Saturday, March 1, 2008

44th New York Monument @ Little Round Top

Near the summit of "Little Round Top" on the Gettysburg battlefied is a monument to the 44 New York Infantry. The 44 th was located on the Union left on Little Round Top and was central to the fierce fighting that took place there on July 2 1863.

This is one of the larger monuments on Little Round Top. At the base of the silo there is an observation deck which is accessed via a spiral stairway inside the monument. From this deck you can see "Devils Den" ahead and to the left and to the right the "Peach Orchard" & "The Wheatfield" is visible, both of which were also sites of fierce combat.

Devils Den as seen from the 44th New York Infantry Monument.

I have done a fair amount of shooting in my time and I have to say it would be a good shot from Devils Den to the summit of Little Round Top with a modern firearm fitted with a scope in the hands of an average shooter. To think some of the confederate snipers and sharpshooters made effictive shots at this distance with muzzleloaders and open sights is mind boggling. You must remember, so many of the men were merely farmers and merchants and not professional soldiers.

I suppose a dependance on shooting to put meat on the table during peacetime also played a large part in their skills. Still, it is awe inspiring to imagine.
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Hadley said...


I would agree that the "average" shooter would have a hard time.

However many of those Johnny Reb Snipers had to feed their families using those [now] primitive firearms.

They learned how to shoot as kids. Which meant learning the peculiarities of their rifle and "how she shoots" the hard way.

They were also expert at reloading the SAME way each time, thereby creating consistent ballistic profiles -- something we modern day reloaders still need to keep in mind.

Nice photos.

William Carey said...

One of my three favorite subjects on the entire war, sharpshooting.
The advantages to each side were the firearms themselves. The Enfield was the "common" infantry rifle, for the CSA, and its tooling had features that a good shooter could capably use to his advantage. The 53 (remember 53 = 3 bands) had a 1:78 twist while the 56, 58 and 60's had a 1:48. The 53 and 56 had three groove rifling, but the 58 and 60 had five groove, and the rifling was cut deeper. Each fired the smooth Pritchett ball with 530 grains. The Whitworth is sometimes viewed as the CSA sharpshooter rifle, but it was not well liked. It fire a hexagonal bullet at a higher caliber. Despite being fitted with a scope, the Whitworth's recoil was tremendous and caused many to leave it and pick up the Enfield.

The 53 came with an adjustable rear sight for 100 to 400 yards. Later year productions came with a flip rear sight for 900 to 1250 yards.

Some specific telescopic target rifles were produced, such as the Morgan, but weight was a big issue for field use. For the CSA, many English match rifles were used by sharpshooters. The Kerr was a six groove barrel, but fired a lighter caliber. The Turner was another.

The South Carolina Sharpshooters (scouts of McGowan's Brigade, 3rd Co./Hill's Division/II Corps were the first into Gettysburg.

"windage and elevation"

William Carey said...

Also, it's a little over half a klick, or almost 600 yards from Devil's Den to Little Round Top.

A man-sized target at 600 yards with open sights.

Hadley said...

WM. Carey

If it had been me taking that 600 YD shot, I would have missed my guy and hit some OTHER guy. LOL

Yes a long, difficult shot, especially when the target is shooting back.

Nonetheless, I would not have wanted to be on Little Round Top on that day.