Confederate Infantry

The Infantry in the American Civil War comprised foot-soldiers who fought primarily with small arms, and they carried the brunt of the fighting on battlefields across the United States. As the Civil War progressed, battlefield tactics soon changed in response to the new form of warfare being waged in America. The use of military balloons, rifled muskets, repeating rifles, and fortified entrenchments contributed to the death of many men. Generals and other officers, many professionally trained in tactics from the Napoleonic Wars, were often slow to develop changes in tactics in response.

At the start of the Civil War, the entire United States Army consisted of some 16,000 men of all branches, with infantry representing the vast majority of this total. Some of these infantrymen had seen considerable combat experience in the Mexican-American War, as well as in the West in various encounters, including the Utah War and several campaigns against Indians. However, the majority spent their time on garrison or fatigue duty. In general, the majority of the infantry officers were graduates of military schools such as the United States Military Academy.

In some cases, individual states, such as New York, had previously organized formal militia infantry regiments, originally to fight Indians in many cases, but by 1861, they existed mostly for social camaraderie and parades. These organizations were more prevalent in the South, where hundreds of small local militia companies existed.

With the secession of eleven Southern states by early 1861 following the election of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln responded by issuing a call for 75,000 volunteers, and later even more, to put down the rebellion, and the Northern states responded. The resulting forces came to be known as the Volunteer Army (even though they were paid), versus the Regular Army. Infantry comprised over 80% of the manpower in these forces.

Infantry Organization

The typical infantry regiment of the early Civil War consisted of 10 companies (each with exactly 100 men, according to the 1855 manual of arms, and led by a captain, with associated lieutenants) and were designated with letters from the alphabet such as "A", "B", "C", "D", etc. (The letter "J" was not used because it looked too much like the letter "I".) Field officers normally included a colonel (commanding), lieutenant colonel, and at least one major. With attrition from disease, battle casualties, and transfers, by the mid-war, most regiments averaged 300-400 men. Volunteer regiments were paid by the individual states, and officers at first were normally elected by popular vote, or were appointed by the state governors (particularly the colonels, who were often the men who had raised and organized the regiment). As the war progressed, the War Department and superior officers began selecting regimental leaders, and the regimental officers normally selected the NCOs (non-commissioned officers) based on performance and merit, although the individual states retained considerable influence in the selection of the regimental officers.

Often, and always, according to the 1855 manual of arms, large regiments were broken into two or more battalions, with the lieutenant colonel and major(s) in charge of each battalion. The regiment may have also been divided into two wings, the left and right, for instructional purposes, only. The regimental commander exercised overall tactical control over these officers and usually relied on couriers and staff to deliver and receive messages and orders. Normally positioned in the center of the regiment in battle formation was the color guard, typically five to eight men assigned to carry and protect the regimental and/or national colors, led by a color sergeant. Most Union regiments carried both banners.

Individual regiments (usually three to five, although the number varied) were organized and grouped into a larger body (a brigade) which soon became the main structure for battlefield maneuvers. Generally, the brigade was commanded by a brigadier general or senior colonel, when merit was clearly evident in that colonel and a Brigadier was not available. Two to four brigades typically comprised a division, which in theory was commanded by a major general, but theory was oftentimes not put into practical application, especially when an officer exhibited exceptional merit or the division was smaller and trusted to a more junior officer. Several divisions would constitute a corps, and multiple corps together made up an army, often commanded by a major general.

Unit Nomenclature

Confederate Infantry Militia Regiments were named for the state in which they were formed in and a number indicating the newest Regiment from that state such as 4th Virginia, 1st Texas, 3rd Alabama. Some regiments were also given nicknames such as the 9th South Carolina was known as the "Pee Dee Legion" and 6th Alabama was known as "Montgomery Greys".

Confederate Infantry Brigades were known by the names of their commanders or former commanders. Some Brigades kept the name of their first commanders but most changed their name with each new commander. Such as the Brigade made up of 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry regiments was first commanded by Thomas J. Jackson and was known as the "Jackson Brigade" until after the first battle of Manassas or Bull Run in which he earned the nickname of "Stonewall" and the Brigade remained the "Stonewall Brigade" for the rest of the war regardless of who the commander was.

The Infantry Creed

I am the Infantry I am my country's strength in war, her deterrent in peace.

I am the heart of the fight where ever, when ever.

I carry America's faith and honor against her enemies.

I am the Queen of Battle.

I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained soldier in the world in the race for victory.

I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win.

Never will I fail my country's trust. Always will I fight on through the foe, to the objective, to triumph over all.

If necessary I will fight to my death.

By my steadfast courage I have won 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds.

For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight.

I forsake not my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless I am always there, now and forever.

I am the Infantry

Follow me!

Even though the above creed was written for today's infantry it hold true for the infantry of the past.

The Confederate Infantry Brigade

The BBCWR Confederate Infantry currently portrays the 33rd Virginia Infantry

Company E, "Emerald Guards"

Michael Allgeier, Brigade Commander

Tim Bell, Infantry Commander