This National Guard Manual by Pinckney is a fantastic resource to understand many specific details about military life, duties, and equipment. This is a must read! Don't take my word for it check it out yourself.
Google books has a fantastic selection of Civil War publications free. Sometimes it can take some creative searching, though. Taking a look at period manuals is a good way to get a sense of what would have been expected of our duties. Here is a link to a good book for company officers:
Hints to Company Officers on Their Duties by Capt. C.C. Andrews of the 3rd Minnesota Regt.
Such topics include:
Feel free to post a comment if you have other sources to recommend.
Duties of the 1st Sgt.
The treasures from the Maine State Archives keep coming! There is a lot of information in these letters and they cover a little bit of everything. One letter I like is a request for eating utensils and another lists Sharpshooters transferred to the 17th Maine Volunteers. These are copies of the original letters and not transcripts. Some will take you quite a while to decipher the handwriting but they are full of never before written about daily business.
Believe it or not there is even more scanning to be done!
The file link includes every enlistment paper for the soldiers of Company D. The Maine State Archives were amazingly friendly and helpful in my research efforts. The documents were all scanned by Melissa who is super awesome for helping. The free version of Weebly has a 10 megabyte max on file uploads so the enlistment papers are in two files. If you want it in one version you can email me. Enjoy!
Here is some excellent research provided by Captain Sturgill on our captured soldiers at Petersburg.
COLONEL BERDAN AND HIS SHARPSHOOTERS. WE illustrate herewith the exploits of Colonel Berdan and his famous sharp-shooting regiment, which will shorty be heard of at the war. On 7th the Colonel gave an exhibition of his skill at Weehawken, New Jersey, in presence of a large crowd of spectators. The reporter of the Evening Post thus described the scene:
The "man target," christened Jeff Davis, was set up at a distance of a little more than two hundred yards. Colonel Berdan inaugurated the firing. In an easy, business-like way he loaded his rifle, an ordinary target piece, with a telescopic sight, and approached the "rest." The visitors crowded around him in every direction, excepting, of course, that occupied by the muzzle of the rifle. A sense of personal danger preserved a small opening there. The wind blew quite heavily.
It will be conceded that these circumstances were not particularly conducive to careful and unerring aim. But Colonel Berdan is a man of wonderful nerve. The crowd did not at all disturb him. He proceeded in the work with the utmost steadiness. Balancing his rifle for a moment, he fired at the head of the figure. When the smoke cleared away, the hole made by the bullet was observed by the aid of the telescope—the cheek, near the nose.
Again the Colonel loaded and quickly fired at the head, hitting it just over the frontispiece of the cap which was painted upon it.
The third shot was fired. "Put his eye out," remarked the Colonel. The ball had struck near enough to that organ to destroy its use had it been a real one.
The fourth shot hit the face.
"I'll try nature's rest," said the Colonel, and he proceeded to a knoll near by, and throwing himself at its side, accommodated his person to its shape and took aim, but the percussion cap only exploded. "Davis is safe this time," he remarked. "We'll try him again." Another cap was provided, and the image was struck just below the front piece of the cap. The aim was quite as accurate as that he had previously obtained.
The sixth shot hit about two inches lower than the fifth.
The seventh hit the top of the head.
Loading again, the Colonel made ready to fire. " Where will you have this shot?" he inquired of one standing by. "In the end of the nose," was the answer. "Between the eyes," suggested another. At this moment the rifle was discharged. " You spoke too late," quietly remarked the Colonel, " he has another nostril." A gentleman was called to witness the effect of the shot, and afterward our reporter. It was as the Colonel had said. The nose had an additional aperture.
"Where shall I put the next shot?" the Colonel inquired of the gentleman at whose request he had spoiled the nose of the image. "Try his right eye," was the answer. No sooner said than it was done. The ball entered the lower part of the eye. The effect of this shot was carefully noted by several persons through the glass.
"Will you tell me where to hit him again?" once more asked the Colonel of the person who had called the last two shots. That individual declined. He was satisfied that the Colonel could hit any thing, and it was not worth while to fire at the image, whose face was riddled. '' We will hit him once more, and now in the centre of the forehead." This shot, the tenth, was the finest of the whole. It took effect midway between the front piece of the cap and the root of the nose, and directly over that organ. The distances were almost mathematically accurate.
The Times thus speaks of the Regiment :
Some idea of the rigidity of the test may be gathered from the fact that no man is admitted who does not shoot, at 600 feet distance, ten consecutive shots at an average of five inches from the bull's-eye. That is, the aggregate distance of the whole ten shots must not exceed fifty inches. Not a man is accepted under any circumstances who varies a hair-breadth from the mark. Remarkable though it may seem, many of the men exceed this proficiency. Colonel Berdan himself has, on a windy day, with a strange rifle, put ten balls within an average distance of one inch and one-tenth each from the bull's-eye, at 600 feet. At 1000 feet the Colonel made a string of 22 inches. Sergeant-Major Brown, under more unfavorable circumstances, made a string of 33 inches, or a little more than three inches each ball, at a distance of 100 yards, with a strange rifle. In testing the applicants at Albany, about two-thirds were found unfitted, and indeed the general average of incompetent applicants is more than that. The American riflemen prove generally superior, especially the hunters of New England and the West. The First Lieutenant of Captain Shoenecker's company is Mr. Sonnley, formerly Professor of Mathematics in the Nashville Military Academy, and other gentlemen equally qualified will be in the ranks.
The uniform of the sharp-shooters will be green in summer and gray at other seasons, to assimilate as nearly as possible with the colors of nature. They ridicule the idea of Zouave and Havelock uniforms, as affording too splendid a target for marksmen. They will be armed with the most improved Springfield rifle, with a plain silver pin sight at the muzzle, and notch sight, or the globe sight at the breech for long range, or on a dark day, or night shooting. It was at first intended to arm them with the Northern target-rifle, but it was found that there were not enough in the country. Colonel Berdan has invented a ball which is superior to the old Springfield rifle ball. It will carry with great accuracy a distance of 3000 feet. It is a grooved and conical ball, and is almost certain for a horse at the distance of three-fifths of a mile. Each man may take his own rifle if he wishes.
The design of the Colonel is to have the regiment detached in squads on the field of battle to do duty in picking off officers and gunners on the European plan, by which they take the risk of being cut off by cavalry, or executed, as they certainly would be, if taken. It is the first regiment of rifles ever formed worthy of the name—i. e., that subjected each member to the rifle-shooting test.
Colonel Berdan comes of Huguenot stock. His ancestry came to this country after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. He was born in the western part of New York.
"A rebel captain forcing negroes to load cannon under the fire from Berdan's Sharpshooters. Seen through a telescope from our lines, and sketched by Mr. Mead."
DO YOU KNOW THE 11 SONS OF ROCKLAND WHO WERE SHARPSHOOTERS AT GETTYSBURG?
Rockland goes to war, Civil War that is by Chris Wolf
PENOBSCOT BAY PILOT
Friday, May 3, 2013 - 6:30pm
Captain Dave Sulin dressed in the traditional uniform of the U.S. Sharpshooters. Called "Green Demons" by the Confederate soldiers. In the Union Army they were called "pickles." Rockland- The Rockland Public Library and the Rockland Historical Society featured Captain Dave Sulin speaking about the Union Sharpshooters from Rockland who fought at Gettysburg. The talk held in the Friends Room of the Rockland Public Library April 30, hosted a small crowd who listened intently to Sulin describe the sharpshooter's history and role in the battle of Gettysburg in an informative and animated way.
“At the outbreak of the Civil War, when Ft. Sumter was fired upon, the U.S. had 14,000 soldiers," said Sulin. "That’s the police force of New York City.”
Since this year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the turning point of the Civil War, the Rockland Historical Society has joined with museums throughout the State of Maine to create the Maine Civil War Trail. All museums on the Maine Civil War Trail has significant Civil War collections, which will be on display five days a week during July and August.
Sulin told of the 11 sons of Rockland, who served under the command of Captain Jacob McClure, also of Rockland. Sulin told of the marksmanship required, the unique equipment, unusual tactics, and the deadly efficiency of the “Green Demons” as they were called because of their green uniforms. On the afternoon of July 2, 1863, 169 expert marksmen of the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters faced 7,375 Confederates in a desperate struggle at the Battle of Gettysburg. Company D was made up of 27 exceptional marksmen recruited from the State of Maine.
Sons of Rockland
1. Capt. Jacob McClure
2. John E. Wade
3. Argil D. Morse
4. Edward Crockett
5. Barzilla B. Bragg
6. John Jameson
7. Edward Lindsey
8. Charles O. Wentworth
9. Henry Brown
10. James M. Pendleton
11. John M. Wilson
Sulin has been enthralled by the Civil War since an early age and has sailed all over the world as a merchant mariner for 42 years. Sulin has always been fascinated with artifacts, photographs and participants of the Civil War. He makes frequent visits to Civil War Battlefields, has done extensive research and participated in Civil War reenactments.
“There was a monument to the 4th Maine that was unofficial,” said Sulin. “I had read about it in some of the old Grand Army of the Republic notes. There was an official one, but the unofficial one I found had cows on the land and was surrounded by barbed wire and covered in heavy brush. So over the fence I went and I found this boulder. That boulder was done after the war by one of the veterans from Rockland, who went down by train. He was a stone cutter, and he took his tools with him. It was before the other monument was erected and he wanted to make sure before he died that there was something there.”
Sulin visits Gettysburg Park every spring and takes 10 students from the Riley school with him. There, they immerse themselves in the experiences of the Maine soldiers who fought there.
“Next week I’m taking 10 ten-year-olds from the Riley School down there, just like I do every year, and their parents would probably have heart attacks if they knew what I do, but I put them on lookout for the rangers," he said. "I take red and white chalk with me and on that boulder I fill in the letters in nice white chalk and the diamond in red. That was their core badge, a red diamond with 4th ME in white letters at the time.... I’m not sure they can arrest me for that because I’m not defacing a park monument, because they had insisted to me that there was no such monument down there, but I had known about it since I was 15.”
Sulin said the park insisted there is not a monument there, even after he cut away some of the brush and improvements had been made to the area. But it was still hard to find unless you were looking for it.
“If you go up onto Devil’s Den and you look down where the 4th Maine Regiment’s monument is and you look out at Little Round Top there’s just kind of a flash of red and white that will jump out at you," he said.
Sulin said he was shocked when he saw in a park magazine about the discovery of the monument.
“About a year and a half ago I saw in a park magazine where a ranger had written about how he had discovered, and when he said he had discovered it in early May, well I know how he had discovered it," said Sulin. "He was up on Little Round Top and it was all bright red and white and filled in. Of course he discovered it. I laughed, it didn’t matter to me. Now it’s all open, the road comes down by it and in a week and a half we’ll be putting a wreath there.”
Sulin wore the uniform of a captain of the U.S. Sharpshooters and displayed photographs and artifacts from his personal collection, including three of the types of rifles used by the sharpshooters during the war, a backpack typical of the regiment, ammunition cases and photographs of many of the sharpshooters from Maine.
This article captures very little of the sharpshooters history as presented by Sulin. If you ever get the chance, you should listen to him talk. He is more then a wealth of knowledge about the Civil War. Ann Morris, curator for the Rockland Historical Society, said Sulin was the society’s most enthusiastic Civil War buff.
“He the most enthusiastic in all of Rockland,” she said. “He has uniforms for the kids he’s taking to Gettysburg so they can reenact some of the battles to give the kids the feeling of being there. He’s a sea captain and he makes regular trips to Europe on container ships. He’s gone for three months and then he’s home for three months. He goes to every museum that he possibly can, he is just a wealth of information. It would be a marvelous education to travel with him.”
The Rockland Historical Society will be part of the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg and part of the Maine Civil War Trail that takes place in July and August. To be part of that trail the Historical Society had to promise to be open five days a week, so they will be open noon to five Monday through Friday during those two months.
“We would love to get one new volunteer a day to join us during those two months,” said Morris.
Chris Wolf can be reached at email@example.com.
Manuals and Guides
1861 Regulations for the Uniform and Dress of the Army of the United States.
1861 Regulations for the Army of the United States
1861 Ordnance Manual
A System of Target Practice
Beadles Military Handbook
Handbook for Active Service 1861
1852 Bayonet Exercise
Silas' Reenacting Links