Recruiting

Confederate Sharpshooter Units

Probably the most effective troops in the late civil war, wrote Captain John Laughton, Jr., a member of the sharpshooter battalion of Mahone's Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia, for the number of men engaged, were the sharpshooters. The value of this branch of the service became so apparent that companies and battalions were organized in most of the brigades of infantry. At first no provisions were made in the Confederate Army for sharpshooter units. However, troops soon saw the value of...

Training

Confederate Sharpshooter

One of the things most prized in sharpshooter service in both armies was the ability to estimate distances to targets. The US Army's A System of Target Practice for the Use of Troops, printed in Washington in 1862, called for a specific method of so doing. In the Confederate Army, the issued training manual was A System for Conducting Musketry Instructions, printed in Richmond in 1863. According to it, a squad was to proceed to estimate the distance of men within the limits of 300 yards, in the...

Introduction

Americans have long made their ability with rifles, something required on a frontier where most of one's food came from what Lone hunted, a matter of national pride. In the mid- 18th century the short, large-bored hunting rifles of German forests became long, slender, small-bored rifles used on the frontiers by men who were keen shots. When the American Revolution broke out it was natural that men used to these weapons would disdain the smoothbored, inaccurate musket, and pin their faith on the...

Select Bibliography

Confederate Scout-Sniper, The Civil War Memoirs of Barry Benson Athens, Georgia University of Georgia Press, 1992 Caldwell, J.F.J., The History of a Brigade of South Carolinians, known first as Gregg's, fid subsequently as McGoiuan's Brigade Philadelphia, Pennsylvania King amp Baird, 1866 Dickert, D. Augustus, History of Kershaw's Brigade, with Complete Roll of Companies, Biographical Sketches, Incidents, Anecdotes, etc. Wilmington, North Carolina Broadfoot...

On campaign

Since sharpshooter skirmish work made the individual walk and run further and work harder than the average infantryman of the line, sharpshooters burned more calories in the field. One of the main problems sharpshooters reported when on the march or camped in the field was a lack of proper rations. Private Henry Crowell, Company E, 1st USSS, wrote home on September 29, 1863, during the Army of the Potomac's fall campaign, We are all well I believe to day, but are short of rations and the boys...

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Major Eugene Blackford

Confederate sharpshooters were usually the first to go into action when a battle began. The duty expected of the sharpshooters was to establish and occupy the skirmish line, while the enemy was in front, noted John Laughton, Jr. of Mahone's Brigade's sharpshooter battalion, and to serve on the picket line in all day duty - being relieved at night by one of the regiments of the brigade and to serve as rear guard when on retreat. Its officers were also required to serve as scouts when the...

Union Sharpshooters

Union Sharpshooters

On the war's opening an expert shot, Hiram Berdan, proposed raising in the north a special unit of US Sharpshooters. Born in New York in 1823. Berdan wis a noted wealthy inventor, most of whose work had been with firearms. He was known as the top amateur rifle shot in the United States. Moreover, he had a special flare for marketing, although he totally lacked military experience. Berdan proposed a unit in which each potential recruit would have to pass a shooting test to become a member. A coi...

Camp and field life

Confederate Winter Camp

Winter put an end to active campaigning, and Confederate skirmishers built wood log huts and settled in to a routine. We were awakened in the morning by the reveille, and at the tap of a drum we formed the ranks and went out to drill and dress parade, and the tattoo sang us to sleep, Benson recalled. Major Dunlop described his sharpshooter battalion's camp inside the lines of Petersburg The standard infantryman's belt plates were worn by Confederate sharpshooters. Although the oval copper...

In camp

Aschmann Sharpshooter

The first camp of the US Sharpshooters was about a mile and a half from the US Capitol building in Washington. It was an unusual mixture of tents that had been supplied by the different states, with mostlv either Indian-teepee-like Sibley tents or A tents. Company D was especially proud of the circular wall tents that their state quartermaster provided. The men were assigned to their tents, 20 men to each Sible tent and four to each A tent. That first evening the men got acquainted with each...

Weapons equipment uniforms

Trenches Vicksburg

Lacking an adequate industrial base, the Confederate Ordnance Department was unable to supply weapons as sophisticated as the Sharps or Colt rifles to their sharpshooters. There were some Whitworth rifles already in service in the Confederate Army, but these were expensive and had to be imported through a blockade that was growing increasingly effective. Still, they were the weapon of choice for snipers, and, as they were essentially the same weight and size as the standard infantry rifled...

30th Virginia Battalion Sharpshooters

Mcgowan Sharpshooters

24th Tennessee Sharpshooter Battalion was formed in May 1863 and served with the Army of Tennessee until it surrendered in 1865. After Murfreesboro, in early 1862, an Army of Tennessee divisional commander, Major General Patrick Cleburne, ordered a sharpshooter company to be formed in his brigade. Stall officer Irving Buck recalled, he first directed that each commander should send him names of a certain number of the best marksmen in their regiments. From out of these, making the highest...

Goatskin Leggings Berdan

The arms problem was resolved before mass desertion took place, and the USSS went on to serve with the Army of the Potomac in all its campaigns. Specific companies began to be mustered out at the end of their service in August 1864, and companies were consolidated thereafter. On December 31, 1864, the 1st and 2nd USSS were consolidated into one battalion. The 2nd was officially discontinued on February 20, 1865, and the remaining companies were transferred back to line regiments of their home...