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
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
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
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
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.
(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.