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Vermont riflemen in the war for the union, 1861 to 1865 A history of Company F, First United States sharp shooters   By:

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VERMONT RIFLEMEN

IN THE

WAR FOR THE UNION,

1861 TO 1865.

A HISTORY OF COMPANY F,

FIRST UNITED STATES SHARP SHOOTERS,

BY

WM. Y. W. RIPLEY, LT. COL.

Rutland: TUTTLE & CO., PRINTERS. 1883.

CHAPTER I.

Abate the edge of traitors, gracious Lord. That would reduce these bloody days again, And make poor England weep in streams of blood! Let them not live to taste this land's increase, That would with treason wound this fair land's peace! Now civil wounds are stopp'd, peace lives again; That she may long live here, God say Amen!

King Richard III.

ORGANIZATION.

Very soon after the outbreak of the war for the Union, immediately, in fact, upon the commencement of actual operations in the field, it became painfully apparent that, however inferior the rank and file of the Confederate armies were in point of education and general intelligence to the men who composed the armies of the Union, however imperfect and rude their equipment and material, man for man they were the superiors of their northern antagonists in the use of arms. Recruited mainly from the rural districts (for the South had but few large cities from which to draw its fighting strength), their armies were composed mainly of men who had been trained to the skillful use of the rifle in that most perfect school, the field and forest, in the pursuit of the game so abundant in those sparsely settled districts. These men, who came to the field armed at first, to a large extent, with their favorite sporting or target rifles, and with a training acquired in such a school, were individually more than the equals of the men of the North, who were, with comparatively few exceptions, drawn from the farm, the workshop, the office or the counter, and whose life long occupations had been such as to debar them from those pursuits in which the men of the South had gained their skill. Indeed, there were in many regiments in the northern armies men who had never even fired a gun of any description at the time of their enlistment.

On the other hand, there were known to be scattered throughout the loyal states, a great number of men who had made rifle shooting a study, and who, by practice on the target ground and at the country shooting matches, had gained a skill equal to that of the men of the South in any kind of shooting, and in long range practice a much greater degree of excellency.

There were many of these men in the ranks of the loyal army, but their skill was neutralized by the fact that the arms put into their hands, although the most perfect military weapons then known, were not of the description calculated to show the best results in the hands of expert marksmen.

Occasionally a musket would be found that was accurate in its shooting qualities, and occasionally such a gun would fall into the hands of a man competent to appreciate and utilize its best features. It was speedily found that such a gun, in the hands of such a man, was capable of results not possible to be obtained from a less accurate weapon in the hands of a less skillful man. To remedy this state of affairs, and to make certain that the best weapons procurable should be placed in the hands of the men best fitted to use them effectively, it was decided by the war department, early in the summer of 1861, that a regiment should be organized, to be called the First Regiment of United States Sharp Shooters, and to consist of the best and most expert rifle shots in the Northern States. The detail of the recruiting and organization of this regiment was entrusted to Hiram Berdan, then a resident of the city of New York, himself an enthusiastic lover of rifle shooting, and an expert marksman.

Col. Berdan set himself earnestly at work to recruit and organize such a body of men as should, in the most perfect manner, illustrate the capacity for warlike purposes of his favorite weapon... Continue reading book >>




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