Battlefield Dispatches 230: ‘Portfires Light the Way’

Traveling by the darkness of night during the Civil War was often fraught with danger and could be hazardous to one’s health.

This was especially true when traveling on rough roads or roads that passed through heavily wooded areas or swamps at night. The following after action report describes how one creative “Union” Major used antiquated ignition devices known as “portfires” to “light” the way as his patrol or scout passed through a thickly forested area in southeast Missouri in the dark of night.

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