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 Posted: Mon Jul 25th, 2011 02:28 pm
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Mark
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According to the Berdan's Sharpshooters' regimental history the test established by founder Hiram Berdan and accepted by the war department was for no man to be enlisted who could not, "at 200 yards, put 10 consecutive shots in a target, the average distance not to exceed five inches from the center of the bullseye." In other words, "the string measurement of the 10 shots should not exceed 50 inches." Each man was allowed to use his own weapon. That is a heck of a grouping even for today. There were other sharpshooter battalions raised for the war, but they were state units and I don't think the federal government established standards. Several companies of the 1st USSS were armed for a time with heavy James target rifles with telescopic sights, but I think that most of those were exchanged for sharps rifles shortly after the Peninsula Campaign. I know late in the war, the Confederates established some sharpshooter battalions at the Division level composed of a company or so from each regiment in the Division. There was a book recently written about these units called "Shock troops of the Confederacy" but I haven't read it. Hopefully someone who has can correct me if I'm wrong. Regardless though, as I understand it, these troops were not generally operating in small teams looking for high value targets like we think of snipers today. They were organized along the lines of the Prussian Jager (hunter) units-professional skirmishers used to harass the main enemy line in preparation for an attack.

Mark

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