Excerpt from Civil War in Pictures by Fletcher Pratt, © 1955:
Just as the artists invariably pictured a charge as a line of men advancing shoulder to shoulder and in perfect step across ground that was nearly always accidented and frequently spotted with trees or brush, so the reporters nearly always spoke of the same thing. “Did you ever charge shoulder to shoulder?” a veteran of the war was asked. “No,” was his reply; “God don’t make men who could stand that.”
Yet the public continued to believe the convention rather than the reality, and there are not a few soldier diaries from the Civil War which express surprise over the discovery that it wasn’t true after all; that you advanced in a ragged line, taking advantage of every feature of the landscape and often pausing to fire.