Federal forces emerged from the fields, firing on the Confederate-held fort. Shortly after the battle began, a group of Confederate skirmishers emerged from the opposing woods, taking positions between the Federals and the fort. Federal forces engaged the skirmishers, with a fiery exchange ensuing. Several companies of Confederates emerged from the woods, strengthening the Confederate left flank as the Federals tried to push through but were repelled. Cavalry clashed, and dismounted cavalry fired upon the incoming infantry. As the Federal forces focused their assault on the center of the fort, the Confederates withdrew quickly into its walls, strengthening the defenses within. The Confederate national flag flew proudly from within the fort, and color bearers holding their charge with fortitude.
The Federal assault continued on the fort, their cannon bombarding the walls, only to be answered by the cannon defending the fort. As the battle intensified, a few Minié balls found their mark, taking men to the ground. Federals began pulling some of their troops to the left flank, attacking the Confederate right flank. Orders were shouted over the din, soldiers quickly responding to their officer’s and NCO’s commands. A company of Confederates poured over the embankment of the fort, positioning themselves to defend the attack against their right flank. The heat of battle intensified and the wounded began to fall.
Another barrage of cannon fire erupted.
One man was hit by a cannon ball that took off his leg. The medical corps on the field responded, using one of the walking wounded to hold him still while they stopped the bleeding and dressed his leg as well as possible. The Federals intensified their attack on the Confederate right flank. More Confederate forces poured over the embankment, shoring up the faltering line. Wounded continued to fall on both sides. The Federal line advanced, fired a volley at the Confederates, and reloaded. Then, with a roar, the Federal line charged the Confederates. Both sides shot into the other until clouds of gunpowder hung in the air. As soon as the lines clashed, the fighting became hand-to-hand, some falling immediately, some fighting for several moments before one fell. A Confederate NCO and Federal officer clashed, rifles crossed, unable to break the stalemate until another Confederate came and bayonetted the Federal who fell with a yell. A few more moments of hand-to-hand fighting and the remaining Federals surrendered.
That night, the flicker of campfires could be seen specked through the woods around the battlefield and nearby town. Bursts of laughter could be heard from time to time around the camps, and voices traveled softly across the breeze.
The next day, Federal forces drove into the town, man-handling the women and taking them prisoner, locking them and the parson on the local buildings. The women put up quite a fight, but were unable to defend themselves against the Yankees who possessed them, nor against those who raided their houses, stores, and smokehouses, leaving nothing for those in the town.
Suddenly, the sound of drum and fife carried through the town as Confederate forces pushed their way into the town, sending the Yankees retreating quickly out of the town towards the open field. Confederates pushed through the town, releasing the women as they went, and driving the last Yankee stragglers into the field, as another set of Confederate companies poured out of the nearby woods. The Federals regrouped, firing as they went, while the Confederates poured into the fort and surrounding area, one company driving the Federals out past the fort and well into the field. A skirmish unit emerged from the woods and took the field while the rest of the units poured into the fort and reinforced the left flank. The skirmishers kept fire on the Federals while the rest of the army got into position. They ran interference, causing the Federals to have to respond.
The more the battle raged, the more the ire of the Federals grew. The Federal left flank took a knee. “Fire by file.” Musket fire erupted from the right end of the line to the left, spewing a steady stream of fire into the opposing line. More and more pressure was placed on the Confederate right flank, trying to make it break. Confederates poured over the fort embankment, the front line taking a knee and returning fire while the rest fell in behind them. More Confederates were moved into place, increasing the barrage against the Federal assault. Color bearers and field medics moved into place behind the line at the right flank. The fiery exchange continued as more men fell. The Federals kept pressure on the Confederate right flank, while another Federal company fell back and into a new formation.
At the sound of the bugle, the Confederates rose, and marched beyond their barricades, driving the Federal forces back and away from their right flank. Confederates covered the ground quickly, pushing the Federals on a run back to their own artillery, or dying on the field. Several dead Federals were stripped of their extra cartridges and caps, allowing the Confederates to continue the bombardment.
Then suddenly, without warning, the group of Federals that had pulled back let out a roar and drove straight for the center of the fort. The Confederates holding the fort scrambled to stop them as they fiercely attacked. The Confederates who had been pushing back the attack on the right flank watched as the Federal forces attacked the fort, climbing up the fort walls and into the fort. A Federal corporal was shot at the top of the wall, fell backwards and rolled down the embankment to die in the field. His burly redheaded Lieutenant climbed to the top of the wall and stood there for one moment as if he ruled the world, before being shot down. More Federal troops were shot down before the last few surrendered. Thus, the battles for Little Manassas ended with a Confederate Victory.
Little Manassas reenactment takes place at Fort Wallace-Wood in Manassas, Georgia and was held on March 18-19th, 2017. It is built on 25 acres of privately owned property. While no battle actually happened at this location, it is a chance to show one type of battle that took place in the South, as well as providing an opportunity to educate the public about our history, and about being a soldier during the American War Between the States. Both Federal and Confederate camps were open to the public. Meals were cooked over open fires, and authentic camping demonstrated. Drill and parade took place every day. On Saturday morning, there was a ladies tea hosted by the Wood ladies, which featured good food, fellowship, and a craft of creating decorative hairpins that might be used at a ball. Saturday night there was a camp show, starting with a theatrical rendition of Briar Rabbit, and including such performances ranging from a snake oil salesman variety show to musical performances. Reenactors from both Federal and Confederate infantry, artillery, cavalry, medical, and civilian all attended the event. There were several real medical issues during the weekend to which the medical personnel on sight responded and all recovered. The Confederate post continued its deliveries at Sunday morning parade with much glee from the troops. Sunday morning, a 1860s church service was held during which Brother Joey Young preached about the first and last sin sacrifice. Both days of battle were well attended, the sutlers visited, and there was lots of interaction with the attendees.
The battle at Fort Wallace-Wood in Little Manassas will take place on March 17 and 18, 2018, with school day on March 16. All amenities and $3 entrance fee. If interested, contact Tommy and Elaine Wallace at 912-293-7174.
-By Rosemary Connolly