A bushwacker was a person who used bushwhacking strategies, a form of guerrilla warfare common during the American Revolutionary War, American Civil War and other conflicts in which there were large areas of contested land and few governmental resources to control these tracts.
This tactic was particularly prevalent in rural areas during the Civil War where there were sharp divisions between those favoring the Union and Confederacy in the conflict. The term "bushwhacking" is still in use today to describe ambushes done with the aim of attrition.
Bushwhackers were generally part of the irregular military forces. While bushwhackers conducted well-organized raids against the military, the direst of the attacks involved ambushes of individuals or families in rural areas. In areas affected by bushwhacking, the actions were particularly inflammatory since they often amounted to fighting between neighbors, to settle personal accounts. Since the attacks were non-uniformed, the government response was complicated by trying to decide whether they were legitimate military attacks or criminal, terrorist actions.
In a quiet valley, five Indian sepoys rest and tend to their horses at their camp. They went over a map of a nearby colony, where the British occupiers have begun hoarding gunpowder in. Little did they know, however, that about a hundred yards away, a single soldier was spying on them. Putting away his telescope, he sprints away until he returns to four other volunteer bushwhackers of the Confederate Army.“Only five. Should be quick.” he told the lieutenant. The officer scratched his chin.“Mount up. We hit ‘em hard, then get lost.”
A couple minutes later, the Sepoy commander pours some tea as they continue to conduct their strategy. Suddenly, his attention is drawn to the horizon. Something doesn’t seem right. He listens intently. Nothing. He tries even harder. This time, he can faintly make out the clacking of hooves. The realization hits him.
“रक्षात्मक पदों! अभी व!” (Defensive positions! Now!) he shouted, reaching for his Beaumont-Adams revolver.
“यह क्या है?” (What is it?) one responded.
“कैवलरी आ!” (Cavalry approaching!) he answered rapidly.
Sure enough, five mounted figures rode into view. After spotting the camp below, they charge at full speed, shouting and hollering the entire time. In response, the Sepoys scramble to their combative positions. One of them finishes loading a cartridge into his Victoria carbine. He aims and fires. He misses the bushwhacker lieutenant but hits his horse in the neck. After neighing in pain, the poor creature crashes to the ground, sending the Confederate flying. This brings the bushwhacker’s charge to a halt. Seeing a window of opportunity, the Sepoy leader orders three of his men to charge. As the men take off running, he turns the remaining soldier.
“तुम, एक घोड़े को पकड़ो और मेरे पीछे हो जाओ.” (You, grab a horse and follow me.).
The bushwhacker lieutenant scrambles himself off of the ground. With his horse dead, he was as good as dead. His men had ceased their charge, throwing off their entire strategy. He turned and saw that three Sepoys charging. He unholsters his Colt Navy revolver and fires. After missing twice, he nails a Sepoy in the forehead, throwing him on his back .
Meanwhile, two horseback bushwhackers continue the charge, while the other two dismount and run to assist their leader. They help him to his feet. They then fire their Enfield musketoons at the charging Sepoys. One shot hit a Sepoy in the leg, sending him to the ground, As he tries to pick himself back up, another shot strikes him in the heart, killing him instantly . In response, his comrade aims his carbine and follows, hitting the bushwhacker in the throat .
Concurrently, the two mounted Confederates reign in their horses as they approach the camp. They gaze at it but find no one. “What the hell? You said there were five!” one shouts to the other.
“There were f-wait. Look!”
Just then, the Sepoy commander and his subordinate rise out from behind a hill, charging their American attackers. The leader fires his revolver rapidly, forcing the two bushwhackers to split. One of them tries to fall back, but the leader gives chase. The other Confederate charges at the remaining Sepoy, cavalry saber at the ready. However, the Sepoy readies his cavalry lance. When the two collide, its no contest. The lance pierces the bushwhacker in the chest, knocking him from his horse . After hitting the ground, he drags along with the Sepoy until he frees his lance from the body. He rides forward to inspect his fallen enemy, then charges in the direction of his commander.
The foot mounted Sepoy fires his carbine at the two pinned bushwhackers. The fire once again, but to no avail. Then, the leader smirks cockily. As the Sepoy reloads his carbine, the retreating bushwhacker approaches rapidly, reading his sword. The Sepoy notices him, turning and rushing to finish reloading. He is too late, however, as the bushwhacker swings his saber at the man’s face, killing him . His two comrades stand up smiling. The mounted Confederate raises his sword, laughing in victory. Suddenly, a bullet rips into the back of his head and exits his forehead. He drops his sword and slumps off of his steed . The two remaining bushwhackers then see the Sepoy commander charging on horseback with his smoking revolver, with another in tow.
Quickly, the lieutenant raises and fires his Colt. He kills the horse of the Sepoy commander, returning the favor and sending him to the ground. In spite of this, his comrade continues forward, talwar at the ready. In a pure act of audacity, the bushwhacker leader countercharges on foot. The mounted Sepoy swings his sword at the American’s head. The bushwhacker ducks, and parries. He sticks his saber into the Sepoy’s stomach. He cries out in pain and falls from the horse. The bushwhacker draws back his saber as the man dies .
Meanwhile, the Sepoy commander regains his footing. He turns to see a bushwhacker aiming a Colt revolver at him. He dives behinds his fallen horse for cover. While ducking, he notices his holster carbine on the saddle. He quickly unstraps it while the bushwhacker continues to fire. Soon enough, however, the revolver stops firing, only giving off the clicking of an empty cylinder. The Confederate is stopped dead in his tracks. With this, the Sepoy rises up and fires his carbine. The .733 caliber cartridge flies into the man’s mouth and exits through the back of his skull .
As he walks out into the open, he notices the remaining bushwhacker staring him down. Out of ammo, he unsheathed his talwar saber. Swords at the ready, both men charged directly at the other. Both draw back and clang their sabers together. After the shock wears off, the Sepoy uppercuts the bushwhacker in the stomach, dropping him to the ground. As the Confederate gets back up, he draws his Arkansas toothpick to dual-wield with his saber. He feigns at the Sepoy and slashes at the Sepoys stomach. The Indian dodges, and parries with his talwar. He nicks the bushwhacker on the upper arm. The bushwhacker responds by planting the toothpick in the Sepoy’s leg. He cries out in pain and anger. He socks the bushwhacker in the jaw. As the Confederate stumbles back, he draws back his talwar and swings. The sword strikes the bushwhacker across the throat. He clutches his throat and stumbles to the ground, dead .
After pulling the knife from his leg, the Sepoy raises his talwar in the air and shouts in victory.
WINNER: SEPOY MUTINEERS
While the Bushwhackers were undoubtedly the more brutal of the two, the fact of the matter was that the Sepoys were not only better trained but better armed. This a battle between a unit and a ragtag group of volunteers. Additionally, the bushwhackers preferred battle tactics were to hit and run or massacre a town or farm; they actually weren't much in a head-on confrontation, while the Sepoys were renouned, battle-tested soldiers. To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.