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Re: More Riflemen Questions

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  • Brett & Ian Osborn
    Mike, I am not aware of a specific unit raised in GA of rifleman. ... Here is some information of rifles and use by Georgia forces. On January 10, 1779, Fort
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 1, 2005
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      Mike,

      I am not aware of a specific unit raised in GA of rifleman.

      > It's clear that rifle units were raised in PA, MD, VA, NC,
      > SC, ( and I assume GA but I don't know of any offhand)

      Here is some information of rifles and use by Georgia forces.

      On January 10, 1779, Fort Morris, Sunbury, GA was captured. In
      addition to the 296 men taken, were 100 muskets with bayonets, 40
      fusees or carines, 12 rifles and two wall pieces. The garrison was a
      mixture of Georgia Continental Infantry and Artillery, a detachment
      of the 3rd SC (Ranger) Regiment and militia.

      In February 1779 following two engagements with Loyalists forces at
      Carrs Fort and Kettle Creek, the combined GA and SC militia force of
      Colonel Andrew Pickens captured over 600 arms. Pickens writes a
      letter on March 12, 1779 to Capt. John Irvine that he considers some
      horses and two rifle guns taken at Kettle Creek "as that property
      belongs to the people in general" but to be kept for his use. So we
      know some rifles were taken from the Carolina Loyalists at this time.

      After the fall of Savannah, Augusta and later Charleston, the small
      Georgia Continental units no longer existed. It was militia units
      that were continuing the fight. In most cases they were mounted.
      There were 30 Georgian militiamen that participated at Kings Mountain
      and more than 55 at Cowpens.
      Very Respectfully,
      Brett Osborn
      Georgia Refugees
    • IVBNNJV@aol.com
      In a message dated 1/1/2005 3:15:27 AM Eastern Standard Time, osbornbp@aol.com writes: I am not aware of a specific unit raised in GA of rifleman. There were
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 1, 2005
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        In a message dated 1/1/2005 3:15:27 AM Eastern Standard Time,
        osbornbp@... writes:
        I am not aware of a specific unit raised in GA of rifleman.
        There were two small Georgia Rifle units, one mounted, one foot.

        The first was raised just after the fall of Savannah, which Lt. Col.
        Archibald Campbell referred to as the "Georgia Rifle Dragoons." These should not be
        confused with the Georgia Light Dragoons. The Georgia Rifle Dragoons were
        raised on 4 January 1779 at Tuckassee King Plantation and command given to a
        "Captain William Fleming," as Campbell put it. I believe this person was actually
        Thomas Fleming, who was commissioned by Prevost Major in the Georgia Militia
        on 29 January 1779. His career was cut somewhat short though, as referenced in
        this extract of a letter from Port Royal Ferry, 12 February 1779:
        "Last night Major Fleming, who had been once a resident in Carolina, but
        received his commission from the British Commander, with five privates of the
        light-horse, were brought prisoners into our camp by a party of our people;
        they were taken at the Major's plantation in Georgia, with 19 of his negroes."
        Source: "The Pennsylvania Gazette, and Weekly Advertiser" (Philadelphia,)
        March 17, 1779.

        It is unknown where they got their rifles, but my opinion is they were either
        their personal possession or had been captured at the fall of Savannah a few
        days earlier. I do not believe Campbell brought any with him. Campbell noted
        their strength once as twenty men.

        The other mention was also of a militia unit-

        "SAVANNAH, December 20, 1781.

        "We are informed that on the evening of the 13th instant, near M'Bean's
        Swamp, eight of Capt. Brantley's riflemen came up with Meyrick Davis, President
        of the Rebel Council at Augusta, a Joel Lewis, and Major David Emanuel, whom
        they fired upon, and killed the two former, the latter made his escape. It
        seems they belonged to a party under Gen. Twiggs who had a few days before
        plundered and murdered several Traders and Cherokee Indians, (not even sparing women
        and children) who were on their way to Savannah, and were returning to
        Augusta when Brantley's men fell in with them. Twiggs and the rest of his gang were
        about a mile and an half ahead of them."

        Source: "The Royal Georgia Gazette" (Savannah,) December 20, 1781.

        Brantley was paid as a captain in the Georgia Militia through the Spring of
        1782. This person may have been Benjamin Brantley, who was commissioned a
        lieutenant in the 4th Regiment, Georgia Militia on 6 September 1780.

        Source: Georgia Historical Society Collections, Volume X (1952), Pages
        120-122.

        Todd W. Braisted
        4th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers
        IVBNNJV@...
        www.royalprovincial.com


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Joyce & Mike Barbieri
        ... Mike, A couple tardy thoughts on your thoughts. ... placed on NOT ... believe ) ... correct? I don t know about the not native catagorization of these
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 2, 2005
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          --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, umfspock87@c... wrote:

          Mike,

          A couple tardy thoughts on your thoughts.

          > I recall that for the big Battle Road reenactment, emphasis was
          placed on NOT
          > having rifles, or fringed hunting shirts in the event because ( I
          believe )
          > these things were not native to Massachusetts. Is my recollection
          correct?

          I don't know about the "not native" catagorization of these items.
          Hunting shirts certainly did not commonly appear in civilian dress in
          New England. As far as I know, they came along in a military context
          in both the Rev War and the earlier French wars.

          > Were rifles nonexistent in New England?

          Rifles did exist in NE but I am not sure to what extent. It's
          possible their presence just didn't/don't get the publicity that they
          receive in the mid-Atlantic region. It's also possible that people
          didn't need the range and accuracy of rifles in the wooded wilderness
          of the northeast. It's not that common to get a clear shot at a
          target over a few dozen yards away. The slow, heavy slug of a musket
          will tear through branches and brush better than a lighter rifle
          projectile.

          > It's clear that rifle units were raised in PA, MD, VA, NC, SC,
          (and I assume GA but I don't know of any offhand ), but what about
          the states north and east of PA?

          None that I know of in New England. The recreated 1st NH has a rifle
          section but I am not sure if that is historically accurate.

          > I've seen references to Ranger Units from New England, but did they
          carry rifles? There were Connecticut Rangers (under Col. Knowlton )
          and Seth Warner's "Green Mountain Boys" (from VT right?) Did they
          carry rifles?

          From what I have read, Knowlton's carried muskets. And, yes, Warner's
          Regt. came from VT--Continentals, by the way. As far as I know, they
          commonly carried muskets but I seem to remember reference(s) to a
          couple rifles in a company or two. Next time I go into the Rutland
          Library, I'll have to hunt down/up a friend of mine who has done
          considerable research into Warner's and ask him.

          As for my own unit--Benjamin Whitcomb's Independent Corps of Rangers--
          I have found zero reference to rifles in over 25 years of research
          the group. I have found numerous references to muskets and bayonets,
          however. And, by the way, Congress raised Whitcomb's and the unit
          seems to have lasted longer than other ranger units--1776-1781.

          > It seems that if they didn't they still had a lot in common with
          rifle
          > companies in terms of their tactics. That brings up another
          point...
          >
          > I'm probably more interested in Riflemen because of the tactics
          they used
          > rather than just the weapon.

          The tactics they used depended upon the situation. The two full-time
          companies of Whitcomb's, Thomas Lee's Rangers (also Continentals from
          VT), some of Warner's, and a few men from other units spent much of
          their time in small (2-6 men) scouting parties traveling 100+ miles
          into Canada. Tactics here call for either staying invisible for a
          couple weeks or blending in with the lips (local indigenous
          populations) by dressing as Canadians or savages. They would stay
          with friendly Canadians and/or bring in on horseback a few weeks
          worth of supplies and hide them somewhere in the coutryside. Not much
          opportunity to do this kind of activities at our events.

          They would also go out on shorter scouting circuits--40-60 miles--in
          parties of 10-20 men. The larger party meant the ability to have a
          firefight--something the men in Canada had to avoid. On occasion,
          these groups got into woods warfare with Brit parties. In this
          situation, cover and skulking skills meant a lot. Both these and the
          smaller parties went out in the winter as well necessitating winter
          survival skills.

          The ranger units up here also got involved in larger scale actions.
          Warner's formed at least a third of the American force at the battle
          of Hubbardton. Some of Whitcomb's and Lee's also took part in that
          action. Here, it appears that Warner's functioned as a line unit. I'm
          not sure of what Whitcomb's and Lee's men did--they may have been
          with either Warner's or Hale's 2d NH. At Saratoga, Whitcomb's served
          with Dearborne's light infantry battalion but they also functioned as
          scouts--Whitcomb and a couple of his men being to first to find the
          Brit force on the Heights in late August. I have references to
          Whitcomb's and Lee's men "exercising" relatively regular so it would
          appear that they did practice a manual. Because most of Whitcomb's
          men came from NH and the NH milita used Norfolk, we have chosen that
          manual. We also use Howe's LI manual more and more each event--it's
          great for maneuvering in open or extended order. In the woods, we use
          teams, a relatively high level of agression, and common sense.

          > If musket toting Rangers used the same tactics,
          > perhaps I should re-focus my attention to Rangers.
          Put another way, maybe
          > riflemen can be placed into a larger category of Rangers.. ...along
          with select
          > musket units.

          Now I like that approach! So often, organizers/commanders don't know
          what to do with us. We're certainly not line; we don't wear the fancy
          short coats and plumes of the LI; and we don't carry rifles. Often in
          the past, especially up here where people know us, officers let us go
          out own way and we became something of an "X-factor" at events. Out
          of the northeast, we found ourselve attached to either rifles or
          lights neither of whom really wanted us--too organized for rifles;
          too scruffy for the pretty lights. Lately, we have retained our
          structure and had rifles attached to us which has had mixed results.

          The last comment is that the Brits have a much better grasp on the
          use of ranging units. That's a result of having far higher numbers of
          them than does the American side. We on the side of freedom need to
          get our act together to cover the flanks where those ripe and unripe
          rascals have the distinct advantage. At events where we have had
          roughly equal numbers, we have been able to keep the Brits at bay.

          I'd be interested to hear what other units like us--including rifles--
          have to say about their experiences.

          Mike Barbieri
          Whitcomb's Corps
        • davann@adelphia.net
          ... Happy New Year Mike, A couple Ranger units of note during the F & I conflicts in N. New York, Hampshire Grants and Quebec were associated with Rogers
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 3, 2005
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            ---- chuck smith <longhunter17692002@...> wrote:
            >
            > yes to the rifle not being in new england it.And the dividing line was pa
            >
            > umfspock87@... wrote:Dear List,
            >
            > I want to thank those who have responded on and off list to my first batch of
            > questions. I've always wanted to learn more about Riflemen and finally have
            > the time, and determination, to throw myself full bore into it. That means
            > I'll probably plague the List with a lot more questions ( but hopefully will
            > also contribute some interesting posts as well ). Well, here goes the next batch
            > of questions.
            >
            > I recall that for the big Battle Road reenactment, emphasis was placed on NOT
            > having rifles, or fringed hunting shirts in the event because ( I believe )
            > these things were not native to Massachusetts. Is my recollection correct?
            > Were rifles nonexistent in New England?
            > If a dividing line exists between the states, where is the regional dividing
            > line for rifles? It's clear that rifle units were raised in PA, MD, VA, NC,
            > SC, ( and I assume GA but I don't know of any offhand ), but what about the
            > states north and east of PA ?
            >
            > I've seen references to Ranger Units from New England, but did they carry
            > rifles? There were Connecticut Rangers (under Col. Knowlton ) and Seth Warner's
            > "Green Mountain Boys" ( from VT right ? ) Did they carry rifles?
            >
            > It seems that if they didn't they still had a lot in common with rifle
            > companies in terms of their tactics. That brings up another point...
            >
            > I'm probably more interested in Riflemen because of the tactics they used
            > rather than just the weapon. If musket toting Rangers used the same tactics,
            > perhaps I should re-focus my attention to Rangers. Put another way, maybe
            > riflemen can be placed into a larger category of Rangers.. ...along with select
            > musket units.
            >
            > This emphasis on tactics leads me towards the Light Infantry too, but I want
            > to stay away from the Lights (for now) because I consider them much more
            > related to Line troops than rifle / ranger troops. Besides, I have a pretty good
            > grasp on the Light Infantry up thru 1779.
            >
            > To recap my questions:
            >
            > 1. Were rifles around in New England in the 1770's?
            >
            > 2. Where was the dividing line for Rifle Units among the states?
            >
            > 3. What about some of the Ranger Units that existed? Did they carry Rifles?
            >
            > 4. Did Ranger Units that used muskets use many of the same tactics as Rifle
            > Units?
            >
            > Anyone have an opinion on my ramblings thus far?
            >
            > Thanks for your input and Happy New Year,
            >
            > Mike Cecere 3rd & 7th VA
            >
            >
            >
            >
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            Happy New Year Mike,

            A couple Ranger units of note during the F & I conflicts in N. New York, Hampshire Grants and Quebec were associated with Rogers' Rangers. There are some good accounts of these units employing mostly French made fusils and a few "regionally hewn" fowlers. I don't have my book list with me as I'm on the road, so I'll give you that list when Im return to my office. Also of note, during the WFI, a detachment of Herrick's Rangers under a Capt. (?) were organized under rifleman label.

            Ed Kennedy...are you out there? Do you have the name of the rifle detachment commander?

            All the Best,
            Dave Bridges
            Capt. John Warner's Co. of Rangers
          • Joyce & Mike Barbieri
            ... as Rifle ... Mike, I forgot to ask if you have seen Robert Rogers Rules of Ranging? It s Frog n Feather war but still quite interesting and applicable
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 3, 2005
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              --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, umfspock87@c... wrote:

              > 4. Did Ranger Units that used muskets use many of the same tactics
              as Rifle
              > Units?

              Mike,

              I forgot to ask if you have seen Robert Rogers' "Rules of Ranging?"
              It's Frog 'n' Feather war but still quite interesting and applicable
              to Rev War, I'm sure.

              Mike Barbieri
              Whitcomb's Corps
            • J. L. Bell
              Mike Barbieri wrote:
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 5, 2005
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                Mike Barbieri wrote:
                <<Rifles did exist in NE but I am not sure to what extent. It's
                possible their presence just didn't/don't get the publicity that they
                receive in the mid-Atlantic region. It's also possible that people
                didn't need the range and accuracy of rifles in the wooded wilderness
                of the northeast. It's not that common to get a clear shot at a
                target over a few dozen yards away. The slow, heavy slug of a musket
                will tear through branches and brush better than a lighter rifle
                projectile.>>

                I think it's interesting that although rifles were indeed rare in New
                England, tales of legendary American marksmen circulated there
                nevertheless. Here's an extract from a letter by Boston merchant John
                Andrews to William Barrell, 1 Oct 1774:
                “It’s common for the Soldiers to fire at a target fix’d in the stream
                at the bottom of the common. A countryman stood by a few days ago, and
                laugh’d very heartily at a whole regiment’s firing, and not one being
                able to hit it. The officer observ’d him, and ask’d why he laugh’d?
                Perhaps you’ll be affronted if I tell you, reply’d the countryman. No,
                he would not, he said. /Why then/, says he, I laugh to see how awkward
                they fire. /Why/, I’ll be bound if I hit it ten times running. Ah! will
                you, reply’d the officer; come try: Soldiers, go and bring five of the
                best guns, and load ‘em for this honest man. Why, you need not bring so
                many: let me have any one that comes to hand, reply’d the other, but I
                chose to load /myself/. He accordingly loaded, and ask’d the officer
                where he should fire? He reply’d, to the right--when he pull’d tricker,
                and drove the ball as near the right as possible. The officer was
                amaz’d--and said he could not do it againm as that was only by chance.
                He loaded again. Where shall I fire? To the left--when he perform’d as
                well as before. Come! once more, says the officer.--He prepared the
                third time.--Where shall I fire /naow/? [sic]--/In the Center/.--He took
                aim, and the ball went as exact in the middle as possible. The officers
                as well as soldiers /star’d/, and tho’t the Devil was in the man. Why,
                says the countryman, I’ll tell you /naow/. I have got a /boy/ at home
                that will toss up an apple and shoot out all the seeds as its coming down.”
                [Massachusetts Historical Society PROCEEDINGS, 8:371-2]

                J. L. Bell JnoLBell@...
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