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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2023 10:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 297
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
This May 2017 blog by John Banks (john-banksblogspot.com) describes the devastation of the Andrews Sharpshooters at Antietam. 11 Sharpshooters joined the fatal ranks of the 106 members of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry killed or mortally wounded in less than 25 minutes of combat. The 'Wounded Lion' monument was erected on the spot where so many gave the 'last full measure' in West Woods. C.A. Stevens wrote in the USSS history that the Andrews were armed with telescope mounted target rifles; however this is not accurate. Lt. Luke Bicknell reported that when his small platoon arrived at Alexandria, following the retreat from Second Bull Run, they were forced to exchange their target rifles for Berdan contract NM1859 Sharps rifles instead. The order demoralized an already demoralized company, that had enlisted to fight from long range and provide precision fire. At Alexandria, their new duties would put them at the very front of the battle space. At Antietam, they weren't even deployed as skirmishers, but attached on the flank of the 15th Mass., and suffered accordingly.

The rest of John Banks article is an interview with Dr. Roberta Senechal de la Roche, the author of Our Aim was Man; the history of the first company of the Andrews Sharpshooters. Dr. Senechal was helping her mother clear out her house when she discovered 60 letters written by her ancestor, Moses Hill, a 38 year old stone mason. Senechal became intrigued by her great-great-grandfather's enlisting as a "sniper". Senechal included letters from three other Andrews SS, and Luke Emerson Bicknell letters and post-war writings appeared in his self-published "The Sharpshooters".

Dr. Senechal (of the rock) Roche's book was published in 2016, and Banks' interview with her is fascinating due to her unique field of study on human violence. So her approach to this topic is both balanced and insightful to the service performed by men who have been characterized as psychotic murders or other 'society fringe' individuals. Senechal found, on the contrary, they were very stable, family men, with solid reputations in their communities and served honorably.

Dr. Senechal's book, Our Aim was Man is available through Amazon. Interestingly, Dr. S. selected the original description that was to be etched into the marble Andrews SS monument at Gettysburg: "Our Aim was Man, We rarely missed a Mark", but was later changed to the present, less controversial: "In God we Trust, but kept our powder dry". You be the judge what tribute you think is best, I know mine.

Bill Skillman


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