A collection of bedtime stories - or sharpshooter & sniper tales

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by 4v50 Gary, Jan 3, 2003.

  1. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    One musician wrote a description of Gettysburg. His unit fought at Culp's Hill where they watched the 27th Indiana attempt to take a position held by the Rebs. They were bloodily repulsed. He recalled scenes of death. One man was sheltered behind a tree and on his hands an knees with his head turned to one side and eyes wide open as if looking for his comrades. Another was clutching his entrails where they had spilled out when a shell fragment tore open his abdominal cavity. "One had climbed into a tall tree to do the sharpshooter act, and when killed his foot had caught in a crotch and he was now hung, head downward, from the limb."

    Book update: The editor has finished with the prologue, epilogue, foreword, introduction and thirteen of the fifteen chapters. I have to re-download or scan some images since the hard drive died. I hope to have everything done by the end of December. It's only three years late.
     
  2. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't try this at home

    and I couldn't do it if I tired. You guys remember the Bucktails, don't you? Well, here's another bedtime story involving a Bucktail.
     
  3. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    ''...but his comrades declared that he was the best rifle shot in the Federal Army."

    How come there's hardly any stories about the good guys in this thread?

    __________________
     
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    'Cuz they didn't win the war. The winner always get to write the history... :evil: :D
     
  5. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Good guys? Which side are the good guys? There's plenty of accounts of sharpshooters both blue and grey herein. I just didn't say which side some of them are on. That'll be in the book though.

    I'm no expert on hysterography (or is it histography?) but ennyway, there tends to be more primary material from Union sources than from their corn-fed counterparts. Why, you ask? Well, literacy may have been better in the North than the South but I've read some pretty poorly written material from both sides. Also, the South had a paper shortage and soldiers couldn't write as often as they wished. Secondly, things tended to get destroyed a lot more in the south so there's less material preserved for we'uns to read today. Finally, until the "old soldier syndrome" kicks in, people try to forget the bad and won't talk about things until the pain subsides. Then when old soldier syndrome kicks in, they tend only to remember the good and gloss over the painful memories. In that light, it's not surprising that fewer ex-Confederates wrote than did their Union counterparts. When they did write, they could be tainted by the "lost cause" mentality and the famous Confederate sharpshooter, Berry Benson, was certainly affected by it. I try to be partisan in my research as I take no sides (it's all hystery to me). The Confederate story is much harder to piece together than the Union.

    That said, confound you anyway BHP Fan! Here's a story involving a corn-fed who got the best of a Yankee! I hope you're happy.

    BTW, for those who are interested, my article on the Confederate aeroplane was published in the Winter 2008 issue of The Military Collector and Historian.
     
  6. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Here's a Corn-fed tale

    Happy New Year everyone! Stay safe and sane when you have fun. :D
     
  7. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    I just love a good old comsplutterment. It just isn't worth chewing through the constraints without one.
     
  8. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    TRUE STORY

    Sedgwick, John (Civil War Union general) - Last Words of a General
    John Sedgwick, a Union commander during the Civil War, uttered these last words about the enemy forces during a battle:
    "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist--"
     
  9. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    More detail


    Sedgwick fell at the beginning of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, on May 9, 1864. His corps was probing skirmish lines ahead of the left flank of Confederate defenses and he was directing artillery placements. Confederate sharpshooters were about 1,000 yards (910 m) away and their shots caused members of his staff and artillerymen to duck for cover. Sedgwick strode around in the open and was quoted as saying, "What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Although ashamed, his men continued to flinch and he repeated, "I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."[2] Just seconds later he fell forward with a bullet hole below his left eye.[3][4]

    Sedgwick was the highest ranking Union casualty in the Civil War. Although James B. McPherson was in command of an army at the time of his death and Sedgwick of a corps, Sedgwick had the most senior rank by date of all major generals killed. Upon hearing of his death, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant repeatedly asked, "Is he really dead?"[4]
     
  10. scrat

    scrat Member

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    excellent informations guys
     
  11. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    yet more detail...

    Sergeant Grace, 4th Georgia Infantry
    On 9 May, 1864 a confederate sniper took what was to be considered an incredible shot at that time. During the Battle of Spotsylvania, Sgt. Grace of the 4th Georgia Infantry, took aim and fired at a distant Union officer. Grace was using a British Whitworth target rifle and the distance was 800 yards. Grace's target, Major General John Sedgwick, fell dead after uttering the words "Why, they couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...". Sedgwick's death resulted in a delay of the Union attack which in turn gave General Robert E. Lee the edge he needed to win the day at Spotsylvania.
     
  12. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    one for the New Year
    General William H. Lytle was mortally wounded by an unknown Confederate sniper while leading a charge at the battle of Chickamauga on Sep. 19, 1863. The sharpshooter used a Whitworth .45 calibre percussion rifle. The Confederate Army used sharpshooters quite a lot to counter their lack of heavy weapons and material. The Confederate snipers were skilled and harried the Union troops and artillery, specialising in killing Union officers. However, there weren't enough snipers to stem the tide, and as we know from history the better equipped Union forces won the war.
     
  13. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    We actually don't know who shot Papa John Sedgwick. Charles Grace claims to and so did Ben Powell. Both were equipped with Whitworths and claimed to have shot an officer from his horse. OK, that's fine, but Sedgwick was on foot and had just nudged a man, gently reprimanding him for dodging.
     
  14. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    I've heard that story,and also the story that Sedgwick was on horseback,and his staff was begging him to get down,as the Rebels had Whitworth rifles.You're right,we'll never know for sure.When you pull the trigger,and see your man go down you can be forgiven for thinking it was your bullet that did the job.As you know,Civil War battle's gunfire could resemble lead sleet.Wasn't there a tree cut down by gunfire in one of the Late Unpleasantness' battles?
     
  15. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    The best known example of a mighty oak cut down by rifle fire is at the Mule Shoe (Spotsylvania Court House, May 12, 1864). Here's a brief description of that battle and of one Confederate unit that was in it.

    The year is 1864. Grant had taken command of the Union armies and he led the Army of the Potomac across the Rappahannock to the Wilderness where he was stopped by Lee. Despite suffering heavy casualties, he disengaged and tried to flank Lee. The belligerents collided again a few miles away at Spotsylvania Court House. Part of Lee's army was entrenced in a salient that was shaped like an upside down "U" or, as the soldiers termed it, a mule shoe. An attack two days earlier by Emory Upton had penetrated a vulnerable point of the salient and almost broke the Confederate lines. Recognizing its vulnerability, Grant figured that a larger corps size attack could penetrate the mule shoe, cut Lee's army in half and allow him to destroy it. He directed Hancock's II Corps to make the effort and on May 12, 1864, Hancock's men swept up the picket line of Virginians. Many of their guns had misfired because of the light drizzle. Thus, very little warning was given before Hancock's men stormed over the Confederate entrenchments. Over 4,000 Confederates including two generals were gobbled up and taken prisoners before Lee could organize a counter attack.

    Joining in the counter-attack was the 17th Mississippi and among their ranks was Pvt. David Holt who wrote about fighting there. The Confederates rushed in, taking heavy losses as they pushed back the Union soldiers. Finally, they lost momentum and both sides hunkered down, separated by log fortification. To stand and fire meant certain death but this didn't stop men from jumping atop the parapet and shooting down into their enemy on the other side. They were handed a fresh musket by their comrades below and fired again until they themselves were shot down. Then someone else mustered the courage to replace him. Other men merely raised their rifles overhead and held it at a downward angle to shoot. Those lucky enough to be aware of it grabbed the muzzle and shoved it up and away from them. Other soldiers simply stuck their gun into the cracks between the logs and fired. Others thrusted their bayonets through the cracks. Men grabbed their opponents by the hair to drag them to their side of the logs to kill them. Bayonets were fixed to the guns and empty guns were hurled like javelins over the logs, impaling itself on some soldier on the other side. The ground, which had been muddy, turned a deep red as bodies three to five deep piled atop of one another with the dead sometimes smothering the wounded. As the ground was saturated, the men often fought in pools of blood several inches in depth. So intense was the fighting that an oak, 22" thick, was cut down by rifle fire alone. Part of it may be seen at the Smithsonian Museum today.

    By the time his unit had been withdrawn to shorter lines, they were fed for the first time in over 24 hours. No one ate. Instead, they broke down and cried. They grieved for their lost comrades. They grieved for their wounded. They grieved for themselves and the horrible battle they had just survived. Men who would had previously fought each other at a glance rushed to each others arms and embraced, crying that they were ashamed to have begrudged one another in the past and how nobly the other had fought at the battle. Many swore eternal friendship.

    This is all from memory. If you want the first hand account, it's from David Holt's A Mississippi Rebel in the Army of Northern Virginia. It's published by LSU Press (Go tigers!)
     
  16. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    Great stuff.I'm pretty sure my great grandpa was there.I am sure glad I wasn't.
     
  17. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    A bit of coastal defense

    Good news to share with all the gentle readers out there. My editor has finished the last chapter. :D I'm going to incorporate his suggestions over the course of the week and then re-scan images that were lost when my hard drive died earlier this year. :banghead: Early in February the book will be designed and the index developed.
     
  18. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Rather than share a bedtime story with you, I'd rather show some analysis as an example of the book. Gettysburg had a target rifle on display (I don't know if it's still displayed since the new visitors' center has been opened). Its provenance is disputed and it is claimed to have been removed from Devil's Den. This is from an endnote that examines the dispute.

    I believe the article is genuine. You'll see a photo of the gun in the book. Copies of the manuscript are being sent out this week for review including someone who is very famous to all students of sniping.
     
  19. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    He calls it charm. I'd practice my profanity and curse not getting out on sick call. I'm shopping for a book designer now.
     
  20. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Street fighting at Fredericksburg

    The Confederate sharpshooters had driven away the Union pontineers. In retaliation, the Union commander, Ambrose Burnside, ordered the town shelled by artillery fire. In addition, he had his own sharpshooters shoot into the known Confederate sharpshooter nests. After it was determined that the bombardment was sufficent, the pontineers were ordered forward to complete the bridge. But, the Confederates popped out of their shelters and pelted them with bullets, killing and wounding some, and driving the survivors back. Again the artillery shelled the town. This scene was repeated several times and the bombardment was judged ineffective. Thus, a river crossing was ordered to drive away the Confederate sharpshooters.

    The following describes the street fighting that took place at Fredericksburg after the Rappahannock was crossed.

    Cut and paste the above out before visiting Fredericksburg. Old town Fredericksburg has a lot of charm and much of the area where this fighting took place was restored after the war. You can actually walk the streets and see bullet holes in the homes that were patched up.
     
  21. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Fredericksburg, continued.

    Continued from last week.

     
  22. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    Great stuff.There was a certain poetry to even the most banal report.
     
  23. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Glad you enjoyed it BHP Fan. I've actually gone back to post 345 to include a prequel that described the amphibious landing across the Rappahannock. All the endnotes have been eliminated since they don't cut & paste well (but they will be in the book).

    BTW, I just fiinshed the latest NRA Firearms Classic Library offering, Harry P. Davis' A Forgotten Heritage: The Story of a People and the Early American Rifle. It is filled with wishful thinking that will be corrected in Chapter I, II and III of my book. Unfortunately, Davis does not cite his sources (no footnotes or endnotes) but it will be obvious where his information isn't correct. That's the beauty of newer books. You benefit from the scholarship and research of previous authors. So, if you subscribe to the series, read the Davis book soon so you'll enjoy mine even more.

    Right now the book is undergoing peer review and I'm still shopping for a designer. Most of the pictures have been photoshopped (when you scan an image, it may not be perfectly horizontal and vertical and has to be adjusted) and to some extent, touched up (older pictures are sometimes hard to see without some touch-up).
     
  24. Phantom Captain

    Phantom Captain Member

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    Hope you all don't mind if I post a couple pics of things you all were talking about above!

    I'm quite the amateur battlefield roamer and documenter. If any of you are truly interested in seeing my pictures I'd be happy to post a link and direct you there. I have, literally, a couple thousand pictures of pretty much all the major battlefields of the Civil War.

    But to get back on topic...

    Here is the monument to General Sedgwick in the spot where he was killed.

    IMG_3000.jpg

    IMG_2999a.jpg

    That treeline in the far distance is approximately about where the shot came from that killed Sedgwick. It is a long shot but still... I would say they very much could hit an elephant at that distance.

    IMG_3003.jpg

    Here is the Bloody Angle at the Mule Shoe. You can still see the ridge of the old works covered with vegetation in the foreground. The Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania is truly remarkable in that it's still so well preserved and for the most part, while being worn down and eroded and such, is still there even after 144 years.

    IMG_3036.jpg

    The Confederate works that are the Mule Shoe.

    IMG_3035.jpg

    IMG_3043.jpg

    This is at the site of the oak tree looking out from the Confederate perspective behind the works at the direction that the Federal attack came.

    [​IMG]
     
  25. Pancho

    Pancho Member

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    4v50, I've heard it said that generals use the last wars strategy to fight the present day war. Did the civil war generals ever get it that they were using smooth-bore tactics in a rifled-bore war?
    I've studied the civil war enough to know that "military intelligence" is another word for tragedy.
     
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