Shock Troops of the Confederacy

Most Civil War infantry fought in line of battle, as shown above. They stood in two ranks, elbow to elbow, and fired by volleys. Officers and NCOs ("file closers") stood behind to keep the men in place. Although capable of putting out a lot of firepower to its front, linear formations like this were extremely vulnerable to flank attack and difficult to maneuver. This is an infantry brigade, with each color marking a regiment. Another brigade approaches from behind in a column of fours.

Skirmishers fought in open order, with soldiers spaced 3-6 paces apart, well in advance of the line of battle. Each man loaded, aimed and fired on his own. Controlling a strung-out skirmish line was difficult, even with the aid of a bugle. Since men were allowed to dodge, take cover, and run when pressed, many thought that this was "the favorite position of the experienced soldier." Although most soldiers got little or no marksmanship training, Confederate sharpshooters practiced extensively at ranges up to 800 yards, making them formidable adversaries on the skirmish line.

Major Thomas Wooten of the 18th North Carolina devised a unique method of capturing Federal pickets that he called "seine hauling." He claimed to have never lost a man while doing it, and "was liberally used by division, corps and army headquarters for ascertaining the enemy’s lines or movements.”

CFS Press Copyright 2006