Color Plate Commentary

A. US SHARPSHOOTER

A sergeant of the US Sharpshooters, in his unique green coat and trousers, with his special issue knapsack, cartridge box, and Sharps rifle. The first uniforms had a trim that was so dark that it was almost impossible to pick it out from the rest of the coat. Since the Quartermaster Department did not have any green cloth on hand initially, the first uniforms were made by dyeing dark blue dress coats dark green, the resulting clothing being so dark as to be almost black. Caps were made from a different cloth than coats, and the manufacturer used yellow cloth, already on hand, dyed green for the first caps. Eventually the army's Philadelphia Depot received "wool dyed, fast color green kersey" from Elk Mills, near Newark. Delaware, for the unique first issue "Tilson" coat (2) and trousers. The sharpshooter would carry his cartridges in two tins within a leather cartridge box (1a) which was worn on the waist belt (1b). Also shown is the hair-covered cowskin knapsack (3); this was lined with linen except for the sides which were made using heavy composition board. Also shown is the special knapsack (4a) and mess kit issued to the 1 st and 2nd US Sharpshooters; here we see the mess kit attached to the back of the pack, and standing alone next to the pack (4b).

B. PASSING THE TEST

A group of men, dressed in civilian clothes, show off their shooting abilities as officers of the US Sharpshooters watch. Special shooting ability examinations were held in most of the Northern states to find the best shots for the US Sharpshooters. These drew a crowd of local inhabitants who attended just to see the show. Those who shoot well enough will be allowed to join the regimental ranks. The men were allowed to bring their own personal weapons, although in the field they would receive government-issue long arms. The shooting is done from a bench rest made of wood, set up under a cluster of trees that provide shade. From them two full regiments of highly qualified marksmen were raised.

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