The table is set. In a long line under a cover of trees I’ve deployed my brigade of veteran Alabama regiments; the 19th, 22nd, 25th, and 26th. Rice’s brigade of Tennesseans is in attack columns behind us. Across a quarter mile of open fields and snake rail fences we face a strong Union brigade supported by a battery of 3” rifles. These are Alley’s troops; she has them entrenched along a fence at the base of the hill… The hill we must seize.
The plan is solid. We’ll cross the field and fences then assault the Yanks who hold the snake-rail at the base of the hill. Rice’s Tennessee boys’ll then pass through and take the heights. We’ll hit hard and fast. Momentum and bayonets are the keys.
As my Alabama boys step out of the woods sunshine glitters off 1600 bayonets. In the distance the Yanks are a blue smudge along the fence. ‘Forward Alabama!’ As the 3” Rifles seek our range more Union troops surge out of the trees to reinforce the fence line. We’ve gotta move!
400 yards is a lot of ground to cover!
Alley’s artillery overshoots at first. Then they switch to solid shot. I can feel the impact in my bones. Hung up crossing a fence, the 26th now catches hell from the 3” Rifles. They lag behind; the rest of us realign and keep moving!
200 yards is a lot of ground to cover!
The Yanks are clear now. Puffs of smoke rise from individual muskets - nervous shots too far away to have much effect. Better to get closer before returning fire. Closer now - the Yank line disappears in a rolling cloud of smoke dotted by tongues of flame. Our advance shudders as their volley plows into us. My boys catch their breath; ‘Keep moving!’
100 yards is a lot of ground to cover!
Closer, closer… At less than 100 yards we pause to open fire! Levelling our muskets we cut loose a blaze of death into the enemy lines. This is the killing ground. Controlled volleys quickly decay as troops fire as fast as they’re able. It’s a place of deafening noise, confusion, and destruction.
The 26th has been shattered by the musket and artillery fire. They skedaddle out of range. Once they catch their breath they’ll rally and reform. The 25th is wavering; its brave commander struggles to keep his men in the firing line.
50 yards is a lot of ground to cover!
Gotta get the brigade moving or we’ll be chopped to pieces! I wrench the flag from the color sergeant of the 19th - he knows what’s next. A screech splits the air as the regiment joins the sergeant in a ferocious rebel yell. The boys from the 22nd pick up the battle cry...
‘Alabama - Charge!’