Sharpshooter Shorts

by Fred Ray on September 10, 2014 · 0 comments

Couple of short sharpshooter items. First from Berry Benson, South Carolina sharpshooter and scout;

To each brigade in Jackson’s corps, – and also, I believe, in all of the corps of Lee’s army – was attached a body of sharpshooters; men picked from their regiments, not merely for skill in marksmanship, but also as best fitted for the most arduous and dangerous service. About one man in twenty was chosen. The Sharpshooters were held in honor; somewhat, I imagine, as were the Old Guard of Napoleon. Each battalion wore its own badge on the arm; ours was a green stripe – over it a red star.

The following extract from my diary was written in quarters at Petersburg, in the winter of 1864.

“Under command of Capt. Dunlop, McGowan’s Sharpshooters, a battalion consisting originally of 160 men, but continually depleted by losses in battle, took, in the campaign of 1864, by actual count, 830 prisoners.”

And from Charles Usherwood’s Service Journal regarding the siege of Balaklava:

16 Oct l854 From the 2nd till the 16 Oct, the troops before Sebastopol worked with energy constructing batteries and entrenchments, repulsing sorties by night and skirmishes by day, scarcely ever taking off their clothes to rest, being as they were constantly on the alert for any attack which the enemy might make whom to speak well of lacked nothing in defending their position.

In order to assist the operations more fully the Commander in Chief adopted a voluntary measure consisting of sharpshooters of 10 men from each Regiment of the various Divisions, to be under charge of 1 Captain and 2 Subs and one Non Comd Officer from each corps, with directions that each man should select the spot that suits him best, and be guided only in that choice upon the cover it may give him of an effectual fire on the embrasures, Captain Bright of the 19th Foot having charge of the sharpshooters from the Light Division.

and

24 Oct 1854 In General orders of today when fresh meat is issued the ration to be 1 lb each man, and in the same orders the number of sharpshooters were desired to be augmented, while too as an encouragement to the men to collect the shots that were thrown by the enemy, owing to the scarcity of these missiles in the British magazines, a payment of 4 pence for each small shot, and 6 pence for those of larger size was authorized to be paid to any soldier or seaman carrying the same to the camp of the Royal Artillery near the Light Division.

And a look a the NRA’s new National Sporting Arms Museum in Springfield. MO.

Not only the 100th anniversary of World War I but the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812’s Battle of Baltimore-which produced the “Star Spangled Banner”-and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battles to capture Richmond and Atlanta are being remembered this year. But one anniversary has (not surprisingly) gone mostly unnoticed by the mainstream media: the 200th birthday, in July, of gunmaker Samuel Colt.

Colt’s innovative early revolving pistols and John Browning’s semiautomatic Colt M1911 – the official sidearm of the U.S. military for seven decades and still considered one of the best handguns in the world-played important roles in U.S. history. And one of the best collections of Colt revolvers and M1911s is at the National Rifle Association’s National Sporting Arms Museum in the Bass Pro Shops’ flagship store here.

How true. Few men changed history like Colt. As the saying goes – “God made men, but Sam Colt made ’em equal.”


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