Frequent blog readers probably know that I and a couple of others like Joe Bilby are always trying to confirm CW battle ranges. I recently came across an account of the battle of Corinth (Oct. 3-4, 1862) that talks about it. A soldier in the 2nd Iowa wrote:
The Rebel batteries silenced ours, and about 4 o’oclock they advanced … When they got within 200 yards we received the command to fire, and our fire told with fearful effect on the enemy.
It would help immensely to know that the 2nd Iowa (and the rest of the brigade—Hackelman’s brigade, consisting of the 2nd Iowa, 7th Iowa, and 52nd Illinois) were armed with. Rifles or muskets? If rifles this was a reasonable engagement range and at odds with the arguments of Griffith, Hess, et. al. that battle ranges remained very short. If they had smoothbore muskets then this was extreme range.
UPDATE: Came across a section from a book on light infantry written by a British officer in 1806 (and quoted by an officer at the School of Musketry at Hythe in 1861).
Instruction in firing without elevating the sight forms part of the military teaching. In Cooper’s “Practical Guide for the Light Infantry Officer,” a target is described with three broad horizontal bars across it at equal intervals. The soldier is told to aim at the lowest of these when firing at from 100 to 200 yards, and at the highest of them when firing at 300 yards. The purpose of this is to accustom the soldier to aim always along the barrel, but at different points on the object, according to the distance.
The captain here is talking about the Baker rifle, but the P53 Enfield, though a refined version, is not materially different when it comes to muzzle velocity. So in CW soldier’s terms: at really close ranges—less than 100 yards—aim at knee level; at 100 yards (where the battle sight is set) at the enemy’s belt buckle; at 200 yards at mid-chest; and at 300 yards at the top of his head. All this can be done in mid-battle without resetting the sight.
If you want a look at the trajectories and the Enfield battle sight (the Springfield was similar) I did a previous post about it.
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