'Schild en Vriend' is an old Flemish battlecry, used in the rebellion of the city of Brugge against the French, May 18, 1302. Legend tells that it was used to differentiate between the French-speaking (who could not pronounce 'schild') and Flemish-speaking citizens. Nowadays, historians tell us that it was probably 'Des Gilden Vriend'.
|It has to be noted that Stiff Jenkins suffered from severe paranoia and always heard Confederate troops sneaking up on him. This was the result of a stupid practical joke played on him some months ago. Jenkins had always had a tendency towards paranoia, but it really took an absurd form after two of his friends tied his shoelaces together while he was taking a nap, and consequently convinced Jenkins it probably had been a Confederate soldier who was trying to steel his shoes. Jenkins never recovered. Even after repeatedly explaining it had all been a joke, he still believed it had been the Confederates and that his friend were only trying to cheer him up a bit. The fact that he hadn't slept a minute since then had made matters only worse.|
But sometimes even the nutter's right (which reinforces their believe in the fact that they always are). A bunch of Union and Confed scouts ran in to each other. Officers were alerted, someone tried to calm Jenkins down, plans were made and troops were rushed forward...
The Initial plans
Major William H.B. Smith (Union) was a man of resolute thinking. No fancy things for him. The bridge was what had to be taken, so the bridge was what was going to be taken. He ordered Captain Richard 'Smoking Gun' Franklin and his "New Garden Spartan Band" forward to go and take the damn thing without delay.
On the other side of the river, Wally K.L.M. Sherridan was wetting himself. Could this be Sherman's main force? His scouts reported that they had heard a large body of troops shouting at each other (this was Jenkins getting excited). The fact that they did nothing to conceal their presence only underlined the fact that this was a large force. After changing his trousers, Wally ordered his Captain Billy Jo Bob Fontenoy forward to set up a defensive line along the river bank, and pray.
Smoking Gun Franklin shouted and yelled like a raving loony (no acting required), rushing his troops forward. He saw those damned Rebels coming at him at the other side of the river: if only he could cross the river before they reached the bridge. But - to his considerable horror - these looked like the only Confederates with shoes. If he did not hurry, they might even cross the river before he did.
While he was contemplating about this, the Confederate troops opened fire on his 4th squad which was at the back the column! My god those dudes were on amphetamines or EPO! No time to panic, just keep on going. By the time he reached the crossing, however, the Confederates had deployed their firing line and were loading their guns. Franklin could forget his stroll over the bridge. Now he had to fight his way across.
At this point B company of the Union troops was entering the battlefield squad per squad. To make sure that the Confederates didn't concentrate their troops at the bridge Major H.B. Smith ordered Captain McDowwel to start harassing and if possible cross the ford. In the mean time he galloped towards Franklin who was preparing for his overall big whopping charge at the bridge.
Major Sherridan on the other hand, hesitated in putting his D company squads on table. Maybe they were better as a reserve? Eventually he overcame his restrictions when he saw Union troops going for the ford. Time to plug a gap and he moved D company towards the fields overviewing the ford.
There was no way this could go wrong for the Union. All their troops were concentrated at one point, the bridge. The Confederates were stretched into a thin line. Okay, some squads had taken some heavy fire while getting this far, but still Smoking Gun Franklin was confident. He called upon Stiff Jenkins and Moose Daniels to do the job. The rest of the troops were to give supporting fire.
The "CHARGE" order was given, the men plunged forward, going for the bridge. There they got a clear understanding of the words "in the open", "close range", "sitting" and "duck". The Confederate troops gave them all they had. The supporting troops had to move trough open terrain and didn't give the support that was needed. It was a massacre. Moose Daniels' squad couldn't take it anymore and fled back off the bridge, seeking cover. Jenkins' men, on the other hand, kept on going. A large fraction of his squad reached Confed territory.
However, as Jenkins was giving the final charge orders to engage the Confeds hiding in the bushes across the bridge, his troops decided that this was too much for them. This was supposed to be a simple scouting mission, not a carnage! Looking at all the bodies on the bridge, the absence of support and the fact that the entire Confederate line was unscratched made them panic. In the face of the enemy, the fear of getting their shoes stolen from under them became too much to handle for Jenkins (particularly) and his squad and they fled in terror.
Major Smith (Union) became quite pale when he saw all this happen in front of his eyes. This was not good. Maybe things were better at the ford. At the bridge, all that could be done for the moment was take defensive positions after Jenkins' and Daniels' disastrous charge.
Captain Harry 'Kopeman' McDowell (Union, B Company) followed his orders to the letter. He had to harass the enemy in order to pin their forces until a breakthrough had been established at the bridge. There was no mention whatsoever of waiting until his B Company was completely on the battlefield. As a consequence, he sent his squads towards the trees guarding the ford one after the other. Unfortunately, this meant that they came under severe gunfire from the Confederates which could concentrate their fire on these single Union squads. As time passed, things got worse as finally the Confederate D Company started arriving and they started moving more and more troops towards the fields. By the time Harry realised that there wasn't going to be any breakthroughs at the bridge, two of his squads had already been severely shot to pieces. He tried to gather the rest of his troops to him but as soon as he advanced on the Confederate positions, two of his squads skeedaddled off to better places in search of happier times. There was no way he could force a way through the ford now.
After his initial fear of being charged at the bridge was gone, Major Sherridan (Confederacy) finally entered the battlefield. He couldn't believe what he saw. There were Union troops scattered everywhere. His men had repulsed them at the ford and he just saw the last of them clearing the bridge. Their morale was shot to pieces. This was the moment! He galloped towards Captain Billy Jo Bob Fontenoy and ordered him to charge those Yankees at the bridge. They still were in bad order, they should not be given the chance of reorganising themselves. Fontenoy shouted his orders across. Seconds later, Whammy Milders and his men charged across the bridge. There was no deadly fire awaiting them, as half of the Union troops were still in a panic. And the ones that weren't yet, would be seconds later. Squad after squad of Confed troops poured over the bridge, fighting their erstwhile brothers in a bloody hand to hand combat.
Seeing that all was lost, Major Smith surrendered his forces while Captain McDowell tried to escape with what was left of his Kopeman Fearnoughts.
Although the end result is quite in favour of the Confederation (no squads lost and only minor casualties on them vs. 5 squads lost and a whole lot of casualties), it could have turned out quite different. If Jenkins hadn't run off, the Union would have had the opportunity of getting behind the enemy line. To respond to this threat, they would have had to reorganise their line, which would take a while as Major Sherridan wasn't near. In other words, Stiff Jenkins became the Union's downfall. But then again, who would send a man like Jenkins into action...
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