Whitworth Riflemen at the Round Tops

Nathan Stuart

Apr 14, 2020
What I believe could have been the number of whitworth riflemen in the units of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg is indicated (in brackets) below.

First Corps – Longstreet

McLaw’s Division - Kershaw’s brigade

15 SC (1)

Second Corps – Ewell

Rode’s Division – Dole’s brigade

4 GA (2)

Early’s Division – Gordon’s brigade & Hay’s brigade

26 GA (1) (+1?)

9 LA (1)

Third Corps – A. P. Hill

Pender’s division – Perrin’s brigade

12 SC (1)

14 SC (1)

Based on this distribution and the unit deployments, nearly all of the few whitworth marksmen engaged were associated with either the Second or Third Corps and approaching Gettysburg from the North and Northwest. To support this, some dropped whitworth bullets have reportedly been recovered in the past alongside the road approaches outside the town from these directions.

Apart from perhaps only one (at least) rifleman connected to the 15 SC, I do not believe any whitworth sharpshooters were attached to Longstreet’s First Corps at Gettysburg on July 2 and 3. No whitworth marksmen were involved in Longstreet’s attack on the Round Tops nor positioned at Devils Den, firing at Union officers on Little Round Top. If there was a whitworth shooter with the 15 SC, he would have been too far away on the attack’s left, and without any clear line of fire, to be targeting Union soldiers on Little Round Top. Furthermore, I am unaware of any reliable evidence of whitworth rounds (spent or dropped) having ever being found at Devils Den or anywhere else in the vicinity of the Round Tops.