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 Posted: Sun Nov 18th, 2007 07:02 am
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Roger
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Ok, next question.

How were the skirmishers organised in a CW Regt./Batt.?

I'll apologise now for the comparisons to the British Army but it will help me understand.

Was a specific Company within the regt. designated the flank or skirmish company along the lines of a British Line battalion?

Roger  



 Posted: Sun Nov 18th, 2007 10:23 am
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PvtClewell
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This may help:

http://www.susqu.edu/history/webprojects/meloni/skirmishers.htm



 Posted: Sun Nov 18th, 2007 12:23 pm
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ole
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Excellent site, Pvt. Clewell. Thanks.

One thing worth mentioning is that the skirmishers weren't always just company size. A regiment might put out a company, but a brigade, division or corps commander might advance a regiment or a brigade. The principle was the same: to determine the size and disposition of the enemy.

Who was assigned the duty? It was at the discretion of the commander of the advance. A regimental commander might rotate the assignments or he might have a favorite company for skirmish duty. If he had access to a platoon of sharpshooters, he might use them. It depended on the terrain and his best guess about the size of the defending force.

A favorite description is when Wallace was moving against the works at Ft. Donelson. Sharpshooters were ordered forward. They stepped up smartly and "disappeared into the ground."

Developing the enemy, I believe it was called. The commander, watching through field glasses, would note movement and eventually gunsmoke. From such evidence, he could determine size, strong points, approximate numbers and such.

ole

Last edited on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 12:29 pm by ole



 Posted: Sun Nov 18th, 2007 02:19 pm
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Johan Steele
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Roger; here are some sites that will have all the detail on manuals you'll ever want. I believe the Regulars page has all the manuals used during the ACW.  I'm a big fan of the Regular site, it's one of those I never seem to get enough of, whenever I have a question on a manual there I am; takesome time to explore the site.  THe link to Sykes Regulars off of the site is IMO the premier site of its kind, the one which other should be judged.  THe equipment & instruction links at the bottom of the main page should be of some use to you.

The others are animated I believe so you can watch in real time how movements were SUPPOSED to be executed.

http://www.usregulars.com/library.htm

http://www.currensnet.com/smallarm/ordills.htm
http://www.10thbattalion.org/school.php
http://home.att.net/~Cap1MD/Drill.htm

Last edited on Sun Nov 18th, 2007 03:12 pm by Johan Steele



 Posted: Sun Nov 18th, 2007 05:26 pm
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Roger
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A big thank you to all of you.
Loads of good stuff besides drill too, good job I have a months leave!!

Roger



 Posted: Wed Feb 13th, 2008 08:40 pm
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67th Tigers
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Skirmishing was a rotating duty. Each coy would do the duty for a day, and supply that nights piquet. There was no permanent light coy.

The CSA organised permanent light coys and formed them into a brigade skirmisher Bn of ca 185 men in 1864.



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 02:19 am
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Johan Steele
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67th that isn't always true; in many case the "flank" companies were always expected to take the skirmish duty of a Regiment and as such they were typically the first to be armed w/ rifled arms. And some Regiments found themselves on permenant skirmish detail. A lot depended on the Colonel or Brigade Commander and how he thought things should be done. I wish I could find the reference but one Illinois Regiment was quite proud of the fact that they never fought in line again after Shiloh but were the designated Skirmishers for the Brigade all the way through to the Grand Review.

One thing that is often true about the Civil War is that there was how things were supposed to be done by the manual and how things were really done in the field.

Now please correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the CS practice of forming Light Companies start w/ Cleburne's Division and spread from there?



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 05:10 pm
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67th Tigers
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Yes, but there were no permanently designated flank companies. The two flank coys (both the skirmisher and chaser coys in line of battle) were simply something every coy took a turn at.

ISTR That the CS started designating light coys permanently quite earlier. There were ad hoc consolidated light Bns as early as 1st Manassass, but under Cleburne in 1862 this was first formalised. Cleburne had 46 sharpshooters (with 30 Whitworths and 16 Kerrs) organised as a coy in his Bde.



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 09:34 pm
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ole
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Closer (?)

In the practice is the fact. Nevermind the regulation. If this brigadier or colonel liked the performance of this or that company on point, that's the one he chose. If he was into rotation, he rotated. If he designated and consistently used a certain group, so be it.

On the bottom line is that there was no universal standard for the choice of skirmishers. It all depended on whoever was in command of what.

67th makes a good point, but what Cleburne preferred and did does not relate to what others preferred and did.

Just a thought.

ole



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 09:55 pm
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Johan Steele
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This really doesn't belong here but the mention of Cleburnes Sharpshooters brought it to mind.

Years ago I read a letter or diary I don't recall which where an incident was detailed or all the particulars about it... one of those things that sticks in my memory for no particular reason.

A fetching young lady w/ a cart and horse was looking for the body of her husband (or brother I don't recall which) at the battlefield of Chickamauga. She found it and placed it in the wagon. On the way back home she spotted some CS Sharpshooters at practice; she watched for quite a while and asked if she could try her hand. The men laughed but decided to humor the woman. She pulled a Kentucy Rifle from the cart and proceeded to show them how it was done at ranges all the way out to 400 yards. Now the story might well have been an exaggeration but the author mentioned multiple rounds entering the same holes. The men were dutifully impressed and offered her whatever assistance the could; especially after noting the blanket wrapped cargo of her wagon. She asked for the gift of a spade and their promise never to visit Kentucky; she didn't want to have to shoot any of them. The body was that of a young man wearing the blue.



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 10:16 pm
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Johan Steele
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67th, just understand that were some companies and even whole regiments that became the designated skirmishers. It depended upon the commander, theatre etc. As an example the 4th MN had one Sgt who it's Colonel knew had a superb crew of scouts who were quite adept at locating trouble. Some boys who were quite used to fighting Indians out west; they were used to good effect repeatedly. And while the Regiment was cycled through it's turn providing skirmishers & flankers for the march this particular crew always seemed to get picked.

In short there were exceptions to every rule.



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 11:09 pm
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Don
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If it helps the discussion at all, when the 6th US Cavalry was formed in late 1861, there were indeed two flank companies designated. I haven't been able to find it in the period regulations at all as a requirement, for either mounted or dismounted regiments. They were the only two companies issued carbines during the first year of the regiment's service. During the Peninsula campaign, they often served as skirmishers for the regiment, particularly during the advance on Williamsburg after the abandonment of Yorktown. However, I haven't seen anything similar in the other regular cavalry regiments, so that might make this another exception rather than a rule.



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