GDG- skirmish line vs line of battle

Nancy Householder pipecreek1430 at
Wed Jan 11 14:13:49 CST 2012

One of the few times  a line of KIA's was found, is associated with the attack by Iverson's brigade on July 1.
The next day, a Confederate artilleryman counted 79 NC soldiers dead, lined up as in a line of battle.
They were killed on the first volley.  That is why after the war, some survivors wrote an epitaph for
Iverson's Brigade at Gettysburg, " Unwarned, and  unlead,  Iverson's brigade moved forth to their doom.
Many NC widows and orphans were left to rue the rashness of that hour."

Nancy Householder

 From: Tom Barrett <tbarrett21 at>
To: 'GDG' <gettysburg at> 
Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 10:15 AM
Subject: Re: GDG- skirmish line vs line of battle
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
Likely the only chance you would see of a line of KIA's like that is if a
line of battle received a "well delivered volley" (or maybe a canister
round, but more likely the former...).  Otherwise, it could be the result of
ground fought over a number of times.  As you know, most casualties were
wounded, not killed outright.  That many killed outright, in a line, would
not be a common occurrence.



-----Original Message-----
From: gettysburg-bounces at [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at]
On Behalf Of keith mackenzie
Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 9:38 AM
Subject: Re: GDG- skirmish line vs line of battle

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
OK, I understood the principle, a little dim on the mechanics but both
explanations cannot fail to help achieve a greater understanding. Now, In
(both)you're considered opinion, are the bodies in the "Harvest of Death"
(HoD, for future ref) more likely indicative of a line of battle, or a
skirmish line? the spacing between the bodies may not prove anything, but
does it disprove anything?
Thanks for jumping in. Don't jump out now, I sense a breakthrough.
"Hello! I'm The Doctor."
(Dr. Who)


From: "CWMHTours at" <CWMHTours at>
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:

In your excellent description you do omit the principle of the  two....

There are two different purposes.

In a line of battle the intention is to heavily engage and  assault the 
enemy with all the forces you can bring to bear.  You are  committing all
forces that you can bring to bear with a face-to-face  confrontation at
quarters. in order to achieve victory.

Whereas.... a skirmish line is meant for the skirmishers to  not 
excessively risk themselves when possible but to perhaps take advantage  of
advantages to protect themselves while engaging the enemy.  The 
skirmishers' goal is not to overwhelm the enemy forces but to harrass,  slow
down, or 
even stop the progress of the enemy.  A skirmisher,  even when spaced some 
10 ft apart from the others can take advantage of such  things as trees and 

A line of battle is simply out there to assault and accept  loses as part 
of the cost.

That is the big difference and it hasn't been mentioned much  in the GDG.

It's about time I fixed this problem.

;-)  !!!

Your  Most Obedient Servant,

In a message dated 1/10/2012 11:31:15 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
durangoks at writes:

Esteemed  GDG Member Contributes:

In a skrimish line the soldiers are 10 feet to  10 yards apart.  In a line 
of battle soldiers are lined up almost  shoulder to shoulder.  That said, 
not every soldier in a line is killed.  so just because there is spacing 
between the men does not prove anything.  

Gary McGinnis                  
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