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REFLECTIONS ON THE RESACA CAMPAIGN
                                               
by Dwayne Seale
  
                                                        

   On 19-21 May, PVT Glenn Milner and I had the pleasure of joining the 1st Tennessee for the Resaca reenactment. PVT McCulloh tried to join us Saturday night but was unsuccessful in locating the camp.  He later wrote “¼ when the 1st TN goes to ground you need a terrier to root them out”. The following recollections are based on my experiences and observations at Resaca.

   I arrived about noon on Friday and as I was making the transition from civilian to soldier I met with the unit 1st Sergeant.  He and I got our gear on and in the parking lot and walked into the bivouac site together. The campaigner site was directly to the rear of the trenches utilized in Sunday’s battles.  As we walked in, we passed some of the Bully Boys who were already on site.  The 1st Sergeant and I selected a nice spot on a hill behind the trench line.  It was free of underbrush, well drained, offered numerous small trees for running twine for shebang construction, had downed limbs for fire wood, and most important of all, was high enough to allow for an occasional breeze.

   As rain was predicted for the weekend, shebangs, dog tents, and a small tent fly or two were erected for shelter.  I used a shelter half to build a small shebang.  I avoided getting wet by making it low to the ground and by wrapping up in my gum blanket during the light but persistent rains we received Friday and Saturday nights. I kept my extra clothes inside my knapsack and used it for a pillow at night. My musket was kept well oiled and I kept it in the fold of my blanket at night. During the war, most soldiers were not as fortunate as I. Pvt Abram Glazener, 18th Ala Inf Regmt, Army of Tennessee, CSA, wrote the following in letters to his wife:  “We are campt in the woods at the same place we have been for 2 weeks. We have but very few shelters. We stretch our blankets for our shelters. It rained very hard here yesterday. The most of us got wet as the wind blew so our blankets did not turn the rain” On a separate occasion he wrote: “I took the rain, mud, lay on the wet ground for 10 days without blanket or anything to shelter with. I was wet 4 days that I never was dry. I can not tell you half what we did do.”

   After the shelters were up the next order of business was ration preparation.  Fires were easily started Friday afternoon as the tinder and wood was still dry. The 1st Sergeant allowed cooking by messes rather than having one large fire.  After the rains came fire starting became something of a problem, as dry tender was difficult to find.  Next time rain is forecast, I will cook most of my rations at the first opportunity.  A cold cooked potato is better than a cold raw potato. Some of the soldiers had trouble with ants getting into their haversacks; I hung my haversack off the ground on a nearby tree and did not have that problem. Although I didn’t starve, my stomach did feel a mite empty from time to time.  Pvt Glazener also had some comments on rations in his letters home: “We are living on a little bread pore beef now and then we get a bout as much bacon as will make one meal. If we could get bread enough I would not mind it but we dont get that as long as they will give me plenty of corn bread to eat I can do but I tell you I have bin hungry for 10 days all the time get up hungry lay down the same still I am better satisfied than I have been since I left home.”

   We were encouraged to wear knapsacks or blanket rolls during the battle scenario, which I think most, if not all, complied with.  If I had to do it over again, I believe I would go with just a blanket roll in the battles.  The knapsack, when loaded with blanket, gum blanket, extra clothing, and other incidentals really took a toll on me in the heat and humidity. In a July 7 1863 letter to his wife, Pvt Glazener wrote: “I have seen the hardest times I ever did before. We have retreated back to this place. I dont know how much farther we will have to go. I gave out. I thought the enemy might get me (fold) (but) I would do all I could to make my escape. I have laid on the ground with out anything under me for 12 days. I never saw the like in all my life so many men gave out clothes wagons mules horses and everything left strewn a long the way I came through with the wagon.”

   On Sunday morning, some hours before daylight, we were awakened and given the orders to pack up and be prepared to move out in 30 minutes.  After some grumbling, we did as ordered and formed up to get our orders.  We were to make our way through the Confederate picket lines and establish a Federal Picket line across the small creek separating the main Confederate camp from the battlefield and the main Union Camp further up the hill. Moving quietly in single file, we eluded the Confederate pickets and skirted the main Confederate camp.  Once across the creek we set up picket points to watch for an expected Reb incursion.  While half the company was on picket duty, the other half slept on arms.  Pickets were rotated on the hour.

   The expected attack did take place shortly before daylight.  As the alarm was given, the picket line was reinforced by the rest of our company and other troops from the camp and soon became a strong skirmish line.  The Confederate attack was repulsed after some serious skirmishing.  Soon after the Confederates retired, the bottom fell out and the rain commenced in earnest. After several of the 1st Tennessee members informed the company commander they were departing for home, I also gave in to the effects of sleep deprivation and begged my leave as well.  Due to loss of personnel the company ceased to exist as a fighting force and the commander said he would inform the battalion commander that the company no longer existed as an effective fighting force.

   All in all it was an interesting event.  The 1st Tennessee officers and NCOs made us feel welcomed. Glenn and I were complemented by LT Wallace (via e-mail) for our “pluck, impressions, and attitude”.  Their impressions were very good and they seemed to be at ease with campaigning. Overall impressions for the majority of Federal and Confederate troops were very poor.  Why do so many Confederates think that gaiters are a required uniform item?  There are still to many children in the ranks.  To the credit of the 1st Tennessee officers, I saw them send an 11-12 year old back to the Bully Boys for being to young and did not allow him to join us for the Saturday battle.

   The Saturday battle was pretty much the standard close order powder burner as last year.  This year’s battle took a tragic turn as a Confederate reenactor was felled by a heart attack and died on the field. The battle was delayed for about an hour and was then resumed.  During the down time the troops were marched off the field and allowed to rest in shade. 

 

Note:

Abram (sometimes written as Abraham) M. Glazener was in Co. I, 18th Regt, Alabama Infantry, CSA, and was killed September 19th, 1863 at the battle of Chickamauga. The 18th Ala Inf Reg was part of Claytons Brigade, in Stewart's Division at the battle of Chickamauga. The 18th Alabama Regiment suffered over 60% casualties in this battle.