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Wild Rover
05-15-2006, 10:27 AM
"Shocks Troops of the Confederacy"

Army of Northern Virginia’s Shock Troops Camp of Instruction

McGowan’s Brigade Sharpshooters
“Dunlop’s Battalion “
Pamplin Historical Park
September 1863
(September 8-10, 2006)


It is our goal to present an event that is mutually beneficial to the Pamplin Historical Park and the visiting public. However, it is especially our endeavor to prepare an event, which will be both remarkable and memorable for you as we explore this often overlooked impression.

We will be representing men of Major General A.P. Hill’s 3rd. Corps in the fall of 1863; when the ANV was first forming their new sharpshooter battalions. These newly formed sharpshooter battalions would play a key roll for General Lee’s army in the next eighteen months of the war. Hand picked men from the best of the Southern Troops who were noted for their military bearing, marksmanship, skirmishing and scouting abilities would go on to be the “Shock Troops” of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The sharpshooters where taken off line for four weeks and put through a special training program developed by Major General Cadmus Wilcox.

This packet contains basic event information, rules, regulations, and registration material. While we hope this information will prepare you for this event, we understand that it may not answer all questions and concerns. In such case, please remember that we are as close as a phone call or an e-mail away. We will be more then happy to assist you


Registration: We are looking for 60-85 participants who have a first-rate authentic impression to represent soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia who were selected to be part of these elite battalions.


Sponsors: Pamplin Historical Park & Princess Ann Grey’s (Lee’s Sharpshooters) of the Chesapeake Volunteer Guards.

Event site: Pamplin Historical Park. Needless to say, this is hallowed ground. We expect the land to be treated accordingly with respect. All company & battalion evolutions will be conducted in the large open fields on site.


Contact Person: Mike Hendricks: png3dva@cox.net or 757.340.2657
*Event Coordinator
Jim Faulkner: jimfaulkner@cavtel.net or 757.583.0264
*Logistical Coordinator
Chris Anders: [ltcolcsa@hotmail.com] or 301-432-6805
*Battalion Commander



We will present the rigorous training that the men of the sharpshooter battalions went through. Work together we will learn and demonstrate how they were taught to judge distance, marksmanship, camouflage/ concealment, scouting and evolutions of skirmish formations that where used by these elite units.

This will be accomplished by providing demonstrations of camp life, presentation on uniforms, weapons, types of concealment used by the sharpshooters, infantry tactics, and skirmish evolutions with weapon firings, bayonet drill, ration issue, cooking demos, music, medical interpretation, etc.




Major Dunlop’s Battalion Impression

Companies:
1st Company (“B” Company), Captain Ingraham Hasell (Mike Hendricks)
3rd. Company (“A” Company) Captain Charles E. Watson (John Wyman)





Authenticity Regulations are listed at www.chesapeakevolunteerguard.org



Battalion Patch: Red ˝” strip running from the wrist diagonally toward the elbow with a Red star above the strip center of sleeve. To be worn on left sleeve of jacket. These will be issued to you upon arrival.


Registration: This event is by invitation and by individual only. We are looking for 60 participants who possess a first-rate authentic impression to represent soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia. Depending on your specific company assignment, uniforms and accouterments will reflect what the army would have been issued during the summer of 1863.

The pre-registration fee is $10.00 per participant, before August 25, 2006. This fee will be for the purpose of covering the cost of the rations, logistics, and other event related costs. All monies from event registration fees remaining after paying ALL events related costs and expenses will be donated to the Pamplin Historical Park. All participants will check in at registration upon arrival. Registration will be located at the participant parking area. Registration will open at 2:00 PM on Friday and close at 12 midnight September 9, 2006. Registration will reopen Saturday morning from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM. All Participants are strongly encouraged to arrive Friday night. All participants must go through registration.

*All pre-registrations and fees must be submitted NO LATER THAN August 25, 2006. Rations will not be available for those who do not pre-register before August 25, 2006. All participants must be preregistered to participate, NO WALK-ONS WILL BE ALLOWED.



Registration forms will be posted shortly at www.chesapeakevolunteerguard.org



Pards,

S. Chris Anders
CVG

Trimmings
05-15-2006, 10:21 PM
Can you please provide an example of shock troops used in a Civil War period document. This is a term I associate more with the blitzkrieg of World War Two, and would be interested in seeing documenation for the Civil War era.

Thanks in advance.

Ray Prosten

gzook
05-16-2006, 10:52 AM
The Germans were using "shock troops" in World War I. I don't remember the exact name of the troops, but it was pretty close to "shock troops".

Their actions have been been featured in programs on The History Channel and The Military Channel on cable television.

Similar troop activities date back to at least the Boer War (the term "commando" comes from the Boer name for their "shock troops") and I don't believe that the Boers "invented" the tactics.

Glen

Remise
05-16-2006, 11:00 AM
Chris Anders put the term in quotes, so I doubt he meant to imply they were called "shock troops" back then. I suspect he got the term from the title of this book, which compares them to the somewhat radical tactics the Germans adopted later in WWI, in an effort to change the way in which combat was conducted in the trenches:

http://sharpshooters.cfspress.com/

B.C. Milligan
Company K, First Penna. Reserves

indguard
05-16-2006, 12:17 PM
I don't remember the exact name of the troops

Wasn't it "Shockenzee Troopen"??

Ba da bump!

I'll be here all week, folks. Try the veal.

tompritchett
05-16-2006, 02:43 PM
While the term may be modern, the concept was very period going back as far as Napolean. In addition, in the Civil War there were certain units who routinely would be at the center of the attack because of their reputations for fierce fighting and always getting the job done. Two Confederate Brigades that come to mind are Kershaw's Brigade and the Texas Brigade for Longstreet's Corp. Although their tactics were those of the regular infantry rather than those being taught in Chris's COI, in my opinion, these two bridages were indeed "shock troops". I know that there must be others, especially from Jackson's corps, that I have missed and I expect others will correct that omission.

Pvt Schnapps
05-16-2006, 03:55 PM
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0964958554/qid=1147809125/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/102-6044110-7964961?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

Yup, it's the title of a book that provides some of the historical background for Chris's specialized COI.

I've always liked "verloren hoop" and "enfants perdu" myself, but they don't have the same ring to the modern ear.

Alas, I have a wedding to go to that weekend.

Curt-Heinrich Schmidt
05-16-2006, 04:32 PM
Hallo!

I am fond of the Texas Brigade in that CW role...

For WWI Germans, "assault companies" Stosstruppen oder Sturmtruppen in the Sturmkompanie oder Sturmbataillone.

Curt-Heinrich Schmidt

Jim Mayo
05-16-2006, 05:12 PM
"Shock Troops of the Confederacy is about the formation and use of the Sharpshooter battalions by the ANV from around 1863 on. There are only three books that I know of that deal with this subject and all three are a must read if you want to know about the Sharpshooters. they are, "Lee's Sharpshooters" by Dunlop, Barry Benson's book (I forgot the title)and "Shock Troops of the Confederacy". After reading all three IMO and others, the success of the ANV in 1864-65 against great odds was due to the tactics and ability of the Sharpshooter battalions swinging the tide against the union in battle after battle. It really is surprising that they did so much and got so little credit.

Trimmings
05-17-2006, 07:28 AM
The Berry Benson book may be Memoirs of a Confederate Scout and Sharpshooter. I was just wondering if "shock troops" was a period reference or nickname in the same manner as Chalmer's High Pressure Brigade, Wilder's Lightning Brigade, A.P. Hill's Light Division, Iron Brigade, Stuart's Flying Artillery, and Jackson's Foot Cavalry. Which nicknames do you find interesting?

Ray Prosten

Jim Mayo
05-17-2006, 08:36 AM
Shock Troops sounds too WWII to be period. I have never seen period references use this phrase. It does describe the method of fighting used by the Sharp Shooters and I guess that is why it was used as the title for the book.

The title of Benson's book is correct. Good book. I may read it again.

Wild Rover
05-17-2006, 09:54 AM
Sharpshooter Battalions were not called "shock troops" but were rather more like specialized light infantry battalions.

Not Snipers as modern sharpshooters, though some were issued Whitworths, but rather as specially trained assualt troops, known for their skill in both day and night fighting techniques.

Come to the COI that Mike Hendricks and the Boys have created. I assure you that it will be a true learning experience in the evolution of Civil War Combat.

Pards,

RJSamp
05-17-2006, 12:14 PM
Chris, I'm not aware of any Sharpshooter battalions that were trained to be assault troops....OR....Night Fighters.

This would include 5th AL BN, Berdan's 1st and 2nd USSS, Yates, Birges, Austin's....

Can you cite a few that were trained as assault troops and/or night fighters? and where were they used?

Thanks!

Wild Rover
05-17-2006, 01:22 PM
Hey RJ!

Got to read the Book "Shock Troops of the Confederacy" by Fred Ray- don't have it here with me at work, but in its coverage of the Attack on Ft Stedman, it details the use of "specialized" Task forces even.

Read of Whooten's Battalion that used to "seine haul" the Federal Picket line at night (raiding and capturing Feds by the score), as well as make raids on the US lines for gear when the CS supply gave out.

Also if you read the Federal Artillery Accounts of Cedar Creek, you get a great vision of the open attacking style of these battalions as they overan one battery after another, in open rushing order. They led the whole CS army, as DIVISION of Sharpshooters.

It was estimated that over 7,000 such troops were organized and trained for the ANV in the Winter of 1863.

Since CS Cav in the Valley in '64 was turning out to be next to worthless, the Cs forces relied almost exclusively on the Sharpshooters to scout, raid and screen.

They also- and you might like this part- had anywhere from 3-4 buglers per battalion.

People don't hear of these battalions often, since the troops did report administratively to their "home" units, and were detailed to the front when an advance, guard guard or outpost duty was needed.


Get Fred Ray's Book, and put on some jean for a weekend, it will be worth it.

Pards,

RJSamp
05-18-2006, 08:59 AM
Awesome! See, you can teach us old dogs some new tricks. Sounds like an excellent read!

bill watson
05-18-2006, 09:33 AM
"Read of Whooten's Battalion that used to "seine haul" the Federal Picket line at night (raiding and capturing Feds by the score), as well as make raids on the US lines for gear when the CS supply gave out."

That's what happened to great grandfather Torpes: On picket for the 7th NJVI at Barker's Mill, June 13 or June 16, I can't remember which, as Grant was making another of his leapfrogs down to the southeast. The scooping up of pickets gave Lee information on what federal corps was on the move and whatnot. The muster return indicates the official mindset: "supposedly captured" on picket duty, is what it reads. He spent the next six months in Andersonville and Florence before being shipped north December 1864, and took two more months to recuperate.

Bill_Cross
05-19-2006, 11:59 AM
I will join my own concerns to those stated here that this will worsen an already bad problem: the apparent ignorance of Napoleonic/CW tactics by a large majority of reenactors in all wings of the hobby.

The problem is particularly bad in the campaigner wing because our events are usually so small. When you have 100 +/- per side, it's very difficult to replicate the massed units that compromised most WBTS battles. At the event "Into the Wilderness," the CS side was particularly noted for breaking groups off into modern-era type squads to operate independently, or McDowell 2001, when a company of Rebels rushed the Union lines where they would've been slaughtered at close quarters (no hits were taken of course).

The command & control problems of the era, where orders had to be given verbally or in writing, coupled with the large distances fought over, resulted in a battle quite sluggish by modern standards. One reads accounts of units waiting literally hours waiting for orders while the sounds of fighting could be heard just beyond the trees. Yet commanders risked demotion and court martial for acting independently.

In the modern era, we have come to accept the notion of small unit tactics, something that is even taught at West Point. Those of you who watched the series "Band of Brothers" may recall that one episode portrayed an attack on a fortified German position that was so successful, it's used as a model at the Point for SUT.

But this is the freakin' CIVIL WAR!! They didn't have radios, the staff often lacked enough riders to send couriers to direct units (remember when Lee at Antietem wanted to ride down to the Bloody Lane and instruct his men?), plus the maps of the period were shitty (hello? does anyone study The Seven Days when Lee might've gobbled up McClellan if Jackson had been able to find the right road?). The result was confusion. In the Wilderness, and entire Corps got lost and was hors de combat.

I mean no disrespect to my good friend, Chris Anders. But I believe that teaching ahistorical material to a hobby already lacking in a sound foundation of period fighting tactics is not the direction we should be going. Instead, why isn't someone teaching period manuals and their application to reenacting? I know it's fun to play soldier, but I despair of the direction our hobby is going with its Kevlar soldiers blasting away at 50 feet.

indguard
05-19-2006, 01:11 PM
I will join my own concerns to those stated here that this will worsen an already bad problem: the apparent ignorance of Napoleonic/CW tactics by a large majority of reenactors in all wings of the hobby.

I have been fighting this mindset (or lack thereof) for 20 years!

Too often over the years when I over all command at an event, some unit of 8 to 20 guys will split off from the main body facing me, come flying around my flank with NO support from their own side and then get mad at ME claiming that they have somehow won the battle, or would have forced me to run away!

Now, I have split guys off to do a flank but I never let them get farther than a few companies distance away (and usually do it to keep the battle flowing). But I never send them all by themselves dozens of yards away. If they can't get back to the main body within seconds they are too far away.

Another main problem is that too many people don't understand the effective distance of the fire arms.

And don't get me started on 5 cavalrymen riding up within feet of a line of Infantry!

And, as Bill said, officers didn't just go off on their own hook. Company officers never did and even Colonels of regiments/battalions didn't stray from their brigade General's orders too very often. Even generals were reticent to do anything without the major general's OK all too often.

Another thing we don't do enough is capturing!

Last year, I overall commanded several battles where we featured large groups of guys getting captured. Capturing happened a LOT and we almost never do it in reenacting.

For instance, I started one battle with about 40 guys in Federal uniforms getting captured by an onrushing Confederate force. These "Federals" were taken off the field, out of view of the public. Then the "Federals" switched back into their CS kit and came out as Confederates. This way we got to start the battle with a large force captured, but didn't really lose anyone on one side so that they were out of the battle.

Anyway, there are a lot of things we can do differently and more authentically that we do not do.

tompritchett
05-19-2006, 01:43 PM
Regarding capturing, I am one of those reenactors who tends to surrender whenever my company does one of those lame suicide charges (talk about being non-historical). It is amazing how many Mainstream reenacting units are totally unprepared to handle prisoners.

Wild Rover
05-19-2006, 01:55 PM
-I mean no disrespect to my good friend, Chris Anders. But I believe that teaching ahistorical material to a hobby already lacking in a sound foundation of period fighting tactics is not the direction we should be going. Instead, why isn't someone teaching period manuals and their application to reenacting? -

These are documented historical tactics performed by Civil War Soldiers.

What makes this non historical? And As to ITW- yeah, those were Sharpshooters, from our Sharpshooter Battalion, acting and conducting combat as the historical accounts of their actions.

The McD 2001 fence rush was a whole 'nother topic..

These are DOCUMENTED historical tactics,and cutting edge for the period.

For a short primer-http://sharpshooters.cfspress.com/tactics2.html and http://www.thehistorynet.com/acw/blfortstedman/

Much research has been done on such, and it is changing the image of the troops as they actually evolved and created better tactics and methods as the war progressed.

What information do you have that such is not historical? My apologies Bill, but this is history, not made up stuff.

It might be more for the "advanced" class and not the short bus folks, I understand, but it is documented that up to 7000 soldiers in the ANV were trained to fight like this in the Winter of '63-'64. About 1/6 of the infantry, as per Acts of the Confederate Congress.

It would be incorrect not to learn it.

Pards,

Bill_Cross
05-19-2006, 02:53 PM
These are documented historical tactics performed by Civil War Soldiers.
I believe the term is PEC: plain, everyday, common (also "period, everyday, common"). Tactics used in one battle late in the war by an army fighting for its life have no business in the reenactor tactical book. We can't execute the basics correctly.

And As to ITW- yeah, those were Sharpshooters, from our Sharpshooter Battalion, acting and conducting combat as the historical accounts of their actions.
Yes, along with pre-scouting the land, laying telegraph wire and other actions that threatened to turn the event into a farce. The way the CS forces "flew" through the woods like **** through a goose remains one of the low points in my experience on the CPH side.

These are DOCUMENTED historical tactics,and cutting edge for the period.
To quote a friend, Jay White, "we have to learn to think inside the box, the box of 186X." This hobby can't handle the dull edge right; the cutting edge should remain in the scabbard.

Much research has been done on such, and it is changing the image of the troops as they actually evolved and created better tactics and methods as the war progressed.
I understand that tactics evolved during the war, and by 1864, the stand-up formations that had been brought over from the Napoleonic era had been modified or changed. But we can't even get these basics right, and our battles (in both wings of the hobby) are often a farce.

It might be more for the "advanced" class and not the short bus folks, I understand, but it is documented that up to 7000 soldiers in the ANV were trained to fight like this in the Winter of '63-'64. About 1/6 of the infantry, as per Acts of the Confederate Congress.
Yes, and there were mountain howitzers and gattling guns, they are also historical facts. But they weren't an active part of the progress of the war, and had little or no effect on its outcome.

PEC. Repeat after me: "PEC."

Cpt_Invictus
05-21-2006, 05:13 PM
This event sounds like a ton of fun, i don't see why there are people that would shout it down. Its accurate historicly, sounds like it will be a great time for every one, and the funds will help one of our historic sights. Whats not to like? im only sad that it is taken place so ******************** far away from my home here in Atlanta and i don't have the vacation time to attend. Or all my gear yet.... lets not forget that. ;)

So yea, I am new to the hobby, but isnt that what it's all about? Attracting new people? Attracting new progressives or mainstreamers or what ever? Or even just getting a kid boy OR girl excited about the time period so that when they are older, or right then and there, make them want to learn more?

The way some of you go on, you would think that the reenacting community is a closed glass shelf in which the bystander really is a civilian and to be enducted into the hallowed ranks as a reenactor is a monumental event. Its play war people and the only way to justify the cost, the time, the sunburn (Resaca was hot as ********************), and all the rest of the hardship is if its productive in some way. Productive as in raising money for a battlefield, teaching the public, vitalizing a community with history, honoring family lost to this terrible conflict.

I have seen a number of threads that talk about threats to the hobby, proper shoes, what is right, what is wrong, this that or the other, all mainly about others doing things wrong. Didn't Christ say, "Ye with out sin, let him cast the first stone". This thread is about a group doing a limmited reenactment that will both help the area and educate the participants. However the units or tactics were envolved doesnt matter, it is period correct so I see no point bashing it.

In this deathless Civil War of 2006, "realism" of tactics, detachments, formations, communications, its all subjected to interpritation. No one posting on this board was there and how we interpret the period is a personal choice. Let the organizer set the standard and people will vote on its success with there feet. That goes for reenactors AND spectators alike. If one needs a further example of this, one need not look further than the bible and the church in general. Vast gulfs in belief, interpretation, practice, and through out history all the way to today, out right conflict because of those differences. All done and "made right" in the name of the same God. Im curiose what God would have to say about it all, what would our ancesters that actuelly faught this war have to say?

So, until the day comes when there are enough people interested in actuel casuelties at these events, or heaven forbid, people toss down there kepi and rifle and replace them with a paintball mask and gun and we add refs to the field, (this would be cool as ******************** actuelly) what we have today is about as real as it is going to get. Though I can see possible micro lasers in the guns and recievers in uniforms....that might be interesting, but I digress.

Keep it real people, but dont shove your real down the throats of others, it may not go down the same. Instead, try to get new people to come out and play! :p If every one once a week talked to some one new who has no clue about the hobby, this thing may actuelly turn away from the glass case and become something a little more mainstream. And I dont mean "mainstream" as in "let the farb rein", but mainstream as in people wont look at you as old backward rednecks, racists, sobbing for a bigone era. The men and women, children, that faught and died in the civil war had there reasons. We all have our own reasons for wanting to reenact. Your reasons wont be exactly the same as mine or really any one elses. Accept it or don't, its your choice.

*rant off*

Matt Lupo
Atlanta, Ga.
Unaffiliated

indguard
05-21-2006, 05:44 PM
No one posting on this board was there and how we interpret the period is a personal choice.

Post modern nihilism at its finest!

So, why not use an M-16 at a reenactment? ********************, none of us were there to know they didn't have 'em!
;)

ilfed104
05-21-2006, 07:00 PM
How we interpret the period is a personal choice? We should be interpreting the period as it's laid out in tons of primary source material and period manuals which are available.

Doug Cooper
05-22-2006, 01:59 AM
Having read everything I could get my hands on the ANV in the last year of the war, I have found very little that talks to special tactics and 7000 specially trained troops...except this latest book (have not read). When pray tell did Lee have the time to spare that many troops for special training? Anybody ever read a letter from a soldier mentioning such a thing? Trench raids, prisoner grab, scouting etc are all part of the normal learning curve for troops spending any time in front of the other guy - this had been going on for 10 months at Petersburg.

Ft Steadman was one short and unsuccessful attack. They never really had a chance and it was a desperate move born of no good choices.

Everything I have ever read points to the troops at Ft Steadman being given a job to do, axes, etc to do it with, careful planning, attacking at night, pioneers forward, as usual, fooling a few pickets, etc...but nothing about special units being trained to do this routinely.

What makes a unit "shock troops?" Was the 6th Corps or 2nd Corps at Spotsylvania shock troops because they formed en masse, did not fire and attacked at dawn? How about the 6th Maine and 5th Wisconsin at Rappahannock Station (attack at night with no warning, mad rush, uncapped guns, wildly successful)? Were the 1st and 2nd USSS shock troops? How about the Michigan Chepewa Indian company? Was the 1st Minnesota Battalion, who spent an entire year on skirmish, shock troops? No, but they were dang good skirmishers and were used as such because of their experience. How about the French and Americans at Yorktown? I suspect Mr Ray's "shock troops" were nothing more than veteran troops who were given a difficult mission.

In reading the ACW mag article - Mr Ray constantly uses the term "sharpshooters" throughout to describe troops that attack in little groups. What other way was there in the middle of night in cramped quarters under fire? Gen Walker calls them "skirmishers" which is probably more accurate. Ray even uses the REDICULOUS term "one of Gordon's Special Operations Groups..." At another point, he assumes a federal soldier killed by a bullet to the head must have been shot by a "sharpshooter." Good grief, the hyperbole astonishes. Sounds like the guy just wants to sell books.

Veteran troops, experienced skirmishers and pioneers attacking at night. Good idea, as nothing else would have worked. Considering that the planned Grand Review in the AoP that day was not cancelled (moved from the morning to the afternoon), and CS casualties exceeded the federal, the troops that were "shocked" may have worn gray as well as blue.

The COI sounds interesting, but I am concerned about Mr Ray trying to create something that did not exist...and I hope we don't soon see 500 "sharpshooter shock troops" at the next mega fest. We can emulate the natural evolution of linear tactics that siege warfare demanded...but I would be happy if everybody could simply do skirmish drill by the bugle...

13thKyCavCSA
05-22-2006, 08:05 AM
-I mean no disrespect to my good friend, Chris Anders. But I believe that teaching ahistorical material to a hobby already lacking in a sound foundation of period fighting tactics is not the direction we should be going. Instead, why isn't someone teaching period manuals and their application to reenacting? -

These are documented historical tactics performed by Civil War Soldiers.

What makes this non historical? And As to ITW- yeah, those were Sharpshooters, from our Sharpshooter Battalion, acting and conducting combat as the historical accounts of their actions.

The McD 2001 fence rush was a whole 'nother topic..

These are DOCUMENTED historical tactics,and cutting edge for the period.

For a short primer-http://sharpshooters.cfspress.com/tactics2.html and http://www.thehistorynet.com/acw/blfortstedman/

Much research has been done on such, and it is changing the image of the troops as they actually evolved and created better tactics and methods as the war progressed.

What information do you have that such is not historical? My apologies Bill, but this is history, not made up stuff.

It might be more for the "advanced" class and not the short bus folks, I understand, but it is documented that up to 7000 soldiers in the ANV were trained to fight like this in the Winter of '63-'64. About 1/6 of the infantry, as per Acts of the Confederate Congress.

It would be incorrect not to learn it.

Pards,

Well said Chris. It's time to think outside of the box. If your not willing to do that then you are not a progressive reenactor. Just another 'streamer.

The idea of the Sharpshooter Battalion (recreated) is that it will be limited in membership numbers, just like the original units were. The rest of the line can continue with it's standard Linear tactics.

While the use of the term " shock troops" was a pretty bad idea for a title, it does sum up what they actually did fairly accurately.

bill watson
05-22-2006, 08:47 AM
What I remember about the Fort Steadman attack was that several of the groups went astray because the guides, local men with knowledge of the terrain, used that knowledge to skedaddle rather than guide.

Having said that, just because most of us aren't familiar with the events described doesn't mean it didn't happen. It would be good to see primary sources on some of this stuff rather than a book that seems to be someone's premise about what was going on. Does the book cited also cite sources? Seems like something on this scale, creation of units around marksmanship and other traits, would have left a paper trail of letters, orders, organization shifts, etc. These guys had paper for everything. Surely there's paper on this?

What I'd also much enjoy seeing is something that explains the huge paradigm shift in command and control. Linear tactics and an assumption that men will not do their job without constant and close-at-hand supervision don't just overnight turn into dispersed formations and an assumption that men will carry on even without direct, close supervision. There had to be some folks arguing that point back then.

Jim Mayo
05-22-2006, 08:52 AM
There are two contempory books that deal with the subject of special tactics and training used by the sharpshooters and their part in late war actions. They are, "Lee's Sharpshooters" by Maj. Dunlop who commanded McGowens brigade of sharpshooters and Barry Benson's book "Memoirs of a Confederate Scout and Sharpshooter". These books have been around since the early 1900s. Much of the information contained in "Shock Troops of the Confederacy came from these sources. One of McGowans sharpshooter camps described in Dunlop's book is located on Pamplin Park land. I read Dunlop's book more than 20 years ago and visited some of the sites he describes while they were still in their original state. One significent site was the late war action at McIlwaine Hill where the sharpshooters retook a line of recently captured rifle pits in what started as a night attack. The terrain was exactly as described in the book. In fact the pits were most unique. They contained both union relics and english mfg. enfield bullets which were used by the sharpshooters. The pits showed evidence of being "turned" from facing the Union forces to facing the CS forces. This area also produced several Whitworth bullets which also corresponds with the use of these rifles by selected members of each battalion of sharpshooters.

The story of the sharpshooters has been around for years and nobody paid attention. I think it is great that they are getting the credit they deserve.

Wild Rover
05-22-2006, 08:59 AM
All I can do is point to the original sources- Benson and Dunlop- and Ray's articles and books. Thanks to Jim for pointing them out as well.

As to PEC- this was PEC for 1/6 of the CS forces from the Winter of 1863 on. And to understand that the original Boys adapted to the changing face of warfare will bring new appreciation to their sacrifices. They were not stupid, nor stuck in the mud of linear formations.

Too often battles (recreated ones) appear as opposing drill lines. With all the line dressing and so forth.

Has anyone ever read a period account of a battle?

As to farb fest sharpshooter hundreds, well who knows, but that is no reason not to bring this area to light. Everything else is skewed that occurs at those events.

As to theory change, look to Mclaws,Rhodes, Blackford and others. Remember in the 1840-1850's there was a concerted effort in the US forces to create such "specialty troops", but this was dropped when reports from the Crimea kept focussing on the bayonet. Seems they forgot about the "thin red line".

I am a little perplexed at the resitance to this new area of study. It truly is a new and amazing facet we can bring to light, and it is not for the normal, run of the mill reenactor, I agree. This is step D. First you must go through steps A, B ,C and then arrive here.

As to the 7000 men, read the Orders issued in the Winter of 1863, heck the ones written in May 1862 from HQs! Acts of Confederate Congress, eyewitness accounts, autobiographies and other books.

Being stuck in "linear" mindet for the entire war is as wrong as wearing a havelock. Uniforms evolved, drill evolved, tactics evolved, and schools of thoughts did as well.

The Boys in gray did evolve in this manner further than their opponets in Blue.

And the Sharpshooter Swarms did make a huge difference in the Wilderness, the '64 Valley Campaign, Petersburg, and even the retreat from Richmond.

Before you criticize, do study up first, and gather facts.

Pards,

RJSamp
05-22-2006, 12:41 PM
There certainly is enough documentation that various officer's experimented with different evolutions, tactics, TOE, etc. Wilder and the Lightning Brigade was certainly a Revolutionary change. Custer retrained his Michigan Cavalry Brigade from Cooke's one rank cavalry formations to Poinsett's two rank Cavalry formations in the winter of 1864.....two ranks being more suitable for the more forested/closed terrain eastern theatre....than the long line single rank formations. And of course the elimination of drummed commands in favor of bugles (see Casey's manual) and the use of bugles to control Divisions and Corps manuevers was a big change from the past.

Cool stuff, and I can't wait to read up on it.

But of course, first things first...A B C....then D.

13thKyCavCSA
05-22-2006, 02:24 PM
The concept of the sharpshooters does not differ alot than the positions held by skirmishers but they do differ. Keep in mind that the skirmish tactics that we use today are from the Light Infantry of the 18th century and continue today in the Army's Fire and Maneuver tactics which every good infantryman learns at Ft. Benning.

The useage of terms in the book like "Special Operations" is basically overkill but does help enforce the fact that these guys were a different breed of soldier with a different type of job.

Thank goodness they didn't wear beret's.....

Gary
05-23-2006, 11:46 PM
There is some truth behind Mr. Ray's use of the term Shock Troops. The trench raids conducted by the sharpshooters as well as their playing the role of the vanguard on the assault on Fort Steadman are good examples. However, it must be taken in historical context and the term is applicable only to the battalions in the ANV in '64-65. If you look at his Western counterpart (Army of Tennessee), often times those battalions (before they were consolidated with other units) fought in the line of battle rather than precede it.

That said, the use of special troops is nothing new. Roger's Rangers (and they were not the first "rangers" in the New World) comes to mind as does Rapp's Free Company during the Napleonic Wars. During the Siege of Danzig (after the Retreat from Moscow), a special company was used to harass the Russian besiegers. "The free company became every day more audacious. Trenches, palisadoes, were trifling obstacles; it penetrated every where. In the middle of a dark night, it stole along from tree to tree, the whole length of the avenue of Langfuhr, without being perceived by the Russians. On a sudden it leaped into their works, killed some of the Russians, drove out the others, and pursued them as far as Kabrun. The brave Surimont, the intrepid Rozay, Payen, Dezeau, Gonipet, and Francore, threw themselves on the redoubt, and carried it. A hundred men were put to the sword, the othres owed their escape only to flight." I'm sure there are other examples, but I'll leave that to a historian to point out.

Bill_Cross
05-24-2006, 12:31 PM
The use of special troops is nothing new.
I don't believe anyone is trying to say that CW tactics did not evolve over the course of the war, just as Federal troops for the most part ditched their heavy frock coats for lighter-weight fatigue blouses, etc. Upton's tactics at Spotsylvania are an excellent example, but they're so well-known because they were so unusual in their application.

And insisting on PEC is going to strike some as boring. Why shouldn't we have Henry rifles, Lematt revolvers, gatling guns, mountain howitzers, Mosby's Rangers, Indian companies, Chinese, women in the ranks, ********************, it was ALL there. No one's arguing it wasn't.

But the saddest thing about our hobby is our inability to accurately portray the history we so revere. Whether it's balls at battles, coolers in camp, shock troops running around like modern squads in the Wildnerness, service stripes, one colonel for every 20 men, bands playing as the troops deploy, one company of riflemen substituting for a whole brigade, EBUFU events that refuse to have uniform inspections, Internet nasties and boo birds whose only agenda is to sow trouble and dissention, etc., etc., etc.

When we can form up properly and execute the formations of the period, in settings that accurately reflect the realities of the war, in uniforms that truly approximate what THEY wore, and give the spectators a real understanding of CW combat and life, that's when we can start deploying the special cases and non-PEC formations, equipment, etc.

Given how far we still have to go....

Wild Rover
05-24-2006, 02:10 PM
Bill,

Understand where you are coming from, but also understand that yup, folks are bored by the samo samo. Considering the folks that are putting this together and conducting the research, I bet there are over 100 years experience in linear formation, so we have a good base to build on.

Others may not.

But that is no reason why we should sit around and wait.

It is documented, interesting and historical, not to mention I must say very PEC for 64-65 ANV troops.

I think perhaps you are soured on the hobby as a whole, my friend. It is research and learning new things that takes us beyond the frustration that we often find.

Perhaps you should come out and join us for the weekend. I promise nothing but instruction from period sources and a fresh new experience.

Pards,