Topic: Cold Steel
The Compiler, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 23 June 1862
The dispatches from General McClellan's army have several times spoken of a "regular bayonet charge." The pride of the English army has been in bayonet force.—But the dispatches state something unusual, and which must be considered complimentary to the enemy as well as to our own soldiers. We allude to the remark that the enemy were driven a mile, "during which one hundred and seventy-three rebels were killed by the bayonet alone." It is a very rare occurrence that men stand the approach of a well directed bayonet charge, and it is understood that the highest courage and daring are necessary to resists it. There are stories extant of regiments meeting bayonet to bayonet, and crossing weapons. But we do not find any authemtication of these. One favorite military anecdote relates that an English and a french regiment once met in that way and stood pressing against each other without wounding a man for a full half hour. In the Mexican war we carried several important points "with the bayonet," but this was seldom with any direct heavy charge in line.—We once asked a distinguished officer whether one of those charges was an old fashioned bayonet charge in solid rank.—He laughed and said it was very different. When the word "charge" was given the men started on a run, yelling and shouting, and throwing off all encumbrances as they ran. The very appearance of a body of furious tiger-like men, approaching at a full run, and making the air hideous with their cries, frightened the enemy from his position, and it was seldom that a man had a chance to touch another with his bayonet.