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Blackford's 5th Alabama Sharpshooters

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by cwbuff, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. cwbuff

    cwbuff Private

    Dec 21, 2010
    I'm looking for the number of men in Blackford's 5th Alabama Sharpshooters at Gettysburg. Thanks.
    east tennessee roots likes this.

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  3. AUG351

    AUG351 Captain Forum Host

    Nov 20, 2012
    Paging @Tom Elmore

    Blackford mentions 150 men as of July 2 in his memoirs. Fred L. Ray's Shock Troops of the Confederacy says they numbered 150-200 men at Gettysburg.

    The battalion wasn't just recruited from the 5th Alabama Infantry but the entire brigade, totaling five companies, one from each regiment.
    FZ11, Yankeedave and Tom Elmore like this.
  4. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

    Dec 31, 2010
    Kingsport, Tennessee
    Reports of Maj. Eugene Blackford, Fifth Alabama Infantry.

    Darkesville, W. Va.,
    July 17, 1863.
    Lieut.: I have the honor to make the following report of
    the action of the corps of sharpshooters under my command during
    the battle of July 1, 2, and 3:

    The corps was deployed 2 miles from Gettysburg, with the left
    resting upon the Heidlersburg pike. After receiving instructions
    from Gen. Rodes to keep connected with those on my right, and
    feel for Gen. Early's advance on the left, I moved steadily forward
    upon the town, driving in the cavalry vedettes, posted in the
    road and on commanding hills. About half a mile from the suburbs,
    a large force of cavalry was observed in line, with a heavy line of
    men dismounted as skirmishers. The former charged us twice, but
    were easily repulsed. After an hour or more of active skirmishing,
    the enemy's infantry advanced in force through the town, and, under
    cover of a cloud of skirmishers, moved upon our batteries. The right
    company of my command annoyed these very much, holding their
    position steadily until our infantry came up. Against the center
    there was no movement by any force heavier than a double line of
    sharpshooters, whom our men invariably drove back, charging them
    once in gallant style.

    On the extreme left, the enemy advanced in three lines, and drove
    in my men there posted behind the trees. These retired, firing from
    tree to tree until they met Gordon's brigade advancing, after which
    they were rallied on the center at the sound of my bugle. The whole
    command then moved up the pike, and, passing through the town,
    took up its position on the left of Ramseur's brigade, then lying in
    the Fairfield road. After dark, I reported to the colonel commanding

    July 2, about 9 o'clock, my corps was deployed in front of the
    Fairfield road, where it remained until dark, when I took position in
    the suburbs of Gettysburg, as near the enemy's lines as possible, the
    men being sheltered in the houses.

    At daybreak on the 3d, we opened fire upon the enemy's artillery
    and skirmishers, and upon their lines of battle whenever they advanced,
    as they frequently did. This must have annoyed the enemy
    very seriously, as the average number of rounds fired was not less
    than 200, at ranges varying from 300 to 500 yards. The Northern
    papers confess that their gunners could not stand to their guns, and
    that the officers were picked off by rebel sharpshooters. One battery
    near us, after firing several shots at us, was removed out of our

    Our loss was not more than 20 killed and wounded. No list of
    casualties is inclosed, as they have been returned on the lists of the
    respective regiments.

    Abundant supplies of ammunition were obtained by sending details
    through the town to collect cartridge-boxes.

    At daylight on the 4th, I was ordered to fall back through the town,
    and deploy in front of the new line of battle on the hills to the west.
    This was accomplished just before sunrise.

    Though all acted so well that I scarcely like to make a distinction,
    yet I must call your attention to the conduct of Sergt. Christopher
    Clark, commanding the company from the Fifth Alabama Regt.
    He handled his company throughout with great skill and courage,
    and would well fill a commission.

    I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

    Maj. Fifth Alabama, Comdg. Battalion of Sharpshooters.

    Lieut. S. H. Moore,
    Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Rodes' Brigade.


    Milltown, Va.,
    July 24, 1863.
    Lieut.: The corps of sharpshooters under my command was
    sent to the front at Manassas Gap about 3.30 o'clock. I reported to
    the commanding officer of Wright's brigade, who placed me on his
    left, my right resting near the road. The enemy attacked in force
    about two hours after, driving in my extreme right, with those of
    Wright's brigade.

    I rallied the whole command on a commanding bluff to the left of
    the road, some quarter of a mile to the rear, whence they annoyed
    the advancing columns of the enemy very seriously, firing until it
    was too dark to see.

    At 11 p. m. we retired, and rejoined the brigade at daylight on the
    Luray pike.

    Very respectfully,

    Maj., Comdg. Battalion of Sharpshooters.

    Lieut. S. H. Moore,
    Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Rodes' Brigade.

    Source: Official Records: Series I. Vol. 27. Part II. Reports. Serial No. 44

    FZ11, 22ndGa and Yankeedave like this.
  5. cwbuff

    cwbuff Private

    Dec 21, 2010
    Great stuff! Thanks.
  6. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant Member of the Month

    Jan 16, 2015
    AUG351 has quoted Eugene Blackford's number of 150 men in his unit that were fed on July 2. Blackford had mentioned that his loss on July 1 was "considerable, mostly however in wounded." However, in his official report, he records his total losses during the battle at not more than 20 killed and wounded, so I would expect his July 1 casualties to have been around a dozen or so. Thus I would surmise that he came to Gettysburg with roughly 160-165 officers and enlisted men who were actually engaged, plus a few additional men who were assigned to details and not engaged. The rule of thumb for the latter is typically 15 percent, but with a special unit like this it may have been considerably less - I'm guessing around a dozen non-combatants in this case. In summary, my best estimate would be around 175 total strength at the outset for the 5th Alabama Battalion of Sharpshooters at Gettysburg.
    22ndGa and AUG351 like this.
  7. cwbuff

    cwbuff Private

    Dec 21, 2010

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