On a foggy and damp morning in late June 1863, A.P. Hill’s Third Corps was marching through the Front Royal, Virginia, region. They were halted in by a massive traffic jam at the pontoon boats across the forks of the Shenandoah River. Soldiers were relaxing in a nearby field when a massive swarm of bats began darting and weaving just above their heads. Rebels grabbed sticks, rifles, bayonets, and anything else they could, and began swinging mightily at the diving bats. Bats chased soldiers; soldiers chased bats, and the field was soon filled with the spectacle of Hill’s finest engaged in a futile battle. Even General Hill and his staff joined in the merriment, as laughing soldiers tried to see who could knock down one of the swirling bats.
Alas, their batting average was .000, as every single bat managed to dodge the hundreds of weapon-swinging soldiers. An amused Front Royal farmer recalled, “The fun was most exciting, and the men made perfect pandemonium as they tried to hit the swift-flying little creatures. Though there were hundreds of men and an enormous number of bats, not one was struck.”