By Christopher Miskimon Coming upon the enemy’s rear guard outside the western Kentucky village of Sacramento, four days after Christmas 1861, Confederate Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest ordered his cavalry to advance. Ahead of them, a line of Union soldiers started to form, bayonets gleaming. Quickly, the bluecoat infantry formed its ranks and prepared to fight off the enemy cavalry, which had taken them almost unaware. Two lines of men formed the defense; the first line knelt, planting the stocks of their rifles firmly onto the ground, bayonets pointed out toward Forrest’s men. The second stood behind the first and aimed their weapons over or between the heads of their comrades. By the time they were ready, Forrest’s cavalry was a scant 20 paces away. The Union line presented a serious obstacle; the bayonets would impale horses and riders alike. Luckily for his men and animals, the wily and fierce Confederate officer had something other than an outright charge in mind. Almost as one, his horsemen raised double-barreled shotguns and fired at the enemy in a near-simultaneous volley. The effect was shattering. Huge gaps were torn in the Union ranks. Each barrel had been loaded with 15 to 20 buckshot that crashed into the hapless infantry in wide, jagged patterns. One Confederate veteran later wrote in his diary that the carnage reminded him of “a large covey of quail bunched on the ground and fired into with a load of birdshot. Their squirming and fluttering on the gr


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