The "Click Rule"
By Frank Chamberlain — 10th Mass. Light Infantry
Here's a suggestion for solving the problem of deciding who becomes a "casualty" in the sham battles we perform for the public. To the best of my knowledge, this idea was originally broached by Norm Fuss of the 2nd NY and was published a couple of years ago in The BAR Courier.
Norm called it the "Click Rule" and it works like this: If your musket misfires, you're a casualty! As soon as you can do so safely, dump your charge and, when next your unit is fired upon, die gloriously! Simple, isn't it? The beauty of this solution is apparent if you look at how it works; early in a battle, when everyone's musket is clean, and the lines of troops are far apart, there should be relatively few casualties — later on, when muskets are foul from firing and the lines have closed to short range, the number of misfires, and casualties, will increase. Also, it's a wonderful incentive to get everyone to take better care of his musket -- "he who fails to wipe his frizzen, from the ranks he'll soon be missin'" (sorry, couldn't resist). This system quickly eliminates non-firing muskets from the ranks while doing away with the inevitable sight of one or two tinkerers skulking behind the ranks fiddling with their locks. Finally, it's fair — almost everyone has a misfire now and then.
While not an absolutely perfect solution (what ever is?), this method could go a long way toward eliminating our tendency to be overly shot-resistant early on and to expire in heaps at the end of the battle. There's nothing much more embarrassing than deciding to die en mass, only to have the unit opposing you simultaneously misfire — what to do then? Kiss and make up? Norm's "Click Rule" may point us toward a solution. Worth thinking about....