Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Death of a Battalion - 1862

One of the fun programs conducted when I was at South Mountain State Battlefield was recreating the 3rd South Carolina Battalion. The students would recreate a 28 man company of this unit where each was given a name tag. Red meant killed, blue was wounded and black was a man who survived the battle, but was missing or captured. Here are the SOPs or Standard Operation Procedures for this program. - John A. Miller

During the Battle of South Mountain, the 3rd South Carolina Battalion lost more than 70% of it's men during the fighting at Fox's Gap with in twenty minutes of their deployment. 
3rd South Carolina Battalion at Fox’s Gap
Intended Grades: 4th – 5th Grades (Approximate running time, 1 hour to 1 hour and a half)

Background Unit Information:
The 3rd Battalion of South Carolina Infantry was mustered into service and served around the fornications of Charleston, South Carolina. In June of 1862, the 3rd South Carolina Battalion, which was part of General Thomas Drayton’s Brigade was ordered to Richmond, Virginia, where it was assigned to be part of Jones’ Division. During the Battle of Manassas in August, General Drayton’s Brigade was ordered to attack, holding the right of the Confederate Army, but they arrived too late to assist in the battle. During the Maryland Campaign, Drayton’s Brigade was here at South Mountain during the battle at Fox’s Gap. Drayton, once again not following orders, launches his attack. The end result was more than 70 percent wounded, captured and even killed within a twenty to thirty minute period. At Antietam, Drayton’s Brigade was low on man power, but did fight during the bloody battle. By November of 1862, Drayton’s Brigade was disbanded, sending the remaining units to other brigades. The 3rd South Carolina Battalion was ordered to be part of Kershaw’s Brigade. 

Sam Puckett, 3rd South Carolina Battalion, Describing the Battle of South Mountain:
“Simpson, the color bearer and one of the color guards was shot down, then the other color guard R.C. Puckett was also shot down. The flag was shot to pieces and the staff was broken. In a few minutes there was no one to be seen, and it seemed all had been killed and wounded. Seeing two Georgians trying to escape, I started with them, when one of them was struck with such force by a cannon ball that he hurled against me, knocking me down, where I lay unconscious until I was captured. My company only went into action with 28 men and only 4 out of that number escaped.”

The Main Theme:
The students will obtain a better understanding of what life was like for the Civil War soldier by interacting with a Civil War Living Historian. The Civil War Living Historian will show students many items using museum quality reproductions consisting of uniforms, accouterments and personal items. In return, the Living Historian will then break the participants up into groups of 28, simulating the 3rd South Carolina Battalion, issuing the children toy muskets and haversacks. The group will then recreate the 3rd South Carolina Battalion, Company A from the School of the Soldier to after Antietam going through a timeline of events that led them to and from South Mountain. 

Students will be able to learn how soldiers from the Civil War era learned the school of the soldier by learning the drill and marching orders of a company. 

Before the arrival of students, they will need to pick one sergeant, one color bearer and one Lieutenant for each group of 28 students.
The living historian will be the overseer and teach children the School of the Soldier, the Manual of Arms and will drill them.
Toy muskets will be issued.
Haversacks will be issued.
One kepi for commanding officer will be issued.
Upon arrival, the historian will give students an orientation of the park and go into a brief overview of the 3rd South Carolina Battalion. Groups of students should have no more than 28 students each. 
Name tags of 24 real soldiers that were casualties will be issued. Red for killed, blue for wounded, black for captured/missing.
Students then will be issued accouterments and report to the living historian.
School of the Soldier will commence.
Manual of Arms learning session
o Formation of Company
o Attention Company
o Shoulder Arms
o Order Arms
o Ready, Aim and Fire
o Right Face
o Forward March
o File by Right
o Halt
Students will then take a break and reform to recreate the timeline of the 3rd South Carolina Battalion from Charleston, South Carolina to Antietam in Maryland.
Students will prepare for the attack, marching across open land at Washington Monument State Park. As the living historian picks out individuals to take a knee, students will see how quickly casualties takeover their command. Those instructed to take a knee will be casualties of battle.
After the 3rd South Carolina Battalion is transferred to Kershaw, the historian will ask them what went wrong and how this devastation could have been avoided. Students will take time to answer questions and relate that information into modern terms in their daily lives.
Students will be mustered out of service and the next group will take over.  

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