Sunday, February 22, 2015

Prattville Dragoons February 2015 Camp Meeting - Part 2

Mr. James Hammonds was the guest speaker for the February Camp 1524 monthly meeting.  Mr. Hammonds was an original founder of the Battle of Selma reenactment and is President of The April 1865 Society which is the official sponsor of the 150th Battle of Selma Reenactment and which is erecting a series of a dozen Battle of Selma Historic Markers throughout the city of Selma.  Mr. Hammonds estimated the financial benefit and impact of the Battle of Selma reenactments at over $6 million dollars and anticipates that the upcoming Sesquicentennial event will be the largest ever with double the number of reenactor participants.  The 150th Battle of Selma Reenactment will be held on April 25-26, 2015.

The April 1865 Society has three main activities, 1) sponsor of the Reenactment of the Battle of Selma, 2) donations to the Alabama State Archives flag preservation efforts with funds raised thru T-shirt, food and souvenir sales at the reenactment event and thru membership dues in the Society, and 3) the erecting of historic markers in Selma to commemorate Wilson's Raid and the Battle of Selma.  The Society hopes to erect ten additional markers this year before the Battle of Selma Reenactment to form a historic trail for visitors and tourists to Selma.

The markers include a period map of the City of Selma which was drawn by Major General J.H. Wilson himself showing the fortifications around the city, the city street grid and railroads as well as the locations of the structures that were burned the day of April 2nd during the Battle as well as showing the position of the forces at given periods of time during the Battle.

Wilson approached Selma with 13500 men and two four gun artillery batteries.  The UNion forces captured 32 Confederate guns and over 4000 rounds which were arrayed in defence of the city and in the armory works. Union Generals Long and Upton were part of Wilson's forces and moved south toward Selma where they met the Confederate defenders positioned in an arc protecting the roads coming into Selma from the North including Range Line Road the primary thoroughfare. The infantry including mostly local militia and cavalry including Forrest formed this first line of defence and the artillery were positioned in a second line of defence back toward the city center.

Union troops approached about 2pm and around 3pm, Confederates with Chalmers' brigade attacked Long from the rear.  This prompted the Union forces to hasten their forward attack and at 5pm the Union Army struck the Confederate line with approximately 5000 men.  The balance of the Union forces were protecting the rear and were still advancing into the area. The Confederate line was protected by four hundred yards of abatis, felled trees with sharpened limbs facing the oncoming Union troops.

Almost 300 casualties were reported by the Union forces, a very high rate for the short length of the engagement and skirmishes with many officers killed including General Long. But the Union forces flanked the Confederate line and took many Confederate cavalry and forced General Forrest and the remnants of his men to retreat from the city.  The Union and Confederate forces were approximately equal in number but the old men and young boys comprising much of the militia were out-gunned with their old muzzle loading muskets facing the Union infantry with their Spencer repeating rifles which could fire at six or seven times the rate of the muskets. The Confederates retreated back to the inner line of defence and the railroad line when the Union forces charged with sabers twice finally forcing the defenders into disarray, eventually either escaping or surrendering.
James Hammonds Addresses the Dragoons Camp Meeting

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