Ya wanna talk embarrassing? I’ll tell ya embarrassing. It’s your Captain hauling your arse over a fence in the middle of a battle.
It was a tall fence. It was a really tall fence.
Honestly, it was a combination of a lot of things, most of which were my short legs and the gaiter tops. I really, truly despise those contraptions. Some other time I’ll expound on the topic of gaiter tops. On paper, they sound like a great idea. Ours is an early-war impression and we can document that the 35th had them. The trouble is, they’re death traps for short people (which was not a problem for actual grenadiers. Those entitled giants.) They lay flat against the knee when the legs are straight, but stick out when the knee is bent. So, per se, if you’re marching through tall grass, your gaiter tops are om nomming the vegetation all the way.
And getting stuck in the slats of the fence you’re trying to climb.
The Rebels had the fence for most of the battle. Toward the end, our battalion was in a fantastic position to take possession, but we were told to hold back. The men of the regiment next to mine were practically chomping at the bit, begging the officers to let them go. When finally we were allowed to charge the fence, I was expecting a bayonet charge. Then again, I’m always expecting a bayonet charge. But no, we marched up with muskets fully loaded and I assumed they meant for us to line up along the perimeter and take pot shots at the fleeing militia, but you know what happens when Privates start thinking. Next thing I hear is orders to knock down the topmost rail.
Oh no, I thought. Oh NO.
Everyone on either side of me mounted the gargantuan monstrosity like it was a Sunday promenade in the park. But I’m a major-league klutz. And I’m short. My first attempt resulted in tangling my gaiter tops between the rails. So did my second attempt. I handed my musket off to one of my mates who had already successfully scaled the leviathan. I can only guess he utilized black magic. I got both hands on the rail and scaled, but the gaiter tops got stuck, my leg wouldn’t go high enough, and the slat beneath my foot was rotating precariously. I was about two seconds away from forgetting the whole thing and taking a hit when the good Captain swooped down out of nowhere and dragged my uncoordinated rear over the top. I’m so glad everyone had their backs turned.
It’s one of those things I’m looking back on now and laughing at, but at the time it was pretty mortifying. I’m going to continue blaming my height and those damn gaiter tops, because come on, I have to blame it on something. And honestly, probably nobody even noticed. But I know.
So yeah. The gaiter tops did it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.