical research is done. This was about 15 years ago when we did it. Effective?? Well, depends on your perspective. For us, it was something that was just fun to do. Like yourself, the Federals were stumped, but on the other hand, they were also impressed. I kind of think of it as a way of developing co-ordination of marching and loading without hitting someone else in the noggin? I don't know....Any other opinions?


Lolifepvt
Greg Wright
28th Geo/123rd NY

Actually its not made up, its called street firing. This was specifically designed for close-order fighting through a town where a regiment + would have to march through a town by the flank. The first four would fire then retreat to the rear of the column (loading all the while) then the next line would step up and fire.

It can be found in Casey's

Chris

Robert A Mosher
10-01-2007, 10:12 PM
Actually its not made up, its called street firing. This was specifically designed for close-order fighting through a town where a regiment + would have to march through a town by the flank. The first four would fire then retreat to the rear of the column (loading all the while) then the next line would step up and fire.

It can be found in Casey's

Chris


Chris -
Casey's Volume I, 114 (page 204) in the section on Skirmishers?

Robert A. Mosher

Gary
10-01-2007, 10:17 PM
I recall that thread and it arose with the 20th Massachussetts storming Hawke Street in Fredericksburg. In reality, they didn't use that tactic at all. They rushed up the best they could against the 13th Mississippi and suffered horrendous casualties. According to Pvt. Josiah F. Murphey said his company lost forty men in fifty yards. His Colonel, Norman Hall, said they suffered ninety-seven casualties altogether in that fifty yard advance. There was no time for such niceities as firing and returning to the rear as it increased one's time in the kill zone.

Pvt Schnapps
10-01-2007, 10:32 PM
See Stackpole's "1863 U. S. Infantry Tactics" (actually issued under Cameron's signature in 1861). "Street Firing" is there described at the end of the School of the Battalion. The manuever is conducted on a company front, either in advance or retreat, with the platoons breaking after a volley and proceeding to the rear of the column of companies on either side. In advancing, they rejoin when the rear of the column passes them and continue to the front. In retreat, they halt at the rear of the column and wait to be uncovered before firing and falling back.

I don't know of any provision for firing, either in advance or retreat, in fours when marching by the flank. But I could be wrong as it's not my particular area of interest.

cblodg
10-01-2007, 10:42 PM
Chris -
Casey's Volume I, 114 (page 204) in the section on Skirmishers?

Robert A. Mosher

I'm not entirely sure as mine is a copy from the US Regulars web site. I also have a copy of the stackpole book. Both Casey's and 1863 Tactics have it under it's own section under 'Street Firing.' Kind of like a grab-bag of tactics towards the end.

It is under the school of the battalion in the stackpole book.

cblodg
10-01-2007, 10:44 PM
See Stackpole's "1863 U. S. Infantry Tactics" (actually issued under Cameron's signature in 1861). "Street Firing" is there described at the end of the School of the Battalion. The manuever is conducted on a company front, either in advance or retreat, with the platoons breaking after a volley and proceeding to the rear of the column of companies on either side. In advancing, they rejoin when the rear of the column passes them and continue to the front. In retreat, they halt at the rear of the column and wait to be uncovered before firing and falling back.

I don't know of any provision for firing, either in advance or retreat, in fours when marching by the flank. But I could be wrong as it's not my particular area of interest.

As I interpret this, it can be done both in advance and in retreat. However if one reads it literally, then it is meant to be done in advance on an engaged street.

Pvt Schnapps
10-01-2007, 10:58 PM
It would be interesting to hear from some of our expert tacticians on this. I suspect that the section on "Street Firing" was really intended to be used on poorly armed rioters -- note the comment on the end about the use of the mounted howitzer. For actual information on how to conduct urban warfare -- including notes on breaking through houses and back yards -- it's hard to beat the entry on "Street Fighting" in Scott's Military Dictionary.

Hardtimes
10-01-2007, 11:21 PM
The original question was about fighting this way in a column of fours.

I'd still like to see the exact reference to that in any manual and would submit that it could be a reenactorism version based on platoons breaking after a volley and proceeding to the rear of the column of companies. I've looked and havent found any. But perhaps it's there.
Bill O'Dea
Salt Boiler mess

toptimlrd
10-01-2007, 11:49 PM
Found it in Casey's as did a few others here. Here is the very brief section:

Street Firing
STREET firing is the method of firing adapted to defend or clear a street, lane, or narrow pass, in the execution of which the company or platoon must be formed according to the width of the place, leaving sufficient space on the flanks for the platoons to file successively to the rear. When the column has arrived at the place where the firing is to commence, the commanding officer will give the word, Column, halt-Prepare for street firing. At this command, all the captains will pass by the right flank to the rear of their companies, covering the centre. The colonel next commands-Commence firing. The captain of the first company will promptly command: First company- ready- aim- fire-recover arms-outward face-quick march. The first platoon face to the right, the second to the left; the first platoon conducted by the captain, the second by the first lieutenant, will file right and left around the flanks towards the rear, halt on the flanks opposite the centre of the column, re-load, and as soon as the rear of the column has passed the platoons, the captain will command: Platoons-right and left face-march. At which command, the first platoon faces to the left, and files left, and the second to the right, and files right, and unite in rear of the column. At the instant the men of the first company recover their arms after firing, the captain of the second will order such company: Ready-and wait in that position until the front is cleared by the first company, when the captain will cause it to advance twice its front (followed by all the companies in rear), and fire, file down the ranks in the same order as prescribed for the first company. Firing in retreat is conducted on the same principles as on the advance, except that the companies fire without advancing, on the front being cleared by the former company; and, instead of halting on the flanks, the platoons will pass immediately to the rear of the column, counter-march, form, and re-loads The same principle will be observed in column of platoons as column of company. If a column by company find itself in a narrow street or pass, or in any position without cover for either flank or rear, and is suddenly menaced at different points, the colonel will cause it to form square, notwithstanding the general principle that a column by company, with a view to the square, will first form divisions; the colonel will close the column to half or platoon distance; the file closers of the eighth company will conform themselves to what is prescribed in paragraph 823, p. 357, for the file closers of the fourth division. These dispositions ended, he will command: Right and left, into line, wheel, quick-march! At this, briskly repeated, the leading company will stand fast, the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh companies will wheel by platoons, right and left, into line of battle, the right platoons to the right and the left to the left; the eighth company will close up to form the square, and when it shall have closed up, its captain will halt it, face it about, and align it by the rear rank; the right file of the first company will face to the right, and its left file to the left, and the outer files on each flank of the eighth company will face outward. The square being formed, the colonel will command: "Guides post;" at this, the field and staff, captains of the first and eighth companies, will enter the square. In case it becomes necessary to use artillery in the suppression of riots or insurrection, the mounted howitzer can be used with much effect, and without injury to property in the vicinity; the lightness and ready manner in which they can be conveyed from place to place make this arm peculiarly adapted for this purpose.

END.

(http://www.usregulars.com/Caseys%20School%20Battalion_files/csb17.html#_Toc83142000)

Of course this does not specifically state it is conducted in columns only "according to the width of the place" which means it COULD be done in a column of four if necessary. The idea it seems is to provide a method for firing when proper company or larger lines can not be properly formed.

Robert A Mosher
10-02-2007, 09:11 AM
This street fighting tactic, like many other of our period drills, was originally developed and used by troops using smoothbore muzzle-loading muskets. This greatly reduces the size of the 'kill zone' so that troops that have just fired and then are moving to the rear of the column would be less vulnerable. During the civil war, of course, all of the troops in the entire column would be vulnerable - in which case they are depending upon the engagement moving forward and ending the skirmish quickly. It is not a formation or a tactic that you would want to use in a slowmoving long drawn out scenario. (Unfortunately, the good citizens of 21st Century Fredericksburg appear reluctant to allow us to take cover in and around their homes!)

Robert A. Mosher
The Military Philosopher
http://militaryphilosopher.blogspot.com/

Kevin O'Beirne
10-02-2007, 12:46 PM
When I used to attend the Mumford NY event it was called "Street fighting". It was also used at the 2006 "Death March" on the narrow trails. I'd guess it's a reenactor made up thing. I've always wondered if it had any basis in real CW history.


I too have seen "street fighting" used at various reenactments that take place in period or periodish museum villages like those at Mumford NY, Monroe NY, Rockton ON, and others. Like Bill, I've also seen it used in woodland settings when reenactors have too few men to man a proper skirmish line and/or have little inclination to venture into thick undergrowth.

I have not seen a period manual where this tactic is specified, but I suppose it exists somewhere.

I've read various forum posts over the years where folks have provided some (albeit, as I recall, limited in quantity) references to a type of this tactic being used in the Civil War.

What I have most often seen at events, however, doesn't square with documented history or manuals. There's a reenactor preference to want to move into "combat" firing like a modern tank or battleship, using a style of tactics akin to "covering fire" in modern tactics, thus the fondness for "street fighting" no matter what the reenactment setting. Sometimes I wonder if some officer impressionists aren't teaching a variation on "street fighting" to their men also to show that "they know stuff not in the regular manual"--but that's probably just an unkkind supposition by me. I hold these views because, in the vast majority of tactics situations at reenactments, traditional moves out of standard period manuals such as Casey's, Hardee's and its variants, and Gilhams, to name just three, are more than sufficient. Unfortunately, the "standard maneuvers" are rarely known fully (or in some cases even in part) to the officer impressionists giving the commands and running the drills, and even less so to their non-comms and men.

For example, why use "street fighting" in woods when the proper tactic is probably a skirmish line or--something you don't see often in reenacting--fleeing? Why use "street fighting" in an open field at all, when the double-quick and properly deploying into line from the flank or from column is the best way to get the most firepower on the opposing side? (when one thinks of it, "street fighting" in a field is ridiculous because the opposing force probably has something called artillery which, in the Civil War and other conflicts, just loved to fire at massed infantry formations such as used in "street fighting").

My philosophy is to attempt to master, or at least become largely familiar with, the basic stuff before bothering to learn the exotic and rarely-used, such as "street fighting".