A.C.W.S.
Ltd (UK)

FORM SQUARE AGAINST CAVALRY

After encountering cavalry at Weston and Margham, I thought the following excerpt from a history of the 1st Tennessee might be of interest. The action took place at Resaca, Georgia, in May 1864. It proves that Confederate Infantry did form square against cavalry when unsupported. Mike Bussey

Halloo! Here comes a cavalry charge from the Yankee line. Now for it; we will see how Yankee cavalry fight. We are not supported; what is the matter'? Are we going to be captured? They thunder down upon us. Their flat-footed dragoons shake and jar the earth. They are all around us - we are surrounded. "Form square! Platoons, right and left wheel! Kneel and fire!" There we were in a hollow square. The Yankees had never seen anything like that before. It was something new. They charged right upon us. Colonel Field, sitting on his grey mare, right in the centre of the hollow square, gives the command, "Front rank, kneel and present bayonet against cavalry." The front rank knelt down, placing the butts of their guns against their knees. "Rear rank, fire at will; commence firing." Now, all this happened in less time than it has taken me to write it. They charged right upon us, no doubt expecting to ride right over us, and trample us to death with the hoofs of their horses. They tried to spur and whip their horses over us, but the horses had more sense than that. We were pouring a deadly fire right into their faces, and soon men and horses were writhing in the death agonies; officers were yelling at the top of their voices, "Surrender! Surrender!" but we were having too good a thing of it. We were killing them by scores, and they could not fire at us; if they did they either overshot or missed their aim. Their ranks soon began to break and get confused, and finally they were routed, and broke and ran in all directions, as fast as their horses could carry them.

When we reformed our regiment and marched back, we found that General Johnston's army had all passed over the bridge at Resacca [sic]. Now, reader, this was one of our tight places. The First Tennessee Regiment was always ordered to hold tight places, which we always did. We were about the last troops that passed over.

(Sam R. Watkins, "Co. Aytch", Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1987, pp.148-9)


The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, December 1997