Monday, May 5, 2014

The Wilderness

150th Battle of the Wilderness

Spotsylvania, VA

May 3-4, 2014

The trip was long.

I set my tent in a tight corner by the Colonel's tent.  The Independent Guard had two of the their companies—the 50th Virginia and the 5th Kentucky—in attendance, and the 2nd Florida joined us.

The morning was early.  I woke to the 4 am sound of drums in the distance.  We wrestled up and all were strongly encouraged to participate in the tactical that would have us marching out at 5:30.

The march was long, but took us into the woods where, I was told, parts of the original Battle of the Wilderness was fought.

I had never been involved in a tactical of the scale that we had—I never saw all the reenactors involved.  In the woods, the fighting was different than I was used to.  I've done this on the small scale, with a few companies wandering around—but never with several full battalions, struggling to keep their lines as trees, creeks, and underbrush got in the way.

It became a battle of confusion—Yankees first coming at us from one direction, then another.  At one point, the 5th KY, established as the third and last company of the battalion, somehow got turned around and ended up on the right wing.  And first company—the 2nd FL—vanished as they pursue some Yankees deep into the woods.  The experience was of one of the best tacticals experienced.

The afternoon battle took us onto a field that would have been huge for the numbers we're used to, but for the numbers that were there, it was a bit small.  The field was perhaps 100 yards wide, and Confederate soldiers line the entire back end of the field.

The battle was relatively uneventful.  We pretty much lined up toe-to-toe against the Yankees and blasted away until they left the field.

Courtesy Roddell Durbin
The Sunday battle held more excitement.  We were to advance into the mule shoe of the Battle of the Wilderness, but in a bit of confusion, the ANV Division completely blocked the path for us and the battalion we were relieving—so we adjusted and took up positions in the trench beside the shoe.

We were able to adjust, but it put us into a part of the scenario that we weren't fully aware of the details of.  Originally the Yankees were to take the trenches where the battalion we relieved was located three times, with the third time pushing the battalion away to where the reserve battalion would push the Yankees back.

Instead, that Confederate battalion left early—probably because the Yankees were late in their first push, so we encountered the second and third overruns, which led to terrible confusion when the Yankees expected us to break, and we didn't.  There was a bit of an argument, but someone finally pointed out that now it was starting to look stupid—so we pulled back, and the battle promptly ended.

Overall, it was an enjoyable weekend.  Sometimes these fits of confusion add to the experience.

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