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 Posted: Mon Jul 25th, 2011 10:19 am
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Hellcat
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Ok, was able to get some of my books out. The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference (editors Margaret E. Wgner, Gary W. Gallagher, and Paul Finkelman) actually has an article dedicated to the Whitworth on page 494 of the 2002 publication. It states that in the hands of skilled Confederate marksmen a Whitworth could hit a target at over a 1,000 yards distance and that the rifles graduated sights went up to twelve hundred yards in range. They also were eqquipped with the Davidson telesopic sights and the sharpshoorters used them to pick of Federal signalmen, artillerymen, pickets, and anyone foolish enough to stick their heads up out of a trench. It goes on to say that during the assault on Fort Sumter in 1863 Confederate sharpshooters were picking off targets at thirteen hundred yards with a hundred percent accuracy (actually it says they picked off every man who stuck his head above the sandbags at that distance). Only Confederate toops used the Whitworth, Federal troops prefered the Sharps rifle for the same purpose. And the article starts off by saying the Whitworth is generally considered to be the most accurate of the small arms used in the war.

Philip Katcher in his The Complete Civil War does give an idea what was required to become a Federal sharpshooter. You had to put ten shots into a ten inch circle at two hundred yards. No mention about what was required to become a sharpshooter on the Confederate side but as Katcher says the first such unit was structed much like the 1st and 2nd USSS then I'm guessing they may also have been required to hit a ten inch target at two hundred yards ten times.

More interesting though is that Katcher gives us an article on what could be seen as a sharpshooter team during the siege of Port Hudson. A Coropral W.E. Halladay as spotter and a Samuel O. Horn as the shooter of a Company B. The snippet talks about them being in a pit together and Halladay having a telescope which he used for amusement. Spying an enemy movement at a tent he told Horn the position and Horn sighted his Enfield on the position, ask Halladay to tell him when the man was there again. He did and Horn fired, about 15 to 20 minutes later the ambulance arrived at the tent so they knew they'd at least wounded somebody. What makes it most intersting book wise is that it's not until you get down to the bottom and see the source that you find out they were from Company B, 8th Vt VI. I assumed since this snippet was in the section discussing Confederate forces that they were Confederates themselves, but the source is George N. Carpenter's History of the Eighth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers. It is kinda interesting to think of them working at least in this one instance as a sharpshooter team, though I'm not sure if either was a sharpshooter.

Katchers book is a little contradicted in Encyclopedia of the American Civil War (edited by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T Heidler). There it says in order to become a USSS you had to hit a ten inch circle at two hundred yards, but instead of ten shots it was only seven. Here it does say in the paragraph discussing the Confederate sharpshooters had to be able to hit a target at at least six hundred yards with open or field sights.

This book does agree with the Library of Congress Civil War Desk Refernce on the Whitworth being the most accurate and states it could hit a target in excess of 1,200 yards.

 

 



 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



 Posted: Mon Jul 25th, 2011 02:46 pm
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j harold 587
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arooper wrote: Who was the Union commander who jumped on a gun at Missionary Ridge and Grant had to tell him to fall back? I believe this was the same Union general who nearly obliterated Bragg's HQ on the ridge.
If you are referring to the troops who were to take the rifle pits at the base and just kept going to the hill crest could you be speaking of Sheridan? He was reported to have straddled a gun to get some height and encourage his troops there.  A relative of mine Col Charles Harker (name sake of Ft Harker Ks) also jumped on a gun there after seeing the commanding general do that. He picked a gun that had been fired more recently and scorched his buttocks. By accounts I have read he did not travel by horseback for over a week!



 Posted: Mon Jul 25th, 2011 11:36 pm
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pender
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Hellcat, Great info. I had knowed of Gen. John Sedgwick being shot in the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. But just found out the weapon used was the Whitworth rifle. Also found out there was a Whitworth cannon, boasted an effective range of six miles.http://johno.myiglou.com/whitworth.htm

 Mark, I meet the author of the book, as I was at a meeting where he spoke. Mr. Ray gave a good talk on this subject. But sorry to say, I have yet to read his book.

Pender

Last edited on Mon Jul 25th, 2011 11:44 pm by pender



 Posted: Tue Aug 9th, 2011 10:37 pm
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Hellcat
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Just picked up a new book today. Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor from Covent Garden Books. It says the Whitworth was accurate over fifteen hundred yards. However, it was apparently four times the price of the Model 1853 Enfield so the British Army never adopted it. Wonder if the price was dropped so the Confederacy was better able to afford.

Wish the book would list accuracy ranges for all the listed firearms in it. But I was more getting it for other purposes.



 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2012 02:25 am
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Darryl
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The term Napoleon originally came from the type of artillery piece that Napoleon improved upon and made the backbone of his artillery units. He redesigned the gun carriage to make it stronger,yet not really increasing the weight, but making it easier to deploy around the field.
Easy way to distinguish a Parrot type gun is to look for the extra band of cast iron around the breech. The 10 pounder Parrot rifle and 3 inch Ordnance rifle were the most popular and numerous with the Union units.
My ex-girl friend's father has an original 3 inch Ordnance rifle. I should say all the metal parts including the barrel are original, the wood has been replaced.



 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2012 02:37 am
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Darryl
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i have seen articles that say the shot was between 500 and 600 yards. The officer with Lincoln was shot. You do not have to have a special rifle to make that kind of shot. The Enfield was capable in the hands of a marksman of hitting a target at that range. We used to shoot big horn sheep steel targets at 300 hundred and five hundred meters using a 295 grain patched round ball out of the replica Enfield and replica Remington Zouave type rifle muskets. We weren't doing any real tight groupings but we were hitting the targets. so it is possible.



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