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|Bill Skillman [ Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:57 am ]
I found one source where Sharpshooters were issued revolvers. In Luke Emerson Bicknell's memoirs "The Sharpshooters" he reports that the the First Company of Andrew's Sharpshooters were issued Colt revolvers while posted outside Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign. Keep in mind, this was when all of the men were armed with heavy target rifles.
Here is what Bicknell wrote (page 31):It was almost impossible to find rests for our rifles (average weight was 25-35 pounds) in the swampy woods, and the trees and underbrush being in full leaf, we had to approach within pistol shot of the breastworks to use our eyes, or rifles with effect. We were furnished with Colt Navy revolvers which we found handy to use but quite an addition to our burden
It was not until the Battle of Fair Oaks that Bicknell and his comrades were forced to abandon their target rifles and use the Colt Revolvers (page 37)
The Sharpshooters were put in the rear of a section of Kirby's Battery, with orders to advance with revolvers and retake the guns if they should be captured. The enemy made three separate charges through the woods at the corner of the path the two guns stood, Jeff Davis is said to lead one of the charges in person; but it mattered not who led against the murderous fire of Gorman's brigade and Kirby's battery that night. We had no chance to retreat from the overwhelming force thrown against us except into the swift deep river at our back. Each time as the yelling mass neared the guns--and once I saw them lay their hands upon them--the Sharpshooters rose to their feet and bent forward for the spring with revolvers cocked and muscles strained in their utmost tension, and, each time, as they recoiled in disorder, we sunk down again upon the ground trembling in every limb from the relaxation of the terrible strain.
On page 46 Bicknell reports: When we started from Harrison's Landing to march to Fortress Monroe, we put the Captain and Lt. Berry, the guns, revolvers and everything, but our knapsacks, haversacks and canteens aboard the teams, for McClellan did not forget his promise
Page 47 We saw no more of our telescopic rifles and revolvers. After arriving in Alexandria, the men formally invited me to lead them in refusing to take Sharps rifles, or even to serve longer, except on the conditions of our enlistment....I politely refused to end my life as the leader of a mutiny
After a few days we were marched into a short cross street, in front of a long low building, in Alexandria or Georgetown, and, while cannioneers stood with lighted matches beside their guns, and at one end of the street, a company of cavalry with drawn sabers stood ready to cut off our retreat from the other end, we were forced to take the Sharps rifles
It's amusing for us 'Berdans' to see that the Andrews Sharpshooters were literally given no options but to take up the same Sharps rifles that the USSS had petitioned everybody from President Lincoln, The Commander of the Army, Geo. B. McClellan and their State Reps on down to get the very same Improved Sharps rifles.
Copies of Bicknell's 'The Sharpshooters' can be obtained from the Massachusetts Historical Society. A great read for those who are interested in the 'Other Sharpshooters'.
Hudson Squad Mess
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