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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:09 am 
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I was going through the papers in Capt. Winthrops file, when I came across an interesting order from Berdan. Winthrop was sent to Washington DC on December 17th 1862 to retreive target rifles. He was given a lot of latitiude to find the best rifles from all that were sent back. (it was essentially asking for a blanket pass that would allow him to visit mulitple armories and storage houses) This would have been only days after fredericksburg.

Does anyone have theories as to why all of a sudden there was a great need to get the target rifles back?

I was thinking that if everyone had witnessed the ridiculousness of fredericksburg that berdan would want the 1st to act in a long range support capacity. But that seems more like the lead-up to the 7 days when they acted as counter-artillery snipers then it does what they did afterward as skirmishers.

Thoughts?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:40 am 
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Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Co. H;

hypotheses, oui; facts non. But some thoughts--

In late 1861 Berdan wrote: we have 200 target rifles, we don't need anymore. In March 1862, while the majority of 1st & 2nd USSS companies were armed with Colt-Root repeating rifles, the majority of Co. C & E 1st USSS armed with personal hunting/target rifles refused to relinguish them and did good service at Yorktown. However, when the Seven Days battles commenced they found them to be a disadvantage. Frank Cobb (Co. C 1st USSS) reported in a post-War memoir: "Well do I remember those hot days on the Peninsula when the boys had to break up their fancy target rifles and take up the common (infantry) musket". Slow-loading target rifles are great for precision shooting beyond the effective range of rifle-muskets but useless in stand up fights--as the 1st Co. Andrews/MA Sharpshooters discovered at Miller's cornfield.

I tend to think that those target rifles assigned for 'special service' might have been shipped back to Washington Arsenal for storage (along with the knapsacks) just before the 1st USSS left the Peninsula. Winthrop, likely was returning to Washington Arsenal to examine the target rifles in storage and to select the very best ones for 'special service' duties. By this time the ANV and AoP were scowling at each other from across the Rapahannock River--a static position that likely encouraged picket firing. The USSS was often assigned to silence CSA sharpshooters annoying Federal pickets or artillery batteries. It appears that they retained these 'special service' arms in the regimental wagons when needed for the rest of the War. Perhaps they finalized criteria for selecting the most qualified sharpshooters and the minimum rank needed they would need to allow them to perform special service duties during this time frame as well.

Just my thoughts.

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess-USSS


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:00 am 
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Bill;

It was at the very least interesting, your theory is certainly more in line with what sounds reasonable then my shot in the dark.

I hadn't read much about the target rifle after the 7 days, so I was surprised to see that order in there.


Thanks again!

Chris


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