Sharpshooters on Jackson’s Flank March

Good article on the Civil War Trust web site on Stonewall Jackson’s flank march at Chancellorsville by Robert K. Krick. Using new information Krick gives full credit to the vital role of Maj. Eugene Blackford’s Alabama sharpshooter battalion, and in general how Jackson and Robert Rodes used these new units. While Fitz Lee and his cavalry, with their greater mobility, acted as Jackson’s eyes, the sharpshooters, deployed as light infantry, acted as his close-in security screen. They were deployed as flankers on the march, and once the column had reached its assembly point as forward security against prying Yankee eyes. As Krick says, “the success with which Jackson maintained tactical surprise is astounding,” and it was the sharpshooters who made it possible.

Hooker’s major mistakes included sending his cavalry off on a raid instead of making it their business to see what Lee and Jackson were up to, and not using his light infantry (e.g. two regiments of U.S. Sharpshooters) to maintain close-in security. While Berdan and his men performed well in smothering an unfortunate Confederate rear guard regiment, they failed to divine Jackson’s intentions, nor were they tasked with that mission.

Just on a personal note my ancestor, Lt. Jason O. Patton, commanded a company in Blackford’s battalion.


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