Riflemen of the Revolution

by
posted on May 9, 2009
200959133346-riflemenrev_fs.jpg

From the opening battles of the American Revolution through its conclusion, American longrifles and the men who wielded them with skill and accuracy played a significant role in securing American freedom and independence.

The Revolutionary War had just begun when the Second Continental Congress met in emergency session in Philadelphia. At Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill¬-and now, in June 1775, amid the Boston siege-the Minutemen's inaccurate smoothbore muskets stood slim chance of hitting a Redcoat beyond 50 yds. What could be done?

John Hancock, whose elegant signature graces the Declaration of Independence, urged his congressional colleagues to recruit America's frontier riflemen, "the finest marksmen in the world." Future president John Adams agreed, noting that they could fire with "great exactness to great distances." Thus, by special Act of Congress the very first unit of what became the U.S. Army was as revolutionary as the war itself-an all-volunteer rifle battalion. From the trackless forests of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland, marksmen by the hundreds grabbed their fine longrifles and set off for Boston.

They were truly elite, these rifleman-sharpshooters, never exceeding 5 percent of the Continental Army’s foot soldiers; yet, these few legendary marksmen and their precision shooting would prove decisive at the war’s most critical moments.

In Boston, the newly organized 12 companies of 82 marksmen quickly made life hazardous on the British lines. Congress was told, “riflemen picked off ten men in one day, three of whom were Field officers [and] one of them was killed at the distance of 250 yards, when only half his head was seen.” That toll soon rose to 42 enemy soldiers and officers, causing one Englishman to write home that the riflemen’s fire had, “grown so terrible … that nothing is to be seen over the breastworks but a hat.” Another British visitor warned, “Advise your officers who shall hereafter come out to America to settle their affairs before their departure.” After eight months of such one-sided precision rifle fire—and evergrowing artillery fire—the British abandoned Boston. As quickly as they left, however, Gen. George Washington disbanded most rifle companies to fill his smoothbore-armed infantry regiments, and with good reason....

Latest

The Armed Citizen
The Armed Citizen

The Armed Citizen® May 23, 2022

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

2022 Rifle Of The Year: Ruger 10/22 Competition Rifle Left-Handed Model

Now in their 20th year, the Golden Bullseye Awards are chosen annually to recognize the firearm industry’s best new offerings. Here is this year’s winners as selected by the editors of “The World’s Oldest And Largest Firearm Authority.”

America’s Prototype 'Trench Guns' Of World War I

Arms of all sorts were in high demand at the onset of the Great War, including a new type of close-quarters combat firearm: the repeating shotgun. Though several designs were explored, only a few made it into the trenches before the Armistice was signed.

Preview: Hogue Knives Deka Manual Folder

Hogue, Inc. expanded its lineup of American-made knives with the Deka Manual Folder.

Reasons To Consider Sub-Gauge Shotguns

Shooting as often as you like with a shotgun sounds like fun, but high-volume shooting takes planning and preparation—and the right sub-gauge gun.

Preview: Apex Tactical Springfield Hellcat Threaded Barrel

Machined from cold-hammer-forged, stainless-steel blanks, the Apex Tactical Hellcat Threaded Barrel is a drop-in replacement for any Springfield Armory Hellcat.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.