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Date Posted: Thursday, July 19, 6:47pm
Author: Michael Corso
Subject: Civil War Combat


I cut the following directions from the event chairman for Maryland My Maryland, and found it to be very interesting in his observation of how we reenact our "combat" scenerios. In reading I have noticed that we are doing more "fire by file", but parade precision is still first and foremost our priority.

Dear Participants,
Last week we went over how to "Look 1862" this week I wanted to discuss how to ACT 1862.

For no matter what you wear, if the scenarios look like the drill field, all the hand stitched button holes in the world will not balance it out.

Acting the Part in Reenacting

How many times have you seen a battle line at an event in perfect order, soldiers smiling and laughing and standing 40 yards from the enemy, blasting perfect volleys?

Then ask yourself how many times have you read accounts of that happening anytime between 1861- 1865.


That is one aspect that the hobby fails miserably at, actually looking like Civil War Combat. One good friend of mine once said reenacting battle look like two beached whaled hitting each other with their flippers.

At Maryland, my Maryland we will stepping out the "box" and ACTING the part of soldiers under fire.

Often soldiers would remark that there was never a volley fired by their regiment the entire war. When the enemy approached they opened fire, battle lines were never perfect, some soldiers standing, lying down, taking cover, screaming and yelling incoherently, the rear of the line a mass of humanity with far more walking wounded headed to the rear than dead on the ground. File closers attempting to keep the men in line, yelling and shouting.

Some soldiers crying, others hiding behind comrades, others loading and firing automatically, with no regard to anything or anyone around them.

Soldiers when shot, would be flung to the ground, their bodies in shock, and would often be seen tearing at their clothing to find where they had been hit...often they would then stagger to the rear, lost and disoriented.

When advancing the units did so firing as they came, the attacks often in a ^ shape, with the colors at the apex...troops leaning into the attack like into a driving rain, hunching together.

When falling back, the colors were sent to the rear, and the men broke and ran to the rear, and reformed on the colors, never marching backwards or about facing in the presence of the enemy.

Absolute loosely controlled chaos.

At Maryland my Maryland this is what we are requiring.

Combat in the Civil War was a terrible, murderous affair. Not parade ground precision.

We are asking you to properly honor those men, buy following the scenario exactly, and while in the end we all get to get up and go home, remember those Boys did not, and by portraying them to the best of our ability in appearance and actions we honor the sacrifices they made.

You will be assigned a historical unit, and you will do exactly as they did. If you are to flee to the rear at a certain point, you break and RUN. Soldiers NEVER NEVER about faced and marched off the field.


If you are to attack, it should be a howling mass of humanity surging forward, often in a ^ shape, with the colors at the apex, and total chaos all around them, leaning forward as if in a driving rain.

Casualties should be an 11-1 ratio of wounded to killed outright, or even higher....so no one should just drop and lie there. Rolling, screaming, crying, struggling the rear....the rear of the lines should appear as a broken flood of human wreckage.

However - IF YOU ARE ASKED - you must tell if your "wound" is real or simulated. Break first person, tell them, and then go back to ACTING.

To often I have seen event that look like two sides trying to out drill each other- this will not be the case at Maryland my Maryland- fast furious action, chaos on the lines, and following the footsteps of our forefathers in portraying their actions as per historical record.

All for now, more to come!


S. Chris Anders

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