Book Review: Sharpshooting in the Civil War

by
posted on September 7, 2010
20109791614-civilwarsharpshooter_fs.jpg

Major John L. Plaster’s “History of Sniping and Sharpshooting” is the foremost reference on the subject to date. In his review of the book Maj. Edward J. Land, Jr., USMC (Ret.), wrote, “Plaster’s first-hand knowledge of equipment and field craft combined with his extensive research has produced one of the most complete and detailed books on military sniping.”

The only downside to the 704-pp. book was its price of $89. With that in mind, the publisher asked Plaster to do a separate book encompassing the eight chapters of the massive volume into a more, compact (and affordable) reference concentrating just on Civil War sharpshooters. Plaster opens up with descriptions of sharpshooters of the Union and the Confederacy, their recruitment, organization and training. The author then covers the arms and the tactics employed, with emphasis on the description of the best known arms, heavy-barreled target guns, Enfields, Whitworths and Sharps, and other lesser-known arms. His technical description of the ammunition used and the early telescopic sights employed are excellent as well. In his final section, Plaster chronicles battlefield accomplishments of sharpshooters, blue and gray, starting with their role at Antietam and Fredericksburg, then continuing on with Gettysburg and one of the most vicious and deadly fights for sharpshooters, the battle for Vicksburg.

As with “The History of Sniping and Sharpshooting,” sidebars on various topics, from the first scope-sighted engagement in American history to a listing of prominent officers felled by sharpshooters, break up the main text. It is a must read for Civil War enthusiasts and those interested in the role of sharpshooters and their rifles during America’s bloodiest conflict.

The paperbound, 81/2x11-inch, 157-pp. book is extremely well-illustrated with black and white photographs, artwork and period engravings. The cost is $19 plus shipping, and it is available through: Paladin Press; (800) 392-2400; or http://www.ultimatesniper.com/.

Latest

The Armed Citizen
The Armed Citizen

The Armed Citizen® September 20, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Sniping In Korea: 1950-1953

When U.S. forces rushed to stop the North Koreans from overrunning South Korea in 1950, there were almost no American snipers. As the battle lines stabilized, that would change, and the war would become ideal for the employment of well-equipped and well-trained snipers.

Preview: Archangel Mosin Nagant OPFOR

Greatly improve the ergonomics and versatility of your old Russian workhorse with the Archangel Mosin Nagant OPFOR—one of the few replacement stocks on the market compatible with most variants of the storied bolt-action.

Rifleman Q&A: Bullet & Primer Sealant

From the archives of American Rifleman, one NRA member questions the importance of the colorful or black-colored paint-like coating around the cartridge necks and primer pockets of surplus ammunition.

Preview: Zero Tolerance Knives 0357BW

The U.S.-made Zero Tolerance 0357 Black Wash liner lock features a 3.25" blade of hard, wear-resistant CPM 20CV steel treated with a scratch-hiding blackwash finish best suited for everyday carry.

The French FR F2 Sniper Rifle

Conceived during the Cold War and after thirty years of service, the French are beginning to phase out the FR F2 bolt-action sniper rifle, with the surplus rifles available for sale from Navy Arms.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.