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With it being winter time, what could be more appropriate than South
Carolinians stirring up a little mischief. This excerpt from A History of Kershaw's
Brigade, a memoir written by an officer in the 3rd South Carolina, describes a large-scale
snowball fight which took place between Confederate soldiers in the winter of 1862-1863.
Although the account is from the original, credit goes to Mr. Dickert at the Civil War Trust for the article I found online.
|The troops delight in "snow balling," and revelled
in the sport for days at a time. Many hard battles were fought, won, and lost; sometimes
company against company, then regiment against regiment, and sometimes brigades would be
pitted against rival brigades.
When the South Carolinians were against the Georgians, or the two Georgia brigades against
Kershaw's and the Mississippi brigades, then the blows would fall fast and furious. The
fiercest fight and the hardest run of my life was when Kershaw's Brigade, under Colonel
Rutherford, of the Third, challenged and fought Cobb's Georgians.
Colonel Rutherford was a great lover of the sport, and wherever a contest
was going on he would be sure to take a hand. On the day alluded to Colonel Rutherford
martialed his men by the beating of drums and the bugle's blast; officers headed their
companies, regiments formed, with flags flying, then when all was ready the troops were
marched to the brow of a hill, or rather half way down the hill, and formed line of
battle, there to await the coming of the Georgians. They were at that moment advancing
across the plain that separated the two camps. The men built great pyramids of snow balls
in their rear, and awaited the assault of the fast approaching enemy. Officers cheered the
men and urged them to stand fast and uphold the "honor of their State," while
the officers on the other side besought their men to sweep all before them off the field.
The men stood trembling with cold and emotion, and the officers with fear, for the officer
who was luckless enough as to fall into the hands of a set of "snow revelers,"
found to his sorrow that his bed was not one of roses.
When the Georgians were within one hundred feet the order was given to "fire."
Then shower after shower of the fleecy balls filled the air. Cheer after cheer went up
from the assaulters and the assaultantnow pressed back by the flying balls, then to
the assault again. Officers shouted to the men, and they answered with a "yell."
||When some, more bold than the rest, ventured too near, he was
caught and dragged through the lines, while his comrades made frantic efforts to rescue
him. The poor prisoner, now safely behind the lines, his fate problematical, as down in
the snow he was pulled, now on his face, next on his back, then swung round and round by
his heelsall the while snow being pushed down his back or in his bosom, his eyes,
ears, and hair thoroughly filled with the "beautiful snow."
After a fifteen minutes' struggle, our lines gave way. The fierce looks of a tall,
muscular, wild-eyed Georgian, who stood directly in my front, seemed to have singled me
out for sacrifice. The stampede began. I tried to lead the command in the rout by placing
myself in the front of the boldest and stoutest squad in the ranks, all the while shouting
to the men to "turn boys turn." But they continued to charge to the rear, and in
the nearest cut to our camp, then a mile off, I saw the only chance to save myself from
the clutches of that wild-eyed Georgian was in continual and rapid flight.
The idea of a boy seventeen years old, and never yet tipped the beam at
one hundred, in the grasp of that monster, as he now began to look to me, gave me the
horrors. One by one the men began to pass me, and while the distance between us and the
camp grew less at each step, yet the distance between me and my pursuer grew less as we
proceeded in our mad race. The broad expanse that lay between the men and camp was one
flying, surging mass, while the earth, or rather the snow, all around was filled with men
who had fallen or been overtaken, and now in the last throes of a desperate snow battle. I
dared not look behind, but kept bravely on. My breath grew fast and thick, and the camp
seemed a perfect mirage, now near at hand then far in the distance.
The men who had not yet fallen in the hands of the reckless Georgians had distanced me,
and the only energy that kept me to the race was the hope that some mishap might befall
the wild-eyed man in my rear, otherwise I was gone. No one would have the temerity to
tackle the giant in his rage. But all things must come to an end, and my race ended by
falling in my tent, more dead than alive, just as I felt the warm breath of my pursuer
blowing on my neck. I heard, as I lay panting, the wild-eyed man say, "I would rather
have caught that dn little Captain than to have killed the biggest man in the