Whitworth Rifle How Many?

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cake1979

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"...a regiment of 1600 men at a hit rate of one in sixteen would cause 100 casualties per volley. A regiment of 1600 men firing at a hit rate of one in 150 would cause ca. 12 casualties per volley; this means that a brigade of 4800 men firing at a hit rate of 1 in 150 fighting a regiment of 1600 men firing at a hit rate of 1 in 16 comes to:

Regiment inflicts 100 casualites (1/48 of enemy strength) and takes 32 casualties (1/50 of own strength).


This above hypothetical goes completely out the window because it doesn't allow for receiving incoming fire from an enemy equipped with the same arms and with the same field strength. The number of casualties inflicted on both sides diminishes exponentially with each shot/volley fired. Thereby radically changing the percentage of rates of hits to a much lower number with every shot fired! These numbers, rates, and percentages, remind me of the military warfare video games the grandkids play with!
J.
You’re right in that all of these numbers are best case scenarios. In battle, someone is shooting back. Plus, you have tons of variables to control besides the shooter, including powder quality, cast weight of the mass-produced bullet, wear or leading in the barrel. Heck, even the amount of powder you spill as you hurriedly bite off the end of the cartridge can matter.

Sure, a sharpshooter/sniper is alone and far more careful, and his hit rate is much higher, but we’ve moved into the battle line. All bets are off there. Your chances of hitting at any distance, at least intentionally, would be fairly low in the face of round shot, buck and ball, and fixed bayonets.
 

zburkett

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There is a documented kill shot from Ft. Sumter to shore with a Whitworth. A range of about a mile. The accounts of the witnesses around Gen. Sedgwick is they were ducking because they recognized the sound of Whitworth rounds whizzing past so they knew it was a good marksman shooting at them. Gen. Sedgwick delivered his "They couldn't hit an elephant at this range" just before a round went under his left eye to encourage them to not duck but keep working.
 
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Saphroneth

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You’re right in that all of these numbers are best case scenarios. In battle, someone is shooting back.
Sure, a sharpshooter/sniper is alone and far more careful, and his hit rate is much higher, but we’ve moved into the battle line.
Eh? I'm comparing battle rates with battle rates; the 1/16 is the hit rate scored by the British line infantry in the battles of the Alma and Inkerman in the Crimean War, while the 1/150 is the rough hit rate scored by the Union army at Gettysburg.


Plus, you have tons of variables to control besides the shooter, including powder quality, cast weight of the mass-produced bullet, wear or leading in the barrel. Heck, even the amount of powder you spill as you hurriedly bite off the end of the cartridge can matter.
Yes, which is why the Hythe musketry school also trained troops in all these things, or how to compensate for them at least. It wasn't properly bedded in by the time of the Crimean War, however, which is where I got my data on what training can do. I've intentionally limited the scope of my claims.
 

Scott1967

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There is a documented kill shot from Ft. Sumter to shore with a Whitworth. A range of about a mile. The accounts of the witnesses around Gen. Sedgwick is they were ducking because they recognized the sound of Whitworth rounds whizzing past so they knew it was a good marksman shooting at them. Gen. Sedgwick delivered his "They couldn't hit an elephant at this range" just before a round went under his left eye to encourage them to not duck but keep working.
Yes I read about this one the same sniper who supposedly killed Sedgwick also claimed to have killed Willard or Weed I cant remember which one at Gettysburg think the snipers name was Ben Ames or something like that.

I find it interesting that most of the snipers kills come when their is a lull in the battle maybe they waiting for the smoke to clear , Most of the officers seemed to have been killed just stood about or inspecting their lines and not actually engaged in combat.
 

cake1979

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Eh? I'm comparing battle rates with battle rates; the 1/16 is the hit rate scored by the British line infantry in the battles of the Alma and Inkerman in the Crimean War, while the 1/150 is the rough hit rate scored by the Union army at Gettysburg.

Yes, which is why the Hythe musketry school also trained troops in all these things, or how to compensate for them at least. It wasn't properly bedded in by the time of the Crimean War, however, which is where I got my data on what training can do. I've intentionally limited the scope of my claims.
No, you’re right. Didn’t read closely enough.

That said, I still think that Hythe training could only minimize or help control a few variables for the average soldier. Tough to avoid bad powder or mis-cast ammo. Of course, the British Army was a little ahead of us Yanks at that time, and certainly had more large-scale fighting experience.
 
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I believe you are focusing your outcome based on trained British Army stats of the time. The vast majority of Civil war soldiers were far from trained marksmen. Probably the best shots were those of hunters who needed to put food on the table for their family. There was little time to train as men were needed in the field. There is also the consideration of the maintained condition of the arms used.
 
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I shoot a Pedersoli Whitworth in competition at 200 to 1200 yards. I have shot alongside men shooting original Whitworth target rifles having years of experience with them. I have a pretty good understanding of what they can do. Prior to shooting long range with the Whitworth, I could hold 2 moa with iron sights in three position matches no problem. Learning to do the same with a muzzleloader was an entirely new ball game. It's not easy.

A first shot intentional hit at 2000 yards on a dynamic battlefield is doubtful in my mind. Given multiple attempts, and a very good spotter, the odds go up quickly that he could hit a man sized target at 1000 yards within a few shots. If he had the range from his position to their position from a previous day/encounter, he could make a very big ruckus quite fast at over 1000 yards. So, 1000 yards is doable I believe with intent by a skilled marksman. Beyond that, a good bit of luck would be involved. He must be an excellent judge for wind at all distances and have a first rate eye for range. If he is going to get a first shot hit.

If we are talking about firing from one breastworks into another breastworks, a good shot with a Whitworth, Turner, or Kerr could make life miserable for the receiver once he had their range. I believe most of the tales of sharpshooters working in a siege situation. They had the time to know their field of battle well.

My current load is a 560 gr pure lead round bullet, paper patched, backed by a 3/16" dense felt hex wad lubricated with oil and loaded over 86 grains of Swiss 2f. I do not need to wipe between shots unless I am shooting more than five or six rounds.

Just my thoughts

DAve
 

Saphroneth

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I believe you are focusing your outcome based on trained British Army stats of the time.
Well, yes, but it's not as if the British Army's magic. They trained everyone in the army - and quite a lot of people who weren't, too.

I believe you are focusing your outcome based on trained British Army stats of the time. The vast majority of Civil war soldiers were far from trained marksmen. Probably the best shots were those of hunters who needed to put food on the table for their family. There was little time to train as men were needed in the field. There is also the consideration of the maintained condition of the arms used.
That's the thing, though, with a reasonable-quality rifle it doesn't actually take much time to train troops. The British Army had a musketry instruction camp at Hythe which it used not to train troops but to train instructors; if you have instructors, expert opinion is that it takes something like six weeks* and a hundred and ten rounds to turn someone who's never held a rifle in their life into an expert shot (the exact language used is "wonderfully efficient").

Since the actual shooting portion is more in the nature of an exam (i.e. "have you learned this correctly") than actual practice, you don't even need a rifle range per regiment - one per corps is enough, you cycle the regiments through it one at a time and give them a day each to do it. It also doesn't take much space, because the Hythe regulations include instructions on how to use smaller targets to make the individual-firing section harder. (The range estimation exam doesn't require a range, just open ground.)
As for the matter of maintained condition, pretty much nothing you can do to a period firearm and still have it fire will actually affect the ballistic characteristics that much - not over "battle range". The difference in bullet drop between a shot for 100 yards and a shot for 300 yards isn't huge, it's about one body length, and if your rifle is so badly maintained that it's losing that much force then you weren't going to hit anything anyway...
(Admittedly though there were some weapons where no amount of training in the world would help, because the sights were wrong or absent:
"In this emergency it was deemed advisable to try the experiment of rifling, and otherwise improving the smooth bore muskets. An arrangement was made with Miles Greenwood, of Cincinnati, to execute the necessary alterations, at a cost of one dollar and twenty-five cents for each musket. In addition to which, he was to affix breech sights to one-twentieth of the entire number, at an additional cost of one dollar and seventy-five cents each... In precision and range it is said to be fully equal to the celebrated 'Enfield'... The total number of muskets rifled and altered, up to the date of this report, was twenty-five thousand, three hundred and twenty-four." (OH QMG 1861 report, p. 587)
)
For those not following along, that's more than 23,000 rifles without sights.


I can think offhand of several six-week periods when nothing much was happening at all for any given Civil War army; winter 1863 for the Army of the Potomac is a fine example, and by then they all had Enfields and Springfields. The reason it wasn't done is not that there was a greater demand on the soldiers being at the front straight away - the reason it wasn't done is that nobody knew to do it.

When Cleburne got hold of the Hythe musketry manual and trained large portions of his line troops in musketry, the effect was noticeable. And he was doing it out of a book!

I suspect that if a rifle was available for general issue at the same cost as the Springfield 1861 which had a fire rate ten times that of a conventional rifle-musket then everyone would jump at the chance; the effectiveness improvement here is mathematically much the same.

Naturally a nearly-a-mile shot is going to require skill, luck and a well maintained Whitworth rifle in equal measure, but over ranges of 500-600 yards it's much easier.



* Edited to add:


"3681. (Duke of Richmond): In what space of time do you think that a lad from the plough could be made efficient enough for the purpose of going through the musketry instructions? -The course now adopted in the line, and, in fact, thoughout the Army generally, is to take such men when they have been about a month or six weeks under the adjutant's drill. They get into our mill, as it were, and they are trained for 18 days, during which time we put them through the whole of what we call our ordinary training. After the man has gone through that ordinary training as a recruit, he is then allowed to practice as a soldier in his company, when it merely takes twelve days in the year to go through the prescribed annual course of musketry drill and practice and two or three such courses make those men most wonderfully efficient.
3682. (Lord Methuen): Do you mean to say six weeks after the recruit has joined? -In war time we do not give him so much, for in a fortnight after a recruit has joined we should bring him under rifle training.
3683. (Col. Gilpin): Where does he undergo the remaining 12 days' instruction of which you speak? -When he joins his company in an annual course.
3684. After they have left Hythe? -In all the regiments. It takes each man 12 days to go through the annual course.
3685. (Col. Pipon) After he has once gone through your mill? -No; you must understand that at Hythe we do not train men, we train teachers. The difficulty to be encountered is to get teachers. There is no difficulty in training the man."

(Evidence of Major-General Charles Crawford Hay, Inspector-General of Musketry Instruction at Hythe, in 'Report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the establishment, organization, government, and direction of the militia of the United Kingdom; together with the minutes of evidence and appendix' Parliamentary Papers 1859 Session 2, 2553)

In other words, if you want to take a soldier from raw recruit to "wonderfully efficient" in musketry you need 4-6 weeks of regular drill as preparation, 18 days of "ordinary training" in musketry and then 2-3 runs through the annual course of twelve days. That's 54 days of musketry instruction in total from a complete novice to an expert sharpshooter, though the annual course does involve firing 90 rounds so it'd actually be a total of approaching 400 rounds.
 
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Saphroneth

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While I appreciate it's moving away from the qualities of the Whitworth rifle itself, the parameters of Hythe helped to shape the situation in which the Whitworth rifle was designed (as it was a British design) and the situation in which the weak link in the ability of a typical British infantryman to shoot at range was actually the qualities of the Enfield rifle itself; that's why the Whitworth was an improvement.



The British Hythe musketry regulations included a considerable emphasis on range estimation. In particular, the range-estimation section specified the error permissible in range estimation above which a soldier would achieve no points.
For men of the third class or when judging distance out to 300 yards for all classes:
3 points for within 5 yards, 2 points for within 10 yards, 1 point for within 15 yards.
For men of the second class or when judging distance from 300-600 yards for all classes:
2 points for within 20 yards, 1 point for within 30 yards.
For men of the first class, when judging distance from 600-900 yards:
2 points for within 30 yards, 1 point for within 40 yards.
Each soldier was tested a total of 36 times over the course of an exercise. The estimation was conducted with actual men standing at the other end of the distance - one man out to 300 yards, a section (not less than eight or ten men) further out than that.
Care was taken to ensure that answers were secret until the end of the practice.

The tests were conducted in three "periods" of twelve distance estimations each, with everyone starting in the third class. A soldier who scored at least 14 points in a period would be eligible to qualify upwards into the next class up.

In addition to this official judgement of their class for the purposes of distance estimation, estimation practice was to be conducted at least once a month (and more often was preferable).

It should be noted that there were specific rules in place for how to conduct this training for formations with rifles not sighted out to 900 yards, such as the artillery (who had short Enfield carbines sighted to 300 yards only).

An example of a Hythe target:

hythe-jpg.jpg

It's not a hundred percent realistic, and I'm unsure if it's the standard type, but it's certainly a way for soldiers to see the effect of their work!



I've also found (or rather re-found) more details about what Major Dunlop did.

Dunlop noted:
"The superiority of the Enfield at long ranges, from 600 to 900 yards, was clearly demonstrated, both as to force and accuracy of fire. The ulterior range of the Enfields proved reliable and effective to a surprising degree, to a distance of 900 yards, while the other rifles could only be relied on at a distance of 500 yards".

The test was conducted with the Minie, Enfield, Lorenz, Belgian, Springfield and Mississippi rifle. For 100 yards the target was a 2x6 foot plank, for 500 yards it was 4x6 foot, and for 900 yards it was 6x6 foot (all three with circles and a bull, expanding at larger range. For 100 yards it was a 5" bull, a 14" inner circle and a 24" outer circle).
This test appears not to have been conducted over known ranges and was concurrent with training in target estimation drill for the shapshooters' battalion of McGowan's brigade, in 1864. The process of training also included range estimation up to nine hundred yards with every soldier measured and scored in their performance; these men were picked for their perceived natural aptitude, and were replaced if they didn't learn.



Thx for that Saphroneth I must admit I always associated shorter barrels with the cavalry I didn't think such a short barrelled rifle could achieve such accuracy at long ranges , I was aware the 1853 pattern was tested alongside the Whitworth and the 1853 achieved 1400 yard shots but I had no idea the shorter barrel version was used for sniping.
Relevant to this, it's possible that the bullet improvements were the key. My understanding is that the first bullets issued for the Enfield had some issues (e.g. it would sometimes not engage with the rifling) but later model bullets were improved - but whenever someone wanted to show that his new rifle was better he'd compare it to data obtained with the first bullets.
 
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Enakan

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This is a fascinating thread, glad its up here! Very good comments throughout!

Totally agree about the marksmanship training on top of the weapon capabilities, I found as I progressed through Army Training Schools in the 90's and early 2000's, my long range marksmanship and hits at long range drastically improved from what I experienced back in Basic Training. This was with the regular front and back "iron" sights starting with the M16 and moving up to the M4. Not wanting to hijack this thread with mention of modern weapons, just my impression of good training with good instructors on pretty decent long range courses.

I can see how experienced veteran sharpshooters, on both sides of the Atlantic, could consistently score hits at ranges above what was accomplished by the regular line troops.

Again, thanks for this very informative discussion!
 
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Saphroneth

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I can see how experienced veteran sharpshooters, on both sides of the Atlantic, could consistently score hits at ranges above what was accomplished by the regular line troops.
The tricky thing is what qualifies one to be considered an "experienced veteran sharpshooter".
In the US Civil War, sharpshooter training was very much the exception; in the British Army in particular, it was the rule. An average regular line infantryman had passed out of the third class (that is, more than half the British Army was 2nd class or 1st class as a shooter) and when an effectively randomly selected set of British line infantry battalions engaged Russian troops at Inkerman and at the Alma they achieved a hit rate of about one in sixteen to one in eighteen in battle; this isn't the best men in the British Army but the average pulling this off.
The best were considerably better.

I don't expect this to indicate any kind of superiority of the raw material - American raw material was probably better - just that sharpshooter training for everyone means that those troops capable of sharpshooting will always be nurtured as they need in the British Army. Effectively, anyone who could become a sharpshooter in the British system does, and that basically means everyone with good eyesight and some who didn't.
(The Prussians had a similar system with the Dreyse, which let them actually outshoot the Austrians despite having a rifle inferior to the Lorenz for distant shooting.)
 
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Saphroneth

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So I've already covered the cases where the Lanchester Square law would apply, as one part of why in small unit actions troop-weapon combinations with a high accuracy are able to outfight larger numbers of troops with a lower accuracy.
However, in this case I'm going to explore the cases where something closer to the Linear law applies.

Possibility one: the high-accuracy regiment (of 900 men) is holding a pass which no more than 900 of the enemy can contest at a time. Assuming neither side suffers from morale, and that the attacking force has an accuracy of 1/144 while the defending force has an accuracy of 1/16, how many troops does the attacking force lose in taking the pass?

Previously in the Square Law calculation we saw that a 9:1 accuracy ratio would mean that you needed three times the men in the less accurate force to fight to an exact draw. Let's see how this one goes:


Force 1​
Force 1 hits​
Force 2​
Force 2 hits​
Force 2 casualty aggregate​
900​
56.25​
900​
6.25​
56.25​
893.75​
55.859375​
900​
6.25​
112.109375​
887.5​
55.46875​
900​
6.25​
167.578125​
881.25​
55.078125​
900​
6.25​
222.65625​
875​
54.6875​
900​
6.25​
277.34375​
868.75​
54.296875​
900​
6.25​
331.640625​
862.5​
53.90625​
900​
6.25​
385.546875​
856.25​
53.515625​
900​
6.25​
439.0625​
850​
53.125​
900​
6.25​
492.1875​
843.75​
52.734375​
900​
6.25​
544.921875​
837.5​
52.34375​
900​
6.25​
597.265625​
831.25​
51.953125​
900​
6.25​
649.21875​
825​
51.5625​
900​
6.25​
700.78125​
818.75​
51.171875​
900​
6.25​
751.953125​
812.5​
50.78125​
900​
6.25​
802.734375​
806.25​
50.390625​
900​
6.25​
853.125​
800​
50​
900​
6.25​
903.125​
793.75​
49.609375​
900​
6.25​
952.734375​
787.5​
49.21875​
900​
6.25​
1001.953125​
781.25​
48.828125​
900​
6.25​
1050.78125​
775​
48.4375​
900​
6.25​
1099.21875​
768.75​
48.046875​
900​
6.25​
1147.265625​
762.5​
47.65625​
900​
6.25​
1194.921875​
756.25​
47.265625​
900​
6.25​
1242.1875​
750​
46.875​
900​
6.25​
1289.0625​
743.75​
46.484375​
900​
6.25​
1335.546875​
737.5​
46.09375​
900​
6.25​
1381.640625​
731.25​
45.703125​
900​
6.25​
1427.34375​
725​
45.3125​
900​
6.25​
1472.65625​
718.75​
44.921875​
900​
6.25​
1517.578125​
712.5​
44.53125​
900​
6.25​
1562.109375​
706.25​
44.140625​
900​
6.25​
1606.25​
700​
43.75​
900​
6.25​
1650​
693.75​
43.359375​
900​
6.25​
1693.359375​
687.5​
42.96875​
900​
6.25​
1736.328125​
681.25​
42.578125​
900​
6.25​
1778.90625​
675​
42.1875​
900​
6.25​
1821.09375​
668.75​
41.796875​
900​
6.25​
1862.890625​
662.5​
41.40625​
900​
6.25​
1904.296875​
656.25​
41.015625​
900​
6.25​
1945.3125​
650​
40.625​
900​
6.25​
1985.9375​
643.75​
40.234375​
900​
6.25​
2026.171875​
637.5​
39.84375​
900​
6.25​
2066.015625​
631.25​
39.453125​
900​
6.25​
2105.46875​
625​
39.0625​
900​
6.25​
2144.53125​
618.75​
38.671875​
900​
6.25​
2183.203125​
612.5​
38.28125​
900​
6.25​
2221.484375​
606.25​
37.890625​
900​
6.25​
2259.375​
600​
37.5​
900​
6.25​
2296.875​
593.75​
37.109375​
900​
6.25​
2333.984375​
587.5​
36.71875​
900​
6.25​
2370.703125​
581.25​
36.328125​
900​
6.25​
2407.03125​
575​
35.9375​
900​
6.25​
2442.96875​
568.75​
35.546875​
900​
6.25​
2478.515625​
562.5​
35.15625​
900​
6.25​
2513.671875​
556.25​
34.765625​
900​
6.25​
2548.4375​
550​
34.375​
900​
6.25​
2582.8125​
543.75​
33.984375​
900​
6.25​
2616.796875​
537.5​
33.59375​
900​
6.25​
2650.390625​
531.25​
33.203125​
900​
6.25​
2683.59375​

After thirty minutes (60 volleys) force 1 is running out of ammunition, but they've inflicted about three times their own total numbers on the enemy. Letting this run to completion and assuming unlimited ammunition on the part of force 1 results in about 4,000 casualties to the attackers in the course of the total destruction of the defending force; this means it takes nearly 5,000 men to force a narrow pass against 900 of the enemy, if only musketry is used.



Let's instead look at a second case. In this case, it's one accurate regiment against one inaccurate regiment at a time.
Each time the Force 2 regiment drops to zero, in comes a fresh regiment to replace them.

Ammunition is assumed to be unlimited on the part of Force 1 again.

(...I couldn't include it because it was too long, but the result was that the ninth fresh regiment finally won.)

This is effectively the Linear Law - nine times better at shooting means beating nine times the enemy if they can't gang up on you.
 

Saphroneth

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And some more quotes from a Hythe instructor:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lR9cAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA18#v=onepage&q&f=false

'Taught shooting is a sure thing; it is a positive certainty. Men by nature cannot shoot; the more ball they shoot the worse they shoot. I would rather catch a tailor off his board than a sportsman. Capital sportsmen come here and remain in the 3rd class. They often say: "Colonel, I wish I had you in the bogs of Ireland"; or: "Colonel, I wish I had you in the jungles of India." Thank you, gentlemen, Hythe answers my purpose sufficiently well. We teach without balls; by aiming and position drill; by establishing a union between the finger and the brain. Rifle shooting is like shooting from a ship; you must press the trigger at the right juncture. I am getting blinder and more shaky every day, yet I shoot better, because I know when to press the trigger.'

'men, if they are to be intelligent soldiers, and not mere shooting machines, cannot aim until they understand the theoretical principles which guide a ball in its flight; they cannot shoot until they have acquired a facility in position; nor can they be master of a weapon unless they know its mechanical construction and how to keep it in working order.'

'One is apt to think that everybody can aim; but if you try to aim at a near object and then at a long range, you will find how the difficulty of aiming increases with the distance. This difficulty can only be overcome by practice. The sight is as capable of education as any other faculty. Eye drill is therefore an important part of the training of a long-range rifleman. For this drill each section is drawn up opposite to a tripod rest — three poles held together by a ring, with a bag of sand on the top. Each man in the section comes in turn to the rest, lays his rifle upon it, adjusts his sight for the distance, and aligns the back-sight and foresight upon the mark. While he is doing so he is required to state the rules he is acting upon, in aiming; thus coupling theory with practice... When the right hand man in the section has adjusted his rifle on the rest he steps aside and the Sergeant looks along his sights. If he finds any error... he calls the next man to point out the error; and so each man takes his turn...'

'In the second practice you go through all the motions of actual shooting. It is, in fact, shooting dummy. You bring the rifle smartly to the shoulder, closing the left eye, and with the right looking through the bottom of the notch of the backsight; then put the forefinger round the trigger like a hook; then raise the muzzle till the sights come into alignment with the mark, restraining the breathing; then, the moment the sights are aligned, without dwelling on and so losing the aim, you press or squeeze the trigger, keeping your eye on the mark meanwhile and for some moments afterwards, so as not to disturb the aim; then you bring the rifle down smartly to the capping position. In all, five motions. In the third practice you go through all the motions of loading as well as of firing. You load dummy as well as shoot dummy. The second and third position drills are practised both standing and kneeling, as a front rank and as a rear rank.
The position drills were practised in the barrack-yard. A double row of small bulls' eyes is painted on the wall, at one of which each man is to aim... No man in the army is allowed to practise, that is, to shoot, until he has gone through 16 of these position drills.'

'In good old times, according to Col. Wilford, the order was: "Ball practice, shut your eyes, open your mouth, head back, pull away, and the deuce take the consequences." Now, we never say "Fire." Only the man who holds the rifle can say when to fire. It is at the very moment when the sights have come into alignment. It is the brain which takes the aim. The eye tells the brain when the aim is taken, and then the brain sends an electric message to the forefinger to press the trigger. Observe, they never say "pull" the trigger; if we pulled the trigger we should pull the rifle out of alignment and shoot wide. We are to press the trigger. The finger is to be well round the trigger like a hook, ready to obey the brain when the moment comes. If it is not ready, if there is anything else to do, any shifting of the finger, the moment is lost, you are off the mark, and had better drop the muzzle, and, having taken a full breath, raise it again.'

'Of the two next heads of our course — snapping caps and firing blanks — little need be said. Snapping caps is not a very exciting practice; but to the uninitiated even this is not unimportant. These drills are intended to cure the habit of winking or starting at the fall of the hammer (to use an auctioneer's phrase), and to habituate you to the recoil of the gun.'

'By way of further "improving each shining hour" during these judging distance drills, we were told, when not actually engaged in judging, to adjust our sights to the distance and practice snapping. In fact it was urged upon us that we could not have too much of this exercise; and the diligent filled up every spare moment by aiming, either standing or kneeling, and snapping.'

'As it is the main object of position drill to form habits which we may afterwards act upon mechanically and unconsciously, we were cautioned never in practice at home, or in our most careless moments, to bring the rifle to the "present," or to go through any other movement of the position drill, except in strict accordance with the instructions, and especially never to press the trigger when snapping unless we had a distinct aim, such as we should be satisfied with in ball practice. There seems to be much virtue in this rule, for it follows that if we fire blank with the same care as we fire ball, we shall fire ball with as little anxiety or flutter as we fire blank.'



Note particularly that the soldiers in this most accuracy-obsessed of armies were not ordered to "fire". Contemporary American tactics (and most continental tactics) were along the lines of:


The direct fire.
260. The instructor will give the following commands:
1. Fire by squad 2. Squad. 3. READY. 4. AIM. 5. FIRE 6. LOAD.
263. The Instructor will recommence the firing by the command:
1. Squad. 2. AIM. 3. FIRE 4. LOAD.
283. The fire by rank will be executed by each entire rank, alternately
284. The instructor will command:
1. Fire by rank, 2. Squad. 3. READY. 4. Rear rank, 5. AIM 6. FIRE. 7. LOAD.
287. As soon as the instructor sees several men of the rear rank in the position of ready, he will command:
1. Front Rank. 2. AIM. 3. FIRE. 4. LOAD.

(from Hardee's Tactics)

While in the British Army it was more like:
Load
Ready
Present

and then the soldier was allowed to choose when he fired, once he'd been ordered to present arms; accuracy was valued over control of fire. This trend was only partially reversed when the Snider came in, and the reason was that a Snider battalion could end up expending its ammunition about five times faster than a rifle-musket one!
 

John Hill

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The book,” Confederate Sharpshooter” by John Morrow is all about the Whitworth it’s ranges and records shots! One of the best was on Kennesaw Mountain Sharpshooters would ring both wheels on Union Cannons to say to Artillery man if you get between the wheels you are dead! Union Cannons where out of range of Confederate Cannons! Also Sam Watkins talks about the shooting contest to see who got one of the 60+ Whitworth and the black armband that gave the bearer free range between units!
 
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Saphroneth

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Union Cannons where out of range of Confederate Cannons!
Interestingly, there's a lot of positive evidence to suggest that the longest-ranged cannon (or "guns" in the parlance of the time) on the entire continent are the Armstrong guns deployed to Canada by the British Empire and the handful of Whitworth guns (IIRC they're 12 pounders) deployed at different times by the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia.

At Malvern Hill, the few Whitworths in the Union army's artillery park perform excellent counter battery fire; at Gettysburg, the same is true of the few Whitworths in the Army of Northern Virginia. They're so much more accurate at long range than the American pieces of any type that they simply can't be replied to effectively.
 

Jobe Holiday

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I find this hard to believe "...Sharpshooters would ring both wheels on Union Cannons...". Very simply, I don't believe it because I seriously doubt that with the limited number of Whitworth rounds available any of them would be wasted on proving they could hit a cannon wheel. They would shoot the Artilleryman first!

I would also like to note the continual comparison of the better shooting abilities of the British soldier vs the American and Confederate soldiers. What has yet to be mentioned is that although there were a few Regiments of Regulars in the US, the overwhelming majority of US and CS soldiers were Volunteers made up of everything from Farm Hands to Preachers and Politicians, and everything else in between. The British Regiments of Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery, were made up of full time professional soldiers who had enlisted for a minimum of 21 years.
J.
 
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Saphroneth

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I would also like to note the continual comparison of the better shooting abilities of the British soldier vs the American and Confederate soldiers. What has yet to be mentioned is that although there were a few Regiments of Regulars in the US, the overwhelming majority of US and CS soldiers were Volunteers made up of everything from Farm Hands to Preachers and Politicians, and everything else in between. The British Regiments of Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery, were made up of full time professional soldiers who had enlisted for a minimum of 21 years.
Absolutely, though it didn't take twenty-one years to make a good sharpshooter in the British method. Some US regiments (notably the 1st and 2nd US Sharpshooters) went through the entire process pretty much as per Hythe, while Cleburne put his troops through a somewhat attenuated version of Hythe and rather drastically improved their ranged performance.


If you want someone to be an expert sharpshooter, per experts from Hythe, it takes about two months of dedicated training (54 days) that you can start about four to six weeks (28-42 days) after they're in the army; functionally that means that, while a "90 day volunteer" probably won't have time for the full Hythe training regimen and still be able to fight a battle, anyone who's signed up for a two-year or three-year stretch is absolutely in a good place for it.


The reason why the US and CS didn't adopt this kind of rifle training is pretty simple - it's not their doctrine. Different armies have different doctrine, and the US hadn't really revised their doctrine to account for the provision of rifles, probably because before the start of the war their mission largely didn't involve situations where rifles would be very significant. Their previous war was in the percussion musket era, and Mahanian Active Defence worked well enough there that there was no real drive to change it.




What's interesting about this, to me, is how the doctrine drives procurement and procurement drives doctrine.
The British Army seriously considered the Whitworth (though they ultimately rejected it) because their doctrine was focused so heavily on long range sharpshooting.
The French in this period have a doctrine built around a balls-out charge through the enemy beaten zone, and as a result they didn't really upgrade their original Minié rifles (because they were felt to be good enough, and didn't improve the charge). Their range estimation system is easier to learn but much less granular.
The Prussians actually undergo a big doctrinal revision during the ACW to emphasize accuracy (and lots of target practice) with their Dreyse breech loaders, and their doctrine emphasizes using waves of supporting skirmish lines (the "schwarmm") to make the most of the greater rate of fire - before then they still used the Dreyse but my understanding is that it was more about weight of fire rather than weight of accurate fire.
The Austrians originally make use of a system where NCOs are the ones who estimate range and pass it on to the troops (who use the rather good Lorenz rifle), but this breaks down under pressure; after being beaten by the French they switch to a more assault oriented doctrine, and this plays right into the hands of the Prussians in 1866.

The American doctrine for serious war fighting is built around active defence, which emphasizes defensive positions as a way to amplify the fighting ability of those holding them, but most of the fighting that the army actually does is "Indian" fighting in small units out west. In those situations one might expect long-service troops to get fairly good at shooting at medium range - further than you'd be able to shoot a levelled musket and hit the target - but you don't need much granularity and without formed enemy troops to engage the targets are too small to be worth it at out beyond a few hundred yards. Thus, the Springfield.
The breech loaders and repeaters are primarily given to cavalry because of the usefulness of the combination of high mobility and high burst firepower in this period.

The French and the British upgrade to breechloaders in the mid-late 1860s, first with conversions and then with new rifles; the French also switch to a long-range fire doctrine after seeing what happened to the Prussians, and as a result they adopt the Chassepot and much more range training (which does actually outshoot the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War pretty drastically; they just don't have an answer for Krupp guns).
 
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hrobalabama

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I think historians and experts alike disagree on this from the account I read two sharpshooters who were positioned in some trees claimed to have aimed at an officer on a horse directing men , I suppose this would account for the downward trajectory of the wound and the fact that Reynolds was significantly higher off the ground.

I think Reynolds was hit in the back of the neck not the front which would suggest the shot came from behind him not something you would expect when facing the enemy however I don't think the truth will be known unless someone removed the bullet which of course will not happen and rightly so.
The bullet that killed Gen. Reynolds is on display at a museum in Atlanta, GA.
 
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