Fred's Guide on Becoming a Rifleman

Document Sample
Fred's Guide on Becoming a Rifleman Powered By Docstoc
					The Rifleman Series
« on: June 04, 2007, 11:23:04 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part One: Starting Out --- Courtesy of Fred's M14 Stocks
(, we begin today our series on becoming a Rifleman:

Every new year, it‘s time to take stock, and time to make resolutions. To resolve to do important
things you need to do.

But how do you know what you need to be doing?

You need an anchor -- a framework, a perspective -- to judge what is happening about you, what you
want to accomplish, and the effectiveness of your actions.

If you get back to basics, to what this country is all about - freedom, individual liberty - and
look about you today, you'll soon terrify yourself with what you see.

It could be the beginning of your wake-up. Like the guy in "The Matrix", waking up in that
artificial womb, controlled by the machines - or like that frog in that rapidly-heating pan of
water – you‘ll be facing a new world, a world where you realize the wake-up by itself is not
enough. You need to get busy if you are going to protect freedom, especially if you‘re going to
make sure it‘s passed on to your kids.

Now is when you can set a goal, something to aim for, to work towards and achieve. Sort of a
personal AQT - what the AQT targets and Guide do for your shooting, your firm grounding in the
American tradition of liberty can do for your life.

That goal is to strengthen Liberty.

You‘ll soon realize that there is a ‗soft‘ war raging in America today. You‘ll see how the
mainstream media lies and distorts – whether it‘s the exploding pickup trucks that needed a little
"help" from the news crew, the "semi-automatic" rifle fired on full auto to please the anti-gun
cable news producers, or the phony memo used by a certain "respected anchorman" last year to try
and throw a Presidential election.

If you stand for liberty and the American tradition, you‘ll see how everything you stand for is
under attack by the liberals, using the mainstream media, the entertainment industry, the "public
school" educational system, and arrogant lifetime-tenured judges, along with local, state, and
Federal government - when they control it.

Despite their recent electoral setback, the liberals are still in the cultural and political
driver‘s seat. They have successfully convinced most Americans that the environment is more
important than freedom, that it's a fair trade to surrender personal freedoms and rights for a
little more security, and that while we are all equal before the law, some people are more equal
than others.

Now, in the New Year, with the year barely started, there‘s an opportunity for you to add your
shoulder to the wheel, to do your part in strengthening American freedom and the American
tradition of marksmanship.

Now is the time to think about serious things - about being a citizen, and what it means.

It's actually long past time to become a citizen, rather than a parasite. It's time to stop being
someone who sits back and lives off the efforts of the founders while liberals busily undermine
this country and its greatness.

It means becoming a man, not that gelding laughed about so much around the dinner table by George
III and his boys, as well as their modern statist descendants.

It means that you value freedom over promises of "safety", as Ben Franklin warned you to do.
It means that you recognize the Bill of Rights not as some historical out-of-date tommyrot written
by dead white slaveholders, but the firm and unalterable present-day shield of personal liberty
against the state. As JPFO says, "What is needed today is a ‗Bill of Rights Culture‘" – see

It means that you understand your role in protecting all of the American traditions of personal
liberty and responsibility. You know that you, your family, and your friends are the ‗ultimate
check-and-balance‘ in a system built on checks and balances.

It means that you will provide the sword to defend the shield created by the Bill of Rights.

It means that you recognize that the time to fight is now, in the ‗soft‘ war, through the existing
political system– and that only fools would choose to wait until the war against tyranny turns

It means that you understand that the fight is a team fight, that you do not fight alone, that you
fight with fellow Americans by your side. You realize that divided amongst ourselves, we will
fall, but united, we are unbeatable.

It means that you are willing to work – and work hard – to bring back the days where "a man‘s home
is his castle", where you are a citizen, not a tax-paying serf.

But as you shake off your slumber, look where we stand in the battle for freedom in this country.
Even the concept - the notion - of a battle for freedom is alien to the dumbed-down, barely
conscious American public. Don‘t forget -- that ‗public‘ is your friends, your family, your co-
workers. You‘ll need persistence and courage to take the message of Liberty to the "sleepers" –
count on it.

But the "sleepers" can become part of the solution, if you persist. Their resistance makes all the
more important the duty laid on you, in your chosen role of freedom fighter.

How do you start protecting freedom? Step one is to learn to shoot well, to qualify as a Rifleman,
so as to become proficient in the means of protection for yourself, your family, and your country.
Even more importantly, the skills that you develop in becoming a Rifleman – perseverance,
discipline, and patience – will serve you well, both in helping others to become Riflemen and in
fighting the ‗soft‘ political war.

Next step is to awaken fellow Americans to the dangers posed by the liberals and their plan of
creeping socialism. In the ‗soft war‘, you‘ll need more than just your one vote to make a
difference. You‘ll need a team of educated voters who know the American traditions of liberty and
are willing to work to restore those ideals.

After that, you and your team continue by waking up your politicians and educating them...and if
they won't be educated, then work together to replace them.

Liberty. It‘s a tradition. You keep it alive only if you pass it along. You need to be thinking
about how you do it, not only for yourself, but to make up for all those others who are asleep at
the switch. It‘s your duty to cover for those who will not help to pass Liberty along to the next

You begin at the personal level. You educate others - your family, friends, co-workers - to wake
them up, to get them out of the cooking pan, and into protecting and saving freedom. It‘ll be
discouraging -- most of them will just look at you and accuse you of being paranoid. Others will
scoff and ask you for your tinfoil hat - but that's why you have to wake them up.

Just remember how many good men have died to give you what you have today. Don't give up!

And never last, and never least, you get someone down to the range, shooting.

You‘ll bring someone just like you, some who is hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.

Both of you will want get to the range, soon, and finally learn how to shoot.
Learn how to shoot – true and fast -- like an American rifleman.

You can do it.

Next time: Fred tells us what a Rifleman is, and what rifles can be best used in becoming a


"It calls for real men, not girly-men. Hard-nosed, hard-assed, born-again hard, glittering steel-
eyed hombres who can put the trigger on their mother over a five dollar gold piece. Yes, friends,
this job calls for a Zombie Hunter." Fred
"There's gotta be a few umlauts laying around somewhere." JB

Grin Reaper
Hero Member


Posts: 1111

Just doin' what I can, with what I got.

  Re: The Rifleman Series
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2007, 11:24:38 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part Two: What Rifle For a Rifleman?
Assume you were just born.

What would be really important to learn, once you reached a certain level of maturity?

That 401(k) accounts might be useful to retirement? The various competing prescription programs in
Congress? Arguments about school class sizes? What a great and progressive president Bill Clinton
was? What?

Well, some of us think it is simple.

You should learn freedom -- about what it is, and most importantly, how we got it. Just as
important, you should learn how we keep it, help it to grow, protect it, and - in too many
instances - how we get it back again.

Stripped to the bone, it's really a simple story:

We have freedom because somebody fought for it.
We keep it because we are willing to fight for it.
We lose it because we are not willing to fight for it.

We are fortunate that the people who fought and won it for us starting back in 1775 also gave us a
written guarantee (that is, the Bill of Rights) that we would have the tools to protect that
freedom. But, of course, they couldn't guarantee that we would have the sense or the will to do
the hard work of defending Liberty.

It doesn't hurt to recognize how far we have slipped in the battle to maintain freedom here in
21st century America. It's even more important to understand how far the war on terrorism is going
to further erode our freedoms. We have to have the sense to know the fight is HERE, and NOW. Once
we know that, then we must be convinced of the rightness of our cause, and have the firm
determination to use all of the tools available to us in reversing 70 years of creeping socialism.

If we can win the 'soft' fight in the political arena, we'll also win the 'hard' one by avoiding
it entirely. Believe me -- you DON'T want to have to fight the 'hard' war. There's no joy in
running for your life from people that want to kill you. Win the 'soft' fight by winning the
political game, and there'll be no lying in the mud bleeding, no separation from home and family,
no interrogation of your children by government agents, no lifetime prison sentences, no public
demonization of "those domestic gun-nut terrorists".

The first step in fighting and winning the 'soft' war is mental: knowledge, determination, even
anger - at what they have done to our country, to our freedoms. You should be angry -- really
angry -- at being required to live in a world of both 'tolerance' and 'zero tolerance'. A world
where at the same instant, 'tolerance' means "love every socialist, UN flunky, drug addict
foreigner" - and 'zero tolerance' means that patriotism, achievement, love of freedom, and
mistrust of government are scorned, punished, and finally, eliminated, mostly in psychiatric
facilities. Yep, the Center for Disease Control is already into guns, inevitably leading to
treating your political views and your exercise of Second Amendment rights as a
'medical/psychological' problem.

But anger alone won't solve any problem. You need to use that anger to motivate you into taking
concrete action.

Let's assume you've already started to fight the 'soft' battles. Sure, you   start to educate others
- in your family, at work, wherever - to wake them up, get them out of the   boiling pan, and into
protecting and saving freedom. Some will scoff - but you have to wake them   up to save America, so
don't give up! And you vote, and get others to vote. And you write letters   - 'to the editor', to
your politicians.

You also get people down to the range, rifle shooting with you, as you finally learn how to shoot
yourself. You do it gladly, because once you recognize that you may someday have to defend
freedom, you have a duty to get ready.

Look at it this way: You have life insurance, fire insurance, and health insurance. Now, as you
learn to shoot well, you've got freedom insurance. Of course, you hope you never have to call on
any of them. But at least the paying the freedom insurance premium -- by learning to shoot
yourself and teaching others -- is fun! And the money put into premiums can be gotten back out as
dividends, later, if needed to defend our country against foreign enemies and their quisling

But if you ever have to do it, you want to do it with minimum risk and maximum impact, and that
means working at distances from 300 to 500 yards, where you are outside their effective range, but
inside yours. If you never have to do use those skills in defense of Liberty, if it turns out to
be insurance only, which you never have to use, at least you keep the tradition alive, and pass it
on, a role secondary to none in importance.

So, with the stage set and you looking for an accurate, hard-hitting rifle to use in the 2A
context, where do we go?

It's a favorite pastime amongst shooters, debating the 'best rifle' issue. Most times, the debate
is over good and bad points of each firearm. But actually, the debate should be first over the
projected role of the firearm. Like golf, with different clubs for long and short ball movement,
the best tool you can select will be designed for the specific task you envision. It¹s the crowbar
or wrench question. Which is better? Well, it depends on the task, naturally. If you have to open
the lid of a wood box, the crowbar fits the bill. If you have to loosen a nut off a bolt, the
crowbar is number 10, and the wrench is the choice.

Now, if the hammer ever falls, are you gonna face long-range shooting, beyond 600 yards? Or short-
range, urban-style shooting, at 300 yards or less? Or will you be able to work mainly in the 300-
500 yard distance, if you so choose? Short range stuff can conceivably be handled with an SKS, AK,
AR-15 or other reduced caliber rifle, although the .308 gives a superior punch when obstacles are
involved. In addition, the .308 offers better tracer performance for signaling or incendiary
effect. According to reports from Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, you also get a knock-down
performance with the .308 that the lesser calibers, especially the .223, lack. As one guy says in
"Blackhawk Down" regarding intense urban close-quarters shooting, "when I shoot them, I want them
to go down. I don't want to have to shoot them over and over."

As a budding Rifleman, you can appreciate the desire expressed in that comment - to do the job
once, not again and again. Long range (that is, farther than 500 yards) is clearly .308 territory,
with accurized rifle and ammo. But 'rack-grade' rifles can still be effective out there. That
being said, it's in the 300-500 yard area where your standard .308 and surplus ball ammo really
shine. Over 300 yards, so you are beyond effective range of their popguns, and out to 500, where
you are still laying almost a thousand pounds of energy on the target. If you can set it up so you
catch your opponent in this area, you'll dominate him, assuming you acquire Rifleman skills - the
ability to hit a torso-sized target rapidly with every shot, at ranges from 25 meters to 500

If you have ever seen one of those WWII weapons training films, where the narrator talks of a
machine gun replacing 6 riflemen in fire effect, you might question this approach. Here's where
the narrator gets it wrong. First, those 'riflemen' in the film are not real Riflemen - probably
no more than 5% of military-trained shooters are 4 MOA to 500 yard genuine Riflemen. So you are
really replacing 6 'area-fire' weapons [the not-so-accurate infantrymen] with one 'area-fire'
weapon [the machine gun]. And a machine gun is, by definition, an area-fire weapon, meaning you
spray bullets in an area, like casting a fishing net, and hit whatever is unlucky enough to be in
the area and to catch a bullet. An actual Rifleman is superior to an MG at Rifleman distances,
because 90%+ of his shots will be a hit, whereas the MG will be lucky to get 3% hits. For a real-
world example, see John George's WWII memoir "Shots Fired in Anger", where an unlucky Japanese
Nambu gunner loses when he meets a rifleman.

Six no-kidding Riflemen can equal the firepower - the number of rounds per minute - of   an MG, but
that six-man team will quickly run out of targets. For the MG, the limit is the number   of rounds
you have; with riflemen, it is the number of targets. Look at it another way: a bullet   from an MG
is like a dumb iron bomb. A well-aimed bullet from a Rifleman is like Precision Guided   Munitions -
addressed to the target, speeding straight and true, with the target its destination.

As an illustration, someone recently shot the granddaddy of all assault rifles, the StG 44, at the
RWVA range. In semi-auto mode, every time he pulled the trigger, a popup target at 200 yards went
down. When he switched to 2- and 3-rd bursts, he went thru a mag without hitting a single target.

But wait, you say. You don't use full auto at 200 yards, you use it up close. Right?

So, my friend, the enemy is 'in the wire', even past the wire, and on top of you, in numbers.
That's when you are going to start wasting ammo with full-auto fire? That's when you are going to
wind up with an empty mag only a few seconds after firing your first shot? What sense does that
make? One shot, one kill, at 25 yards, right?

As a Rifleman, you're not likely to let them get that close. 300 yards is more than close enough.
My point is just that full-auto fire is pretty useless in the 2A context. There is real meaning
behind the term 'toys for big boys'.

But what kind of rifle should a Rifleman use? Well, the good news is that most of you guys already
have a rifle suitable for training to be a Rifleman. Starting with a very limited budget, the
choice is clear. There is no faster bolt action rifle in the world than the No. 4 Enfield with its
long-radius peep sight and ten-round magazine. The older No. 1 Mark III model is no slouch, but
the No. 4 has a heavier barrel, and peep sights much superior to the open-sighted Mk III. They're
cheap -- around $125, but try to get the No 4 Mk 2 or Mk 1/3 with the late trigger modification.
Ammo runs about .15/round, and while most remaining surplus .303 ammo is corrosive, these rifles
are simple to strip and clean, which you'll need to do that day to keep rust from forming in your
barrel. In a pinch, any firearm will have to do, but if you have the time (and smarts) to pick and
choose beforehand, and are on a tight budget, this classic is the one to get.

Second up the ladder is a semiauto, the SKS. If you practice with the Enfield until you can get 20
or more hits on a 4 moa target in a minute, you should be able to do 30 or more with an SKS. An
SKS will run you up to $50 more than the Enfield, but the ammo is half the price. It is reliable,
accurate, lightweight and very effective out to 300 yards, dropping off considerable past that
(but still, in a pinch, usable). However, if you're serious about shooting at Rifleman ranges on a
tight budget, just note the British .303 is still going strong at 500 yards or more. On the other
hand, one of the RWVA regulars uses his stock Yugo SKS and commercial Russian ammo ($90/1000
rounds) to get consistent hits on the popups at 400 yards.

Next up: a big price jump to $400-500 for a CMP M1 Garand or an FN-FAL, both powerful and
effective past 500 yards. Garand ammo and clips are getting a little tight, but you still find
ammo in the .16-.22/rd range, whereas .308 is in the .12-.15 range. The M1 has the better sights -
longer sight radius, better sight adjustment - and has the forward assist bolt handle, but the FN
has a 20-rd mag, and extra FN mags are cheap. Add the bolt handle from the heavy barrel version so
you have a positive forward assist, and you've cured biggest fault of the standard FAL.

Some people will stop there, with the FAL, as FAL prices range up to over $1200. Kinda raises a
question about what you are getting with the cheap ones. But let's go one step farther, for you
guys who have the bread and want the best. In my view, that's the M1A. You can still find them at
gun shows for about $1100 new in the box. Used American-made ones might go for a hundred or two
less than that, most of them are not used much at all. There is no better rifle in the defense of
liberty than the M1A, under the standards anticipated above:

maximizing your impact while minimizing your risk,
keeping the other side in your 300-500 yard 'kill zone', while
keeping out of their 200 or 300-yard kill zone.

Where to begin? Why not set a goal? Get a British Enfield or SKS now, if that is all you can
afford. Learn to shoot it like a Rifleman. Save up for an M1, or, better yet, an M1A. Make it a
goal - a resolution - that you are going to get one. And don't assume you can take years to do it.
They may not be around forever, and time is not on your side.

Buying an M1A requires choosing between rack-grade and match grade. You make this choice based on,
first, your projected accuracy needs in the defense of the Second Amendment, and, second,
selecting the most reliable and long-lasting rifle. Four MOA is good enough to hit a man at 500
yards, and a rack-grade out-of-the-box using surplus ammo should give you 3-4 MOA. Maybe, if you
are lucky, and go to the trouble to 'match' various types of ammo to your rifle, you'll find one
it really likes and maybe get 2-3 MOA.

Compare those results to the 1 MOA of a thoroughly accurized M1A. On the other hand, the match-
grade rifle is much more expensive, requires handloading to optimize performance, and you'll
likely give up some reliability - bad in life-and-death situations. In addition, that gilt-edge
accuracy can have a short life-span of only a few thousand rounds, at best. On balance, you're
better off with the rack-grade, putting the money saved into more ammo and shooting. Repetition is
the mother of skill, and you'll want to put your new rifle through its paces -- again and again --
until you and your rifle are a well-practiced team in defense of Liberty.

Note: Everyone interested in becoming a Rifleman would be well advised to pick up a copy of Boston
T. Party's Boston's Gun Bible (see Along with
inspirational and hard-hitting chapters on Second Amendment issues, Boston has compiled an
exhaustive comparison of all battle rifles and .223 carbines. His intensive evaluation says the
M1A beats out the FAL by a small margin, but the lack of positive forward assist chambering on the
FAL - potentially life-threatening -should be given far greater weight. You need to be able to
correct a ammo feed problem quickly and with certainty if it occurs; a failure to feed/chamber is
not a rare occurrence. However, add the forward assist modification from the heavy barrel version,
and the FAL is back in the game.

Next time: Fred tells us the basics of learning how to shoot like a Rifleman.


"It calls for real men, not girly-men. Hard-nosed, hard-assed, born-again hard, glittering steel-
eyed hombres who can put the trigger on their mother over a five dollar gold piece. Yes, friends,
this job calls for a Zombie Hunter." Fred
"There's gotta be a few umlauts laying around somewhere." JB

Grin Reaper
Hero Member


Posts: 1111

Just doin' what I can, with what I got.

  Re: The Rifleman Series
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2007, 11:26:26 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part Three: Learning to Shoot
Okay, you know what the important issues are - freedom, and its protection against growing
encroachment from the Left in this country.

You know that your task is to wake up those sleeping frogs around you, as they slowly poach in the
water that gets hotter each year. You understand that you have to get them to the range to learn
rifle shooting, and you also have to motivate them to become politically active. Clean up your
corner of the country, so to speak.

And you know we need to get back to that concept of a ‗Nation of Riflemen‘. You know the
importance of the ‗soft‘ war, the war being fought out now. You realize that the ‗soft‘ war has to
be won or, someday, it'll be the ‗hard‘ war.

And you know that any rifle is useful in the protection of freedom, as long as you can shoot it
and hit the target, but some are decidedly better than others.

The choices, in order of cost:

the British Enfields;
any SKS;
the M1 Garand;
the FN-FAL; and
at the top of Fred‘s heap, the M1A (although a properly modified FAL can give it a run for the
In a way, it doesn‘t matter what tool you use. Get skilled with any rifle by enough practice and
you should be able to reliably hit 10 targets a minute at any range out to 500 yards, maybe 600.
Don‘t doubt it: a well-trained rifleman with a 100-yr-old Lee-Enfield is still a potent threat on
any present or future battlefield.

Ask any General with brains what the value of troops like that would be to his command. His guys
will fire hundreds of rounds per hit - partly due to the doctrine of ‗suppressive fire‘, but
mainly due to poor shooting skills. As Riflemen, you and your team will be firing 10-20 rounds per
minute, with hit rates – bullets in the black on target – greater than 90%.

Now, which rifle you choose matters to you, because it is your life that will be on the line, and
while 10 hits/minute is impressive to the General, it‘s no big deal to you. Why? Because you
picked a rifle that'll allow you 20 – or more - hits a minute.

Given that a battle is literally life-and-death, you want any edge you can get. General Brasshat
would be ecstatic to have his guys get ten hits in a minute, but you want the rifle that‘ll do 20
or more. When you choose an M1, an FAL, or an M1A, you are reaching for that upper level of
performance. The faster those targets go down, the less they'll be shooting - at you!

Now, let's talk about learning to shoot the buggers. After all, what good is a tool – even the
best tool in the world – if you don‘t know how to use the darned thing?

If the Day comes on your watch, you want to show up ready to go. You‘ll be eager to be effective
in defending Lady Liberty, which means being effective on those targets downrange, which most
likely will be UN blue. You know -- don‘t you? -- that there are millions of committed liberals in
this country who would answer the call of President Hillary and UN Secretary General Bubba, wave a
little blue UN flag, and gladly unlock the gates to let the foreign villains in. Talk about

And if the Day doesn't come on your watch, you‘ll want to learn to shoot that battle rifle well to
preserve the tradition of marksmanship, so you can pass it on to new shooters and the next
generation. That way, when the Day comes - and, in the long term, it WILL come - there will be
dedicated Riflemen to greet the foreign oppressors and their quisling allies, and show them a
proper welcome.

When it comes to learning to shoot, there‘s a couple of ways to go about it. The easy way is by
ordering our 25-meter AQT targets with the Guide to Becoming a Rifleman
[]. And you might as well get yourself a copy,
because sooner or later, you're going to need the info in the Guide.

But just in case you want to start tomorrow, here's what you do:

1. Using a black marker, make up some one-inch black squares on sheets of white typing paper.
Staple them up wherever you can find 82 ft [25m] with a safe backstop.

2. Fire 3 shots at the target, from any position, with your selected battle rifle. Prone might be
best. To aspire to Rifleman status, all you have to do is keep the three shots in a 1-inch circle.

Can you do it? If not, you need practice. Sure, you can practice without any instruction, and
maybe eventually you will get it right. Just like if you are lost, where if you wander long enough
and far enough, you might come out at your destination - possibly. But on the other hand, a map
would sure make things easier, quicker - and surer. That's where the Guide comes in.

There are three general areas of shooting instruction which you must master:

holding, and
firing the shot.
Position uses the strongest part of your body -- your bones -- to support the rifle to minimize
strain and tremor. Position also lines you up properly so the rifle naturally points at the

Holding focuses on reducing strain and achieving consistency. You'll want to know how to get your
Natural Point of Aim and use a sling to support the rifle, so you can relax all muscles except
those in your trigger finger.

Firing the shot zeroes in on a set routine to follow for each shot, again, to achieve consistency
- and to let the rifle go off without disturbing the aim. Done correctly, you‘ll also get instant
feedback on the shot result.

If you start off right, applying the distilled wisdom of generations of rifle shooters who went
before you, it's much easier to learn to shoot. If you start off getting in the right positions,
holding correctly, and firing each shot ‗by the numbers‘, you'll be better off than if you blunder
around, rediscovering and reinventing the wheel.

There are also tricks to speed up your learning: ‗ball and dummy‘ (the most valuable), the ‗one-
round‘, ‗two-round‘, and ‗four-round‘ drills. The Guide also has a list of the ‗Common Firing Line
Errors‘ so you can work backward – making sure you avoid the errors everyone else makes. Get the
Guide, and you‘ll also learn about ‗Shot Group Analysis‘, so you can look at your group and
identify errors from how your shots are located on the target.

However, there is one essential ingredient that‘s not in the Guide. Without it, you‘ll almost
certainly drop out by the side of the road. On the other hand, if you bring this ingredient to the
game, you almost certainly will succeed.

None of the information in the Guide will be of the slightest help in becoming a Rifleman unless
you persist. If you want to join that elite group known as Riflemen, you‘ll persist, even though
the positions are initially uncomfortable. You‘ll persist, until you control your body well enough
to hold your rifle consistently. You‘ll persist, until the numbered steps in ‗firing the shot‘ are
so familiar you can recite them forward or backward, in your sleep! You‘ll persist, until your
skills develop to the point where you become a Rifleman and join the top 5% of shooters in this

You won‘t get there overnight, so you‘ll persist. And here‘s a tip: it‘ll help a lot if you get
someone else into your personal ‗becoming a rifleman‘ program, learning to shoot with you. That
way, you can buck each other up when the going gets tough, and you can share in each other‘s
triumphs as you each reap the benefits of your hard work.

Sometimes people will become interested in what you are doing on the firing line, because you show
up with a definite program of activities. They know that they are aimlessly plinking, without a
goal, and that they have no idea about learning to shoot better. They are ripe prospects. Recruit
them for your benefit and for their benefit. Shooting with other learners will boost your progress
immensely. Even more importantly, when you are done, those fellow students may be the foundation
of the Rifleman team you'll want to have ready.

Now, it‘s up to you. See you next time.

Next time, Fred will share what he means by "firing the shot by the numbers".


"It calls for real men, not girly-men. Hard-nosed, hard-assed, born-again hard, glittering steel-
eyed hombres who can put the trigger on their mother over a five dollar gold piece. Yes, friends,
this job calls for a Zombie Hunter." Fred
"There's gotta be a few umlauts laying around somewhere." JB

Grin Reaper
Hero Member


Posts: 1111

Just doin' what I can, with what I got.

  Re: The Rifleman Series
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2007, 11:27:23 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part Four: Firing the Shot

If you‘re still with us, you‘ve taken an important first step – a baby step, but a vital step
nonetheless -- towards becoming a Rifleman. Persistence, even from behind that computer monitor,
is one of the very few absolutely indispensable abilities that one must have in order to shoot
You‘ll still have to get out to that 25m range in your backyard (What? You haven‘t built one yet?
Sheesh….) and actually shoot that rifle, but the fact that you are here reading this post means
that you are sufficiently humble and educable so as to try something other than ―your way or the

Believe ol‘ Fred when he tells you – your humility and teachability makes you very much one of the
chosen few. Good work at controlling your ego and being willing to learn.

Now, to work. Today‘s topic is the much neglected process of actually sighting and firing the

Seems pretty easy, right? Load the darned thing, point it, take the safety off, aim it, and pull
the trigger.

Don‘t get me wrong. You can do it that way and, at least some of the time, make the bullet go
where you want it to go.

Some of the time.

At pretty short distances.

But the difference between a Rifleman and an ordinary shooter is that the Rifleman can put his
shots where he wants them to go from any position at any range from 25 meters to 500 yards.

To do that consistently, you have to be a bit more rigorous in how you fire the shot.

One other comment -- experience has shown that where a shooter memorizes the steps below, and then
repeats the steps quietly as he actually aims and shoots his rifle, these steps become second
nature. As they become second nature, improvements in your shooting will ―magically‖ appear.

―Magically‖, that is, if you think hard work, perseverance, and practice constitute ―magic‖. Come
to think of it, to most so-called Americans in these decadent times, maybe those virtues are
―magic‖, after all.

So what are the steps?

1. SIGHT ALIGNMENT -- Line up the front and rear sights: Simply center the front sight in the rear
sight. If you are shooting a rifle with a ―peep sight‖ (more correctly, an ―rear aperture sight‖),
you‘ll make sure that you are holding the rifle such that the top of the front sight post is in
the center of the opening in the rear aperture sight. If you are shooting a rifle with traditional
open sights, you‘ll want the front sight post to be located in the center of the rear sight notch,
with the top of the front sight post no higher or lower than the top of the rear sight.

Those of you with a scope (which is cheating at this point of the game, by the way) have your
sights aligned for you by the scope. Take off that glass now and learn to shoot well without it.
Once you know how to do that, you can use that scope, but not be dependent on it. It‘s one thing
to have a broken scope ruin a hunting trip. It‘s another thing to be fighting for Liberty and
suddenly lose your effectiveness ‗cuz your scope‘s front lens got crushed as you dove for cover.
Think Boris from that UN convoy will give you a ―do-over‖?

In the words of Clint Smith, owner of Thunder Ranch [one of the country‘s premier practical
shooting schools; see], ―Two weeks after the balloon goes up, iron
sights will rule the world.‖

‗Nuff said.

2. SIGHT PICTURE -- Keeping the sights lined up, bring them onto the target: You have two basic
choices in accomplishing this step. First way is to use your muscles and fight your body‘s natural
alignment so as to bring the sights onto the target. That‘ll work – maybe – as long as you can
a) use the same amount of muscle power to force your body into the exact same position for each
shot (remembering, of course, that even the ―Quick and Dirty‖ single-sheet Army Qualification Test
will require 40 shots), and

b) keep your muscles from growing tired and starting to tremble as you fight your body in keeping
your sights on target.

Being a bit stubborn himself, Fred knows that there are lots of you guys that‘ll try it your way,
fight your body‘s natural position, and get frustrated at the difficulties in shooting a good
score. The smart ones out of that crowd will admit defeat early and join the really smart guys who
were ready to learn the right way in the first place.

Your second choice – the right way – is to enlist your body‘s help in holding the sights steady on
target. It‘s called the ―natural point of aim‖ (NPOA) technique and it‘s the secret to rapid and
consistent improvement in shooting. We‘ll talk more about it next time, but for now, just
understand that by moving your body position so that your rifle points naturally at the target,
you will eliminate muscle fatigue and improve accuracy dramatically.

Those of you that want to read ahead can read the section in the Rifleman‘s Guide on NPOA. You do
have a copy of the Guide (, right?

3. RESPIRATORY PAUSE – Deep breath, exhale, hold breath as front sight touches bottom of target:
Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and watch how the front sight dips, then rises as you
exhale. Let the front sight rise as you exhale until it barely touches the bottom of the bull‘s
eye. Now, hold your breath. You have just used a natural act - breathing - to establish your
correct elevation.

4A. FOCUS YOUR EYE -- Focus your eye on the front sight: It may be a little hard to do at first,
as you naturally want to look at the target. But overcome the temptation and keep your eyes
focused on the front sight, even if it means that the target gets blurry. -

4B. FOCUS YOUR MIND – Keep front sight on target: Your concentration should be on ―keeping that
front sight on the target‖. It may help for you to consciously repeat, ―front sight on target,
front sight on target.‖ This is the big one!

5. TRIGGER SQUEEZE – Squeeze straight back while front sight stays on target: Here is the tricky
part. While you are doing both parts of step 4, you‘ll take up the slack and squeeze the trigger
straight back. At the same time, you MUST keep your concentration on the front sight! Don‘t let
the front sight off the target; if it does move off target, gently bring it back on target, while
continuing to squeeze the trigger. Of course, just to keep it interesting, you are still holding
your breath from step 3‘s Respiratory Pause.

You are trying to do three tasks at once. It‘s not gonna be natural for most people. However, if
you want to be a Rifleman, you have to burn through what seems unnatural until it becomes routine.

Of the three steps, the most important piece is to keep the front sight on the target! This is the
part where practice really pays off, and practice is the only way that all three steps
[respiratory pause, front sight focus, and trigger squeeze] come together to produce a Rifleman.

Remember: there simply is no substitute for either actual shooting ―by the numbers‖ at the range,
―dry firing‖ [more next time], or a combination thereof.

6. FOLLOW THROUGH -- Sighting eye open, take mental picture of where sights were when rifle
discharged, and follow through with trigger: When your rifle fires, you MUST keep your sighting
eye open. Without that step, you cannot ―call the shot‖, or predict, via that mental picture,
where the bullet will actually strike the target. If you can‘t call the shot, you won‘t ever be
able to tell whether the shot was bad because you did something wrong, or whether the shot did not
go to the aiming point because your sights need adjustment.

The final part of this step – ―follow through‖ – is important, too. If you are concentrating on
keeping your front sight on the target, and you continue to concentrate on following through with
your trigger squeeze after the rifle discharges, you will greatly reduce the chance that you will
move the rifle and duff the shot before the bullet leaves the muzzle. Believe it or not, it

A few more suggestions here at the end:

Make a copy of this post and keep it where you do your reading. Read it slowly, once a night.
Think about the concepts, and the reasons behind the concepts.
Write each step down on a 3‖ x 5‖ index card. Carry the card with you in your shirt pocket. Read
it whenever you get the chance, thinking about the step and the reasons behind it.
Memorize the steps until you can recite them without assistance. A Rifleman has these steps
memorized not because he likes to memorize things, but because he knows that the six steps to
firing the shot are the key to consistent accuracy.
Finally, grab your rifle and some ammo, and get out to the range. Very slowly at first, put each
step into action as you fire each shot at those 1‖ black squares at 25m/82 feet. Talk to yourself.
Be encouraging. Remember why you are doing all of this work. Be confident in your role as a
student learning to defend yourself, your family, and your country from those who would oppress
them. Have faith in your ability, through methodical hard work and practice, to become a Rifleman.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy the shooting. You CAN do it!
Next time, Fred will talk about natural point of aim (NPOA) and common shooting errors.


"It calls for real men, not girly-men. Hard-nosed, hard-assed, born-again hard, glittering steel-
eyed hombres who can put the trigger on their mother over a five dollar gold piece. Yes, friends,
this job calls for a Zombie Hunter." Fred
"There's gotta be a few umlauts laying around somewhere." JB

Grin Reaper
Hero Member


Posts: 1111

Just doin' what I can, with what I got.

  Re: The Rifleman Series
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2007, 11:28:19 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part Five: Natural Point of Aim (NPOA)
Welcome again to our series on becoming a Rifleman – someone who can, with rack-grade rifle and
surplus ammo, maintain a 4 MOA group at ranges from 25 meters to 500 yards from field positions.

In Part Four, we discussed the 6 steps to ―firing the shot‖. Course by now, you have these
committed to memory, right?

But for folks who might have just joined us, I‘ll repeat ‗em :

1. SIGHT ALIGNMENT -- Line up the front and rear sights

2. SIGHT PICTURE -- Keeping the sights lined up, bring them onto the target

3. RESPIRATORY PAUSE – Deep breath, exhale partially, hold breath as front sight touches bottom of

4A. FOCUS YOUR EYE -- Focus your eye on the front sight
4B. FOCUS YOUR MIND -– Keep front sight on target

5. TRIGGER SQUEEZE –- Squeeze straight back while front sight stays on target

6. FOLLOW THROUGH -- Sighting eye open, take mental picture of where sights were when rifle
discharged, and follow through with trigger

Today, we‘re diving deeper into Step Two of ―firing the shot‖ and discussing ―Natural Point of
Aim‖ (NPOA).

NPOA is the one factor which separates the Riflemen from the ‗wannabees.‘ Like I said last time,
you have two basic choices in getting and keeping your sight picture. First way is to use your
muscles and fight your body‘s natural alignment so as to force the sights onto the target.

That‘ll work – maybe – as long as you can:

a) use the same amount of muscle power to force your body into the exact same position for each
shot (remembering, of course, that even the ―Quick and Dirty‖ single-sheet Army Qualification Test
will require 40 shots), and

b) keep your muscles from growing tired and starting to tremble as you fight your body to keep
your sights on target.

Being that you‘re one of the bright students here (or, like Fred, you‘ve gotten tired of doing the
same thing and getting the same results), you‘re gonna want to have your body work with you,
rather than against you. So you‘re going to use the second way, which is your NPOA.

What does NPOA offer you?

If you don‘t get your natural point of aim, your shots will be off the center of the target, even
if fired perfectly. Why? Because your body is out of position, and you have to muscle the rifle to
get your sights onto the target. That muscle strain is difficult to replicate, shot to shot, and
it wears out your body‘s fine muscle control pretty quickly.

A Rifleman takes his shooting position so that his rifle, with his body relaxed, is pointing at
the target. He doesn‘t have to fight muscle strain and he makes his job of firing the shot a lot
easier. Best of all, his shots will be on target, accurately and consistently, because he‘s not
fighting his body‘s natural position.

Here‘s a guarantee: learn to establish your NPOA and use your sling in all positions (more next
time), and you‘ll reduce your groups by at least 33%, maybe more. Promise.

Sounds like it‘s worth the trouble, right?

Thought so.

So how do you find your NPOA?

First, follow Step One of ―firing the shot‖ and align your sights once you are in your shooting
position. Next, follow Step Two and get your sight picture by lining up on the target with your

Now the NPOA work begins. Close your eyes, relax your body, taking a deep breath in and let it

Open your eyes and check your sight picture. 9 times out of 10, your sight picture will have
changed, because your body is now relaxed.

You‘ll now reestablish your sight picture by making slight adjustments in your position. If you
are in the prone position, you‘ll shift position pivoting around your forward elbow to bring the
sights back on the target. In other positions, you will make whatever small adjustments in your
position so that the rifle points naturally at the target.

Satisfied with your position? OK, let‘s test your work.

Once again, close your eyes, relax your body, inhale deeply, exhale, open your eyes, and check
your sight picture.

Depending on your position, your sights may be dead on target. If not, repeat the cycle:
- Establish your sight picture
- Close your eyes
- Relax your body
- Inhale deeply
- Exhale
- Open your eyes
- Re-check sight picture
- Make slight adjustments to your position, and
- Repeat

How many times do you have to repeat this process? You‘ll want to repeat it until when you open
your eyes, your sights are naturally on the target. No more, and no less.

Once you establish your NPOA, MAINTAIN YOUR BODY POSITION from shot to shot by not moving that
forward elbow supporting the rifle [prone] or keeping your position steady [all other positions].
Even tougher, you‘ll need to keep that same body position as you reload and fire a fresh magazine.

If you move, your shots will move. It‘s that simple, and that important.

Now, I know that someone out there is thinking, ―Why do I have to go through all of this hooey
just to fire a shot?‖

Well, guess what?

You don‘t have to. You can fire each shot just the way you have always fired each shot.

Thing is, though: if you do that, you‘ll get exactly the same results that you always have.

The rest of us want to be Riflemen. We are willing to overcome our sloth and change our habits,
whatever the cost, because we want to join that elite top 5% of marksmen in America. We know that
if we do that, we‘ll be among the best shooters in the entire world.

And we are committed to that goal. Even if that means memorizing some stuff that we don‘t want to
memorize, and forcing our bodies into positions that are pretty darned uncomfortable, at least at

Most of all – we are committed to becoming Riflemen, even if it means going through the NPOA cycle
10 times for every shot, until we get the hang of dropping into a good position from the

You see, when ol‘ Fred told you that NPOA sorts out the wannabees from the Riflemen, he was
speaking in two senses.

First, NPOA is the technique that will allow you, with practice, to shoot 20‖ groups at 500 yards.
Without it, you‘re toast.

But even more importantly, the learning and application of the NPOA process is where you build the
self-discipline, perseverance, and moxie that will benefit you for the rest of your life, both as
a Rifleman and as a citizen.

So, right now, while the information is still fresh – go to your gun safe, grab your rifle, ensure
that it is unloaded (chamber and mag), and take 15 minutes of dry-firing practice from prone
position using the NPOA steps we‘ve been discussing. Start slowly, and repeat each step quietly to
yourself as you do it. If you can, get your spouse, roommate, or eldest child to help you by
reading the steps as you go through them.

Take that practice 3 times a week, 15 minutes a session, in the comfort of your home – practice,
persevere, persist. You don‘t even have to go to the range – but of course, if you can get to the
range, don‘t miss the opportunity.

You CAN do it! See you next time, with your slings!

Next time, Fred discusses the importance of the rifle sling, along with other shooting tips.


"It calls for real men, not girly-men. Hard-nosed, hard-assed, born-again hard, glittering steel-
eyed hombres who can put the trigger on their mother over a five dollar gold piece. Yes, friends,
this job calls for a Zombie Hunter." Fred
"There's gotta be a few umlauts laying around somewhere." JB

Grin Reaper
Hero Member


Posts: 1111

Just doin' what I can, with what I got.

  Re: The Rifleman Series
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2007, 11:29:11 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part Six: Common Firing Line Errors
Courtesy of Fred (, we continue on the road to becoming a Rifleman:

You go to a lot of trouble to fire a shot - buy a rifle, ammo, travel a long distance, and lay out
in hot and cold weather - so you should want to have that shot impact COT [Center of Target].

Well, watch out for these common errors, and you‘ll be ahead of the game:

#1: Failure to keep eyes open when the rifle fires to ‗call‘ your shot
To know where the shot just went, you need to take an instant mental photo of where the front
sight was when your rifle went off. If you don‘t, you lose the information value of feedback from
that shot - and you‘re almost certainly flinching and/or jerking the trigger. So, keep that eye
open - call the shot based on the position of the front sight on the target when the rifle fired,
and watch for bullet splash downrange for confirmation of your call. On the firing line, in
practice, you aim to continually increase the percentage of shots that you can honestly call
'good' - the front sight was on the target when the rifle fired.

#2: Failure to pull rifle back into shoulder
One of the leading causes of trigger jerk, bucking, and flinching is fear of recoil, and the
impact of the rifle on the shoulder. If you come away from the firing line complaining about
recoil, or a ‗sore‘ shoulder, this one is what you are doing wrong - and it WILL lead to
flinching. So grab the pistol grip firmly and pull the rifle back into your shoulder while you
fire the shot - so you ‗roll‘ with the recoil. A side benefit: extra pressure of the trigger hand
on the stock will give the perceived impression of a ‗lighter‘ trigger.

#3: Failure to get NPOA
―Natural Point of Aim‖ has been said to be the one factor which separates the riflemen from the
‗wannabees‘. If you don‘t get your natural point of aim, your shots will be off the center of the
target, even if fired perfectly, because your body is out of position, and you have to muscle the
rifle onto the target. A rifleman takes position so that his rifle, with his body relaxed, is
pointing at the target. He doesn‘t have to fight muscle strain and he makes his job of firing the
shot a lot easier - and his shots will be on target. Get your NPOA by lining up on the target with
your sights, closing your eyes, relaxing your body, and taking a deep breath in and letting it
out. Open your eyes and shift position pivoting around your forward elbow, to bring the sights
back on the target. Repeat until when you open your eyes, your sights are naturally on the target.
Once you establish your NPOA, keep it by not moving that forward elbow supporting the rifle
[prone] or keeping your position steady [all other positions].

#4: Failure to pull ‗trigger‘ leg up tight behind trigger arm to absorb recoil and generally
tighten position [prone position]
Try it and you‘ll see your front sight settle down like it should. Grasping the forearm with the
non-trigger hand and pulling slightly back into the shoulder may also help in rapid fire [what
other kind of shooting is there?].

#5: Failure to maximize your feedback
Shooting is always learning, and every shot you fire should be a learning experience. If you're in
a match, and screw a string of fire up so badly you are ashamed, you keep shooting just as hard as
before, with those educational purposes in mind.

#6: Failure to ‗followthrough‘
By the time you think ―Followthrough‖ as you hold the trigger back after the shot, this step in
‗Firing the Shot‘ is done. But don‘t overlook it, because you need to do it.

#7: Failure to keep the sight on the target
The most important step in ―Firing the Shot‖. Ignore this, and you might as well be shooting
blanks, or setting off firecrackers. This is a 2-part step: physically focusing your eye on the
front sight, and firmly focusing your mind - your concentration - on ‗keeping that front sight on
the target‘. Whatever else you do, you must do this for the shot to hit COT.

#8: ‗Flinching‘, ‗bucking‘ or ‗jerking the trigger‘
―Flinching‖ is anticipating recoil by an abrupt backward motion of your shoulder to get ‗away‘
from it. ―Bucking‖ is anticipating recoil by shoving your shoulder forward to ‗make up‘ for or
‗resist‘ the impact. ―Jerking‖ is snapping the trigger quickly to get the disagreeable experience
over with as soon as possible. All three will throw your shot off the target - in fact, are
guaranteed to throw your shot off the target. All three (usually lumped under the generic
―flinching‖) are natural responses to your body‘s abhorrence of sudden impacts. You have to work
to control your body, so the rifle is not disturbed by any movement at the time the hammer falls.
You do this in several ways. One is to eliminate the recoil impact by pulling the rifle snugly
back into your shoulder, so that there is no impact, and you simply ride the ‗push‘ of the recoil.
If you don‘t pull it back tightly into your shoulder, the rifle has time to pick up speed and slam
your shoulder, and you start to flinch, buck or jerk the trigger in response. So pull it back into
your shoulder, and you‘ll do OK. Second, keep your eyes open so you can take that instant mental
photo of where the front sight was on the target at the instant of firing. If you can‘t do this,
you know you are guilty of flinching, bucking, or jerking. Third, concentrate on keeping the front
sight on the target. Pulling the trigger is not the main task - No! Keeping the front sight on the
target is the main task. So practice until that trigger finger is ‗educated‘ to take the slack up
and steadily increase the pressure when the front sight is on the target, ‗freeze‘ when the front
sight drifts off the target, and continue the squeeze when the sight is back on the target. You‘ll
have to do this in the 6-10 seconds you‘re holding your breath. If you don‘t fire the shot in that
time, simply relax, take a deep breath and start over. [Trigger finger tips: middle of the pad of
the first joint, or the first joint itself, should be where the trigger touches the finger. Keep
the finger clear of the stock (‗dragging wood‘) as it will throw your shot off. Visualize a
straight pull back, not to the side.] Once out in the 'real world', you'll find that with
practice, you'll punch out 20 good shots in 30 seconds, if you ever need to shoot fast. Even the
best riflemen can develop a flinch, so periodically do the ‗ball and dummy‘ drill to test for one,
and then continue ‗ball and dummy‘ until you are ‗cured‘ (but remember that rarely will the cure
be permanent, so you still periodically recheck). Twenty rounds should suffice for both the
detection and the cure. Have a friend ‗load‘ and hand the rifle to you [make sure all safety
precautions are observed!] either with or without a round in the chamber. Usually, he will start
off with a live round to ‗juice up‘ any tendency to flinch, and then give you an empty one to see
if there is movement in the muzzle when the hammer falls. He continues with ‗empties‘ until your
muzzle doesn‘t move. Then he feeds a live one followed by more ‗empties‘ - actually, he is trying
to ‗smoke out‘ your flinch and get it to show itself. He continues until he is convinced that your
flinch is gone. Along the way he will watch your aiming eye to make sure it stays open when the
rifle goes off.

#9: The biggest failure is to go to the range without a goal
Your goal should always be to improve your shooting, and come away from each session on the range
a better shot. And you do that by firing the Army Precision Combat Rifle Qualification Course -
which Fred‘s has reduced to 25m for speed and convenience. Those in the know at Riverside who have
fired the full course at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards will tell you - ―the course at 25m is
harder!‖ And each time you fire it, you have a numerical score by which you can measure your
progress towards becoming a good shooter - a RIfleman!

#10: Failure to use your sling
For over 100 years, the sling has been in military use as an aid to marksmanship. Because of the
tendency of the M16 barrel to flex under sling pressure, the sling has been slighted in the last
few decades. But make no mistake: the sling is one of the biggest aids to accurate shooting that
you have, and you always have it with you, to carry the rifle. So, never fire a shot without the
sling. Use the hasty sling for standing and anytime you‘re in a rush, or may need to move fast
after firing a shot; and use the loop sling for prone and sitting when you have the time, but try
to make sure your upper arm is padded to block muscle tremor and heartbeat, either with a shooting
jacket or heavy clothing. It‘s hard to estimate how big a factor in accuracy the sling is. A
minimum of 20%, going up to 80% or more. It will help in rapid fire, keeping your position tight,
speeding your recovery for the next shot. The bottom line is, always use your sling - in every
position, for every shot.

Click on these links for some diagrams on sling use:

Attaching the M1907 traditional leather sling:
Attaching the 1907 Sling

Using the M1907 sling:
Using the 1907 Sling

Using the M1 web sling:
Using the M1 Web Sling

#11: Failure [sitting position] to put both elbows in front of both knees
If you‘ve been to the range much, you‘ve seen a new shooter trying to shoot sitting - with that
trigger elbow up high in the air, almost like he‘s shooting standing, totally ignoring that nice
big fat knee, as steady as a bench, and less than a foot away. The shot will be much better, with
that trigger elbow down on the front of the knee, where it belongs (NOT on top, where recoil will
knock it off, slowing recovery time). And that other elbow, the one under the rifle? Hunker
forward and drop that sucker on the target side of its knee - again to resist recoil. A good
sitting position will initially break your back until you get stretched, but once everything falls
into place, you can shoot nearly as good as you do off the bench! Don‘t sell the position short,
especially if you are on a downward slope and need to shoot over grass, etc.

#12: Copy this checklist & take it to the range with you
You'll be amazed at what a quick review of these lessons can do for the rest of your range time.
Make it a habit to take a look through the list as you are eating your "range lunch", then fire
your remaining shots even better than before!

See you next time!

In the next installment of this series, Fred will explain why you need to bring your friends to
the range and make more Riflemen.


"It calls for real men, not girly-men. Hard-nosed, hard-assed, born-again hard, glittering steel-
eyed hombres who can put the trigger on their mother over a five dollar gold piece. Yes, friends,
this job calls for a Zombie Hunter." Fred
"There's gotta be a few umlauts laying around somewhere." JB

Grin Reaper
Hero Member


Posts: 1111

Just doin' what I can, with what I got.

  Re: The Rifleman Series
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2007, 11:31:19 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part Seven: Fight Alone, Fail Alone
Today, Fred ( talks about why teamwork is the only way to win, whether in
the 'soft war' or something more grim:

The Rifleman knows that the defense of Liberty is a team effort, and that's why he always defends
Freedom as part of a team. As one Army instructor observed back in 1942:

"Experience has shown that in the absence of team training, the fire of a group of riflemen in
battle is poorly controlled and is haphazardly directed. This fact remains true even where every
individual in the group is an expert shot (emphasis added)...."

So becoming a Rifleman is only the first step -- an important step, a worthy step -- but only a
first step. If it ever comes to defending Liberty, if you are out there all by yourself....well,
it'll get lonely, at the very least. Although you'll be effective firing twenty or maybe even
thirty well-aimed shots per minute, you will be terribly vulnerable both to frontal and flanking
attacks. By fighting alone, you will be ignoring one of the central Rifleman rules -- to stay
alive to fight tomorrow.

Compare that "lone wolf" vulnerability to the concentrated firepower of three trained guys,
shooting as a Rifleman team. Sixty, even ninety well-aimed shots, each minute, penetrating the
heart of the foe. Comrades to each side of you, sharing the pain, and the joy, of the battle for
Freedom. A miniature 'band of brothers', guys you can count on to never let you down, who'll share
the risks and cover your butt while doing it.

If you are really lucky through persistence in recruiting, you'll be able to set up a second
Rifleman team. Think what tactical advantages two Rifleman teams offer: mutual support (thwarting
both frontal and flanking attacks), fire and movement, and mass rifle fire from different points
(devastating to an opponent). With two teams, you also move more securely, using the techniques of
traveling, traveling overwatch, and, if necessary, bounding overwatch.

For all members, your team's security will go through the roof, while your effectiveness goes up -
not 2X - but 8X or more. And during training, competing teams sharpen up everybody's shooting.

Most importantly, with the 'soft war' in full fury right now, that same group effort which will
sustain you through a Rainy Decade will make your team's political power almost irresistible, at
least to any politician who wants to keep his job. The "force multiplier" effect of allied voters
communicating in a coordinated fashion will be even more powerful when you and your teams network
with other teams.
But your basic problem, now that you are a Rifleman or soon-to-be Rifleman, is to find two more
kindred souls -- today.

The prospect, in present-day America, is kinda depressing. You'll be surprised at the percentage
of gun owners ignorant of both the past and the future. People who should know better instead are
content to sit and wallow in that slowly heating pan of water. Your audience is crowded with lazy,
arrogant know-it-alls, nurtured by the best in liberal education, who are going to wilt like a
spider on a hot brick as soon as you mention freedom and the traditional role of the rifleman.

But you will persist.

You'll persist, because it's part of being a Rifleman.

You'll persist, despite discouragement, rejection, and scorn, because you know the battle for
freedom has to be won.

You'll persist because you understand that the only people who are going to win it are people who
are mentally alert, know their history, respect those brave men who have fought before in defense
of freedom, and are determined that freedom will not be lost on their watch.

And the only way to get those sloths awake is to wake 'em up yourself. Your duty as a Rifleman is
to be the stone in the pond, sending ripples traveling in all directions, disturbing the existing

Remember, by becoming a Rifleman, you have accepted, at least implicitly, the responsibility to:

1) learn how to shoot, consistently from field positions, at or above the Rifleman standard of 4
MOA from 25 meters to 500 yards;

2) recruit future Riflemen;

3) educate your fellow Americans about the need to become Riflemen, to stop further Second
Amendment infringements, and to bring back what the JPFO ( calls a "Bill of Rights
culture"; and

4) spread that message wherever and whenever you can.

The short form?

Persistence is the key -- the only key -- to meeting those four obligations.

Now, how you go about your recruiting is up to you. But a few suggestions can be made.

A prime way is to simply let others see you shooting to become a Rifleman. As people watch you
going through your shooting drills, welcome their interest by letting them try the AQT with you.
Encourage them to overcome their miserable lack of skills with a little practice, using yourself
as an example. This is probably the easiest way to bring new members into the fold.

Once you get a couple of guys lined up as "students", your recruiting may tend to snowball, so
that the second team recruits quicker than the first. You see, your first team's practice sessions
are the bait for the next crew -- or so you hope it will be, anyway.

Another more risky way to recruit is to attempt to wake people up through words and information.
Understand though -- for whatever reason, you'll find even many gunowners to be less than
receptive. Most gunowners who'll do anything at all will donate $35 to the NRA and go back to
sleep on the couch.

Even though to you it seems as plain as the nose on your face, those folks on the couch just don't
appreciate what gunowners can accomplish by working within the system -- and working together.
That cheap surplus ammo you are able to buy in unlimited quantities now? You know it came from the
Reagan years, and the 1986 Gun Owner's Protection Act. In other words, that case of $150 South
African 7.62 ball in your safe today was brought to you by an Act of Congress. Without wide-awake,
no-fooling Riflemen campaigning and voting for the right people, it would never have happened.

The Good Guys can win. Most times, it happens only by work -- lots of hard, unrelenting slogging
towards a goal that may be only barely visible, at least at the beginning.

Sometimes, it happens by luck, or by fate.

But don't fool yourself. Luck and Fate are darned slim reeds to pin your future happiness on.

We have to get this country to wake up, so that the Good Guys win by design, on purpose, through
hard work - not by the whim of fate. If we don't, dark days await us.

Right now, we are in the pre-WWII period, fat and complacent, sure of our superpower status. Even
9/11 did not really wake us up. We are still bankrolling the Middle Eastern lunatics who would
slaughter us, rather than develop domestic oil and gas resources. Worse yet, we are still pouring
billions in trade into the Chinese economy, which is dominated by the Chinese Communist military,
just like we did 70 years ago with Japan.

And those lean and hungry Chinese boys are not going to be stupid. If you want a taste of what the
future possibly holds, check out Jeff Head's Dragon's Fury novels at It's a five volume series, and it is explosive!

Because the entire country is asleep to the lessons of history, we are going to repeat some bloody
chapters in our foreign policy history once again, just as soon as we elect another appeasement-
at-any-cost liberal to the Presidency.

That's why now is the time to build your Rifleman team. While you know it will likely be hard to
get other team members on board, it'll help you narrow the search if you know the kind of person
you are looking for, so you don't waste time on the wrong - i.e., worthless - prospects. "Summer
soldiers" and "sunshine patriots" have no place on a true Rifleman team.

No better advice can be found than in an old AMTU Rifle Instructors Guide. Here's their list of
questions to ask:

Is your prospect easily perturbed?
Does he quit easily?
Is he easily discouraged by unfavorable conditions?
Is he susceptible to rumors?
Does he worry too much about equipment?
Does he have the will to win?
Is he cooperative?
Can he work with others, of different skill levels?
Is he ambitious?
Is he honest?
Is he reliable, even when being so cuts against his interests?
Let's see - steadiness, doggedness, calmness, determination, honesty - sure 'nuff sounds like a
good person to have around if TSHTF. Go ahead -- be honest. How do you stack up?

Now someone is sure to ask -- "But Fred, what about shooting?"

Don't get me wrong. As you build your team, you bet you're gonna work on your team's shooting
skills. They will need to become Riflemen, after all. But in recruiting, you should remember an
old business saying -- "Hire for attitude, train for skill." If your recruit doesn't have the
gumption to persist and burn through the frustrations that he will encounter on the path to
Rifleman status, he'll be less than worthless.

Why? 'Cause at the same time that you're pouring your efforts down the dry hole of your prospect's
bad attitude, there's likely to be another recruit who does have the stuff to become a Rifleman,
just waiting to be found.
Plant your Rifleman seeds where there's a good chance they'll grow into strong trees. Perseverance
and willingness to learn are the good soil and water for this particular crop.

Find those character traits listed above, and you'll have a good prospect. Then, using your
experience and the Guide to Becoming a Rifleman (,
help that recruit through the struggles that you went through as your shooting improved. Your
prospect may not be perfect - after all, it's unlikely he'll be able to shoot well, for one thing
- but as long as he is willing to learn both the shooting and the teammate skills, I'd sure give
him a chance! And once those Rifleman skills are in the bag, you and your new Rifleman should
start to integrate team shooting drills into your practice -- just read the Guide for lots of

Remember -- you are unlikely in the current environment to find anyone decisive enough to commit
to the team idea, which is why the first technique suggested earlier is a good one. You don't sign
them up in advance. Nope - you sucker them in gradually, until they are already a team member and
confident enough to be decisive.

Part of the outcome of Rifleman training is a new personality - confident, decisive, knowing who
you are, what you can do, what you should be doing, knowing your goals, working to attain them. As
the AMTU guide put it, "Individuals must possess outstanding qualities of sportsmanship." Of
course, this was written back fifty years ago, before the angry, victimized, she-male types who
are so prevalent today.

So what? So it's harder to find good-natured people with integrity. Heck, it's hard to do anything
in the battle for freedom. Just that first step away from the couch in front of the TV is too much
for many people.

You'll persist, however, because you are a Rifleman.

One final thing: As a Rifleman, and as part of a rifle team, you want to get prepared and to be
the best shot you can be. You know and understand your role in the defense of liberty, as
visualized by the Founders when they drafted the Constitution.

But never forget the 'soft war' that's raging now. You and your team should be fighting that 'soft
war', in hopes of avoiding a future 'hard war'. You and your team should be waking people up,
personally & with Letters To the Editor, educating 'em who to vote for, getting 'em to the range,
and helping them to shoot well.

And guess what? In the 'soft war', it doesn't even matter one tinker's damn if some of your
teammates can even shoot!

What do I mean? The 'soft war' is a political war, and the ammunition in a political war consists
of contacts and ballots. Think of contacts -- letters, faxes, emails, phone calls -- as rifle
rounds, while ballots -- "fired" only on Election Day -- can be considered as heavy artillery
shells. There's no reason at all why you shouldn't get as many "soft warriors" as you can, each
sending as many pro-Second Amendment contacts -- pro or con, as appropriate for the particular
politician -- as they can send between elections. Then on Election Day, a barrage of pro-Second
Amendment, pro-freedom ballots comes crashing support of our pro-freedom political
allies, and in opposition to our socialist, gun-grabbing foes.

In those 'soft war' battles, anyone -- as long as they are of voting age and registered to vote --
can and will be a freedom fighter, even if they have no desire whatsoever in learning how to

Pretty neat, eh?

So, non-shooters can and should be a part of your team in defense of Freedom. And you never know -
- lots of us didn't grow up with guns. We came to the tradition through people who cared enough
about us and our country to be patient with us. You, as a Rifleman, need to be patient as well.
Remember, the crime is not shooting badly. Everybody shoots badly when they start out. The crime
is not learning to shoot better.
Sure, it's tough -- all of it. But not tough compared to what it'll be if you DON'T do it. So you
do it, because it is important. Don't forget to have fun, too!


"It calls for real men, not girly-men. Hard-nosed, hard-assed, born-again hard, glittering steel-
eyed hombres who can put the trigger on their mother over a five dollar gold piece. Yes, friends,
this job calls for a Zombie Hunter." Fred
"There's gotta be a few umlauts laying around somewhere." JB

Grin Reaper
Hero Member


Posts: 1111

Just doin' what I can, with what I got.

  Re: The Rifleman Series
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2007, 11:33:52 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part Eight: Ammo and Sights
suppliers can be found at the following link, which is maintained by SV Sniper of Thanks, SV!

A few caveats/suggestions:

1) Avoid Indian surplus 7.62 like the plague. Scanning the boards over the past few months, the
horror shows (stuck cases, etc.) far outweigh any savings gained by the cheap price.

2) Folks shooting calibers other than 7.62 will find food for their machines as well. The key part
is to buy as much as you can now, while ammo is cheap. You‘ll need enough for learning, teaching
others, maintaining your own skill, and supplying your ―Rainy Day/Decade‖ fund. That‘s a lot of
ammo – a lot more than you have right now, I‘ll bet. See suggestions #4 and #5 below.

3) If you can do it, many dealers will give you a substantial cash discount if you pick up at
their location (plus you save shipping costs and (sometimes) sales tax). The money you save can
pay for the trip, believe it or not! Contact the dealers and see what they‘ll do for you.

4) You need more ammo. Buy at least a case for each rifle today. Plus at least 5 mags for each
rifle – buy more if you need ‗em.

5) See suggestion #4. Really.

If you remember one thing about ammo, it is this – you can never have enough ammo, let alone too
much. Figure out how much you will need over the next year, and multiply that amount by five, at
least. Then take that amount and multiply it by five again. That‘s how much ammo every Rifleman
should have on hand for each rifle, all of it easily accessible. Anything less, and you are taking
a chance that what can be easily purchased today will be so in the future.

Wanna bet on that? How much?

How about your life? How about your country?

Do you really want to take that chance?
Enough about ammo. Now, let‘s talk about what you need to get that ammo to go where you want it to
go – downrange, on target, in a tight group, at a high rate of fire.

Sight settings and trajectory are keys that will unlock many doors. It‘ll take a bit of work to
learn what you need to know, but then a Rifleman never shys away from the work need to defend

There are two basic sets of facts you need to memorize. The first is the relationship between
where you shots are hitting on the target, the measurement unit of ‗minutes of angle‘ – also known
as ‗MOA‘, and your sight settings.

MOA is what your sights are graduated in, whether an M1/M1A or scope. We‘ll talk about other
rifles later.

As the first step, you need to know that 1 MOA = ¼ inch at 25 meters. That distance is important,
‗cuz that‘s where you‘ll be doing a lot of practice shooting, until you acquire Rifleman skills.

That same 1 MOA equals 1 inch at 100 yards. How? Ratios – that icky stuff you avoided back in
school. ¼ inch is to 25 yards as 1 inch is to 100 yards. Put another way, 100 yards is four times
as much as 25 yards, right? And 1 inch is four times greater than ¼ inch, right?

Memorize this ratio so that you have it down cold: 1 MOA = ¼ inch at 25 yards = 1 inch at 100
yards = 2 inches at 200 yards = 3 inches at 300 yards = 4 inches at 400 yards = 5 inches at 500

Memorize that ratio, and you are ahead of 95% of shooters in America, sad to say. Do it, and you
will be on you way to thinking in MOA whenever you adjust your rear sight or scope.

Now, let‘s apply that ratio to some shooting situations. We‘ll start at 25M (which is actually
27.32 yards, or 82 feet – we‘re talking close enough for Government work, as the saying goes), and
have you fire three good shots at your 1‖ black square.

You go downrange, check the target, and find that the center of your group is 1 inch below the
aiming point, and ½ inch to the left of the aiming point.

First step is to ask yourself if you fired good shots. If not, your group is of no use to you, so
go back and fire 3 good shots. Keep at it, using your sling, the Rifleman‘s Guide
(, and your training until you do.

Assuming that the first group were all good shots, it‘s time to think about how to adjust your
rear sight. If you have a Garand or M1A, your job is simple. All you have to do is remember that
each click – windage or elevation – is equal to 1 MOA.

Here‘s how you do it:

1) Inches: How many inches, for both elevation and windage, is the center of my group away from my
aiming point? In this case, you are 1 inch below the aiming point (elevation), and 1/2 inch to the
left of the AP for your windage.

2) MOA: The second step is to convert your inch calculations from step #1 above into MOA for that
distance. You have memorized the fact that 1 MOA = ¼ inch at 25 meters, so what you need to do is
figure out how many ¼ inch units (or MOA units) there are in your 1 inch low elevation, ½ left
windage calculations. Anybody know the answer? Anybody? Bueller???

That‘s right – 1 inch low elevation equals 4 ¼ inch units, which in turn equals 4 MOA low. ½ inch
left windage equals 2 ¼ inch units, which equals 2 MOA left windage.

3) Clicks: Now that you know what your elevation and windage errors are, it‘s a simple matter to
adjust your M1/M1A sights, on which 1 click for standard sights always equals 1 MOA for both
elevation and windage. You know, based on your calculations above, that you are 4 MOA low, so add
4 clicks ―up‖ elevation (that‘s the left-side knob) on your rear sight. You should be turning the
knob back towards you to add elevation. Same drill for windage, which is the right-side knob on
your rear sight. Your windage error is 2 MOA left, so add 2 clicks right windage (checking the
markings on the knob so that you know you are turning it the right way.

Now, when you fire your confirmation 3-round group and those 3 shots are each good shots, your
rounds should be hitting right at your aiming point.

Bingo! You have established your 25M zero, which also equals your 200 yard zero, because of the
trajectory of the standard NATO load. You are also only one step away from setting your Battle
Sight Zero (BSZ), which allows you to shoot without worrying about sight settings all the way out
to 275 yards.

Next time, we‘ll set that BSZ, talk about sighting-in other rifles, and reveal the secret to
consistent hitting out to 500 yards….and beyond!

See ya next time!

Next time, Fred will talk about battle sight zeroes, trajectory, and other "secrets" of the


"It calls for real men, not girly-men. Hard-nosed, hard-assed, born-again hard, glittering steel-
eyed hombres who can put the trigger on their mother over a five dollar gold piece. Yes, friends,
this job calls for a Zombie Hunter." Fred
"There's gotta be a few umlauts laying around somewhere." JB

Grin Reaper
Hero Member


Posts: 1111

Just doin' what I can, with what I got.

  Re: The Rifleman Series
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2007, 11:38:54 PM »

The Rifleman Series -- Part Nine: Battle Sights and Staying Alive
Besides learning how to firing a shot ‗by the numbers‘, there are two other basic sets of facts
you need to memorize as you continue to grow into a Rifleman. The first issue is ‗minutes of
angle‘ – MOA, and the second topic is your rifle‘s basic trajectory.

We covered MOA in our last discussion.   To recap, this is what you need to know: 1 MOA = ¼‖ at 25
meters (where you‘ll be doing a lot of   practice shooting, until you acquire rifleman skills), 1‖
at 100 yards, 2‖ at 200, 3‖ at 300, 5‖   at 500, and so forth. Basically, just remember an inch for
each hundred yards. Memorize that, and   you‘ll start thinking in MOA whenever you need to adjust
your rear sight or scope.

Today, we are going to talk about trajectory, a key that will unlock many doors.

Central fact -- military .30 caliber rounds are pretty much the same out to 500 yards. Learn the
trajectory for one, and you can do pretty well - good enough for government work - with any
military .30 caliber.

For those of you using either a Garand or an M1A, your trajectory studies are pretty simple. Just
memorize the following numerical combination: 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 8, 8.
What‘s that?

Those are your rear sight‘s ―come-ups‖ out to 1000 yards using standard M2 150 grain FMJ ammo for
your .30-06 Garand and the standard M80 147 grain FMJ in 7.62x51/.308. Learn those come-ups cold,
and you‘ll be on target all the way out to 1000 yards, as long as you know (1) your rifle‘s
initial sight settings and (2) the range to your target.


Simplicity itself. Assume you have a 300 yard zero on your rifle and you know your target is at
400 yards. Just rotate the left dial on your rear sights four clicks up (rotating the dial back
towards you, or, in other words, clockwise), and fire your shot by the numbers.

Bang, hit, next target. Easy as pie.

Note from Cabinboy: It helped me to memorize the come-ups with the associated ranges, like this:

100-200 3
200-300 3
300-400 4
400-500 4
500-600 5
600-700 5
700-800 6
800-900 8
900-1000 8

See bottom of page 4 of the Guide; order at

If you just wanna walk, before you learn to run, here‘s all you need to really know: 3, 3, 4, 4.
Those four digits give you the come-ups from 100 yards out to 500 yards. Thus, to shoot at 200
yards instead of 100, you raise your sights 3 MOA/3clicks; from 200 to 300, another 3 MOA/3
clicks, etc.

Those of you using scopes will have to read your documentation. Some scopes may have quarter-
minute (4 clicks = one MOA) or eighth-minute (8 clicks = one MOA) adjustment. Regardless, as long
as you know the come-up in MOA, just apply the necessary clicks to move that amount in MOA.

Let‘s say you zero at 100 yards, like most guys do. To put your 200 zero on, you simply raise your
rear M1/M1A sight 3 clicks, or 3 MOA - the first ‗3‘ on the list you just memorized. To shoot 300
yards, you raise your sight another 3 clicks - the second ‗3‘ on the list. To shoot 400, raise it
4 more, and 500, another 4. Hence, the ‗3, 3, 4, 4‘. If you forget, count the clicks on your
M1/M1A‘s rear sight between the marked distances.

Sound too easy? Don‘t worry about that. Remember, when we talk about Rifleman standards, we are
talking a group size of 4 MOA from field positions, using rack-grade rifle and ammo. That‘s good
enough to hit a man-sized target out at 500 yards (or 1" at 25 m), which is good enough if you
ever have to defend freedom. And it‘s good enough to put you in the elite down at your local gun
club. These come-ups are the key to that kind of performance, once you are a Rifleman.

But first you‘ll have to become a Rifleman. You‘ll have to get to the place where you can fire a
good shot. If you can‘t shoot 4 MOA from prone or sitting, you aren‘t going to benefit a lot from
knowing your trajectory - or any other knowledge, such as techniques for target detection and
range estimation. While those last two tasks come before firing the shot, they are useless if you
can‘t fire a good shot. So if you can‘t shoot 1‖ groups at 25 m - 82 ft - or 4‖ groups at 100
yards, with a rack-grade rifle and surplus ammo, from prone or sitting, get our AQT targets and
Guide to Becoming a Rifleman - now!

One other point we have to get out of the way. The rear sight on the M1 Garand is marked in yards;
the sights on the M14/M1A are marked in meters. It‘s not a real big difference - meters are about
10% more in distance than yards, so 100 meters = 110 yards [actually 109, but close enough], 200 =
220, etc. Where it comes into play is your Battlesight Zero [BSZ], which is your friend under
pressure, ‗cuz if you are within your BSZ setting, you just aim at center mass and let fly without
worrying about elevation.

BSZ on the Garand is 275 yards, and on the M14/M1A, it‘s 250 meters. Now that you know the
meter/yard relationship, you know 250 meters = 275 yards, so the BSZs are the same. In other
words, both rifles are sighted to shoot pointblank out to 300 yards. At 300 yards, they will both
impact 1 MOA low on the target. Since you now know moa, you know that‘s 3 inches low at 300 yards,
meaning you aim at center mass, and your bullet will strike above the navel. Your target is not
gonna know or appreciate the difference, nor will the folks who‘ll dispose of what‘s left.

The rear elevation knob of the M1 and M14 being interchangeable, you need to check your rifle and
see which you have. The M1 is marked out to ‗12[00]‘, and the M14 goes out to ‗11[00]‘ and, in
addition, is marked ‗M‘ for meters.

In each case, BSZ is your 200 zero, plus 2 clicks - or your 300 zero, less one.

Here‘s how all this come together, on the range or in the field:

Example 1: Your 3-shot sighter group at 25 meters is 1‖ low and ¾‖ left. What sight adjustment do
you need to make? Use the formula from last time – ―inches, minutes, clicks‖. You already have the
―inches‖, and at 25 meters each minute equals ¼‖, so the clicks on your M1/M1A will be 4 UP and 3
RIGHT. (On your scope, you‘ll have to multiply by the number of clicks per MOA - usually either 4
or 8.) Now when you go back to the firing line, while the guys around you are guessing their sight
changes - usually wrong – you‘ll know that your changes are right.

Example 2: Your sighter group at 300 is 1‖ low and 3‖ right. Change? Well, at 300 each MOA = 3
inches, so make no vertical change for iron sights, since you don‘t have 1/3 of a click, and put 1
LEFT on. For a scope, you‘d go UP 1 or 2 clicks, depending on how your scope is calibrated.

Example 3: You confirm your 200 zero is 11 clicks UP and 1 LEFT on your M1/M1A sights. How? Once
you have verified your groups at your sight-in distance, you count the elevation and windage
clicks back to zero for each element, then record your results in your shooter‘s notebook. You are
keeping a shooter‘s notebook, aren‘t you?

In this situation, what is your BSZ?

13 clicks up, as related above (BSZ = 200 zero + 2 MOA, or 2 clicks with M1/M1A sights).

Example 4: Your SKS with iron sights set at 200 yards shoots 6‖ high at 200. You don‘t have your
front sight tool with you, and you want to do well in the competition. What to do? The solution:
6‖ high at 200 is 3 MOA, which is the same 3 MOA you would raise the sight to go from 100 yards to
200 yards (remember – all .30 caliber/7.62 mm military ammo shoots similarly, at least out to 300
yards). So, simply lower your rear sight to ―100‖, taking those 3 moa back out, and you‘ll take
out those 6‖ high at 200 yards and be right on!

Example 5: Your best zero is a 200 yard confirmed zero of 11 UP and 1 LEFT. The target   is 500
yards away. Can you hit it? Yes, if you adjust your sights per your trajectory. Simply   raise them
3 + 3 + 4 clicks to go to 300, thru 400, then to 500 yards, and you¹ll hit a man-sized   target.
(You¹ll be alert when firing at an unconfirmed zero to spot the first shot if there is   a miss, and
adjust accordingly. In all cases of calculated sight adjustment, the careful shooter -   the
rifleman - will confirm the zero at the actual distance at the first opportunity.)

Example 6: You fire a sighter group at 100 yards. The group prints 2‖ high. How do you adjust to
get your BSZ on your sights? Your BSZ will print 5‖ above POA at 100 yards. How do you know that.
Your BSZ is your 100 zero + 3 MOA to get to 200 yards plus 2 more MOA to get to 275 yards. This 5
MOA total translates to 5‖ high at 100 yards. So to get your isgher group up where it should be,
you raise your sights 3 clicks/3 MOA/3 inches at your 100 yard range.

Example 7: Your friend brings his new Romanian Dragonov in 7.62x54R down to the range and is
trying to sight it in. It shot high at 25 meters, so he thought he would try it at 200. Bad idea -
if it shoots high at 25, it will shoot proportionately high at 200. Sure enough, down at 200, his
sighter group was 18‖ high.
―What do I do?‖ he says. ―The sights are all the way down at 0.‖ So I said, ―Inches, minutes,
clicks! Your shot group on the target is in inches; your sights are in clicks; and the bridge
across is minutes of angle [MOA].‖

We went back up to the firing line and looked at the rear sights. An elevation drum marked in
meters, with an even 2 clicks from one yardage to the next, indicating a 50-yard graduation.

I said, ―Here‘s what we‘ll do. The rifle sights are at zero, and it shoots 18‖ high at 200 –
that‘s 9 MOA - remember, an MOA is one inch at 100, 2 inches at 200, etc. So the rifle is shooting
9 MOA high at 200. Since the trajectory is about +3 MOA to 300, and +4 MOA to 400, and +4 MOA to
500 - a total of 11 MOA - you could say the rifle is zeroed at a little less than 500 yards. All
we have to do is index the elevation knob to 500, and then bring the sight back to 200.‖

Loosening the elevation drum, I held the elevation knob steady while I rotated the elevation drum
so the sight was set for 500 yards, tightened the lock screws, rotated the knob to ‗200‘, and then
said, ―Fire a group at 200 yards.‖

That group was 3 inches [1.5 MOA] high and 3 inches [1.5 MOA] right. DOWN one and LEFT one would
put him right on!

As a Rifleman, you‘ll soon start thinking in terms of hundred yard increments, and minutes. To
you, a hundred yards (out to rifleman max 500 range) is 3 MOA. Likewise, 3 MOA equals a hundred
yards. So if your buddy is trying to sight in his British Enfield at 25 yards, and his group is ¾‖
low, you immediately can tell him, ―Add a hundred yards on the sight‖, since his rear sight is
graduated in yards. How do you know to tell him this? Because each quarter-inch at 25 yards is one
MOA, so he is 3 MOA low, so - since 3 MOA = a hundred yards - all he needs is another hundred on
his rear sight.

For practical use out to 500, this information‘ll get you started. If you want to be effective at
longer ranges, learn your trajectory out to 700 or 900 or 1000 yards, and understand that you‘ll
be juggling a lot more balls in the air in order to make a hit. If you‘re planning to go this
route, take the time to find a 1000 yard range and get some long-distance zeroes. Take your time,
fire each shot by the numbers, and write down EVERYTHING. The knowledge you gain may save your

Trajectory is your friend. It‘ll work for you, if you let it. All you need to do is remember MOA,
―3, 3, 4, 4‖ - and use them before the first shot!

Staying Alive

If you ever have to show up, show up ready!
· Have your bore and chamber clean and bone dry.
· Your M1A gas piston and cylinder should be bone dry, from the last time you cleaned it.
· Check the tightness of the gas plug, and with the bolt locked back, rotate the muzzle up-and-
down, listening to ensure the piston moves freely.
· Have your action properly lubed with the correct grease.
· Front sight should be blackened with a flat black paint or other blackening.
· Sights should be checked for looseness, front and rear.
· Carry the complete cleaning kit in butt, along with spare parts & rod guide
· Sling should be adjusted to hold the weight of the rifle when you are in your position. A check:
the rifle should stay in your shoulder without having to grasp the wrist of the stock with your
trigger hand. · Mark the sling so you can always adjust back to the right place.
· Have your BSZ on your sight, or the zero for actual estimated distance, like 400 or 500.
· Mags should be cleaned and dry, springs lightly oiled.
· Other items on your list -- earplugs, cap with bill for shade/rain, clean eyeglasses/eye
protection, loaded mags in pouches, at least one canteen of water, a high-energy snack, poncho,
extra ammo.

Now, fire each shot ―by the numbers‘, and you‘ll do fine. Just remember: double your hit rate and
you double your supply of ammo, without spending a penny - or carrying any more weight.

USMC Rules For Gunfighting [with a few additions by Fred]
1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns.
[Rule 1.5: Try to make them a TEAM. And make the ‗guns‘ rifles - see Rules 5 & 6]

2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive. [Rule 2.5:
When targets get plentiful, have a rifle which requires only one shot to take out a target, and
fire only one shot per target. Running out of ammo in a target-rich environment can ruin your

3. Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss. [Rule 3.5: A fast hit is
better than a slow hit. Rule 3.6: A fast miss is trumped by a slower hit. Rule 3.7: Firing too
fast can turn a sure hit into a fast miss.]

4. If your shooting stance is good, you're probably not moving fast enough nor using cover

5. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral and diagonal movement are
preferred.) [5.5 Engage beyond 300 yards.]

6. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a rifle and a friend with a rifle.

7. In ten years, nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only
remember who lived. [Rule 7.5: But caliber, stance, skill and tactics may determine who lives -
and who dies - today.]

8. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, or running. [Rule 8.5: As long
as you have targets, and rounds in your mag, you should be shooting.]

9. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on "pucker factor"
than the inherent accuracy of the gun. [Rule 9.2: Shoot to Rifleman standard. Rule 9.3: A ‗kill‘
hit is better than a ‗wound‘ hit, but a ‗wound‘ hit beats a miss - every time.]

9.5. Use a gun that works EVERY TIME. [Rule 9.9 Bring a rifle you can easily clear when it

10. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with
it because it is empty.

11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose. [Rule 11.5. You have to
win every time. They only have to win once.]

12. Have a plan.

13. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won't work. [Rule 13.5 Plan B - accurate
rifle fire will save your ass!]

14. Use cover or concealment as much as possible. [Rule 14.5 Camo clothing, skin, rifle.]

15. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours. [Rule 15.5 Be part of a team!]

16. Don't drop your guard.

17. Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees. [Rule 17.5 Target Detection is #1!]

18. Watch their hands. Hands kill. (In God we trust. Everyone else, keep your hands where I can
see them) [Rule 18.5 Simplify! Keep them them 300+ yards away and once ID‘d as enemy, shoot them –
fast and well!]

19. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.

20. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

21. Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet. [Rule 21.5 Plan
consists of SOP and immediate action drills.]
22. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.

23. Your number    one Option for Personal Security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance,
deterrence, and    de-escalation. [Rule 23.5 Win the soft war now, and you avoid the hard war, later.
Rule 23.7 Learn    to shoot like a Rifleman now; it‘s your number one Option for Personal Security
when avoidance,    deterrence, or de-escalation is not an option.]

24. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a "4." [Rule
24.5 Do not get close enough to use a pistol -or even a carbine. Distance is your friend. See Rule

[Rule 25. It is not a movie. If you catch a round, save the dramatics, ignore the hit, and keep
shooting. You have nothing to lose, and you might even survive.]

IMC and your rifle
« on: June 18, 2007, 12:34:16 PM » Quote

IMC is simple, yet causes confusion often, due to the innermixing of words and lack of critical

IMC stands for "Inches, Minutes, Clicks", and is a simple yet misunderstood way of zeroing your


Inches is the simple distance measurement of your shot group, either in size, or in distance to
center of your target.

   Size is measured from center to center of your furthest two holes. This is where being able to
"call your shot" is important, as a shot you called out of the group would not count.

   Distance is the measurement of the center of your group to the center of your target.


Minutes are a measurement of a degree. There are 60 minutes in a degree. A minute at 100 yards
is one inch, a minute at 200 yards is 2 inches. This is due to a degree (60 minutes) being a
circular measurement. This makes a cone that is ever growing in size as it leaves the starting
point. This gives us the resulting ever growing Minutes of Angle, MOA, that give us our accuracy
gauge of a rifle.

The further away a target is, the wider this cone is when it intersects with the target.

MOA is measured as an INCH per 100 Yards. The cone widens away from this point and narrows before
this point, so while an MOA at 300 yards is 3 inches, at 50 an MOA is 1/2, or .5, inches.

Here are the 1 MOA measurements out to 500 yards

25    yards    = .25 inch = 1MOA
50    yards    = .50 inch = 1MOA
100   yards   = 1.0 inch = 1MOA
200   yards   = 2.0 inch = 1MOA
300   yards   = 3.0 inch = 1MOA
400   yards   = 4.0 inch = 1MOA
500   yards   = 5.0 inch = 1MOA

See a pattern here? Simple.

Also assume that bullet drop is as follows for unknown rifle/ammo combos. This is not precise,
but a rough "rule of thumb" to get you started.
3   MOA   from   100   to   200   yards
3   MOA   from   200   to   300   yards
4   MOA   from   300   to   400   yards
4   MOA   from   400   to   500   yards.

Bullet drop then from 200 to 300 yards is 12 inches (300 yards equals 4 MOA drop, 1 MOA equals 3
inches at 300 yards, 4 MOA x 3 inches is a total of 12).

Drop from 300 to 400 is 16 inches (400 yards equals 4 MOA drop, 1 MOA equals 4 inches at 400
yards, 4 MOA x 4 inches is a total of 16)


Clicks are the measured adjustment of sights. Each "click" will adjust the sights an amount of
MOA at distance. The distance moved per click depends on the distance from the target. If you
adjust 1 click on an 1 MOA per click rifle at 200 yards, the Point Of Impact will shift 2 inches,
or 1 MOA.

So a standard M1A, the open sights are 1 MOA clicks. Which means that one "click" of adjustment
is equal to a 1 MOA shift at 100 yards. A 1 MOA shift at 100 yards equals 1 inch.

In Appleseed you will find that most of your sighting in is at 25 meters (yards for MOA
purpouses). Thus, on the mentioned M1A, one "click" of adjustment will shift the sights 1 MOA,
which is equal to .25 (1/4) inches at 25 yards.

Application on IMC will ease sight adjustment greatly for you in the future, and save you ammo.
To help your understanding, here are some helpfull hints.

If you are shooting a rifle that you don't know what shift a "click" will give you, assume it will
be 1 MOA. Adjust, then fire another group. If it did not put the group in center, take a
measurement of the distance the group moved, divided by the "clicks" you adjusted. If I moved
sights 5 clicks at 100 yards, and my group shifted 2.5 inches, I have 0.5 MOA adjustment per


   I am shooting an AR that has been assembled from parts. I have no idea what the clicks are on
this thing. I shoot a 5 round group, and the center is 5 inches to the right of center at 100

   So I adjust the sights 5 clicks left, and reshoot. The group is now dead center. I have thus
established my clicks to be 1 MOA windage.

   I am shooting with a scope, that has 1/4 MOA clicks. I am 3 inches high and 2 inches right at
25 yards. I need my adjustment.

   3 inches is 12 MOA at 25 yards (3 / .25 = 12). 3 is my inches, my distance is 25 yards. An
MOA is .25 at 25 yards.

   Using the same measurements, I determine that I also need 8 MOA adjustment left. 2 inches is 8
MOA (2 / .25 = .

   My scope will need to be adjusted 48 clicks down (12 MOA / .25 moa per click) and 32 left (8
moa / .25 moa per click).

   I am shooting a Nagant with ladder type sights. I am shooting 6 inches low at 200 yards. I am
on the 200 yard setting. Roughly assuming that 1 "click" (200 to the 300) yard setting will move
me 3 MOA (300 yards equals 3 MOA of bullet drop), the 300 yard sight setting should get me on (200
yards is 2 inches per MOA. 200 to 300 adjustment is 3 MOA. 2 inches x 3 MOA will result in a
total change of 6 inches).

   Here is an easy quiz question to start us off:

   My rifle is hitting 2 inches right at 100 yards. I assume I have 1 MOA clicks, so I adjust 2
clicks left. This gives me a total change of 1.5 inches left leaving me 0.5 inches to the right
of my target, still not to center. What are my windage "clicks" equal to?

Bonus question, do I go any more clicks, or do I leave the sights where they are?

PM your message to The Guy, and look for more quizes here. The correct answer will be given in
three days, with the next quiz.


[Disclaimer -- not all adjustable sights are set up for MOA; IIRC metric FAL sights changes are
1cm at 100m.]

[Other disclaimer, Know your rifle, know your ammo. Your rifle/ammo combo will work out different
in the real world. This exercise is only to get you to think, not to be hard fast rules for any
rifle mentioned.]

(edited for spelling, but mainly because I wish I was as cool as The Guy -- Reaper)

« Last Edit: July 02, 2007, 04:20:39 PM by The Guy » Report to moderator    Logged

"How have you improved since we last met?" -Fred Waldo Emmerson

Wanna host an Appleseed? Need more info and a helping hand? Have some irons in the fire already?
funfaler is your man! Contact him today for scheduling information.

RWVA Instructor
Full Member


Posts: 208

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2007, 02:51:08 PM » Quote


Your table would be easier to understand if it was labled correctly.

One   minute   of angle out to 500 yards
 25    yards    = .25"
 50    yards    = .50"
100   yards    = 1.00"
200   yards    = 2.00"
300   yards    = 3.00"
400   yards    = 4.00"
500 yards = 5.00"

Sorry, didn't mean to butt in.

Doug in Virginia

 Report to moderator   Logged

Shoot Boss
Hero Member


Posts: 2531

Green Mountain Boy

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2007, 03:32:22 PM » Quote

Folks, when you really get this, you'll be looking at your target and be thinking in clicks from
the start, as in "I've got to go X clicks up and Y clicks right". It takes time to get that way,
but, keep thinking it out, and it will happen eventually.

 Report to moderator   Logged

They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as Rangers
against the Indians and Canadians and this country being much covered with wood, and hilly, is
very advantageous for their method of fighting. . . . ". Lord Percy

Sounds like New Englanders to me.

The Guy
Simplicity and Precision in all things
Hero Member


Posts: 1092

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2007, 04:25:13 PM » Quote

Doug, good catch. This was on the Instructor board and we all missed that before posting...

Something I learned from Luckyman at Evansville was this:
If you want to find the size of a MOA at any distance, just adjust by 2 decimal points to the

If the target was at 75 yards, the MOA size would be .75 inches.

If it was at 475 yards, the MOA size would be 4.75 inches.

At 1279 yards? 12.79 inches per MOA.

A good way to teach it.

« Last Edit: July 02, 2007, 07:51:06 PM by The Guy » Report to moderator    Logged

"How have you improved since we last met?" -Fred Waldo Emmerson

Wanna host an Appleseed? Need more info and a helping hand? Have some irons in the fire already?
funfaler is your man! Contact him today for scheduling information.

RWVA Instructor
Jr. Member


Posts: 72

    Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2007, 07:36:08 PM » Quote

450 -> 4.75 inches only works when shooting into the Bermuda Triangle.

 Report to moderator      Logged

The Guy
Simplicity and Precision in all things
Hero Member


Posts: 1092

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2007, 07:49:33 PM » Quote

Funny thing was, I was thinking 475 yards....


 Report to moderator      Logged

"How have you improved since we last met?" -Fred Waldo Emmerson

Wanna host an Appleseed? Need more info and a helping hand? Have some irons in the fire already?
funfaler is your man! Contact him today for scheduling information.

Shoot Boss
Hero Member


Posts: 2531

Green Mountain Boy

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2007, 09:25:08 PM » Quote

The Guy needs to read his PM's more often.........

 Report to moderator   Logged

They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as Rangers
against the Indians and Canadians and this country being much covered with wood, and hilly, is
very advantageous for their method of fighting. . . . ". Lord Percy

Sounds like New Englanders to me.

Shoot Boss
Hero Member


Posts: 892

"I have not a child who is afraid to go!"

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2007, 01:26:54 PM » Quote

Inches, minutes and clicks, don't wait to try and learn them at an appleseed or at an RBC. Do it
now, in the comfort of your own home. In your pajamas. With air conditioning.

 Report to moderator   Logged

"Who wants Ice Cream?" Fred

Sixty seconds is way too long for a minute, I am cutting it down to thirty seven seconds- SoM

"You can shout it, you can preach it, but no matter how many times you repeat it, NEVER believe
your own bullSh*t." (as told to me by Grin Reaper)
Jr. Member


Posts: 64

    Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2007, 01:23:28 PM » Quote


   Here is an easy quiz question to start us off:

   My rifle is hitting 2 inches right at 100 yards. I assume I have 1 MOA clicks, so I adjust 2
clicks left. This gives me a total change of 1.5 inches left leaving me 0.5 inches to the right
of my target, still not to center. What are my windage "clicks" equal to?

Bonus question, do I go any more clicks, or do I leave the sights where they are?

>>>>I didn't see an answer so here are my thoughts.

At 100 yards 1 MOA = 1 inch so 1.5 inches = 1.5 MOA / 2 clicks = 0.75 MOA per click.

If each click moves you 0.75 inches to the left, one more click should put you 0.25 inches left of
center and that's a little closer than 0.5 inches to the right.

 Report to moderator   Logged


RWVA Instructor
Hero Member


Posts: 872

RWVA Instructor

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2007, 02:33:51 PM » Quote

Looks like your understanding of how MOA = inches needs a refresher. For practical (shooting)
purposes 1 MOA = 1 inch at 100 yds.

Your choice whether you go 1 click or 2 clicks as either puts you 1/2 inch off the center of the
target. Again, for practical (shooting) purposes not many rifles of the type used by Appleseeders
will see the difference at 100 yds. between 1/2" left or right of center. That is 1/2 MOA and the
generally accepted belief is that most rack grade rifles with issue ammunition will do good to
shoot a 3 to 4 MOA group (3 to 4 inches at 100 yds) with a rifleman firing them.

If it was me I'd shoot my rifle at a longer range (say 200 and 400 yds.) and see if the group was
enough left or right to affect my group placement at those ranges and then make an adjustment to
center the group at the longer range. Any change at 400 yds. should be 1/4 of that change back on
the 100 yd. target. This last paragraph is just for my curiosity as again, for practical (rifle)
shooting a 1/2" left/right difference at 100 yds. calculates out to a 2" difference at 400 yds.
For most targets you'll shoot at at the 400 yd. mark with a service rifle 2" off your point of aim
will get you the desired results. The wind and improper range estimation will have more of an
effect on your group size and placement on the target.

I know, I know, too many words again. I'll go stand in the corner till it's time to go home.

 Report to moderator   Logged

Will I ever be as good as I was?

Shoot Boss
Hero Member


Posts: 2531

Green Mountain Boy

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2007, 02:46:05 PM » Quote

Being 1/2 MOA off while shooting a 4 MOA rifle, then making an adjustment is pretty much being
hasty. I would leave it, and watch the trend over a few more rounds, before adjusting that
situation any further. If you have to make more adjustment, then your sights truly are not 1 MOA
click sights.

Folks, if you work with this long enough, the inches and the minutes will eventually disappear,
and you will look at the target and start thinking clicks right off. Hard for you to believe now,
but once it happens to you, then you'll believe me.

 Report to moderator   Logged

They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as Rangers
against the Indians and Canadians and this country being much covered with wood, and hilly, is
very advantageous for their method of fighting. . . . ". Lord Percy

Sounds like New Englanders to me.

RWVA Instructor
Full Member


Posts: 208

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2007, 04:14:11 PM » Quote

Unless your rifle has high dollar target sights it probably doesn't track 'true' as you adjust
your sights. If you start shooting off a rest at 100 yards and move your sight 1 click each shot
you should have a row of bullet holes one inch apart if you have one minute sights. Almost no one
has sights that are that precise unless they paid big bucks for them.

What most people have is a sight that moves one half minute, then one minute, then nothing, then
two minutes and on an on and the next time you adjust the sight through the same area the movement
will be different. If you seem to be hanging a half minute to one side try adjusting one click and
then adjust it back. That might move you the half minute you need. Or you could drop five or six
hundred on a good sight.


 Report to moderator     Logged

Jr. Member


Posts: 65

     Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2007, 01:50:14 PM » Quote

VA shooter
I do not seem to have that problem with my m-1 garand it seams to track true(the sights) is that
just cuzz the m-1 is a good rifle ?or did I just get lucky with the one I bought?


 Report to moderator     Logged

Want to get an appleseed going in your area?(of course you do)tell your local rifle range about
us see if they are interested,pm funfaler or me or 1 of us a contact name email addy and or
phone number ,We
will do are best to make it happen.

Wade The rifle range bird dog

Instructor in Training
Jr. Member


Posts: 68

    Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2007, 04:42:53 PM » Quote


Well, the M-1 is a very good rifle, and you also apparently got lucky that your sight's internal
parts aren't very worn, and aren't full of gummy 50-year-old oil.
 Report to moderator   Logged

"It is not the critic who counts ... . The credit belongs to the man in the arena, ... who errs,
... who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high
achievement ... ." T. Roosevelt



Posts: 31

    Re: IMC and your rifle
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2007, 06:03:42 PM » Quote

If the sights on your M-1 /M-1A are somewhat variable on clicks as mentioned above, where
sometimes you get 1 min click movement and sometimes closer to 2, then something else, etc. You
can minimise this and even out your clicks. The variable movement is likely due to wear and the
tolerances neccessary in mass produced and assembled parts. This leaves small gaps in the fitting
of threads and gears to each other and is called 'backlash". To even out the "slop" all you have
to do is go 1 click past where you want to go and then come back that same click. For instance,
you need to go 2 minutes right. You dial the windage knob 3 clicks right and then come back left 1
click, giving you a net movement of 2 clicks. You may not get exactly 1 min clicks but it will
even out your sight changes. The second thing you can do is once a year or so diassemble your rear
sight, clean all the gunk out of it and reassemble it, putting a little grease (not oil) on the
threads, gear teeth, and the top side of the apperature gear where it rubs on the sight cover
spring. If these 2 things don't improve your situation its time to replace parts.

Oh, and this is dependent on you using reasonably consistent ammo. If you are using mix-master
leftovers all bets are off.

On expensive match sights, you send them back to the manufacturer and bitch like hell!

2002 Volume 2

FIREARMS AND FREEDOM - Switzerland's Secret Strategy For Survival
by Peter Hammond
―If you want peace, prepare for war.‖
―Peace is achieved through superior firepower.‖
These quotes sum up the Swiss attitude towards peace and freedom. A momentously important new
book: Target Switzerland Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II, by Stephen Halbrook, provides the
incredible untold story of how Switzerland, alone among all the nations of Central Europe,
successfully resisted the Nazi juggernaut during the Second World War. Switzerland was the one
nation on the European Continent, from the Iberian Peninsula to the Volga River, that never
succumbed to either the Nazi threats or military occupation. How this small republic succeeded in
maintaining its independence, while completely encircled by aggressive totalitarian nations, needs
to be remembered.

The Unstoppable Offensive
Neighbouring Austria succumbed to Nazi intrigues and threats and fell without a shot being fired
in 1938. Czechoslovakia was likewise bullied and threatened into giving up without a fight.
Albania was occupied by Fascist Italy. Poland fell after just 20 days of intense fighting in
September 1939. Denmark surrendered within 4 hours of receiving an ultimatum. The Danish King and
his government capitulated and prohibited any resistance to the Nazi occupation. The Norwegians
put up a spirited resistance, aided by British and French troops, but were quickly outmaneuvered
by German paratroopers and mountain divisions. Sweden allowed the Nazi's to transport troops over
its soil to Norway. It would later allow the transportation of an entire German army division
across its ―neutral‖ territory, to be used in the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.

Holland fell before the German Blitzkrieg in just 5 days. Belgium held out for almost 17 days
before surrendering to the invading German army. France was conquered in under 6 weeks. Paris fell
without a shot being fired.

Yet, despite Hitler's frequently repeated threats to invade, ―liquidate‖ and annex Switzerland to
his Grossdeutschland, (with maps even being printed on the day of the Anschluss of Austria,
showing Switzerland as incorporated into the 3rd Reich), Switzerland succeeded where all other
neutral nations failed. Switzerland remained a heroic island of freedom in a sea of Nazi tyranny,
throughout Europe. It was to answer this question of how Switzerland so effectively resisted
tyranny during a time when every surrounding nation failed, that this incredibly timely book
Target Switzerland was written.

Sharpshooters on Skis
The spiritual and military strength and resolve of the tiny Swiss nation to resist the
overwhelming totalitarian threat should continue to inspire freedom-loving people everywhere. This
great land of the Reformation, with its long tradition of a decentralised, constitutional
Republic, has long been renowned as a nation of marksmen on skis. Every man in Switzerland has at
least one rifle in his home. Switzerland was the only European nation which proclaimed that, in
the event of an invasion, any announcement of surrender was to be regarded as enemy propaganda,
and that every soldier must fight to the last cartridge, and then with the bayonet. Their
published and openly proclaimed military strategy was to make any invader pay a severe penalty for
violating their neutrality. The order was: Keep Fighting. No surrender. No retreat. Fight to the
last bullet and blade.
A Legacy of Liberty
With the large number of totalitarian dictatorships, vicious wars and lack of freedom in large
parts of the world today, the lessons and example of Switzerland should be carefully studied and
learnt from. Switzerland is the oldest democracy in the world. It also has the distinction of
having the highest per-capita gun ownership in the world. In contrast to the rest of Europe, which
had highly centralised governments, Switzerland had a very weak central government. The first unit
of authority in Switzerland was the individual and the family. Then came the village or city, then
the canton and finally the federal government. As a direct democracy, power was decentralised.
Power was exercised from the bottom up, not from the top down. Therefore, whereas Hitler was able
to conquer much of Europe by bluffing and bullying the central authority of various governments
into capitulation, in Switzerland there was no central authority, which could betray or surrender
the nation. The Swiss solution to Hitler's total war was total resistance by the entire

Many would be surprised to hear that Switzerland achieved the highest military mobilisation of any
population in World War II. A full 20% of the total Swiss population was mobilised to resist the
Nazi threat in WW II. Some Swiss towns were bombed. Swiss pilots shot down at least 11 Luftwaffe
planes in dog-fights during WW II, to the loss of only 3 of their own aircraft. Repeatedly through
WW II, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy mobilised hundreds of thousands of troops, including
mechanised divisions, on the border of Switzerland in preparation for invasion; unleashing
intensive journalistic barrages of anti-Swiss articles, in preparation for occupation. Only to be
faced down by hundreds of thousands of incredibly determined and well-trained Swiss troops, ready
to repel any invaders.

While Hitler attacked every super-power of the time, France, Britain, Soviet Union and the USA,
and every neighbouring neutral country, including Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and
Austria, Switzerland was the only nation which successfully deterred the Nazi war machine from

Swiss Sanctuary
The extraordinary courageous efforts of the Swiss military to prevent invasion and preserve a
haven in which individuals were protected, enabled many thousands of refugees and escaped
prisoners of war to find sanctuary in Switzerland, in the midst of the savagery of WW II.
Switzerland protected 50 000 Jews and over 100 000 interned soldiers during the war. Most of these
soldiers were allies, 1 700 were American pilots who had been shot down over Europe and escaped to
On 25 July 1940, General Henry Guisan, commander of the Swiss Army, summoned 600 of his senior
officers to a jagged mountainside in central Switzerland, near Lake Lucerne. During the preceding
weeks, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France had fallen to the forces of Nazi Germany. The
British Army had evacuated the continent, leaving its heavy equipment behind. Poland, Austria,
Czechoslovakia and Albania had fallen in the preceding two years. Hundreds of thousands of German
troops were massing on Switzerland's northern border, and fascist Italy threatened Switzerland's
southern border. Surrounded by totalitarian aggressors and occupied lands, the Swiss stood alone.
Standing on the Rütli Meadow, overshadowed by the Alpine peaks, General Guisan addressed his
officers: ―I decided to reunite you in this historic place, the symbolic ground of our
independence, to explain the urgency of the situation and to speak to you as a soldier to
soldiers. We are at a turning point in our history. The survival of Switzerland is at stake.‖ His
order was to fight to the last man - never surrender.

Resistance to Tyranny
It was on the Rütli Meadow that the Swiss Confederation was first formed on 1 August 1291. For 650
years, Swiss fighting men had earned the reputation as the most ferocious in Europe. Their
determined refusal to live under the rule of foreign kings, was legendary. Most people know the
story of William Tell, the hero who refused to bow before the Austrian governor Gessler. He was
condemned to shoot an apple off the head of his 6-year old son at 120 paces. If he refused, both
father and son would be executed. In a remarkable display of archery skill, William Tell succeeded
in hitting the apple and missing his son. Congratulating Tell, Gessler asked why he had another
arrow in his quiver. Tell responded that, had he injured the child, he would have sent the
remaining arrow into the governor's heart. Tell was condemned to life imprisonment for his
insolence, but he escaped while being transported across Lake Lucerne.

Later he ambushed the governor and shot the reserved arrow into his heart. This instigated the
rebellion in which the Swiss successfully overthrew the Austrians, who had been ruling them, and
it was on this Rütli Meadow that the Swiss cantons swore loyalty to each other.

In 1315, at the Battle of Morgarten, 1400 Swiss peasants ambushed 20000 Austrian knights and
infantry in a narrow Alpine passage, showering them with rocks and driving them into a lake, where
many drowned. At this battle, the Swiss killed 2 000 of the invaders, for the loss of only 12 of
their own people.

In 1339, 6 500 Swiss infantrymen defeated 12000 German invaders at the battle of Laupen. This was
the first battle on the European continent, where infantrymen defeated armoured cavalry in open
terrain. In 1386, at the Battle of Sempach, 4000 Austrian knights were defeated by 1 300 Swiss
peasants. In 1388, 650 Swiss successfully defeated an Austrian force of 15 000 invaders in the
Alps. The Austrians lost 1 700 men to 55 Swiss. In 1476, a French army of 20 000 invaded. 412
Bernese troops in Grandson Castle were persuaded to surrender. All 412 Swiss were then hanged or
drowned by the French. The Swiss mobilised immediately and at the ensuing Battle of Grandson, they
routed the French with heavy losses. At the Battle of Morat, another French army of 23 000 was
destroyed by a surprise attack, with the Swiss killing 10000 French invaders, for the loss of only
410 Swiss. After the Battle of Morat, the Swiss infantry were the most renowned in Europe, and
deeply sought after as mercenaries. (In fact, over 1 million Swiss served as mercenaries over the

In 1495, the Holy Roman Empire attempted to impose a tax on the Swiss, and this resulted in the
Swiss defeating the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Dornach in 1501.

Even the cynical and sinister Niccolo Machiavelli, author of The Prince, observed that the Swiss
were: ―masters of modern warfare‖ and ―the Swiss are well armed and enjoy great freedom.‖
The Swiss example of a decentralised federal Republic and a well-armed citizen's army, attracted
the attention of English and American political observers in the 18th century, including many of
the founders of the American Republic. The American Founding Fathers drew much inspiration from
the Swiss example and incorporated many of their principles into the US Constitution.

Subversion and Betrayal
Switzerland's history of standing unconquered by foreign aggressors since 1291, has not, however,
remained unbroken. In 1797, Napoleon succeeded in occupying Switzerland by a combination of
threats, a propaganda war and persuading the French-speaking cantons not to resist the New French
Order. Geneva and Lausanne, fell to the invading French without any resistance. When the German-
speaking Swiss put up a brave resistance at Fraubrunnen, they were ill-equipped, many armed only
with pitchforks. They were slaughtered by the French artillery and cavalry. Resistance movements
soon sprang up that included thousands of Swiss citizens waging guerilla warfare in the Alps
against the French occupiers. Many thousands of Swiss were killed during the brutal Napoleonic
Learning from Defeat
After the disastrous years under French occupation, the Swiss were determined never to allow an
invasion again and spent the next century building a strong citizens army, that anticipated new
threats. They expended great effort and expense to improve both their weapons and their military
tactics, to ensure that they preserved peace through superior firepower.
The Swiss also recognised that the enemy had only succeeded in overthrowing them because the Swiss
had failed to remain united in the face of a pan-European revolutionary idea. After the French
occupation, the Swiss were determined never again to allow foreigners to sow disunity amongst them
through strategies of divide and conquer. As a result, in the 1930's, although 72% of the
population of Switzerland were German speaking, they successfully resisted all Nazi propaganda and
subversive activities in the country. Under the new 1815 Constitution, universal male military
service was instituted. The Swiss Shooting Federation (SSV) was formed in 1824 ―to the promotion
and perfection of the art of sharp-shooting, an art beautiful in itself and of the highest
importance for the defence of the Confederation.‖ Shooting festivals became one of the most
important unifying activities in the communities.

Peace through Superior Firepower
In 1847, the Protestant cantons put down a separatist revolt by Catholic revolutionaries. In 1857,
the Prussian Kaiser mobilised over 150000 soldiers to invade Switzerland over a border dispute.
The Swiss mobilised 30000 of their own troops to counter. One German observer remarked that the
Swiss militia was worth half a dozen standing armies in Europe. In 1866, Bismarck suggested
dividing up Switzerland between Italy, France and Prussia. In 1867, the Swiss invented a
revolutionary new repeating turnbolt rifle with tubular magazine, holding 12 metallic cartridges.
In 1874, the Federal Constitution provided for the government, for the first time, to equip every
male citizen of military age with a modern rifle, uniform and ammunition. These were to remain in
the hands of the soldier at their home. (Up until this point Swiss soldiers had been expected to
obtain their own weapons). In 1889, the Swiss developed a new straight bolt rifle, using the Swiss
designed 7.5mm cartridge.

In sharp contrast to the increasing centralisation of power in other countries in continental
Europe, in Switzerland the federal government became more and more responsive to the wishes of the
individual citizens and introduced the referendum in 1874, as a means of determining new
In 1912, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany visited Switzerland. Observing Swiss army manoeuvres, Kaiser
Wilhelm questioned what a ¼ million Swiss soldiers could do if invaded by ½ million German
soldiers. The famous Swiss response was: ―then everyone of us will have to shoot twice!‖

In 1911, the Swiss developed the Schmidt-Rubin infantry rifle, model 1911, which had a detachable
6-round magazine and a fast-acting straight pull bolt. Over 300000 of these model 1911 rifles were
manufactured and distributed to the population. The greatly outnumbered Swiss placed great
emphasis on superior military marksmanship and equipment. In 1911, American Colonel Bell noted
that the Swiss had an unsurpassed love of country, spartan patriotism and valour. ―While the Swiss
believes in peace and desires it above all else, his good sense tells him that this is best
assured by preparedness at all times.‖

The Great War
When the Great War broke out on August 1st, 1914, with combatants on every border, the Federal
Council mobilised the entire army, some 450 000 men. The army was well equipped with Maxim machine
guns and modern artillery. Both aviation and anti-aircraft defences were introduced at this time.
A 1916 US Senate report ―The Military Law and Efficient Citizen Army of the Swiss‖ noted that
while the French army only trained at shooting ranges of 40 yards and were singularly poor even at
this, and while the German soldiers do better than the French and train at 100 yards, the entire
Swiss army had to be categorised as ―all good marksmen‖ training at an average of 300 yards. There
was absolutely no question that the Swiss had the highest standards of marksmanship in Europe, if
not the world.
The Nazi Threat
From the moment Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933, a reign of terror
began. All rights to assemble and to a free press were removed. The Nazi's began house searches,
seizing firearms from private citizens on a wide scale. Random searches and seizures were
authorised. By March, Hitler was an absolute dictator and the regional German states had been
overwhelmed by the central government.

From the beginning, the press in neighbouring Switzerland was the most vocal in exposing the
dangerous trends and threats of the Nazi regime. The Nazi professor of military science, Ewald
Banse, openly published his assertion that in a war against France, Germany would need to invade
through Switzerland to outflank the French fortified Maginot Line, punching through the Geneva
gap. Despite its majority German-speaking population, Banse used Nazi racial theories to describe
the Swiss as ―inferior.‖
While most of the world paid little attention to the disturbing trends of national socialism in
Germany, the Swiss were repelled from the start. On 12 May 1933, the Swiss Federal Council
prohibited the wearing of Hitlerite uniforms and insignia, and subjected violators to imprisonment
or deportation.
The 1933 military manual issued to every Swiss citizen stated: ―it is every man's duty to
constantly maintain his rifle, and to practise constantly in both prone and kneeling positions at
their local shooting society. To fire accurately, one should not shoot fast, but pull the trigger
slowly using intelligence and judgement, remembering that the victor always has another cartridge
in his rifle. The trigger was only to be pulled if the target will be hit. One has to shoot more
accurately than the enemy and more skillfully use the terrain.‖

Their SSV came out strongly in its publications against totalitarianism of both the right and the
left. Swiss shooting matches were extended to 400 metres. Considering that the German army only
trained up to 100 metres, the Swiss marksmen would have a serious advantage over any invader.
In September 1993, ―A plan for the invasion of Switzerland‖ was published. The theme was: Geneva
is the gateway to France and particularly important for the seizure of Lyons with its surrounding
arms and ammunition factories. With violation of Swiss neutrality being publicly discussed, the
Swiss massively increased appropriations for armaments.

On the first page of ―Mein Kampf,‖ Adolf Hitler had declared that ―common blood must belong to a
common Reich.‖ He made it clear that one of his main goals was to reunite Austria and Germany into
one Reich, and he also alluded to the integration of Switzerland into his Grossdeutschland. During
the Middle Ages, Switzerland had been part of the Holy Roman Empire, the first Reich in Nazi
terminology. The Nazi's now were proclaiming that they intended to expand Germany's boundaries ―to
the furtherest limits of the old Holy Roman Empire and even beyond.‖ Prof. Banse wrote: ―We count
you Swiss as offshoots of the German nation; … one day we will group ourselves around a single
banner and whoever wishes to separate us, we will exterminate!‖

United in Resistance
It is remarkable that, unlike the Napoleonic War and WW I, when many Swiss were divided along
ethnic lines with French and Italian speakers leaning towards France and Italy, and German-
speakers sympathising with Prussia and Germany, the Swiss were united from 1933 on in their
opposition to national socialism. Switzerland proved that French, German and Italian speaking
citizens could live together harmoniously. Alone amongst the European nations, Switzerland
remained immune to the infectious virus of the New World Order proclaimed by the Nazi's. In fact,
the German-speaking Swiss became the most vehemently anti-Nazi group in the world. A war of words
took place in Swiss and German newspapers. Swiss defiance of tyranny and zeal for justice and
liberty soared. The people flocked to the shooting ranges.

Explosives being smuggled across Lake Constance from Germany were intercepted. Four Swiss-Nazi's
stood trial in Bern for promoting racial hatred. The Swiss began building fortifications along
their borders. From 1935, as violations of Swiss air space increased, Switzerland began regular
air raid drills. An attempt to introduce strong centralised government was overwhelmingly defeated
by referendum!

Major rearmament programmes escalated. A federal police force was introduced to counter pro-Nazi
and Italian 5th column activities. Numerous espionage plots by both Nazi's and communists were
uncovered. On 18th February 1936, the Federal council ordered the immediate suppression of all
Nazi organisations in Switzerland. In 1937, the Communist Party and all other parties affiliated
with foreign organisations were outlawed. A report surfaced, alleging some 500 Gestapo agents were
in Switzerland, conducting espionage.

In 1935, a new rifle the K31 carbine was introduced into the Swiss army. The Swiss design was far
superior to all existing military rifles in the world at that time in terms of accuracy, weight,
handling and ease of loading. Almost 350 000 K31 rifles had been produced by 1945.

In 1938, when neighbouring Austria was swallowed up by Nazi Germany, without a shot being fired,
it was widely believed that Switzerland would be next. Simultaneously, Switzerland was flooded
with Nazi propaganda and attacked by a journalist offensive. To counter Gestapo espionage, the
Swiss military organised the counter-spy SPAB (Spionage Abwehr).

2002 Volume 3

Switzerland's Secret Strategy For Survival
by Peter Hammond
Isolated but Defiant
As Austria ceased to exist as an independent state, the Swiss Parliament issued the following
declaration: "It is Switzerland's mission in Europe to guard the passage over the Alps in the
interest of all. It is the unanimous and unshakeable will of the Swiss people to assure the
respect of its independence at the price of its blood the Swiss people are united in the
determination to defend at any cost, to the last breath, and against anyone, the incomparable
country which is theirs by God's will."

They also noted that while "the Swiss people are prepared to consent to the sacrifices necessary
for the National Defence, but the military armament of the country would be useless, if it did not
rest on the spiritual and moral forces of the whole people."

Military service was extended. Fighter planes and tanks were purchased, pill-box fortresses were
built along the Italian, Austrian, French and German borders. A New York Times article in 1938
noted: "Switzerland is the oldest republic in the world, the purest democracy in the world, an
island of liberty in a sea of dictatorship... a citadel of peace through stormy centuries grimly
waiting in their calm, undramatic way with loaded rifles and fixed bayonets."

Hitler and Mussolini now ruled a combined 120 million people. The Swiss numbered but 4 million.
Zurich, it's largest city, numbered 300 000.

Disarmed and Dismembered
Yet, instead of its expected attack on Switzerland, the Nazi's next turned their attention to
Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia resembled Switzerland in that its people consisted of an ethnic and
linguistic mix, and were neutral. However, Czechoslovakia had a highly centralised government, and
a mostly disarmed people. They were ripe for Hitler's attention. Through bullying, bluffs and
intimidation, Czechoslovakia was dismembered, piece by piece, and fell without a shot being fired.
The country ceased to exist and was absorbed into Nazi Germany.

The Swiss were well aware that, from the first day of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia,
posters were placed up in every town, ordering the inhabitants to surrender all firearms. The
penalty for disobedience was death! To the Swiss, the connection between firearms and freedom was
Tyrants prefer disarmed victims. Those who want freedom must be willing to fight for it.

Armed and Resolute
As the Gestapo were energetically disarming citizens all over central Europe, the Swiss government
were ensuring that every home was well equipped with weapons and ammunition. The Swiss also
lowered the age for national service and increased the obligation to serve in the Swiss military
to age 60.
General Guisan, in his book "Our People and its Army" asserted that military defence has two
essential components: moral force and material force. Guisan emphasised some of the special Swiss
customs: "a young man at his confirmation received a sword and could not marry unless he possessed
a Bible and firearm." The local assemblies (Landsgemeinde) of law makers each carry a sword as a
symbol of liberty when they gather for legislation. Days of military recruitment were festivals
with processions, flags and music. "Being capable of military service is a physical certificate of
health; our girls know it well!" The warrior spirit exhibits itself in the arts, literature and
architecture. The army is the incarnation of the Federal Republic. "The people are the army, the
army is the people."

The army provided education for citizenship. Switzerland's strength was based on diversity. "It
would be as vain to want to unify Switzerland as to attempt to level her mountains!" We must be
"united, strong and vigilant."

The League of Nations had failed, only the Swiss army itself could preserve Switzerland's
neutrality and sovereignty. "We have a small army, yes, but it is made strong by our traditions."
"The nation would continue to exist only if it was strong enough to defend itself." Guisan
insisted that "the oldest army in Europe must know neither defeatism nor fear; dignity forbids

The SSV published this plea: "We owe it to our ancestors, who always appreciated freedom and
independence but we owe it also to those who will live after us we must trust in God on high and
never be intimidated by the power of man. It is better to die than to live in slavery!"

Preparing for War
The Swiss established anti-aircraft batteries around all major towns. Most households were
equipped with gas masks. Mines under all bridges and roads leading into Switzerland were in place
already from 1938, and all these roads and bridges were under 24-hour guard. During one emergency,
the entire Swiss army was mobilised within 2 hours. The population was instructed to stockpile
food. Vast quantities of foodstuff and ammunition were stockpiled in fortified emplacements in the
Alps. Many women's groups also began to get armed and firearms training.

There were many attempts by the Nazis to intimidate Switzerland into curtailing their free press
from criticising the Third Reich. Spies and saboteurs were a constant danger, and on 1 September
1939, WW II was launched by Hitler's invasion of Poland. For the first time in history, the world
witnessed the tactics of blitzkrieg- lightning war in which tanks would slice into and surround an
enemy's front and planes would swarm behind the enemy lines as mobile artillery. Much of the
Polish Air Force was caught by surprise and destroyed on the ground. As Warsaw fell, the Nazis
conducted house-to-house searches to confiscate all firearms. Persons found in possession of
firearms were executed.

As Britain and France declared war on Germany, the Swiss faced a new threat. The French considered
invading Germany through Switzerland's Geneva Gap. The Swiss mobilised to resist both German and
French invasions. From 22 September, Swiss anti-aircraft batteries began firing on German war
planes, violating Switzerland's air space. They also had to fire on French war planes near Basel.

On 30 November 1939, the Soviet Union attacked Finland. The Swiss were encouraged by the effective
resistance of the Finns, also a nation of marksman on skis. The Finns demonstrated throughout the
winter war that a small population could, in fact, successfully resist a strong aggressor.

Neutral Nations Fall
The Nazi press began a systematic journalistic barrage, which always preceeded a Nazi invasion.
Swiss Intelligence learned of Germany's plans to invade Denmark and Norway in April, and passed
this information on to the allied chiefs of staff, who discounted it. When the German invasion of
Denmark and Norway came, they were ill prepared. For the first time in history, air transport
played a major role in an offensive, placing German forces in key positions behind and among the
Norweigan defences. Even when the Germans enjoyed no numerical superiority, they won easy
victories. General Dietl's mountain troops at Narvik, although numbering only 4 500 against the 25
000 allies, routed the British, French and Norweigan troops. The Swiss noted that a German attack
on the Swiss Alps would inevitably employ paratroopers, gliders and specially trained mountain
divisions. Switzerland recognised that they were facing the greatest threat in their history.
Total Resistance
In sharp contrast to the highly centralised structures in other countries, the distinctive Swiss
command was for each individual soldier to act on his own initiative: "Where no officers or non-
commissioned officers are present, each soldier acts under exertion of all powers of his own
initiative." The entire nation was mobilised for invasion, and the Widerstandsgeist (the
resistance spirit) was the most determined and pervasive in Europe.

As Berlin complained about the incessant anti-Nazism of the Swiss press, the Swiss government
responded that it was: "the duty of our press to reject the domestic and foreign policies of the
national socialists clearly and forcefully."

Aerial Dogfights
As the Western front opened on 10 May 1940 with a German invasion of Holland, Belgium and France,
27 bombs were dropped by the Luftwaffe on Northern Switzerland, and Swiss anti-aircraft guns drove
away German bombers and fighters. A Swiss squadron of pursuit planes engaged the Luftwaffe and a
Swiss ME-109 shot down a Heinkel-111, twin-engine bomber. This was the first of many instances in
which the Swiss used aircraft, initially purchased from Germany, to shoot down Luftwaffe

German reconnaissance aircraft, equipped with cameras flying over the fortified Northern frontier
of Switzerland, were driven away by anti-aircraft fire. On 1 June, 36 German bombers entered Swiss
air space and were attacked by Swiss ME-109's. Two HE-111 bombers were shot down. The next day
another HE-111 was shot down by a Swiss fighter. On 4 June, as the British army was being
evacuated from Dunkirk, and Winston Churchill was making his famous "We shall fight on the
beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender" speech, the Swiss Air Force was engaged in
an intensive dog-fight with 29 German planes. Both Luftwaffe and Swiss planes were shot down. One
German aircraft had the following order on board: "Lure the Swiss fighters into battle and shoot
down as many as possible." On 8 June, it was David against Goliath again 15 Swiss aircraft engaged
28 Luftwaffe planes, resulting in the downing of 2 Swiss and 3 German aircraft

"Invasion Inevitable"
World wide, the question was not whether the Wehrmacht would attack the Alpine Republic, but when.
By 13 May, over 700 000 Swiss soldiers were mobilised- nearly 20% of the Swiss population, the
highest percentage of any country in the war. As Italian troops massed on their Southern border,
more divisions were rushed to the South. The League of Nations, the International Red Cross and
the American Consul fled Geneva, Zurich and Basel in anticipation of the inevitable invasion.
Aerial dog-fights between German and Swiss aircraft intensified. The USA urged all Americans in
Switzerland to evacuate immediately. Holland and Belgium folded, and the British and French armies
reeled back in retreat..

To guard against sabotage, over 70 000 old rifles were issued to the Ortswehren or local defence
units. And in reaction, the German government complained that the Swiss military was dispersing
ammunitions and organising local citizens to wage partisan war if invaded!

Project Appleseed
General Category => Reference Library/archive => Topic started by: M1A4ME on July 01, 2007,
03:07:16 PM

Title: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: M1A4ME on July 01, 2007, 03:07:16 PM

There is time as well as a need for short little bits of history that can be related to the
attendees of Appleseeds. Why don't we start looking for good little bits of history that can be
told to folks whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Here's one:
How many of you have heard of Elizbeth Zane? During the combined English and Indian siege of Ft.
Henry, VA in 1782 she helped save the 60 settlers who were surrounded by 350 of the enemy in that
small frontier fort. Of the 60 inside the fort only 18 were adult men, the rest being women and
children. Through the use of spirited and accurate rifle fire these 18 men had held off several
assaults on the fort's walls. However, after these several assaults their store of gunpowder was
running low and all inside knew it was just a matter of time till the end came. About 60 yds.
away from the fort was a small cabin containing a store of gunpowder the English and indians had
not yet found. The 18 men inside were deciding who should make the attempt when young Elizbeth
volunteered. At first she was shouted down as the men were unwilling to risk the young woman to a
terrible fate at the hands of the enemy. However, she wore down their resistance by arguing that
the fort could not risk losing any of the adult male defenders and besides that all of them knew
there was not a man in the fort who could out run her. They opened the gate and she walked out
under the guns of the fort and into the stunned view of the enemy. She did not run, she walked as
if unconcerned about the situation and before the enemy could react she was in the small house.
She grabbed a cloth, broke open a keg of gunpowder and poured it into the cloth. She gathered up
the four corners of the cloth to make a bag for carrying the gunpowder. She know she would not be
allowed to walk back to the fort so she removed her long skirt and her petticoats, grabbed the bag
of powder and went out the door at a run, headed for the fort. The woods erupted in flame and
smoke at the British and Indians attempted to stop her from reaching the fort while the men in the
fort fired back at the woodline. Although untouched by enemy fire she tripped and fell part of
the way back. Before the enemy could take advantage of her fall she jumped up and took off
running and made it back to the gate. The store of powder she brought back to the fort enabled
the settlers to hold off the British and Indians for the next day and a half when the enemy
finally gave up their attempt to take the fort and withdrew.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: M1A4ME on July 01, 2007, 09:38:31 PM

Maybe we could try to find stories from events that occurred in the "states" that existed during
the Revolutionary War and then tell those while doing Appleseeds in those states (I guess for the
many states that were not part of the colonies during the war any old story will have to do if it
is seen as motivating/interesting.

One for Connecticut could be the story of the Fort Griswold Massacre. A force of 157 men held
Fort Griswold at the start of the battle on September 6, 1781. They were attacked by a British
force of almost 800 men. Accurate rifle fire from the fort killed the overall British Commander,
Lt. Colonel Edmund Eyre during the first attack. The British attacked a second time and the
British officer leading that attack, a Major Montgomery was also shot down and killed by rifle
fire from the fort's defenders. The British troops attacked in a frenzy following the death of
the second British commander and swarmed over the walls. The Commander of the Fort, Colonel
William Ledyard called on his men to surrender when he realized they could not hold the fort.
When he attempted to surrender his sword to the remaining British commander the British officer
took Colonel Ledyard's sword and then killed him with it. The British soldiers began to shoot and
bayonet the remaining American soldiers. The only survivor of the original complement assigned to
the Fort Griswold was a 17 year old named Nathaniel Avery who escaped and ran away through the
woods to the river.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Nickle on July 01, 2007, 09:59:40 PM

Up my way it is so EASY to do this. Of course, much of the Revolution was fought up here,
including battles within 50 miles of me.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: M1A4ME on July 08, 2007, 02:29:37 PM

This one is about a person, not a place ,although it did take place in South Carolina and the
person was born in South Carolina.

Andrew and his slightly older brother joined the Continental Army as couriers. Their oldest
brother had already sacrificed his life at the battle of Stono Ferry, SC in 1779. Andrew and his
brother were captured by the British in 1781. During their captivity a British officer ordered
the 13 year old boy (yes 13 years old and prisoner of the British) to clean his boots. Andrew
looked the British officer in the eye and replied, "Sir, I am a prisoner of war and claim to be
treated as such." The angry British officer pulled his sword and slashed at the defiant young
boy. Andrew attempted to both duck and block the sword with his left hand. As a result he
survived the sword slash but carried the scars on his head and left hand to his grave in 1845.
During their captivity they were starved and contracted small pox. Their mother attempted to save
her two young sons by arranging a POW exchange for the two boys and 5 other men from their town
for 13 British soldiers. With only 2 horses they began the trip home to Waxhow. Andrew's brother
was so sick he was tied to one horse, their mother rode the second and Andrew, shoeless, walked
behind them. On the way home they were caught in a heavy, cold, thunderstorm and were soaked and
cold. In their already weakened state from the starvation and small pox it was devastating and
the older brother died 2 days later. Somehow Andrew held on and over the next several months
recovered. He had lost both older brothers to the fight for independance. But it wasn't over.
His mother left him with relatives and traveled to Charleston, SC to care for American POW's being
held on British prison ships in the harbor. While nursing the sick American soldiers on the ships
she contracted cholera and died. At the age of 15 Andrew was an orphan with no immediate family
left to him.

Think about it. How would you feel? Would you give up? How hard would it be to go on with your
life, or to continue to do great things? Think about it.

Anyone know who Andrew was? Who is on the $20 bill? Andrew Jackson. Everyone knows Andrew
Jackson from the War of 1812 and because he was the 7th president of the United States.

Do you understand now why Andrew Jackson felt the way he did about the British?

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Fred on July 08, 2007, 02:37:30 PM

   Heck of a good story!

   Dig some more up!!!!

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: M1A4ME on July 09, 2007, 11:51:05 PM

This one happened in Rhode Island. There were no SEAL Teams or Special Forces Teams in the
Revolutionary War, were there? There were not, but there were Americans who pulled off daring
raids the equal of anything done in modern times by special operations military outfits.

During the summer of 1777 it was known that one of the more unpopular (as far as the colonial were
concerned) British Generals, Richard Prescott stayed at a home located about 5 miles from his
headquarters in Newport, RI. General Prescott was the commander of the 5,000 man British Army
occupying Rhode Island. There were two reasons for attempting such a dangerous night time
mission. One was to remove an effective British General from command of his army and the second
was to gain a British general to trade for a colonial general, Charles Lee, captured in New Jersey
the year before. Three officers lead the force of 36 Rhode Island Militia volunteers in 5
whaleboats. Lt. Col. William Barton (a hat maker from Providence, RI) and two brothers, Captain
James Potter and Ensign Abel Potter and their volunteers left one night on a mission to sneak past
the British ships stationed in Narragansett Bay. They wrapped the oars in cloth to muffle any
noise and proceeded to row through 10 miles of British Navy controlled water to reach the small
cove where they landed their boats. Once on dry land they had to sneak one mile through the
British controlled country side to reach the house General Prescott was staying at. Captain James
Potter captured the first two British sentries they encountered. When they reached the house
Ensign Potter was challenged by another sentry. Ensign Potter quickly leaned forward as if to
"whisper" the password in the sentry's ear and the sentry leaned forward to hear it. Caught by
surprise when Ensign Potter grabbed his rifle and told him he would die if he shouted an alarm the
sentry chose to keep quite. The woman of the house was questioned as to the whereabouts of the
General Prescott and when she told them he was upstairs all three colonial offices raced up the
stairs and broke into his room. The general bounced up in the bed and when he realized his fate
he requested enough time to get dressed. The Colonial officers refused and rushed him out of the
house in his night clothes. The Rhode Island volunteers quickly escorted General Prescott and
their captured British sentries back through enemy territory to their boats. They again managed
to sneak past the British Navy ships in the bay and successfully completed their mission. The
next year the British did trade General Prescott for General Lee. On a side note, Ensign Potter
survived three tours of duty with the Rhode Island Militia and moved to Vermont after the war.
Some years later when he sent a child to school in Pownal, VT the teacher was none other than the
British sentry he had captured outside the door during the raid to capture General Prescott.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: M1A4ME on July 11, 2007, 05:36:51 PM

If you haven't heard Fred tell the story of April 19th, 1775 and Paul Revere's part in it you need
to do so. How much do you know about Paul Revere besides his efforts on that day? Paul Revere
was not just a one day hero, he was an exceptional person.

Everyone knows he was a silversmith but did you know he engraved the official seal still used by
the commonwealth of Massachusetts?

Did you know he had served in the French and Indian Wars?

He was a member of the Sons of Liberty and participated in the Boston Tea Party.

Did you know he operated a powder mill that supplie his fellow patriots with gunpowder?

For a time he was the commander of one of the Forts (Castle William) that guarded Boston Harbor.

In 1778 and 1779 he marched with John Sullivan's forces to challenge the British forces holding
Newport, RI.

He again marched with a force from Massachusetts in an attempt to stop the British from building a
new fort at Penobscot Bay but that force was beaten so badly they survivors were forcd to scatter
and make their way home through the wilderness. The attack was such a disaster that efforts to
assign blame led to Paul Revere being charged with disobeying orders, unmilitary behaviour and
even cowardice. He returned home to Boston under military arrest. The courts martial was
convened and he was found not guilty on all counts.

He designed and printed the first Continental money.

He invented a process for rolling copper sheet and operated a copper rolling and brass casting
foundry near his powder mill. His mill provided the copper sheeting for the hull of the USS
Constitution and he covered the dome of the Massachusetts State House with copper leaf.

After the war he served for a time as Boston's coroner and chief Health Officer.

He founded an insurance company named Massachusetts Mutual Fire Insurance.

He was 83 when he died in 1818 and he was honored and respected as a hero of the Revolution.
Any you thought he just rode a horse through the night to warn of the approach of the British

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: M1A4ME on July 17, 2007, 08:41:54 PM

Anyone know which Southern battle showed that southern regiments of the Continental Army could
stand up to the British Regulars and whip them?

It was called "The Cowpens" and it happened in January 1781. General Cornwallis was doing his
best to destroy the Continental Army in the South. He was chasing General Nathaniel Greene who
was one of Washington's best tacticians. General Greene split his forces to allow part of his
army, under the command of Daniel Morgan, to harass the British Army's supply lines while they
were chasing the main Continental forces under his command. Morgan was so successful in capturing
or destroying British supply trains that Cornwallis sent "Bloody" Banastre Tarleton, with the
command of more than a thousand crack British infantry and dragoons to chase Morgan down and put
an end to his effective harrasment and denial of the British supply efforts. It was believed, due
to Tarleton's reputation and previous success that Morgan's days were numbered at the British
slowly closed in on the Continentals. The Continental forces had stopped at a place (in South
Carolina) called the Cowpens to feed their horses and cattle. Under Morgan's command were 600
veteran Virginia Continentals and a few hundred untested South Carolina militia. He set his
forces up with the South Carolina militia in front of the Virginians. When Tarleton saw the
militia he immediately attack sensing an easy victory over the militia troops. The South
Carolinians got off two volleys before the British reached them and then retreated back through
the line made up of the Virginians. The British troops didn't realize what had happened till it
was too late. As they crashed into the Continental line they were slaughtered by the veteran
troops from Virginia. Of the thousand men under his command Tarleton lost 100 killed, 229 wounded
and captured and an additional 600 troops surrendered as the force of Continental dragoons under
the command of Colonel William Washington joined the battle to complete the rout caused by the
defeat of the British at the hands of the Continental Infantry. In addition to losing most of his
army Tarleton also lost more than 60 British officers in this battle which was a severe blow to
Cornwallis southern army.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Fred on July 18, 2007, 10:11:37 AM

     Since Morgan hated the Brits ever since he suffered British punishment by being tied to a
wagon wheel and lashed, he was motivated to win this thoroughly-satisfying victory.

    Morgan along with Greene deserves more recognition than they get (as if anyone in the Rev War
gets any recognition!), as each put considerable talents into the War.

    Morgan's resume reads like a military soap opera - being captured by the Brits in Canada,
winding up fighting the war in the South, retiring early, crippled by exposure to the harsh
environment of the Rev War...

    Greene was arguably the best strategist of the Rev War, violating the rules of war by dividing
his forces, leading to Morgan's victory at Cowpens.

    BTW, the militia at Cowpens were told by Morgan to 'give me three volleys' (if it was only
two, that implies they were expected to stand less than a minute!), and then to retreat...

    Good stuff, M1A4ME!
   As to the guys who kidnapped the British general to trade him for Charles Lee, that was
certainly a bad deal for our side... >:( ;D
Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: M1A4ME on July 18, 2007, 10:30:03 AM

Looked like it to me as well. Maybe at the time they didn't suspect Lee of "goofing off" rather
than following Washington's orders to hurry up and get out. Sounds like you've also read that
today the belief is Lee was draggin' his feet in the hopes that Washington would get into trouble
without Lee's forces and suffer a defeat that would lead to his discredit and eventual replacement
by someone else (like Lee). We could probably have done fine without him.

I think the whole "war in the South" doesn't get the credit deserved since as the war in the North
settled into a stalemate it was the Continental forces in the south that continued to wear down
the British by destroying their supplies and their armies thereby keeping those resources from
being used farther north. Lot's of good, if neglected, history from this part of the War.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Nickle on July 25, 2007, 11:31:21 AM

Quote from: Fred on July 18, 2007, 10:11:37 AM

Morgan along with Greene deserves more recognition than they get (as if anyone in the Rev War gets
any recognition!), as each put considerable talents into the War.

I only know of one (Ethan Allen), and that's local recognition (in state) only. And, the real
local hero (Seth Warner) gets almost no recognition.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Fred on July 25, 2007, 11:36:36 AM

   Nickle: Let's change that.

   Why don't you make one of your shoots (or both!) the "Seth Warner Memorial Appleseed Shoot"?

   Or any other title to memorialize any of the local Rev War boys who need to be remembered?

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: hawkhavn on July 26, 2007, 11:19:25 PM


If you are looking for a source of short stories from the REV War might I recommend:

'Best Little Stories from the American Revolution' by C. Brian Kelly, Cumberland House Press,
Nashville, TN for $16.95.

Or from $2 used on Amazon:
About 450 pages of personal recollections, anecdotes and stories from all over the War. Most
stories only 2-3 pages long.


Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Nickle on July 27, 2007, 12:28:01 PM

Quote from: Fred on July 25, 2007, 11:36:36 AM

     Nickle: Let's change that.

     Why don't you make one of your shoots (or both!) the "Seth Warner Memorial Appleseed Shoot"?

     Or any other title to memorialize any of the local Rev War boys who need to be remembered?

How about we make Proctor the Seth Warner Appleseed, and Jericho the Ethan Allen Appleseed.

Or, better yet, let's do what most Vermonters do and give ALL of the Green Mountain Boys (past,
current and future) collective credit and just call them Green Mountain Boy Appleseeds.

Currently I'm reading a book by David McCullough, "1776". I highly recommend this book to one and
all. Though it's centered around the events of 1776, it does go into some 1775 events, especially
in New England.

It does give much credit to Henry Knox and Nathaniel Greene. Knox is the man that got the cannons
from Ft Ti over to Dorchester to be used in the latter stages of the siege of Boston.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Grin Reaper on August 11, 2007, 09:45:41 PM

Ammi Cutter was a miller and a husbandman: resided on his father‘s homestead. His mill stood upon
the dam. He was held in esteem by his townsmen and held many positions of trust and honor; was
clerk of the church and for thirty years or more was chorister. On the day of the battle of
Lexington he participated in the capture of a convoy of provisions at Menotomy, belonging to Lord
Percy‘s reinforcement and detained at the passage of Charles river until beyond the protection of
the main body of troops. Under David Lamson, a mulatto, who had previously seen service, some
twelve exempts from the alarm list, Cutter among the, waited in ambush, surprised the convoy. At
the first volley the drivers and guards fled in terror to Spy Pond, into which they threw their
muskets and ingloriously surrendered afterward to an old woman who delivered the whole party to
the Provincial soldiers. After this adventure some of the same party of Americans met Lieutenant
Gould of the Fourth Infantry, wounded at Concord Bridge, returning alone on horseback to Boston,
made him prisoner and took him first to Ammi Cutter‘s house, then to Medford. As the British
troops retreating from Lexington, entered Menotomy, Ammi hastened from his house to advise his
neighbor, the heroic Jason Russell, to leave his dwelling for a place of greater security.
Russell, refusing, exclaimed, ―An Englishman‘s home is his castle.‖ …
Cutter, Wm. R., ed. (1908). Historic Homes and Places, and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs
Relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Vol. 1. Lewis Historical Publishing
Co., New York, NY.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Scout on August 12, 2007, 10:03:28 AM

Quote from: M1A4ME on July 18, 2007, 10:30:03 AM
Looked like it to me as well. Maybe at the time they didn't suspect Lee of "goofing off" rather
than following Washington's orders to hurry up and get out. Sounds like you've also read that
today the belief is Lee was draggin' his feet in the hopes that Washington would get into trouble
without Lee's forces and suffer a defeat that would lead to his discredit and eventual replacement
by someone else (like Lee). We could probably have done fine without him.

The same type of thing that is going on today. People playing with the lives of soldiers in order
to further their own goals. I am disgusted when I hear Liberals coming right out and saying it,
not even hiding it, that they have to do everything in their power to insure we do not win the war
in Iraq. That it will hurt them politically and they have to insure our failure there. Failure
equaling deaths of American soldiers.

And they say it openly, and no one criticizes them for it. No one arrests them and drags them out
behind the capitol building and shoots them for treason.

Sometimes you get a hen house or barn that gets so infested with rats and vermin, the only real
fix is a can of kerosine and some newspaper and a match.

Our votes being the match and kerosine. Government serivce should not be fun and profitable. It
should be like selective service. You should get drafted into it and do your two years and be glad
to get out and go home. That way you don't have to sell your soul for your next ride up there.
Give away money that does not belong to you in order to keep your comfy rats nest. Advocate our
country taking a course that will point us straight at an eventual destruction and dissolution of
all we know and hold dear. Okey Dokey ;D

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: M1A4ME on September 30, 2007, 09:46:39 AM

We all know where/when the first battle of the Revolutionary War occurred.

Who knows where/when the last battle of the Revolutionary War occurred?

I'll give you a hint. I've posted it before (but didn't know it was the last battle when I posted
about it) and the state that location is in did not exist in 1782.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: smle on September 30, 2007, 06:57:35 PM

One book I read,while a work of fiction and geared for 9-13 year olds, is full of facts on Paul
Revere. Not so much of the things he did during the war, other than his famous ride, but of his
home life and his work as a silversmith. Its called Country Club and written by Wilma Ritt. Its
avalible at, with new price 16.95 and used 12.33 and up. I've given autogrphed copies
to all my gandkids. The book is a good read and enjoyable. Like how many children did Paul Revere
have? smle

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Nickle on September 30, 2007, 08:20:49 PM
Quote from: M1A4ME on September 30, 2007, 09:46:39 AM
We all know where/when the first battle of the Revolutionary War occurred.

Who knows where/when the last battle of the Revolutionary War occurred?

I'll give you a hint. I've posted it before (but didn't know it was the last battle when I posted
about it) and the state that location is in did not exist in 1782.

I've seen conflicting info on that, from the same site.

I found it, but I researched it. So, I'll keep my mouth shut.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: dwarven1 on October 01, 2007, 09:16:48 AM

Quote from: smle on September 30, 2007, 06:57:35 PM
One book I read,while a work of fiction and geared for 9-13 year olds, is full of facts on Paul
Revere. Not so much of the things he did during the war, other than his famous ride, but of his
home life and his work as a silversmith.
Here's another fun fact about Paul Revere.

If he was alive today, I'd address him as Brother Revere - Paul Revere was the Grand Master of
Masons in Massachusetts from 1794 to 1797, and something like 17 or so of the Lodges that he
chartered are still in existence - I've visited several of them. He, like many other Revolutionary
War heroes was a Mason at the time of the Revolution. Here
( is an interesting writeup on Bro Revere.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Grin Reaper on November 18, 2007, 08:04:22 PM

The Shot Heard Round the World orig. posted by Nickle on: May 10, 2007, 02:22:23 PM

So, in the mail yesterday comes my bimonthly copy of GX -The Guard Experience (I'm an Army

Interesting article, I'll paste the text and here's the link. The story starts on page 5 of the
.pdf in the link.

The Shot Heard ‗Round the World
By Jason Hall
Director of the National Guard Educational Foundation (2003–2007)

Every Guard member knows the image of the Minuteman. But do you know the meaning of this enduring
symbol of American independence? The implications of the first verse of Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s
poem, Concord Hymn, written at the base of the Concord, MA statue?

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.
There are two Minuteman statues—one in Concord and one in Lexington. They‘re not copies of each
other; they‘re two different sculptures with separate stories. The Lexington statue is not
officially a Minuteman, whereas the Concord one is. Let me expand on the true meaning of the word
Following the conclusion of the Pequot War in 1637, the Massachusetts Bay Colony knew continued
warfare with native tribes would be inevitable. On Aug. 12, 1645, the legislators of Massachusetts
passed a law outlining the ―American minuteman concept.‖ The idea was to have a portion of the
militia remain in a state of readiness to react to hostile action at a moment‘s notice.

With growing animosity toward the British in the early 1770s, the Minuteman concept was
revitalized. Minuteman units were the first responders who would perform reconnaissance on the
movement of the enemy and slow them down, giving the main militia time to mobilize. As before, a
signal system was set up. One famous messenger was Paul Revere, himself an officer later during
the Revolutionary
War. Prior to Lexington, Revere had already taken part in the first militia act.

Action at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, was not an event without reason. It was part of
a long struggle between the emerging sense of autonomy among colonists and the desire of the
British to control the colonies. Word had started to spread in early 1774 that militia were
removing powder and weapons from facilities throughout New England. On Sept. 1, 1774, British
regulars entered a Massachusetts powder house six miles from Boston, only to find most of the
powder had been removed. They took possession of the remaining powder kegs.

This first ―powder alarm,‖ by MG Thomas Gage, commander of the British forces in Boston, so
outraged the colonists that they began regularly mustering on town greens, and led to the raising
of additional militia units. This prompted a second powder alarm, in New Hampshire. Redcoats from
Boston were to march to Fort William and Mary, an army post in Portsmouth, NH, and reinforce the
garrison there to secure the powder and weapons. Security leaks in Boston allowed the Sons of
Liberty to learn of the raid, and dispatched Revere to New Hampshire to warn the local militia. On
Dec. 14, 1774, 400 New Hampshire men captured the fort, the barrels of gunpowder and cannons,
prior to the arrival of the British. This was the first major confrontation between militia and
the British, and Revere‘s
first ―ride.‖

By April 1775, the powder fuse was lit for open rebellion. The Massachusetts militia had a complex
plan in place,though, the government in London viewed the colonists as ―a rude rabble without
plan, without concert and without conduct.‖ This misconception would have major consequences.

On the evening of April 18, 1775, General Gage ordered LTC Francis Smith to move his nearly 900
soldiers to march on Concord to retrieve the powder stored there. The colonists got word of this,
and as the
redcoats prepared to cross Boston Harbor, two lanterns were hung in the belfry of the Old North
Church. These lanterns signaled Revere and William Dawes Jr. to begin their ride to alert towns
along the way
to Concord that the British were moving.

The men rode through the Massachusetts countryside, telling members of militia units of the
British advance. Contrary to popular belief, Revere did not yell, ―The British are coming!‖ This
would have been meaningless to the militia men, for they themselves were British.

Revere yelled, ―The Regulars are coming out!‖ Contrary to popular myth, neither Dawes nor Revere
made it to Concord. It was a young doctor named Samuel Prescott, who had earlier joined Dawes and
Revere, who brought the warning to Concord.

Lexington had decided not to form a Minuteman unit; thus it was purely militia men, the Lexington
Company of the Middlesex County Brigade, Massachusetts Militia, under the command of CPT John
Parker, which formed on the Lexington Green at dawn to await the approaching foe. CPT Parker‘s 77
men ranged in age from 18 to 75. As CPT Parker deployed his men into line on the green, he shouted
his orders: ―Stand your ground! Don‘t fire unless fired upon! But if they want to have a war, let
it begin here!‖ At that moment, the British came into view. Seeing the militia, officers ordered
their men into line
and demanded that the militia lay down their arms. CPT Parker realized his men were greatly
outnumbered and ordered them to disperse. A shot—still of unknown origin—rang out, and chaos
British fired a volley into the colonists. Some returned fire, but most scattered. After the smoke
cleared, seven militia men lay dead and nine wounded, the first casualties of the American
Revolution. British
officers regained control of their men and resumed their march toward Concord.

The redcoats thoroughly searched Concord, but found no war materials. They did find wooden gun
carriages, which they burned in the center of town. The smoke was spotted by Minutemen north of
Concord, leading them to believe the British were torching their town. The Minutemen moved to
intervene and met the British at the Concord Bridge, where they fired the ―shot heard round the
British forces reorganized and proceeded to march back to Boston, and during this action one of
America‘s most famous myths was born.

Today, most Americans believe it was during the British retreat that the militia men hid behind
trees and rocks and fired on the redcoats.

The truth is more complicated. The militia men and Minutemen had actually devised a plan for
engaging the redcoats all along their return route to Boston.

Militia commanders placed their Soldiers at critical locations along the Boston highway, thus
causing the British to face a series of defensive positions. The redcoats had to fight all the way
back to Boston. By day‘s end, nearly 14,000 Massachusetts militia men from more than 40 regiments
had answered the call. It quickly became apparent to the British soldiers that this ―rude rabble‖
indeed was a prepared military force.

American militia suffered a total of 94 casualties, with 50 killed, 39 wounded and five missing.
The British losses were far higher.

The British began having a newfound respect for their colonial foes. A British commander wrote of
the colonial militia, ―Whoever looks upon them as an irregular mob, will find himself very much
mistaken. They have men amongst them who knew very well what they are about.‖

Since it was militia men, not Minutemen, who stood on Lexington Green, the statue on the green is
not referred to as the Minuteman Statue. The true Minuteman statue resides on one end of the
rebuilt Concord Bridge. The statue is the work of Daniel Chester French, a friend and neighbor of
Ralph Waldo Emerson. Inscribed on the stone pedestal of the Minuteman statue is Emerson‘s poem.

On Aug. 8, 2006, 300 members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard gathered at the Concord
Bridge. These Guard members were of the 181st and 182nd Infantry Regiments. The two units were
about to be federalized and deployed to Kosovo as part of Task Force Patriot, in support of NATO
peacekeeping. The 181st and 182nd are two of the four oldest military units in the country, and
both trace their lineage to Minutemen units that fought at the Concord Bridge that morning of
April 19, 1775. ―Seeing off these Soldiers at Concord Bridge is particularly fitting,‖ said BG
Oliver J. Mason, Jr., the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard. ―Their
predecessors earned our freedom there 230 years ago.‖

As the Soldiers left their homes to ensure freedom and security for people in a far-off country,
their regimental colors flew in the breeze and a certain battle streamer, among many, proudly
the Lexington and Concord Battle Streamer. The 181st and 182nd regiments are two of only three
regiments authorized to carry the Lexington and Concord Battle Streamer—a further reminder that
National Guard has been, is now, and will forever be ready whenever and wherever called.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Grin Reaper on November 18, 2007, 08:08:21 PM
The old Rebel – orig posted by brother in arms on: April 6, 2007, 01:59:31 PM


While April 19th is fast approaching I thought I would write a post about Samuel Whittemore. The
Tale take place in the town of Menotomy (now Arlington)Samuel Whittemore was 80 years old on April
19th 1775 when the british came and he was lying in wait for them. 5 Soldiers came toward him, and
he killed one with his musket and one with a pistol...he was however struck in the cheek with a
musket ball and knocked down. At this the surviving british soldiers exclaimed "we killed the old
rebel" then bayonetted him and left him for dead... after lying there for some time he was
retrieved by his neighbors and was fond to not be dead.. He lived to age 96. He was already a
veteran of the Battle of Louisbourg 1745, the French and Indian war and Pontiacs rebelion.

I guess this story proves that is not the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog.

Rogers Rangers Standing Orders orig. posted by scoutforrogers on: May 21, 2007, 08:21:13 PM


Rogers' Rangers was an independent company of rangers attached to the British Army during the
French and Indian War. The unit was informally trained by Major Robert Rogers as a rapidly
deployable light infantry force tasked with reconnaissance and conducting special operations
against distant targets. Their military tactics were so bold and effective that the unit became
the chief scouting unit of British Crown forces in the late 1750s. Later, several members of
Rogers' Rangers became influential leaders in the American Revolutionary War and a large number of
ex-rangers were present as patriot militiamen at the Battle of Concord Bridge.

That is what Wilk has to say about Rogers' Rangers. But this was a very complex unit with a
complex history. Rogers wanted to fight for the Colonies, but Washington was afraid he might not
be all that loyal and might want to fight for the British as he had just returned from a long stay
in England when the troubles started. He got so mad at this, that is exactly what he did.

The exploits of the unit were numerous and his men were highly trained. The United States Army
Rangers are a direct descendant of this unit. When I was in a Ranger unit in the 70's we still had
a card with his rules on them that we used. The cards had been printed up and given to Rangers
going to Viet Nam

Standing orders issued by Major Robert Rogers to his Rangers in 1759. More than two hundred years
after Major Rogers wrote them down, they were still relevant to Vietnam:

1. Don't forget nothing.

2. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be
ready to march at a minute's warning.

3. When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the
enemy first.

4. Tell the truth about what you see and what you do. There is an army depending on us for
correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but
don't never lie to a Ranger or officer.

5. Don't never take a chance you don't have to.

6. When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through
two men.

7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us.
8. When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at

9. When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.

10. If we take prisoners, we keep 'em separate till we have had time to examine them, so they
can't cook up a story between 'em.

11. Don't ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won't be ambushed.

12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout
twenty yards ahead, twenty yards on each flank and twenty yards in the rear, so the main body
can't be surprised and wiped out.

13. Every night you'll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.

14. Don't sit down to eat without posting sentries.

15.   Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and indians attack.

16. Don't cross a river by a regular ford.

17. If somebody's trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the
folks that aim to ambush you.

18. Don't stand up when the enemy's coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, hide behind a

19. Let the enemy come till he's almost close enough to touch. Then let him have it and jump out
and finish him with your hatchet.

Brown Bess... Who is she? Orig posted by Truckinmike
 on: May 28, 2007, 10:27:16 PM

Well I did a little research and this link explains it pretty well...

and here is a description of the Brown Bess.... here is the link

The fully functional Short Land Service Musket (New Pattern) used by the 64th Regiment of Foot
replicates the firearm issued by the British Army as a result of the 1768 Clothing Warrant. This
musket came to be affectionately called the "Brown Bess". While the exact origin of this nickname
has become obscured over the years, one explanation states that the name came from the colour of
the walnut stock. Prior to the "Brown Bess", stocks were painted black.

The predecessor of the Short Land Service Musket was the Long Land Service Musket, developed
during the late 1720s. Primary differences between the two were barrel length (42 in. vice 46
in.), and the metal ramrod of the New Pattern Musket vice the wooden ramrod of the older model.
Although production of the Long Land Pattern Musket did not cease until 1790, the vast majority of
muskets used in the Colonial conflict were the new pattern. The 1768 Clothing Warrant attempted to
decrease the load an individual soldier of the period had to carry. Accordingly, the musket length
was shortened, swords for privates (except Highland and Grenadier units) were abolished, and
uniforms were trimmer with less bulk.

The musket was of .75 caliber, smoothbore design, and weighed about 10 lbs. Soldiers were drilled
constantly on formation firing and tactical movement, but only fired several times per year. The
effectiveness of the musket was not impressive. Major George Hanger, who fought in the American
Revolution, described it thusly:

"A soldier's musket, if not exceedingly ill-bored... will strike the figure of a man at eighty
yards; it may even at 100; but a soldier must be very unfortunate indeed who shall be
150 yards, provided his antagonist aims at him..."[b/] (emphasis added)

The British soldier was expected to fire one shot upon command every fifteen seconds, although one
every twenty to thirty seconds would be more realistic. Formation firing was designed to simply
unleash a volume of projectiles in hopes of inflicting some casualties, but the 14-inch bayonet
was the true determining factor on the battlefield. Robert Jackson, one-time inspector-general of
army hospitals during the Revolution, wrote:

"Such explosions may intimidate by their noise: it is mere chance if they destroy by their
impression... History furnishes proof that the battle is rarely gained by the scientific use of
the musket: noise intimidates; platoon firing strikes only at random; the charge with the bayonet
decides the question..."

Ammunition came in the form of rolled paper cartridges containing six or eight drams of powder,
and a one ounce lead ball. Each end was sealed with pack thread. On loading, the rear end was
bitten off and a priming charge of powder placed in the pan. The remaining powder was poured in
the muzzle followed by the ball. The paper was then packed down by the ramrod as wadding. When
fired an intense amount of smoke engulfed the firer.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Grin Reaper on November 18, 2007, 08:09:09 PM

OUTLINE for APPLESEED Revolutionary War History orig. posted by Hollywood on: October 23, 2006,
09:03:31 PM

I'm looking for Corrections, Important Piece I've missed, etc. I did not put it into story
format, to avoid it being "read" and I'm no Shakespeare.
It's just it seems sometimes we miss the important points, so having a minimal list might help not
missing anything of importance.


April 19, 1775;

Parliament had described the rebels as "raw, undisciplined, cowardly men", amateur soldiers who
"would never dare to face a British army"

Lt. Colonel Francis Smith, leading 700 troops made up of grenadiers and light infantry marched
onto the Green in Lexington shortly after dawn.

They had been dispatched by General Gage with the intent of capturing militia armaments in
Lexington and Concord.

Pre-warned by Paul Revere, informed possibly by General Gage's American born wife.

Major John Pitcairn, gestured with his swords and called out "Lay down your arms, you damned
rebels, and disperse!"
The Patriots assembled under the command of Captain John Parker who is quoted as issuing the
following orders at the arrival of the Government troops -"Stand your ground; don't fire unless
fired upon; but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!" About 40 Minutemen where on the
village green, when the redcoats showed up and someone fired a shot.

8 Americans lay dead and 10 more clutched bleeding wounds. Only one "regular" was slightly

The British re-formed up the lines, fired a victory volley and headed to Concord

Hundreds of minutemen, who had trained of up to six months, had gathered, but peacefully fell back
ahead of the British, who occupied Concord.

The British gathered up military item and burnt them, the Americans thought they where burning the
town, so they advanced via the North Bridge towards Concord.

Three British companies formed up, and fired a warning volley and then a volley of ball at the
advancing Americans, most shots went high. Hundred plus shots hit 6 men, killing two, one of
which was Isaac Davis, the first American casualty at Concord, who at home left 4 sick children to
stand with his fellow countrymen.

The Americans returned fire hitting about half the officers in the regular corps. The Americans
used deliberate aimed fire to break the British ranks (The command aim wasn?t even in the British
manual of arms) WITH 2 minutes of withering fire (mistakenly said 1 volley in FL)

This broke the ranks of the British and they started a disorganize retreat.

The senior American present on the day, was William Heath, self described as ?a corpulent, balding
farmer?. He was an amateur military tactician, who had the idea of the ?circle of fire? where
light fast moving troops could keep slower troops in the center of sustained fire.

Militias are continuing to muster from all the countryside to harass the Government Forces. From
every tree, rock, wall and house the militia fired on the British

Reinforcements sent from Boston saved the retreating British from total annihilation, but soon
even with the additional troops, the retreat turned into a rout.

They sustained 273 casualties (73 killed; 174 wounded; 26 missing) during the expedition, the
provincials suffered 93 casualties (49 killed; 39 wounded; 5 missing, 18 killed and wounded at

Lord Percy, commander of the brigade that went to the relief of the British expedition, was
astounded by the persistence of the Americans and impressed by the tactical skill of their
commanders. "Whoever dares to look at them as an irregular mob, will find himself much mistaken",
he said. "They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about"
Need to ADD:

3 Strikes of the Match
1) Lexington
2) North Bridge
3) The rear guard shot at the Americans shadowing them on there retreat

Liberty or Death/
Hang together or hang separately (Franklin)
Death or Victory
Once you shoot at the Kings men, your are a Felon, and they did not coddle felons back then.

Paul Revere Ride. Telephone tree = Sending other riders in different directions
Mustered 14,000 Americans, Could you muster 14? 3? With cell phones and internet
Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Grin Reaper on November 18, 2007, 08:11:15 PM

Originally posted by Grin Reaper June 04, 2007, 02:13:10 PM

Appleseed / Revolutionary War Background

April 19, 1775
The day prior, an ―unimpeachable source‖ (likely British General Gage‘s American-born wife)
informed Dr. Joseph Warren that British troops would deploy for Concord the night of April 18, in
order to seize Colonial military supplies believed to be stored there. [This wasn‘t the first time
they had done so – in September of the previous year they had seized 250 barrels of gunpowder from
the Massachusetts Provincial Powder House in Charlestown.]
The route the British planned to take was not initially known – they might take boats from Boston
to a shorter northern route, or they might take the land route, but this was 5 miles longer. The
increased distance meant a substantially longer trip for marching troops, who might carry up to
100 pounds of equipment.
That night, longboats from the British ships Boyne and Somerset began to take on British troops
for their transfer to the transfer to the staging area for the northern route..
Billy Dawes was sent via the southern route to warn John Hancock and Sam Adams that the British
were to march on Concord, the current location of these 2 notorious agitators.
Paul Revere conferred with other Sons of Liberty to have the pre-arranged signal displayed via
lanterns in the steeple of the Old North Church: one if by land, 2 if by sea.
Across the Charles River, posted watchers received and immediately began to spread the message.
About 10 p.m., Revere and 2 others rowed past the HMS Somerset to Charlestown. There, his famous
ride began.
―The Regulars are out!‖

Lt. Col. Francis Smith lead 700 grenadiers and light infantry, accompanied by (among others)
Marine Major Pitcairn, who had remarked the prior month that ―I am satisfied that 1 active
campaign, a smart action, and burning 2-3 towns will get everything to rights.‖, in reference to
the increase in the citizens‘ increased militia drills.
77 militiamen, warned by Revere and the additional post riders activated by his alarm, assembled
on the village green at Lexington under the command of Militia Captain John Parker. Parker, who
was suffering from TB, had risen from his sick-bed to command his troops, men who were usually
just his neighbors. Parker was an experienced officer, having fought in the recent French &
Indian Wars. He instructed his men: ―Stand your ground. Do not fire unless fired upon. But if
they mean to have a war, let it begin here!‖ Despite his words, Parker had his men form 2 lines,
knowing the British would perceive this as a challenge.
British Marine Maj. Pitcairn ordered them,‖ Lay down your arms, ye rebels, and disperse!‖
The militiamen began to disperse (but not disarm), when a shot was fired. Without orders fro
their officers, the British troops fired into the militiamen. A few militiamen returned fire.
Afterwards, 8 Americans were dead and 10 more wounded. One British soldier and one horse had been
wounded. The British officers regained control of their troops and reformed ranks. They fired a
victory volley and resumed their march to Concord.
At Concord, hundreds of militiamen were gathering in response to the alarm raised by Revere and
the other post riders, assembled on Punkatasset Hill overlooking the town. The Rev. Wm. Emerson
instructed the militia ―Let us stand our ground. If we die, let us die here.‖
The British troops began to search the town for military supplies, and to enthusiastically loot
its contents. They found 3 cannon and 500lbs of musket balls, as well as a supply of wooden
spoons and bowls stored in barrels. [Most of the military stores had recently been moved to Acton
and Worcester]. These were stacked in the town and burned. The militia, spotting the rising
smoke, believed the British had set fire to the town, and advanced via the North Bridge towards
Concord. The bridge was guarded by 3 British companies, who fired a warning volley and another
volley at the militia. Most of the shots went high – the command ―aim‖ was not in the British
manual of arms, they instead emphasized the bayonet. Over 100 shots were fired, wounding 4 men
and killing 2 (Isaac Davis, the 1st American casualty of the Revolution, who had left 4 sick
children at home). The Americans – outnumbered 4:1 -- using deliberate aimed fire struck 4 of the
8 British officers and 5 regulars, causing the British to break ranks and run, initiating a
disorganized retreat by the British as other militia joined in the fight.
As they retreated, the rear guard fired at the Americans shadowing their retreat.
The senior American officer present was William Heath, a man with no military experience, a self-
described ―corpulent, balding farmer.‖ He was extremely well-read on military tactics, and had
refined the idea of a ‗circle of fir‘, where fast-moving troops could keep a slower moving enemy
in the center of sustained fire (modern ‗skirmishers‘). The British troops faced an 18 mile
gauntlet of fire on their retreat to Boston.
Militiamen continued to join in the series of ambushes to attack the British. From behind trees,
stone walls, and houses the militia fired on the British, only appearing long enough to fire, the
dropping out of sight to reload.
Fortunately for the British, a relief column led by Col. Hugh (Lord Percy) arrived, bringing with
them 2 cannon. Even with these reinforcements, the British return to Boston devolved into a rout
and the militia pressed their attacks. The British discarded equipment, arms, and even loot as
they fled back to Boston.
The British sustained 273 casualties; the Americans 93.

Afterwards, the British reported that the militia fought not as lone assailants, but as units.

Originally posted by cannonman61 July 26, 2007, 10:16:37 PM

The Gentlemen from Georgia

Coming to order in the 2nd Continental Congress session of 1775 were assorted-indeed, the
distinguished – delegates sent to the rebel legislative body in Philadelphia by….well, not quite
all thirteen original colonies, but only 12 of those historic entities.
Delegates that is to say from 12 colonies….and a single, fervent Patriot representing a single,
county sized parish in that one remaining sister of the original sisterhood, Georgia.
He was Dr. Lyman Hall of St. Johns Parish (Later Liberty County) on the Georgia coast-physician,
former minister, and transplanted Connecticut Yankee at that. From May 13 1775 through the next
four months, he alone would be Georgia‘s contribution to the deliberations of the revolutionary
body convened in Philadelphia in the name of the American colonists.
By the history making days of July 1776, however, Georgia could claim full representation at the
Philadelphia gathering by three delegates who, along with their brethren from the other 12
colonies, would be signers of the Declaration of Independence and what an unusual threesome they
Lyman hall himself was a rarity, not only as the lone delegate in congress from one of the
original thirteen, but also as one of only five physicians destined to be signers of the
Declaration. A second Georgian attending the historic Philadelphia sessions of 1776 was George
Walton, at age 26 one of the youngest of the great documents signers. The last of the trio, Button
Gwinnett, sadly enough, would not live to see the revolutionary Spirit of Seventy-Six prevail. His
unfortunate destiny, fulfilled in 1777, was to be fatally wounded in a duel with a fellow Georgia
patriot, Lachlan McIntosh.
Why was Georgia such a latecomer to the revolutionary movement? The fact is. Georgia, the last of
the colonial sisterhood to be established upon the Atlantic seaboard, definitely was lukewarm at
first to any notion of breaking with its recent benefactors and founders across the Atlantic.
Stated another way, Georgia, baby of the colonial brood, still clung to Mother England‘s apron
(&purse) strings. The colony‘s leaders felt, moreover, that they and their people had been
relatively well treated. Most were happy with the diligent, even handed performance of Royal
Governor James Wright.
   Once Georgia did jump into the fray, it was with not one, but two, Whig factions seeking
redress against the Crown, each by its own lights, each in it‘s own image. The unfortunate
Gwinnett, second president of the Georgia Council of Safety, was both a victim and an advocate of
that sharply, even murderously, divided house of rebels.
Murderously? Well, there was of course, Gwinnett‘s own unhappy and highly visible fate in the
spring of 1777, less than a year after he signed off on the Declaration. Just weeks beforehand,
furthermore, his predecessor as council president, Archibald Bulloch (ancestor to Eleanor
Roosevelt) dies suddenly. Poisoned was the never-proved, possibly unfounded, but nonetheless
prevalent rumor.
When Gwinnett, as a fellow council member, succeeded Bulluch at the body‘s helm, it was by virtue
of a solid membership vote-with only one negative vote registered against him. That vote came from
an old political enemy symbolic of the Whig factions in Georgia, one George McIntosh. And it was
George‘s brother, militia General Lachlan McIntosh, who would wound Gwinnett fatally in their duel
by pistols not three months later….. after Gwinnett in the meantime had been instrumental in
putting George McIntosh in irons as an alleged traitor.
To sort all this out, it helps to look at Georgia a bit earlier, on the eve of the Revolution. For
at that moment in time, as a symbol of the old order, there was a strong, largely well-intended
royal governor seated in Savannah. And not all that dissimilar in their authoritarianism views
were the aristocratic Whigs of the Christ Church Parish, also Savannah based. Finally, as the
third corner of the triangle, there was the far more radical, populist –leaning Whig faction of
St. John‘s parish(Liberty County), located on the coast south of Savannah.
It was the later group that produced the restless Lyman hall, a rice-grower and physician living
near Georgia‘s port city of Sunbury at the mouth of the Medway River. Hall. Born in Wallingford
Connecticut, in 1724, was educated at Yale and had once been a Congregationalist minister. He had
joined fellow New England Congregationalists in migrating south, first to South Carolina then to
Georgia, then back to South Carolina and finally to Georgia to stay at the Medway settlement of
Sunbury. His rice plantation, Hall‘s Knoll, was but one occupation as he also spent time doctoring
the sick and dying among his neighbors.
He also had a preoccupation with revolutionary politics. In this regard, he and his fellow New
Englanders of Puritan stock were way ahead of their fellow Georgians. As late as 1774, many
Georgians were fairly satisfied with the annual grants that Parliament bestowed upon their colony-
and with the lucrative trade in rice and indigo they enjoyed with the mother country. They were
aware of the growing disquiet among their brethren to the north, of course, and some Georgia
settlers outside of St Johns Parish were also paying close attention. Indeed, Savvanah could boast
of its own chapter of the Sons of Liberty, and the conservative dominated Assembly had gone so far
as to protest the increasingly restrictive British policies toward the American colonies.
Even so, Georgia as a whole failed to respond to the call in 1774 to join in the formation of the
First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The more restive settlers from all over Georgia did
assemble at Tondee‘s Tavern in Savannah to discuss the summons from the north-and, indeed, to rail
against the latest British policies-but they balked at sending delegates to Philadelphia.
The participants from St Johns Parish were far from satisfied with the result. They went home,
continued their agitation and at further meetings, decided to send Lyman Hall to the Philadelphia
gathering on behalf of Georgia. He declined the honor at first, but later a threat by the Patriots
assembled at Philadephia to boycott uncooperative colonies-is-Georgia-stirred St John‘s Parish
anew. There was talk of seceding from the rest of Georgia, there was an attempt to align with
Patriots groups out of Charleston SC, immediately to the north (which were rebuffed), and there
was general consternation over the prospect of losing trade with the outside world.
This time, shortly after the shooting had begun at Lexington and Concord, Lyman Hall agreed to
travel north… but primarily to carry his community‘s appeal against the Patriot ordered trade
embargo. He took two hundred barrels of locally grown rice with him, a donation for the Patriots
in the north.
As a result, on May 13, 1775 the Second Continental Congress (rather than Georgia itself)
recognized him as a delegate to the Philadelphia proceedings. No honorary onlooker, he shared
official duties with delegates from all the remaining colonies- he served on one committee with
Virginia‘s fiery Patrick Henry, with Pennsylvania‘s legendary Ben Franklin, with the great mover
from Massachusetts, John Adams.
By now events were moving rapidly and irrevocably, even back home in Georgia. There, in early
1776, local Patriots arrested Royal Governor Wright. Then gave him parole that allowed him to flee
to the British warships in the Savannah River. A battle erupted in the river over British attempts
to seize Georgia grown rice. A Georgian provincial congress chose Hall, his neighbor and
occasional patient from St John‘s Parish, Button Gwinnett and young Savannah lawyer George Walton
as the colony‘s three delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
As destiny would have it, they would all be on hand for what John Adams would call ―the greatest
debate of all‖ – the session in July devoted to considering the proposed Declaration of
That was the very phrase Adam‘s used in a letter he wrote on July 1, 1776 to Archibald Bulluch,
president of Georgia‘s provincial congress. He wrote: ―A declaration that these colonies are free
and independent states, has been reported by a committee appointed some weeks ago for that
purpose, and this day or tomorrow is to determine its fate….‖
Adams assured Bulluch that Georgia finally would be well represented in the deliberations of the
historic Patriot body assembled in Philadelphia. He did not mention the Savannah based Walton, but
he did write Bulluch that his colleagues Hall and Gwinnett ―are in good health and spirits, and as
firm as you yourself could wish them.
Now you have some idea of the virtual snakepit that was Georgia during the Revolution!All three
signers of the Declaration are from a radius of 40miles from our site.
 The St. Johns Parish mention above was large. It was split into several counties after the war,
Liberty being the largest portion of the land. We are having our Hinesville Appleseed on what is
historic ground. This area was the cradle of the revolutionary movement in Georgia in the 1770‘s.
I will include some more local history including the Siege and fall of our Fort Morris. Ft Morris
was the last American fort in Georgia to fall to the British after the fall of Savannah. That
story later.


Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Scout on November 19, 2007, 02:40:57 PM

One thing you will notice quickley when reading any history, is that the people who come later to
record it, can, and often do make mistakes.

I am on my nineteenth or twentieth book now on the Revolution and I can tell you, some of the
people did not work hard on getting their info. And sometimes there is no real for sure info on
some event, as it may have not been recorded untill many years after the event. As happened in
many instances of speeches and battles.

So make sure you do all your research and get at least the major facts straight. I just read a
book on the Revolution by a National Geographic author and he sites the "Bloody Angle" and
Merriams Corner" as one and the same, and he also mentions that the British found "entrenching
tools" (as in engineering tools, shovels etc.) in Concorde. Just a few of many shortcuts he took.

I have yet to read two books in a row that give even close statistics on the number of killed and
wounded on April 19, 1775. And many giving different totals of the number of troops involved.

But this is mainly me nitpicking on the details. Most of the books give you exactley what you need
to know to pass this story down to your children and to your students. The dates, the places. The
people involved, the reasons for the conflicts. That is what you need to know, and why it is
important to people today.

You don't have to know what Issac Davis was wearing, (even if I find the minute details endlessly
fascinating) just who he was and why he was there. ;)

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Bravo on November 19, 2007, 10:16:30 PM

Fred, I'm making up my 'winter list' - books stacked up, good reading while the outside is dark
and the ground is deep white.

At the Boulder shoot, you mentioned a couple of books about 19 April. If you wouldn't mind sharing
those titles (again, sorry) I'll see if I can't get them on the Amazon order. The fact it hasn't
snowed (seriously) yet is a big surprise - I'm gonna order soon.


Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: bob 210 on November 19, 2007, 11:03:58 PM

  There are plenty of books out there on the American Revolution, but the three Fred announced at
the Boulder City AS were as follows:

Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

1776 by Davis McCullough

Patriots by A.J. Langguth

I hope you enjoy your reading!! ;D ;D ;D

Bob 210

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Bravo on November 20, 2007, 12:00:36 AM

Howdy Bob!
Thanks for the heads-up! I only remembered two...... cool 'nuff!
I'll go look 'em up - hopefully they're still in print.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Nickle on November 20, 2007, 10:26:25 AM

Quote from: bob 210 on November 19, 2007, 11:03:58 PM

Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

1776 by Davis McCullough

I've got these 2, and they are good. Don't let 1776's title throw you. It also covers some of
1775, picks up where Paul Revere's Ride leaves off.

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: didactic on November 20, 2007, 10:49:47 AM

I just stumbled across another good source, *A People's History of the American Revolution*, by
Ray Raphael. Retail $13.95, softcover.

Not much about 4/19/1775, but a good discussion of the events leading up to it. When I've read
more, I'll post a thread entitled more or less "The mood of the times, 1774-1775." It'll be too
long to include in the story we tell at Appleseeds, but of interest to those who want to learn

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: Grin Reaper on November 25, 2007, 11:52:04 AM
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Article regarding Mary Draper,
Revolutionary war wife and mother

Title: Re: A topic for Revolutionary War short stories for use at Appleseeds
Post by: didactic on November 27, 2007, 11:58:59 PM

Duplicate of post in "Deals and Steals"
I just came across a stock of these, new hardbacks, at more or less the paperback price. $13 +
tax + shipping should make me break even at $17. PM me for my mailing address for your check or
MO, and to give me yours for mailing.

Powered by SMF 1.1.2 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC

Project Appleseed
General Category => Reference Library/archive => Topic started by: Grin Reaper on June 04, 2007,
11:49:45 PM

Title: Taming the Wind
Post by: Grin Reaper on June 04, 2007, 11:49:45 PM

Taming the Wind
From Fred:

Fred's recent Worland, WY experience suggests he should be reading what he writes - from the
"Starting Out" series, which is worth repeating here:

Use "hold-offs" when you have to fire a shot in a hurry and have to compensate for range or wind.
Generally, you aim off no more than half a target. You aim...left or right edge on the upwind
side, to allow for wind. (On a rare occasion, you may have to aim a full target off for wind, but
you'll know in advance, because it'll be a windy day to start with. A 15 mph wind - a pretty stiff
breeze from 3 or 9 o'clock - a full value wind - will blow you off the target 3 moa at 300, and 4
moa at 500. How many inches would that be at each distance, and how far off the center of the
target would you have to aim to compensate?

Answer: 9 and 20, and half-a-target and a whole target, respectively.

Your M1A front sight is a help, as it is close to 7 moa wide -- the standard, not the narrow
'match' sight. If you were to put the downwind edge of the front sight COT, in effect you move the
bullet 3 1/2 moa in the upwind direction. If you were to put the downwind edge of the sight on the
upwind edge of the target at 500 yards, you'd move the bullet 5.5 moa upwind.

But remember: the sight moa does not change with distance; the 20-inch target size, expressed in
moa, does change. So from COT to edge of target is 2 moa (10") at 500, but approximately 3 moa
(9") at 300 yards; the 3.5 moa from center to edge of your 7 moa-wide sight remains the same at
all distances.

You have determined how many moa YOUR front sight covers, right?

If not, it's really easy. Just take a target of known dimension, convert the target dimension to
moa, post the target at 100 yards, and see how much of your known-dimension target is covered by
your front sight.

Wanna make it even easier? Take two standard pieces of copier paper, 8.5" x 11". Post one sheet
sideways at 100 yards, and place a bold black line at the halfway point of the target. Post the
other sheet of paper lengthwise, also placing the bold black line at the halfway point. You now
have an 11 moa/5.5 moa scale, as well as as 8.5/4.25 moa scale against which to compare your front
sight. Note how much of the scale your front sight covers, mark that info down somewhere where
you'll remember it, and you're good to go.

Now, being weekend warriors, it's hard to remember all the data on wind.

First, you have to know the effect of a wind of X MPH on your target at Y distance. Simplify by
picking 300 and 500 yards.

Then determine direction - winds from 2-4 and 8-10 o'clock are "full value", whereas winds from 1,
5, 7, and 11 o'clock are "half-value", meaning you halve the adjustment you make. Winds from 12
and 6 you ignore. See what I mean by complicated?

How much you delve into this depends on anticipated conditions. If you live in a windy area -
flat, open spaces, little vegetation - you may want to put a wind chart to refer to under the
flipup next to your sight settings. Something like:

[Full Value] 10 mph 15 mph 20 mph
300 2 moa 3 moa 4 moa
500 3 moa 4 moa 6 moa
Full Value: winds from 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 & 10 o'clock
Half value: winds from 1, 5, 7 & 11 o'clock

[Fred NEEDED this chart at Worland! Cut it out and tape to your stock, so it'll be there when YOU
need it.]

Now, just how strong IS that wind? Estimation of wind strength is hardly a science. 10 mph raises
dust, and blows paper. 15 mph gets small trees swaying.

An almost universal wind correction at 500 for a full value wind is putting the downwind edge of
the front sight on COT, moving bullet strike 3.5 moa upwind.

If you overestimated the wind - say it's only 10 mph, you¹ve moved the bullet impact 1/2 moa
(2.5") too much, hardly enough to matter. If you underestimated the wind, and it's really 20 mph,
you should've moved the downwind edge of the sight onto the upwind edge of the target, moving the
bullet 5.5 moa upwind. So if you underestimate, you're 2.5 moa short, and that's enough to move
you 12.5" off COT, good for a close miss on the downwind side.

But a 20 mph wind is a strong wind, one you'll recognize as a strong wind, and hopefully if a full
value wind, at 500 you'll do the edge-to-edge thing, keeping your bullet on the target. One
definite plus to the stronger winds: at the target, the wind noise could mask the report of your
rifle, or, if heard, will cause it to "drift" in the downwind direction, making it harder for them
to ID your location.

If, like Fred in WY, you get tossed into unfamiliar shooting in a strong wind, don't get flustered
(easier said than done, Fred knows). It's like getting lost; don't lose self-control; stay calm.

Some modification: a fairly constant wind, adjust your sights so you aim dead on. Then hold off
only when the wind picks up or slows down.

Tip #2: if you have the time, be patient. Wind surges and wanes; wait for the wind to lessen to
fire your shot.

Wind: For the rifleman, it has more impact on hit probability than any other factor -since he
already knows how to fire a good shot, his range estimation is decent, and the target is usually
more sensitive to horizontal than vertical errors.

Your best bet? Take any opportunity you can get -- especially you folks in the East, who are a bit
short on long-distance range availability -- to go and out shoot your rifle, with your standard
load, at long and windy distances. There's no substitute for the experience and confidence that
comes from busting rocks at 600+ yards with a stiff wind hitting you from 3 o'clock.
Title: Re: Taming the Wind
Post by: crak on October 22, 2007, 04:53:34 PM

Man, we really needed this yesterday in Jericho and I couldn't find Fred's Simplified Wind Rule
anywhere in the Guide, google, this forum or the old forum on my phone. I knew the gist of it
from hearing it at a langhorne appleseed and the WW2 Garand training video, but not well enough
give it as a point of instruction to people who really could have made use of it yesterday.
Thanks to Riflesniper for chiming in with some help on it, but we really need to get it down cold
including .223 and .308 effects.

Title: Re: Taming the Wind
Post by: Nickle on October 22, 2007, 05:31:12 PM

I knew most of the wind rules off the top of my head, and drew a total blank on drift values for
.223, 30-06 and 7.62 NATO. I should've been able to answer it, but, I just couldn't remember that
part for some reason.

Folks the No value, half value. full value portion is easy, and very basic, but the MOA allowances
for the given wind speeds is a whole different critter.

And crak, he's ripersnifle.

Title: Re: Taming the Wind
Post by: crak on October 22, 2007, 06:53:40 PM

Quote from: Nickle on October 22, 2007, 05:31:12 PM
And crak, he's ripersnifle.

You know, I knew that and that's what my brain typed anyway.

Kinda like a joke about a toin coss (instead of a coin toss) from 2nd grade ruined those words for
me for life. ???

Title: Re: Taming the Wind
Post by: Nickle on October 22, 2007, 07:08:30 PM

An Instructor's handout for Appleseeds referencing the wind, and another referencing common
elevation settings (not just M1/M14) will be coming soon.

Powered by SMF 1.1.2 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC

Project Appleseed
General Category => Reference Library/archive => Topic started by: Fred on June 10, 2007, 12:25:09

Title: Interesting Revolutionary War History not found in the books
Post by: Fred on June 10, 2007, 12:25:09 AM

     Dear Fred, I know how partial you are to the Minutemen of Concord, so I thought you might
like this speech which was made to commemorate the Davis Monument in Acton, Mass. Rev. Woodbury's
speech is long, as was the fashion of the day, and flowery. But it gave a pretty good account of
the action of the day, and the sheer bravery which was involved. I sincerely hope we have such
men among us should such a day ever arise again. As for me, I have to be there with them, as I
have neither the temperament or the inclination to live as a slave to anyone or anything. Enjoy
this speech and keep up the good work. Sincerely, RPE, Tennessee Rifleman

[Fred: Don't know the date of this speech, but Woodbury talked with Isaac Davis's widow, and stood
in his doorway, and the last American survivor of April 19, 1775 was still alive when he gave this
speech. The speech shows a rock-solid - some would even say, rock-hard - American spirit you don't
find much any more, unless at an Appleseed...]


      Who was Captain Isaac Davis? Who was Abner Hosmer? Who was James Hayward? And what was
Concord fight? What did they fight for, and what did they win? These were Massachusetts Province
militiamen, not in these good, quiet, piping times of peace, but in 1775, at the very dark, gloomy
outbreak of the American Revolution.

      Let us turn back to the bloody annals of that eventful day. Let us see, as well as we can at
this distance of three-quarters of a century, just how matters and things stood.

      General Gage had full possession of this city. The flag that waved over it was ... the flag
of that hereditary despot, George the Third.

      And if there had been no Isaac Davis or other men of his stamp on the ground on that day,
the flag of the crouching lion, the flag of Queen Victoria, due successor to that same hated
George the Third, first the oppressor, and then the unscrupulous murderer of our fathers, --yes, I
know what I say, the unscrupulous murderer of our fathers,-- would still wave over this beautiful
city, and would now be streaming in the wind over every American ship in this harbor....

      This city was in full possession of the enemy, and had been for several months. General Gage
had converted the house of prayer, the Old South Church, --where we met a few days since, to sit,
delighted auditors, to that unsurpassed Election Sermon, --into a riding-school, a drilling-place
for his cavalry. The pulpit, and all the pews of the lower floor, were, with vandal violence, torn
out, and tan brought in; and here the dragoons of King George practised, on their prancing
warhorses, the sword exercise, with Tory ladies and gentlemen for spectators in the galleries.

      Information had been received from most reliable sources that valuable powder, ball, and
other munitions of war, were deposited in Concord. General Gage determined to have them. Concord
was a great place in '75. The Provincial Congress had just suspended its session there of near two
months, adjourning over to the 10th of May, with Warren for their president, and such men as old
Samuel Adams, John Hancock, John Adams. and James Otis as their advisers. Yes, Concord was the
centre of the brave old Middlesex, containing within it all the early battlegrounds of liberty, --
Old North Bridge, Lexington Common, and Bunker of the Province, the seat of the government of the
Colony of Massachusetts Bay.

      And Concord had within it as true-hearted Whig patriots as ever breathed. Rev. Mr. Emerson
was called a "high son of liberty." To contend with tyrants, and stand up against them, resisting
unto blood, fighting for the inalienable rights of the people, was a part of his holy religion.
And he was one of the most godly men and eloquent ministers in the colony. He actually felt it to
be his duty to God to quit that most delightful town and village, and the most affectionate church
and people, and enter the Continental army, and serve them as a chaplain of a regiment.

      What a patient, noble-hearted, truthful, loyal, confiding, affectionate generation of men
they were! And remember, these were the men, exasperated beyond all further endurance by the
course of a deluded Parliament and besotted ministry, who flew to arms on the 19th of April, 1775.
These were the men who then hunted up their powder-horns and bullet-pouches, took down their guns
from the hooks, and ground up their bayonets, on that most memorable of all days in the annals of
the Old Thirteen Colonies, -- nay, in the annals of the world, --which record the struggles that
noble men have made in all ages to be free!

      Yes, to my mind, Mr. Speaker, it is a more glorious day, a day more full of thrilling
incidents and great steps taken by the people to be free, than even the Fourth of July itself,

      Why, sir, the 19th of April, '75, that resistance, open, unorganized, armed, marshalled
resistance at the Old North Bridge, that marching down in battle array at that soul-stirring air
which every soldier in this house must remember to this day, for the tune is in fashion yet, -- I
mean "The White Cockade," -was itself a prior declaration of independence, written out not with
ink upon paper or parchment, but a declaration of independence made by drawn swords, uplifted
right arms, fixed bayonets ground sharp, cracking musketry, -- a declaration written out in the
best blood of this land, at Lexington first, and finally all the way for eighteen miles from Old
North Bridge to Charlestown Neck, where those panting fugitives found shelter under the guns of
British ships of war, riding at anchor in Mystic River ready to receive them; a declaration that
put more at hazard, and cost the men who made it more, after all, of blood and treasure, than that
of 1776.

      It cost Davis, Hosmer, and Hayward, and hundreds of others equally brave and worthy, their
hearts' blood. It cost many an aged father and mother their darling son, many a wife her husband,
many a Middlesex maid her lover.

      Oh, what a glorious, but oh, what a bloody day it was! That was the day which split in twain
the British empire, never again to be reunited. What was the battle of Waterloo? What question did
it settle? Why, simply who, of several kings, should wear the crown.

      Well, I always thought ever since I read it when a boy, that if I   hadfought on   either side
it would have been with Napoleon against the allied forces. But what is   the question   to me, or
what is the question to you, or to any of us, or our children after us,   if we are to   be ruled over
by crowned heads and hereditary monarchs? What matters it who they are,   or which one   it shall be?

      In ancient times, three hundred Greeks, under Leonidas, stood in the pass of Thermopyloe,
and for three successive days beat back and kept at bay five million Persians, led on by Xerxes
the Great. It was a gallant act; but did it preserve the blood-bought liberties of Greece? No. In
time they were cloven down, and the land of Demosthenes and Solon marked for ages by the footsteps
of the slaves.

      We weep over it, but we cannot alter it. But not so, thank God, with "Concord Fight;" and by
"Concord Fight," I say here, for fear of being misunderstood, I mean by "Concord" all the
transactions of that day.

      I regard them as one great drama, scene first of which was at Lexington early in the
morning, when old Mrs. Harrington called up her son Jonathan, who alone, while I speak, survives
of all that host on either side in arms that day. He lives, blessed be God, he still lives! I know
him well, a trembling, but still breathing memento of the renowned past, yet lingering by mercy of
God on these "mortal shores," if for nothing else, to wake up your sleeping sympathies, and induce
you, if anything could, to aid in the noble work of building over the bones of his slaughtered
companions-in-arms, Davis, Hosmer, and Hayward, such a monument as they deserve. Oh, I wish he was
here, I wish he only stood on yonder platform, noble man!

      "Concord Fight" broke the ice. "Concord Fight," the rush from the heights at North Bridge,
was the first open, marshalled resistance to the king. Our fathers, cautious men, took there a
step that they could not take back if they would, and would not if they could. Till they made that
attack, probably no British blood had been shed.

      If rebels at all, it was only on paper. They had not levied war. They had not vi et armis
attacked their lawful king. But by that act they passed the Rubicon. Till then they might retreat
with honor, but after that it was too late. The sword was drawn, and had been made red in the
blood of princes, in the person of their armed defenders.
      Attacking Captain Laurie and his detachment at North Bridge was, in law, attacking King
George himself. Now they must fight or be eternally disgraced. And now they did fight in good
earnest. They drew the sword, and threw away, as well as they might, the scabbard. Yesterday they
humbly petitioned. They petitioned no longer. Oh, what change from the 19th to the 20th of April!

      They had been, up to that day, a grave, God-fearing, loyal set of men, honoring the king.
Now they strike for national independence; and after seven years of war, by the help of God, they
won it. They obtained nationality. It that day breathed into life; the Colony gave way to the
State; that morning Davis and all of them were British colonists. They became by that day's
resistance, either rebels doomed to die by the halter, or free, independent citizens. If the old
pine-tree flag still waved over them unchanged, they themselves were changed entirely and forever.

      Old Middlesex was allowed the privilege of opening the war, of first baptizing the land with
her blood. God did well to select old Middlesex, and the loved and revered centre of old
Middlesex, namely, Concord, as the spot, not where this achievement was to be completed, but where
it was to be begun, and well begun; where the troops of crowned kings were to meet, not the troops
of the people, but the people themselves, and be routed and beaten from the field, and what is
more, stay beaten, we hope, we doubt not, to the end of time.

      And let us remember that our fathers, from the first to the last in that eventful struggle,
made most devout appeals to Almighty God. It was so with the whole Revolutionary War. It was all
begun, continued, and ended in God. Every man and every boy that went from the little mountain
town of Acton, with its five hundred souls, went that morning from a house of prayer. A more
prayerful, pious, God-fearing, man-loving people, I have never read or heard of. If you have, sir,
I should like to know who they are, and where they live. They were Puritans, Plymouth Rock
Puritans, men who would petition and petition and petition, most respectfully and most
courteously, and when their petition and petitioners, old Ben Franklin and the rest, were proudly
spurned away from the foot of the throne, petition again; and do it again for more than ten long,
tedious years. But after all they would fight, and fight as never man fought; and they did fight.

      When such men take up arms, let kings and queens take care of themselves. When you have
waked up such men to resistance unto blood, you have waked up a lion in his den. You may kill
them, -- they are vulnerable besides on the heel, -- but my word for it, you never can conquer

      At Old North Bridge, about nine o'clock in the forenoon, on the memorable 19th of April,
1775, King George's troops met these men, and, after receiving their first fire, fled. And the
flight still continues, -- the flight of kings before the people.

      Davis's minute-men were ready first, and were on the ground first. They were an élite corps,
young men, volunteers; and give me young men for war. They were to be ready at a moment's warning.
They were soon at Davis's house and gun-shop, and they waited here till about fifty had arrived.
While there some of them were powdering their hair, just as the Greeks were accustomed to put
garlands of flowers on their heads as they went forth to battle; and they expected a battle. They
were fixing their gun-locks, and making a few cartridges; but cartridges and cartridge-boxes were
rare in those days. The accoutrements of the heroes of the Revolution were the powder-horn and the
bullet-pouch, at least of the militia.

      And Concord Fight, with all its unequalled and uneclipsed glory, was won, by the help of
God, by Massachusetts militiamen. Some were laughing and joking to think that they were going to
have what they had for months longed for, -- a "hit at old Gage." But Davis was a thoughtful,
sedate, serious man, a genuine Puritan, like Samuel Adams; and he rebuked them. He told them that
in his opinion it was "a most eventful crisis for the colonies; blood would be spilt, that was
certain. The crimsoned fountain would be opened; none could tell when it would close, nor with
whose blood it would flow. Let every man gird himself for battle, and not be afraid, for God is on
our side. He had great hope that the country would be free, though he might not live to see it."
The truth was, and it should come out, Davis expected to die that day if he went into battle. He
never expected to come back alive to that house.

      And no wonder that after the company started, and had marched out of his lane some twenty
rods to the highway, he halted them, and went back. He was an affectionate man. He loved that
youthful wife of his, and those four sick children, and he thought to see them never again; and he
never did. There was such a presentiment in his mind. His widow has often told me all about it;
and she thought the same herself. And no wonder he went back, and took one more last, lingering
look of them, saying -- he seemed to want to say something; but as he stood on that threshold
where I have often stood, and where, in my mind's eye, I have often seen his manly form, he could
only say, "Take good care of the children;" the feelings of the father struggling in him and for a
moment almost overcoming the soldier. The ground of this presentiment was this. A few days before
the fight, Mr. Davis and wife had been away from home of an afternoon. On returning they noticed,
as they entered, a large owl sitting on Davis's gun as it hung on the hooks, -- his favorite gun,
the very gun he carried to the fight, a beautiful piece for those days, his own workmanship, the
same he grasped in both hands when he was shot at the bridge, being just about to fire himself,
and which, when stone dead, he grasped still, his friends having, to get it away, to unclinch his
stiff fingers.

      Sir, however you may view this occurrence, or however I may, it matters not. I am telling
how that brave man viewed it, and his wife, and the men of those times. It was an ill omen, a bad
sign. The sober conclusion was, that the first time Davis went into battle he would lose his life.
This was the conclusion, and so it turned out. The family could give no account of the creature,
and they knew not how it came in. The hideous bird was not allowed to be disturbed or frightened
away; and there he stayed two or threedays, siting upon the gun.

      But mark, with this distinct impression on his mind, did the heart of that Puritan patriarch
quail? No; not at all, not at all. He believed in the Puritan's God, -- the Infinite Spirit
sitting on the throne of the universe, Proprietor of all, Creator and Upholder of all,
superintending and disposing of all, that the hairs of his head were all numbered, and not even a
sparrow could fall to the ground without his God's express notice, knowledge, and consent. He took
that gun from those hooks with no trembling hand or wavering heart; and with his trusty sword
hanging by his side, he started for North Bridge with the firm tread of a giant. Death! Davis did
not fear to die. And he had the magic power, which some men certainly have, -- God bestows it upon
them, -- to inspire everyone around them with the same feeling. His soldiers to a man would have
gone anywhere after such a leader. After about two miles of hurried march, they came out of the
woods only a few rods from Colonel James Barrett's, in Concord, and halted in the highway, whether
discovered or not (this road came into the road by Barrett's, some twenty rods from Barrett's
house), looking with burning indignation to see Captain Parsons and his detachment of British
troops with axes break up the gun-carriages, and bring out hay and wood, and burn them in the

      They had great thoughts of firing in upon them then and there to venture. But Davis was a
military man; and his orders were to rendezvous at North Bridge, and he knew very well that taking
possession of North Bridge would cut off all retreat for this detachment of horse, and they must
be taken prisoners.

      In a few minutes more he wheeled his company into line on the high lands of North Bridge,
taking the extreme left of the line, -- that line being formed facing the river, which was his
place, as the youngest commissioned officer present in the regiment, -- a place occupied a few
days before by him at a regimental muster of the minute-men.

      A council of war was immediately summoned by Colonel James Barrett, and attended on the
spot, made up of commissioned officers and Committees of Safety. The question was, What shall now
be done? The Provincials had been talking for months -- nay, for years -- of the wrongs they had
borne at the hands of a cruel motherland. They had passed good paper resolutions by the dozens.
They had fired off their paper bullets; but what shall now be done? Enough had been said. What
shall now be done? What a moment! What a crisis for the destinies of this land and of all lands,
of the rights and liberties of the human race! Never was a council of war or council of peace
called to meet a more important question, one on the decision of which more was at stake. Their
council was divided. Some thought it best at once to rush down and take possession of the bridge,
and cut off the retreat of CaptainParsons; others thought not.

      Here were probably found in battle array over six hundred troops, standing there under arms.
Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn were in plain sight, with their red coats on, their cocked-up
hats and their spyglasses, inspecting from the old graveyard hills the gathering foe; for they
came in from all directions, suddenly, unaccountably, like the gathering of a summer thunder-
cloud. Of course it was admitted on all hands that they could take
possession of the bridge, but it was to be expected that this skirmish must bring on a general
engagement with the main body in the town. The Provincials would be in greater force by twelve
o'clock m. than at nine. And if the whole British army of eight hundred men should take the field
against them in their present number, most undoubtedly the men would run, -- they never would
"stand fire." Their officers thought so; their officers said so on the spot. They gave it as their
opinion, and it is probable that no attack at that hour would have been made had it not happened
that, at that moment, the smoke began to rise from the centre of the town, -- all in plain sight
from these heights, -- the smoke of burning houses. And they said, Shall we stand here like
cowards, and see Old Concord burn?

      Colonel Barrett gave consent to make the attack. Davis came back to his company, drew his
sword, and commanded, them to advance six paces. He then faced them to the right, and at his
favorite tune of "The White Cockade" led the column of attack towards the bridge. By the side of
Davis marched Major Buttrick of Concord, as brave a man as lived, and old Colonel Robinson of
Westford. The British on this began to take up the bridge; the Americans on this quickened their
pace. Immediately the firing on both sides began. Davis is at once shot dead, through the heart.
The ball passed quite through his body, making a very large wound, perhaps driving in a button of
his coat.

      His blood gushed out in one great stream, flying, it is said, more than ten feet,
besprinkling and besmearing his own clothes, these shoe-buckles, and the clothes of Orderly
Sergeant David Forbush, and a file leader, Thomas Thorp. Davis when hit, as is usual with men when
shot thus through the heart, leaped up. his fall length and fell over the causeway on the wet
ground, firmly grasping all the while, with both hands, that beautiful gun; and when his weeping
comrades came to take care of his youthful but bloody remains, they with difficulty unclutched
those hands now cold and stiff in death. He was just elevating to his sure eye this gun. No man
was a surer shot. What a baptism of blood did those soldiers then receive! The question is now, Do
these men deserve this monument, -- one that shall speak?

      Davis's case is without a parallel, and was so considered by the Legislature and by Congress
when they granted aid to his widow. There never can be another.

      There never can be but one man who headed the first column of attack on the king's troops in
the Revolutionary War. And Isaac Davis was that man. Others fell, but not exactly as he fell. Give
them the marble. Vote them the monument, one that shall speak to all future generations, and speak
to the terror of kings and to the encouragement of all who will be free, and who, when the bloody
crisis comes to strike for it, "are not afraid to go."

      At the base of the Acton monument may be seen the rude gravestones that stood in the ancient
burial-ground seventy-five years before their removal to their present location.

      Their quaint epitaphs, chiselled before the result of the sacrifice was realized, are of
interest, in that they tell the story before time had afforded an opportunity to arouse the
sentiment of later days.

I Say Unto all Watch

M., & 25 DAYS.

      Is there not an appointed time to man upon ye earth? are not his days also like the days of
an hireling? As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away, so he that goeth down to the grave shall
come up no more. He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know hint any more.
-- JOB vii. I, 9, 10.



This monument may unborn ages tell How brave Young Hayward, like a hero fell, When fighting for
his countrie's liberty Was slain, and here his body now doth lye, He and his foe were by each
other slain, His victim's blood with his ye earth did slain, Upon ye field he was with victory
crowned, And yet must yield his breath upon that ground. He express't his hope in God before his
death, After his foe had yielded up his breath. O may his death a lasting witness lye, Against
Oppressors' bloody cruelty.

Title: Re: Interesting Revolutionary War History not found in the books
Post by: M1A4ME on June 10, 2007, 12:59:09 AM

For what it's worth, it appears that last paragraph may originally have been a poem.

The entire paragraph, but broken up differently than in the original post:

This monument may unborn ages tell
How brave Young Hayward, like a hero fell,
When fighting for his countrie's liberty
Was slain, and here his body now doth lye,
He and his foe were by each other slain,
His victim's blood with his ye earth did slain,
Upon ye field he was with victory crowned,
And yet must yield his breath upon that ground.
He express't his hope in God before his death,
After his foe had yielded up his breath.
O may his death a lasting witness lye,
Against Oppressors' bloody cruelty.

After thinking about it I have to wonder if the 6th line was originally written as below and over
the years miscopied? Sounds good anyway.
His victim's blood with his ye earth did stain,

Title: Re: Interesting Revolutionary War History not found in the books
Post by: Fred on July 08, 2007, 06:41:29 AM

   Nice catch, there, M1A4ME.

    It was unclear from the version sent me what the layout was, but believe you have puzzled it
out, along with the 'mistake'.

     Next time I'm there, or if crak can make a trip there, someone needs to see if the Acton
monument is still there (likely) and if the tombstones quoted above are still there (less
likely?). It would be interesting to see if the mistake was the stone engraver's, or the

Title: Re: Interesting Revolutionary War History not found in the books
Post by: cannonman61 on August 01, 2007, 05:40:38 PM


The back of the awards for the Hinesville Appleseed have the following text:

                                        The American Longrifle

   This flintlock is popularly known as the "Kentucky Rifle" or "Pennsyvania Rifle". "Kentucky
because of its use by the frontiersmen as they moved west to Kentucky and beyond; "Pennsylvania",
because the majority of them were made by Pennsylvania gunsmiths of Gremanic descent.
   The rifle gained its world wide fame during the American Revolution when the Continental
Congress passed "The Act of June 14 1777" authorizing the raising of ten companies of riflemen to
join Washington's army surrounding Boston. Six companies were raised in Pennsylvania and two each
from Virginia and Maryland.
   The gun and the sharpshooters who carried them were well described by John Adams in a letter to
his wife Abigail: "These are an excellent species of light infantry. They use a peculiar kind of
musket called a rifle. It has circular grooves within the barrel, and carries a ball with great
exactness to great distance."

I though puting these on the backs of our awards would be a great way to bring out the nature of
the Appleseed shoot and our heritage.

What do you guys think? I include a picture of the front of the award. sorry for the poor flash


Title: Re: Interesting Revolutionary War History not found in the books
Post by: Fred on August 01, 2007, 07:56:29 PM

   Let me get this straight.

   Each RWVA instructor at your event gets one of these, right?

   At least, I wish...

   Sounds nice.

   The John Adams quote is really nice - a rifle is a "peculiar kind of musket" - indeed!

   Shows what a difference time makes...

Title: Re: Interesting Revolutionary War History not found in the books
Post by: cannonman61 on August 02, 2007, 09:36:23 PM

                                                      The King's Shilling

Before the esatblishment of the United States Mint in Philadelphia in 1792 many coins from from
different countriesas well as those monted by the individual colonies were used as specie and in
general circulation.

Silver Shillings minted in England were very common in the American Colonies both pre-war and post
war as well. Thes coins were of sterling silver and were 975 parts pure silver with a stiffener of
25 parts copper. This proportion was used until 1920 when it was debased to 500 parts silver and
then the silver was removed altogether in 1948 when the coin was changed to a nickle - copper
alloy. Finally, the coin disappeared altogether when Great Britain went to a decima system of
coinage where 100 pence equaled a pound in 1971.

In practice recruits to the royal army in America as well as Great Britain were bound to military
service if the accepted the King's shilling, and so the recruiting sergeants used any means or
device top get a likely candidate(willing or not) to accept the coin, even to the extream of
resorting to slipping it into a tankard of ale given to the man to drink to his King's health. (
and you though your recruiting sergeant was bad!)
This practice led to the common adoption of the glass bottomed tavern tankard. It allowed a man to
check his ale for the dread coin and had the further benefit of showing any impurities in the ale
before the consumption of said ale. (Remember this if any of the Red Hats offer you a good belt
after hours!) ;) ;D

Many of the coins present in the colonies at thier birth were minted in 1745 during the rein of
King george II, our good friend GeorgeIII's father. They bore the inscription of "LIMA" as an
indication of their being minted from a part of the $500,000 pound treasure of Spanish silver
captured by Captain George Anson off South America in 1744 when he was on a circumnavigation of
the globe. ( See, the Brits were in everyone's pockets back then and then they wondered why we got
mad?) ;D

Beware the friendly recruiter offering to buy you an ale! The more things change...........


Powered by SMF 1.1.2 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC

Project Appleseed
General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: Fred on August 17, 2007, 04:04:10 AM

Title: British Marksmanship on April 19, 1775: A Concrete Example
Post by: Fred on August 17, 2007, 04:04:10 AM

     Our forefathers, the ones who were there on the morning of April 19, 1775, at the North
Bridge and elsewhere, were pretty critical of British marksmanship.

       Here, echoing down the centuries, is a concrete example of British marksmanship that day.

     Lexington Green - not in the morning, but in the early afternoon, as the Brits come
straggling back thru town, nearly bushed after 5 miles of continual fighting.

   The door to Buckman Tavern opens as a militiaman debates taking a shot at the passing column.

       A redcoat sees him and fires a shot.

       Figure the range as 25-50 yards (depending on where on the road the particular redcoat is).

   The shot hits nearly three feet low and nearly 4 feet right.

   A wild shot which hits at 4 o'clock?

   Now, any Appleseed instructor can diagnose the faults the redcoat has made in firing the shot.

   Chances are, he's jerking the trigger, big time.

     Along with not following thru, especially critical, since flintlocks have a LONG lock-time -
plus that long barrel, with a slow-moving ball moving down it.
     Botton line: If you shoot a flintlock, it's vital to keep the muzzle on the target until the
ball clears the barrel.

     Our boys knew it, back then (which makes them superior to modern rifle shooters, for sure!),
and when they fired, they fired to HIT the target, not MISS it. (Part of this was Yankee fugality,
as lead and powder were too expensive to waste - like it is today, again!)

       You could prob add dragging wood to the list of charges.

     Along with failure to keep his eye open and call the shot, meaning he's prob got an H of a
flinch, to boot.

       No wonder he can't hit the broadside of the barn.

     But cut him a little slack. Back then, there seems to have been little or no marksmanship
training in the British army.

    Plus, our redcoat has been awake all night, and is roughly 20 miles into a 30+-mile hike, and
has been under "incessant fire" for the past three hours, seeing fellow redcoats dropping right
and left.

   And nothing but more of the same in the coming hours.

   He's fatigued, scared, maybe even fed up.

       No wonder he's shooting so poorly.

     It reflects on the English officers of the day more than it does him. THEY obviously have no
understanding for or appreciation of effective use of firearms.

       How's that for a forensic analysis of a single bullet hole in a door two hundred-plus years

     Yep, I saw the door, and the bullet hole, last week in Lexington. Be sure to tour Wrightman
Tavern and take a look at it, yourself. (If you can, get measurements as to where it is on the
door. I stupidly did not think to do so. >:()

Title: Re: British Marksmanship on April 19, 1775: A Concrete Example
Post by: Nickle on August 17, 2007, 08:55:35 AM

A couple of comments.

First, the British of the period considered the bayonet to be the primary weapon on the rifle, not
the ball.

Second, the Brits didn't fix their poor marksmanship until the Boer War, about the year 1900 time
frame. It tokk getting their butts handed to them by a bunch of farmers (sound familiar?) in South
Africa to get their marksmanship program going.

By the time Britain entered WW1, they could shoot. By the end of that war, all of the better
shooters were maimed or dead. They have yet to recover from that, IMNSHO.

Title: Re: British Marksmanship on April 19, 1775: A Concrete Example
Post by: M1A4ME on August 17, 2007, 10:18:45 AM
There's a really good series of books (they've made a mini-series out of it that's been on the
public channels off and on) out there about a British officer named Sharpe. These books cover his
career (historical fiction it's called) from India through the Battle of Waterloo. He mostly
commands a platoon of "scouts" that use "rifles" not muskets as the rest of the British Army used.
The point is made over and over in the books about the importance of his men being able to shoot
French soldiers and officers at ranges way past what the common soldier was capable of. I believe
the author's name is Bernard Cornwell. Great books. Once you start them you'll want to read them
all. Hard to put 'em down. This would of course be the British Army after the American
Revolution so maybe they'd learned a little something about having what Sharpe calls his band of
"chosen men" who could travel lighter, shoot farther, hide better, etc. than the enemy.

Title: Re: British Marksmanship on April 19, 1775: A Concrete Example
Post by: crak on August 17, 2007, 03:49:44 PM

Quote from: Fred on August 17, 2007, 04:04:10 AM
Be sure to tour Wrightman Tavern and take a look at it, yourself.

Buckman. ;)

Title: Re: British Marksmanship on April 19, 1775: A Concrete Example
Post by: Fred on August 17, 2007, 04:34:57 PM


   Did I really say "Buckman"? ;D

   Glad you were there...but you didn't take measurements, either - darn!

Title: Re: British Marksmanship on April 19, 1775: A Concrete Example
Post by: crak on August 17, 2007, 04:45:46 PM

I'll measure it when I take my brothers next week. 8)

Powered by SMF 1.1.2 | SMF © 2006-2007, Simple Machines LLC

Shooting Accuracy of the Troops During the War for Southern Independence
By A.M. Beck
Anyone that has participated in our hobby for more than a couple of events has had an experience
similar to the following. Somewhere out a couple of hundred yards, an enemy trooper will pop up
from behind a fence and snap off a round. Almost immediately an irritated echo will float from
across the field "I GOT YOU REB (or YANK)!", closely followed by some choice mutterings on the
subject of bomb proof troops. During the war, marksmanship almost never approached that sort of
high standard. This is not to say that the weapons were not capable of such feats of accuracy.
Your author has on several occasions hit 4 or 5 two liter soda bottles in a row at 100 yards with
both original muskets and carbines. One lucky day, 3 one gallon milk jugs fell in four shots from
250 yards, to a Parker Snow contract '61 Springfield. However, shooting on a range is nothing like
firing in battle.

 This fact was brought home a couple of years ago, at a rendezvous in Utah. There was an event
aptly titled "Hold the Fort". The object was to shoot over a stockade wall and hit all of the
breakable targets in the nearby woods. The catch was that there were several tennis serving
cannons hidden in the woods shooting back. It was amazing how many calm and accurate marksmen were
reduced to incompetence by the threat of being beaned with an incoming tennis ball. It is not hard
to imagine the effect the hiss of passing mini-balls would have on all but the coolest troops in

Here for your edification are some reports on the amazingly bad marksmanship that was the rule
rather than the exception during the War for Southern Independence.

Private John Opie, of the 6th Va. Cav. related the following incident after the battle of Brandy
Station.1 "At any rate, I saw them raise their carbines, then a line of smoke, then a crash; when
heels over head, both horse and rider tumbled through the air and fell, headlong in a pile on the
side of the road. My right leg felt as if paralyzed, but, seeing and feeling no blood, upon
examination I found that a ball had struck the toe of my boot and plowed a furrow through the

"I jumped up, still having my saber in my right hand, my horse lying beside me dead, not having
uttered a groan or made a struggle. I found, the next day, when I went to get my saddle and
bridle, that four bullets had penetrated her. How I escaped remained a mystery, as I was only 20
yards distant from the enemy, and received the fire of several hundred men." Footnote 1

Wade Hampton was, by all accounts, one of the coolest men under fire on either side of the
conflict. At the battle of Gettysburg, he engaged a carbine armed Yankee trooper at a range of
about 125 yards with his revolvers. Footnote 2 Hampton and the federal traded several shots. The
noble Confederate even held his fire when the Yankee's carbine jammed, allowing the trooper to
clear it. At length, Hampton fired a round that sent his opponent to the rear carrying rather more
lead than was agreeable.

Such bad shooting was not limited to northern troops. Captain Frank Myers of the 35th Va. Cav.
related the story of an ambuscade set to catch a particularly persistent and troublesome federal
patrol then making the rounds in the area of Orleans, Virginia. Footnote 3 "Lieut. Chiswell, with
seventeen men of Company B, was stationed in the thick bushes close along side the road, with
instructions to fire when the Yankees came opposite them."...."About 3 o'clock the picket came
quietly in and reported about 100 approaching." .... "After waiting anxiously, with ears strained
to catch the sound, for about ten minutes, the carbines of Chiswell's men rang out." .... "Strange
as it may appear, only one man was killed by the fire of Chiswell's men, although they had a rest
and the distance was scarcely twelve yards, but that one man had seven bullets through him. That
was the usual result of ambuscades, for under the most favorable circumstances they seldom did
much damage." These accounts, to us, seem amazing records of marksmanship, or the lack there of.
Seven hits out of eighteen shots at a range of under 40 feet, on a target the size of 100 mounted
troopers, is bad work by anyone's reckoning, with or without a rest. Remember however, that there
was no formal training in the handling of firearms in any of the state regiments of the armies,
North or South. A few commanders did take the time to introduce the basics of marksmanship, but
that was quite unusual. By 1864, a new volunteer would commonly go from the recruiting office to
the front line in less than a week. Not much time to learn even the basics of soldiering. Those
who did know how to shoot often forgot their ability as balls hissed by thick and fast. To put it
bluntly, the typical Reb (and Yank) was a lousy shot.

As the opening volleys of the next skirmish ring out, don't assume that you are blessed with Der
Freischutz' magic bullets and all of yankeedom (or rebeldom) must fall before you. In the war,
luck played a much larger roll than superior marksmanship in determining who became a casualty.

The Lone Marksman Revisited

15 March 2004
By Gary Yee **

Over sixty years ago in August, 1941, the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association published an
article entitled "The Lone Marksman." It told how one man, Lt. Ephriam McLean Brank of Greenville,
Kentucky, thwarted an entire column of British soldiers at New Orleans. The story seemed so
fantastic that several questions came to mind. Why wasn't Brank himself a casualty? After all, the
famous 95th Regiment armed with the Baker rifle was present. From what distance did Brank commence
firing? Finally, could the story be substantiated? These questions prompted inquiry, and before we
present the article in its entirety here first we need to digress.

British strategy for 1814 called for isolating the New England states a la Burgoyne with one army,
sacking Washington with another and a third capturing New Orleans and isolating the interior from
commerce. Commanding this last army was Sir Edward Pakenham, who arrived with his Peninsular War
veterans on December 13, 1815. Pakenham, along with several of his generals, were killed in this
one-sided battle that helped propel Andrew Jackson into the White House. From the battle, we have
this account that was previously published by an anonymous British officer who fought there:

"We marched," said this officer, "in solid column in a direct line, upon the American defenses. I
belonging to the staff; and as we advanced, we watched through our glasses, the position of the
enemy, with that intensity an officer only feels when marching into the jaws of death. It was a
strange sight, that breastwork, with the crowds of beings behind, their heads only visible above
the line of defense. We could distinctly see the long rifles lying on the works, and the batteries
in our front with their great mouths gaping towards us. We could see the position of General
Jackson, with his staff around him. But what attracted our attention most was the figure of a tall
man standing on the breastworks dressed in linsey-woolsey, with buckskin leggins and a broad-
brimmed hat that fell around his face almost concealing his features. He was standing in one of
those picturesque graceful attitudes peculiar to those natural men dwelling in forests. The body
rested on the left leg and swayed with a curved line upward. The right arm was extended, the hand
grasping the rifle near the muzzle, the butt of which rested near the toe of his right foot. With
his left hand he raised the rim of his hat from his eyes and seemed gazing intently on our
advancing column. The cannon of the enemy had opened up on us and tore through our ranks with
dreadful slaughter; but we continued to advance unwavering and cool, as if nothing threatened our

'The roar of the cannon had no effect upon the figure before us; he seemed fixed and motionless as
a statute. At last he moved, threw back his hat rim over the crown with his left hand, raised his
rifle and took aim at our group. At whom had he leveled his piece? But the distance was so great
that we looked at each other and smiled. We saw the rifle flash and very rightly conjectured that
his aim was in the direction of our party. My right hand companion, as noble a fellow as ever rode
at the head of a regiment, fell from his saddle. The hunter paused a few moments without moving
the gun from his shoulder. Then he reloaded and resumed his former attitude. Throwing the hat rim
over his eyes and again holding it up with the left hand, he fixed his piercing gaze upon us, as
if hunting out another victim. Once more, the hat rim was thrown back, and the gun raised to his
shoulder. This time we did not smile, but cast our glances at each other, to see which of us must
die. When again the rifle flashed another of our party dropped to the earth. There was something
most awful in this marching to certain death. The cannon and thousands of musket balls played upon
our ranks, we cared not for; for there was a chance of escaping them. Most of us had walked as
coolly upon batteries more destructive, without quailing, but to know that every time that rifle
was leveled toward us, and its bullet sprang from the barrel, one of us must surely fall; to see
it rest, motionless as if poised on a rack, and know, when the hammer came down, that the
messenger of death drove unerringly to its goal, to know this, and still march on, was awful.

'I could see nothing but the tall figure standing on the breastworks; he seemed to grow, phantom-
like, higher and higher, assuming through the smoke the supernatural appearance of some great
spirit of death. Again did he reload and discharge and reload and discharge his rifle with the
same unfailing aim, and the same unfailing result; and it was with indescribable pleasure that I
beheld, as we marched [towards] the American lines, the sulphorous clouds gathering around us, and
shutting that spectral hunter from our gaze.

'We lost the battle, and to my mind, that Kentucky Rifleman contributed more to our defeat than
anything else; for which he remained to our sight, our attention was drawn from our duties. And
when at last, we became enshrouded in the smoke, the work was completed, we were in utter
confusion and unable, in the extremity, to restore order sufficient to make any successful attack.
The battle was lost."1

James Tandy Ellis of the Filson Club of Louisville, Kentucky "made long inquiry and search for the
name of this Kentucky rifleman, and at last found that his name was E. M. Brank of Greenville,
Kentucky, and... found his grave at Greenville."2 Ephriam McLean Brank was born in Greenville,
Kentucky on Aug. 1, 1790 to Robert Brank and Margaret McLean. He studied law and after the battle,
returned to Greenville. He died at age 84 in 1875 and was buried there.3

Several questions come to mind. Why wasn't Brank himself shot? Second, at what distance did Brank
commence firing and finally, is there any truth to this fabulous tale?

Turning to our first question, how could the British riflemen of the Third Battalion, 95th
Regiment (3/95, later stylized as the Rifle Brigade), who had bested Napoleon's finest
skirmishers, overlook a solitary figure standing atop of the breastworks? It is almost unthinkable
that these Peninsular War veterans would ignore a prime and tempting target. For an explanation,
we turn to Sir Harry Smith, of the 95th who was, at the battle, attached to Sir Pakenham's staff:
"The American riflemen are very slow, though most excellent shots."4 While marksmanship is vital,
3/95 Quartermaster Williams Surtees provides greater details: "[T]he enemy had been quite
prepared, and opened such a heavy fire upon the different columns, and upon our skirmishers, (what
had been formed for some time within 100 or 150 yards of the enemy's works,) as it is not easy to
conceive."5 If we accept Pickles's figure of 2,232 American riflemen to 546 British or 4:1,
Surtees's comment is not unreasonable.6

Furthermore, Surtees provides further insight that increases this disparity: "The right column,
under General Gibbs, was to consist of the 4th, 21st, 44th, and three companies of my battalion...
The left column, commanded by General Keene, was to be composed as follows, viz. - one company of
the 7th, one of the 21st, one of the 43d, and two of ours."7 This further reduced the number of
British riflemen facing American riflemen and increased the ratio enjoyed by the Americans to 7:1
ratio (2,232 v. 239). Corroborating Surtees we have Sir Harry again: "Never since Bueno Ayres had
I witnessed a reverse, and the sight to our eyes, which had looked on victory so often, was
appalling indeed... The fire, I admit, was the most murderous I ever held before or since..."8
Quite a compliment considering Sir Harry fought the Spaniards in Argentina, the Dutch, and
Napoleon and after New Orleans, at Waterloo, in South Africa (Sixth Cape Frontier War) and in
India where he won fame and received knighthood. Put simply, there were more American riflemen
present and being excellent shots, they simply overwhelmed their British counterparts.

The other question concerned the distance from which Brank commenced firing and again Sir Harry
provides a clue. Detailed to a fatigue party tasked with burying their dead, Sir Harry notes: "A
more appalling spectacle cannot be conceived than this common grave. The Colonel, Butler, was very
sulky if I tried to get near the works. This scene was not more that about eighty yards away from
them..."9 A British column marching at ordinary pace covers 62.5 yards per minute (30" pace at 75
paces per minute).10 It would take over six minutes for a column to advance over 400 yards. The
column however, stopped to return fire. Sir Harry again: "[H]ad our heaviest column rushed forward
in place of halting to fire under a fire fifty times superior, our national honour would not have
been tarnished, but have gained fresh lustre."11 It was at this distance that most soldiers fell
and were buried. Furthermore, 80 yards is beyond effective range of a musket armed soldier who
lack marksmanship training.

With the exception of Brank, the Americans weren't offering a "figure of a man" and only their
heads were visible from behind the earthworks. Like at Breed's Hill during the American
Revolution, the British column stopped to fire when it should have rushed forward. While it is
possible that Brank commenced firing from 400 yards distance, that isn't as plausible considering
he was firing from an offhand position. For steadiness, rifle shooting at 300-400 yards is
generally done either prone or laying upon one's back. Recall during the American Revolution when
the bugleman whose horse was both behind and between that of Lt. Cols. Banastre Tarleton & George
Hanger was shot from 400 yards by a rifleman who "laid himself down on his belly; for, in such
positions, they always lie, to make a good shot at a long distance." Given that Branks fired at
least four times and that it takes about a minute to reload, or three minutes altogether for three
reloads, the column would have, at ordinary pace, advanced 187.5 yards. Add the 80 yards where
most soldiers fell and we attain a minimal distance of 267.5 yards. Since Brank "resumed his
former attitude" after his first shot, some distance must be added and how much more is left to

We turn now to the final question, that is, whether a solitary rifleman could wreak such havoc.
Surtees who, "was not in it... but I was so posted as to see it plainly," provides corroboration:
"[T]he right column never reached the point to which it was directed; but from the dreadful fire
of every kind poured into it, some of the battalions began to waver, to halt and fire, and at last
one of them completely broke, and became disorganized."12 That battalion was the 44th Foot and our
anonymous British officer was most likely among them. Before the battle Smith noted: "The soldiers
were sulky, and neither the 21st nor the 44th were distinguished for discipline - certainly not of
the sort I had been accustomed to."13 Seeing the 44th break, Pakenham cried out to an aide, "Lost
for the want of courage," and rode off to rally them and while doing so, was fatally wounded.14

Clearly Brank did not repel the entire column single-handedly and he enjoyed the support of
cannons as well over 2,000 fellow riflemen. This does not belittle Brank's achievement but places
it into proper perspective. His was the "influence on the mind" that broke the officers' resolve.
With its officers terror stricken, the men leaderless and demoralized from artillery and rifle
fire, it is easy to see why the 44th broke. British casualties being over 33% (2,100 killed or
wounded and over 500 captured), the prowess earned by the Revolutionary War American rifleman was
not tarnished by those at New Orleans.



1. The original handwritten note is now in the University of Chicago's Durett collection. Per the
note, it was copied from an article published in ―The Republic‖ (Boston, 1832) by William Walcott.
Brank was a lieutenant in the Kentucky Detached Militia. Most of the Kentucky Militia served with
Gen. Morgan on the southern bank of the river. Note: Newspapers subscribed to other newspapers as
a source of non-local news. It is conjectured that the Boston Republic copied this article from an
English paper.

2. In a conversation on June 13, 2003 at Bowling Green, KY, rifle builder Hershel House told me
that he tried to locate Brank‘s grave, but could not. Hershel related the oral tradition that
Brank stood atop the parapet to fire while others loaded for him.

3. Brank‘s house is marked by Kentucky Historical Marker 761 off of US 62. He is interred at Old
Greenville Cemetary (Kentucky Historical Marker 1609).

4. Smith, Sir Harry, The Autobiography of Sir Harry Smith - 1787-1819, London, 1999, 229.
Hereafter cited as Smith.

5. Surtees, William, Twenty-Five Years in the Rifle Brigade,; reprint London: Greenhill Books,
1996, 373-374. Hereafter cited as Surtees.

6. Pickles, Tim, New Orleans 1815: Andrew Jackson Crushes The British, London, 1993. Page 32 and
37. In the March 25 night engagement prior to New Orleans, the 95th incurred 123 casualties
(killed, wounded or missing). See Cope, Sir William H., The History of the Rifle Brigade, 1870;
reprint, East Sussex: Naval &Military Press, 185. Hereafter cited as Cope.

7. Surtees, 370-371.

8. Ibid at 237-247.

9. Ibid at 241.

10. Nafziger, George, Imperial Bayonets, London: Greenhill Books, 1996. See pages 67-68.

11. Smith at 247. The losses suffered by the 3/95 at New Orleans was one sergeant and ten riflemen
killed, seven officers, five sergeants and eighty-nine riflemen wounded. See Cope, 190.

12. Surtees at 374.

13. Smith at 232.

14. Quoted by Pickles on page 73.

About the author:
Gary Yee is finishing his research on the blackpowder sharpshooter and will have his book,
Sharpshooters, released soon. Sharpshooters examines the blackpowder sharpshooter from the French-
Indian War through the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Era, American Civil War and other wars
up to the Boer War.

This article first appeared in the August 2003 edition of Muzzle Blast magazine. It is republished
with their permission.


Back to Articles

Snipers in Bosnia

< 1999
By 2LT H.J. Halterman

TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina- For now, the two men are just watching- the lady who comes out to feed
her chickens every day, the man who yells at his cows, the schoolchildren who fight in the
clearing. From atop their sandbagged bunker high atop the coal-fired heating plant, the men,
stripped of the cumbersome gear other soldiers carry, study the quaint hillside before them,
memorizing every detail. They are U.S. Army snipers: merciless recorders of detail and relentless
noticers of change. For now, their weapons- a thick barreled, bolt-action M-24 sniper rifle and a
harpoon-like .50-caliber single-shot- lean idle in the corner. It is with their eyes and their
minds that Spc.Damian Mackie, 25, and Sgt Andrew Measels, 26 are preparing for their work. So that
at the slightest deviation in routine, the merest hint that might signal approaching menace, they
are ready and reaching for the corner.

To this savage conflict that frequently was ruled- and still is threatened- by the terror of the
sniper, Mackie of Seattle and Measels of Springfield, VA., bring a cold-blooded professionalism.

Members of the elite, eagle-eyed "recon platoon," 3rd Airborne Battalion of the 325th Infantry
Regiment, their job is to plant fear in the hearts of enemy snipers. Serious and not given to
jest, they are grim equalizers: experts at what they call "target reduction." "One shot, one
kill," they and their comrades repeat like a mantra, gathered around the little stove in their
tent on the U.S. air base near here. One shot, one kill. Early last week, assembled in their tent
and perched atop the coal tower as darkness fell, these restless soldiers sought to explain what
they do, and what makes them tick.

There are 18 men in the platoon, 11 of whom are trained snipers. They work in two-person teams-
one spotter, one shooter- at three elevated locations around the airfield outside this town, which
has become the main U.S. base in Bosnia. Their job is to protect the base and also to provide a
deterrent to anyone who might ponder a pot shot. So rash an act, they say, would invite instant
and lethal retaliation. Here, they work in shifts of 24 to 48 hours, constantly varying their
routine. But they have been trained for jobs that can take a week. "So 24 hours isn't really
anything," said SPC Jason D. Shepherd, 24 of Hammonton, N.J.

They are experts at stalking, camouflage, range estimation and target detection. They all have the
Army's hard-earned Ranger qualification. They must be specially selected to join the platoon. And
they are older than the average line soldier. For often, said the platoon commander, Lt. Greg
Beaudoin, 25, of Dalton Ga., they must "make a call" to shoot or not, in a split second with no
guidance from superiors. "It's a lot of pressure on them," he said.

The snipers' chief tool is the M-24, the equivalent to a high-powered hunting rifle in the
civilian world, Shepherd said a few hours after getting off duty. "I treat my weapon like it's my
baby," he said. "The ideal mission in the worst-case scenario is you never want to fire more than
twice from one position," he said. "You want to kill who you have to kill and leave." "The most
feared soldier on the battlefield is a trained sniper," he said. "It might take him weeks to get
that one shot. But when he gets it, he'll get it and it will be right on." A few hundred yards
away, high atop the coal plant, Mackie and Measels, who both learned to shoot as youngsters, were
on duty in OP-1 [Operations Point One], watching dusk fall on the Bosnian countryside. Measels
stood in a corner of the roofed, floored bunker, watching through a shoebox-size hole cut in the
fiberboard wall. A radio handset was fastened to the wall inches from his face. Nearby were a
high-powered viewing scope and a laser range finder. A box of Army rations sat against the wall.
The weapons leaned in the corner. Were something to crop up now, Mackie would be the shooter, and
Measels the observer.

But all is very quiet, as it has been for the past few weeks they have been in Bosnia. "Generally,
it's the same thing day in and day out," Measels said. "You see the lady with the chickens. In the
morning she goes out, feeds the chickens." "Then there's the Muslim lady that lives down the hill.
She walks down the hill, gathers water from that drainage ditch, then she walks up the hill with
two pails of water."

It is a gentle routine, he said. But now that they know it, any change can be noted: if the two
women cease to appear, for example, or their movements become unusual. "The locals will know,"
Measels said. "If something's going to happen, they're going to know before we're going to know.
By watching their routine, if there is anything different, we can react to that difference." Said
Mackie: "Kind of like the suspicious man next door, we're always staring at things that have
always been there, just seeing if there are any changes. It's the little things that usually show
up." As he spoke, darkness descended on the rural landscape framed in the snipers' window. House
lights winked on as usual. Cars drove down the little lane, as usual. Mackie and Measels attached
the big night vision scope to the M-24. But Measels still watched anxiously out the little window,
like a man awaiting a train. The radio crackled briefly to life. But it's nothing much. The vigil
went on. Darkness now filled the bunker. "OP-1." Measels radioed in reply. "Roger, out."


Defense Dept., Marine Corps, U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga.


Back to Articles

A sniper's tale
By Andrew Rule
April 26, 2004

   Print this article
  Email to a friend

No one knows exactly how many of the enemy Ian Robertson killed in Korea - picking them off one by
one through the sights of his rifle. Andrew Rule asks the former sniper about living with his

The deadliest man in Australia comes from Melbourne, but he is not a gangster or a hitman. He is
more a foxtrotting man, these days. He can do the modern waltz and knows a lot of fancy dance
steps - Miami rumba, Buck's Fizz jive - but his slow foxtrot slays them down at the senior cits'.

He and his wife of 51 years glide across the floor like Fred and Ginger - him in neatly pressed
slacks and comfy zip-up black pumps, trigger finger gently touching the small of her back, left
arm out in front, steady as ever.
At 77, they are among the oldest couples here, but they can show the youngsters a few moves. A
watcher would never guess they took up dancing only in their 60s and that, for him, it's therapy
for the effects of the battering his body took on the battlefield.

It's the Friday night ballroom dancing class at the Evergreen senior citizens' club in Balwyn, a
suburb so respectable that people joke about it. A portrait of the Queen hangs next to an
Australian flag. In the foyer, a table of sandwiches and cakes ("ladies, a plate please") is ready
for supper, with tea bags and instant coffee in styrofoam cups.



The regulars greet the old digger by his nickname, Robbie, when he arrives with Miki, his wife.
Florence, the Chinese woman who runs the dance with her husband, beams at him and sings his
praises. Robbie has "a heart of gold", she says. Others chorus agreement, and line up between
dances for his famous neck massages. "He's very good - and never charges," says Florence. She
thinks he has healing hands.

In his other life, healing wasn't part of the job description.

In fact, in all of modern warfare, few were more fatally efficient than this kindly grandfather.
No one knows just how many dozen enemy soldiers he killed in eight bone-chilling months in Korea,
except the man himself. And he's not saying much.

Ian "Robbie" Robertson was born in Melbourne in 1927. His mother toiled over a boot-stitching
machine from age 14 to 74. His father had been a teenage rifleman and bugler wounded at Gallipoli.
One uncle was killed at the Anzac landing in 1915; another won a Military Cross as an airman in
France. The family was self-employed but not wealthy.

On weekends the men used to go shooting.

When Hollywood made a film, Enemy at the Gates, about a sniping duel at Stalingrad between a
German marksman and the Soviet propaganda hero, "noble sniper" Vassili Zaitsev, the opening scene
showed Zaitsev as a child, shooting a wolf in his native Siberia. Zaitsev - famous for shooting
hundreds of Germans - was a skilled hunter before joining the army. It was the same with young
Robbie Robertson, and a lot of other Australian and American snipers.

Growing up in the Depression in the struggling northern suburbs, the boy learned to shoot at a
young age. The countryside

close by was crawling with rabbits, which were meat and money for battlers. Rabbit traps, ferrets
and a .22 "pea rifle" meant survival as well as sport.

Robertson's father was a crack shot - he had been a sniper at Gallipoli - and his uncles were good
hunters. They taught the kid to stalk, freeze and watch, scanning the ground until he spotted a
rabbit by the shine of its eye. He had a keen eye, a steady hand and lots of practice. A head-shot
rabbit could be eaten or sold, a gut-shot one was dogs' meat and its skin worthless, so he had to
shoot quick and clean.

Robertson went to Northcote State School, then left Collingwood Tech at 13 to be a carrier's
"jockey" on a truck, working around the boot trade. Later, he was a storeman.

In 1943, at 16, he almost bluffed his way into the army - which would have meant fighting in New
Guinea - but the recruiting sergeant told his father, who told Robbie that if the Japanese invaded
he should be home to protect his mother and sisters. He finally enlisted when he was 18, missing
the end of the war, and was sent to the occupation of Japan in 1946.

If communist North Korea, tacitly backed by the Soviet Union and China, had not invaded South
Korea in June 1950, Robertson might have served out his time without firing a shot in anger. But
when the United Nations agreed to immediate retaliation by its members, led by the US, Australian
troops were among the first sent to Korea to join a thinly veiled struggle between the world's
Cold War superpowers. Once China joined North Korea, the UN "police action" would become a three-
year war costing more than a million lives, including 33,000 Americans and 339 of the 18,000
Australians who served there.

In Japan, Robertson had been working as the battalion photographer, but with war looming he was
made a sniper because he was one of the 10 best marksmen among the battalion's 600 troops. It was
like being picked for the school sports, but more dangerous.

He went to Korea in the autumn of 1950. Days were crisp but nights freezing, a taste of the cruel
winter ahead. If an enemy bomb or bullet didn't kill you, the standard-issue Australian uniform
might: it was hopeless for northern winters. To survive, diggers had to beg, barter or steal extra
gear - woollen caps, gauntlets, mittens, waterproofs - from the Americans, who had plenty of

Snipers were issued with a modified version of the venerable Lee-Enfield .303 rifle used by
British Empire troops since the Boer War half a century before. The sniper model had a small
telescopic sight and a heavy barrel, but otherwise was little different from

a million others lugged by Allied infantry in two world wars.

Robertson could group 15 rounds in a space smaller than his fist at 300 metres, hit a target the
size of a man's head at 600 metres, and

was confident of hitting a man from 800 to 1000 metres if conditions were right. Not that long-
range marksmanship helped much in his first engagement.

It was their first week in Korea. Robertson and his first sniper partner, a South Australian
called Lance Gully, were escorting their commanding officers on reconnaissance - driving ahead in
a Jeep to "clear the ground".

It meant they would draw enemy fire first, protecting the officers.

They stopped their Jeep and split up to scout on foot. Minutes later, Gully surprised 30 or more
enemy soldiers hiding in a ditch. They showered him with hand grenades. He jumped in the ditch
with them to avoid the blasts, then backed out of it, firing as he went. If he missed he was dead.
After nine shots for nine hits, a grenade burst wounded him.

When he heard firing, Robbie ran to help. He saw a flap of his mate's bloodied scalp hanging off
his head and a crazy thought struck him: "Lance looks sharp with that Mohawk haircut." The wounded
man screamed: "There's a million of them in there, and they're all yours."

Years before, an old digger had told him how to survive superior numbers at close range: Keep both
eyes open, point and snap-shoot, count the shots and reload after six.

And be aggressive: give them time to think and they'll kill you...

He ran up to the ditch, shooting anyone who opposed him, squeezed off six shots then ran back,
jammed in another clip and ran

at the ditch again. He did it six times, until no one was left alive.

Gully had shot nine. The rest of the jumble of bodies were down to Robertson. He could hardly
believe he was alive, unhurt apart from a furrow across his wrist left by a machine-gun bullet. It
was a miracle.

Officially, it was a "skirmish" at the start of what historians call the Battle of the Apple
Orchard. Lance Gully returned to the line later, but the shrapnel in his body made him too sick to

So the boy from Preston got a new sniping partner, a reputation and the first of a lifetime of
recurring dreams.
They call Korea the forgotten war, but the old digger can't forget it. "Every battle happened
yesterday," he says, his voice serious. "When people are trying to kill you, it concentrates your
mind. You don't leave it behind."

Retired Warrant Officer Robertson easily passes for a happy man - a law-abiding, patriotic,
devoted husband and grandfather with a lively mind hidden behind hearty humour. But only a fool or
a psychopath could forget the things he's seen and done

in the line of duty, and he is neither.

Sometimes, when he closes his eyes he sees the dead, and they are many. The memories turn into
dreams when he sleeps. "You relive situations based on what happened," he says. "You are always
going on to attack another hill. All the strain of it comes back..." His voice trails off.

He is sitting on a couch in the spotless living room of the couple's spotless 1960s brick veneer,
in a street that could come from a Howard Arkley painting. The floorboards have been stripped and
polished and every surface gleams, but there is a pleasant clutter of souvenirs. On the television
set is a tiny teddy bear and a calendar with the words: "Show kindness to others."

Robertson's iron-grey hair is worn in a crewcut and his eyes are piercing. He wears glasses only
when he has to read, looks tanned and fit for his age and still has the restlessness of a man of

The house is full of evidence of various hobbies - since retiring he has learned not only massage,
but riding, saddlery and military drumming. He made the elaborately tooled Western saddle that
sits on a stand near the front door. His study is crammed with reference books, military histories
and biographies.

He is a good talker - but not about himself, for fear of being branded a "big noter". He keeps
quiet about his wartime role except with a few ex-army friends.

"It's a bit like belonging to one of those lodges," he deadpans. "Nobody likes snipers, you know,"
he adds. "I'm not ashamed of it, but I don't want to be called a murderer by some bleeding

He doesn't want to be cast as "some sort of heroic figure", either: "I'm not. We just lived it."
He finds it hard to explain what it was like - the fear, boredom, filth, cold and horror, and the
guilt-edged elation at surviving - to anyone who wasn't there.

"It's like a seamstress talking to a bricklayer - there's nothing in common." Fragments of the
real story emerge haltingly, and over several days.

His past hasn't caused him much trouble "because I didn't tell anyone", he says. But a few times
during the 30 years since he left the regular army, someone told "the people I worked with [about
him being a sniper] and it would rankle for a while. They'd call me things like 'trained killer'.
I'd tell them it was a long time ago."

It's a sore point. He jokes he doesn't want to be seen as "Uncle Vinnie in the Mafia" - some sort
of cold-blooded killer for hire.

Snipers often had to shoot in cold blood - rather than in the heat of an enemy assault - but that
didn't make them murderers. They were doing their sworn duty, under legitimate orders and the
conventions of warfare, against an armed enemy trying to kill them.

Still, sniping is the dark art of conventional warfare. In America's gun culture, it attracts a
fringe celebrity status that supports a growing list of books and websites. Australians are more

In World War I, a Queensland kangaroo shooter, Trooper Billy Sing, became a household name for
reputedly killing more than 150 Turks at Gallipoli. He was later decorated for bravery but fame
turned into notoriety in peacetime. He was called "an assassin" and
"a murderer" and died divorced, broke and alone in a rented Brisbane room in 1943. Robertson fears
being demonised the same way.

Snipers were no more "murderers" - or "heroes" - than pilots, artillerymen or army cooks. They
were just more cost effective,

with the best snipers averaging about 1.3 rounds per "kill".

"But we weren't a lot of Hollywood macho idiots carving notches in our rifle butts," Robertson
says fiercely. "We were never body counters." Apart from the first furious fire fight he so
miraculously survived, Rambo it wasn't. It was dirty and dangerous and bitterly cold.

They called it "mobile warfare", with the Allies pushing North Korean and Chinese troops from
ridge to ridge in one of the bleakest battlefields in the world. In that winter of 1950-51,
temperatures plunged far below freezing, oil froze on rifle bolts, frostbite was a constant
threat. They went weeks without a bath, and wore pyjamas underneath their uniform and scarves,
balaclavas, waterproof coats and heavy American "pile" caps.

The hills "were as steep as pyramids". Robertson's pack was heavier than most: he always carried
two days' rations and 300 rounds of ammunition, in case he was caught outside the lines. Climbing
hills in the snow, wearing several layers of clothes, made him sweat. And sweat froze.

Every few hours, he had to scrape together some twigs on the lee of a ridge, get a fire going with
lighter fluid, take off his sodden boots and "cook" them next to the flames, then whip off his wet
socks and swap them for a stinking pair kept under his jacket to dry from body heat. To prevent
frostbite he would rub his feet, then jam on the hot boots.

"Every night we'd have to dig through 18 inches [45 centimetres] of ice to reach unfrozen earth to
sleep in. In the mornings we couldn't wake blokes up because they'd be down with hypothermia."
They slept with their rifles to stop the metal freezing. If the barrel froze, fingers would stick
to it, just as their lips stuck to metal mugs.

Robertson had two cameras in Korea, and often had one slung around his neck. He took a lot of
photographs of fellow soldiers - now held by the War Memorial in Canberra - but few action shots.
When there was action he shot with a rifle, not his Canon.

He saw scenes he refused to photograph. Once, they found a tiny church full of bodies. Men, women
and children had been beaten to death. "I took one look and walked out. They [North Koreans] had
been torturing the kids in front of their parents to make the parents 'confess' to something, then
they'd kill all of them. We found the kids' bodies with their arms and legs broken."

They found villagers bound hand and foot and buried in latrine pits to die. In

other places, victims were trussed with wire looping their necks to their legs so that they
strangled themselves. "I can't forgive the communists for what they did," he says.

After 54 years, memories petrify into a series of frozen moments, like random snapshots from an
old album. He remembers not only brutality but acts of courage and kindness.

He talks of his battalion rescuing a regiment of American paratroopers, who were under siege,
almost out of ammunition and getting ready to die when the Australians arrived.

"When the Yanks saw our big hats they let out a cheer because they thought we were Texans!" he
grins. "We sailed into the enemy so hard they withdrew. The American commander was so grateful
that when he went home he fenced off part of his ranch, and put up a sign and an Australian flag."

At Pakchon, a raft of wounded Australians capsized crossing an icy river. Robertson saw a digger
with a jagged piece of brass shell case hanging from his belly struggle through the icy water to
save another wounded man. Both should have died but both lived.

At Chongju, he saw five Korean children, terrified, caught in the battlefield. "I called to them
in Japanese, 'Come here', and they ran over to where our mortars were. The mortarmen got the kids
to hop in the gun pits and gave them their own helmets to protect them. There wasn't enough room
so the two mortarmen jumped out and took their chance in the open. I remember those little faces
looking up at them - thankful, with a bit of reverence."

He remembers a soldier called Carl Whittaker, last man standing of 20 diggers mowed down during a
bayonet charge. Instead of going to ground, Whittaker shouldered two rifles, picked up his wounded
mate and carried him to shelter behind a paddyfield wall - then continued the charge on his own.
Bullets hit the ground all around him but he kept going. While the enemy was distracted by the
lone Australian running at them, a reserve section was able to run across and take the enemy

"He was worth two Victoria Crosses," says Robertson. "But he got nothing but a bawling out for
stopping to pick up the wounded fella. It was against orders."

The old soldier is a methodical man. Keen to see Good Weekend properly briefed, he takes two pages
of A4 paper and a sharp pencil and makes neat columns of terse notes about the Korean campaign.

In a column headed winter he begins, "North wind from Siberia and Manchuria - howling gale -
covers the rivers with ice in one day", then grows long and detailed, moving from weather and
clothing (he lent his fur-lined flying boots to everyone who did sentry duty) to the problems
peculiar to snipers:

"Laying up in hides [was] a problem - frozen stiff - low circulation danger. Fingers cracked,
knuckles skun and infected, knees bruised and aching from slipping in icy slopes. Breath freezing
on upper lip, chilblains, nose chapped and raw..."

It is thorough but there is no devil in the detail, no insight into the thoughts of men who had to
keep still for hours, watching

and waiting to shoot or be shot. It skirts the unspoken questions of 50 years: What was it like to
hunt humans? How many did you kill?

He still has too much field craft to leave himself exposed. He won't bare his soul - deflecting
questions with half-answers and digressions. He handles the subject his way, telling a story about
what he calls his "private war" at a place they called Hill 614.

It was late winter, early 1951. He followed the same routine he had dozens of times. At dawn he
crawled into the open, forward and to one side of the Australian line. He found a depression away
from any landmark or reference point - "never get behind a tree or a big rock" - and fired an
incendiary round across the valley so he could adjust his rifle sights to the distance, about 1000
metres. Then he inched to another spot nearby. He was filthy with mud, and blended in with rocks
and patches of melted snow. He rested his rifle on his pack and waited his chance.

Through the telescopic sight he could see enemy soldiers with binoculars scanning his hillside. He
aimed at one - putting the vertical "post" of the sight on the point of the chin - but did not
fire until they turned to talk to each other, in case they saw a movement or rifle flash that
would give him away.

The rifle's recoil meant he didn't see a bullet strike, so he could not be dead certain he had hit
a particular target. A near miss meant his quarry would duck and hide, anyway. He was never sure
which bullet was fatal. He found this element of doubt oddly comforting.

At Hill 614, in between scouting sorties, he spent hours alone on the hillside, methodically
picking off his marks, one by one. He called it "switching them off". After each shot he would
work the bolt gently to lever in another round, then lie stock still.

The Chinese had a proverb: Kill one man, terrorise a thousand. It was true, and it meant that each
day, with each death, his job grew more dangerous.

All snipers were hated, good ones were feared. The better he shot, the more desperate enemy
officers would be to kill him to stop the loss of morale. This is the sniper's dilemma: the more
enemies you hit, the more return fire you attract and the more likely you are to die. Call it a
Catch .303.
His only chance was to melt into the landscape. To make sure his muzzle blast didn't disturb
grass, leaves or dirt. To avoid any quick movement. To resist the temptation to hide among trees
and rocks that would attract artillery fire designed to deafen or maim if it didn't kill outright.
If you held your nerve, it was safer in the open.

Sometimes he wondered what they called him. Feared snipers were given names by the enemy...

At the end of a week, the Australians took the hill with a bayonet charge, led by a heroic figure
called Len Opie, who took several strongholds single-handedly. Robertson ran up to the enemy
position he'd been shooting at earlier that day, and saw something he never forgot. Where he had
been firing, there were 30 bodies. One morning's bloody work.

"Just one morning," he repeats, shaking his head. "And I'd been there all week. I got a feeling of
horror. I never did the arithmetic.

I still don't want to."

The Chinese did do the arithmetic.

A few months later, in April 1951, a mortar opened fire with pinpoint precision at the spot where
Robertson and his sniper partner were. It was obvious the mortar had worked out where the snipers
should be in relation to their platoon.

First the explosions burst his eardrums, then shrapnel ripped through his right hand. By next day
it was "the size of a pumpkin".

Before they shipped him to hospital in Japan two days later, he handed in his binoculars, compass,
watch and rifle to the quartermaster. He would return to Korea much later, as a platoon sergeant,
but his sniping days were over.

In 1952, he returned to Australia to shoot in the Queen's Medal target shooting competition, and
ran second. While he was there, two old diggers took him to Preston RSL, in the suburb where he
had grown up.

He had been wounded three times under fire, and had accounted for more enemy soldiers than he
cared to think about. But the man on the door wouldn't let him in - on grounds that "Korea was
only a police action, not a real war."

Years later, the same RSL branch asked him to join. "I told them to stick it up their arse."

There are postscripts to his story. He married his Japanese sweetheart, Miki, brought her home to
Australia and raised three daughters. He went to Vietnam in 1970, and came home a wreck - a
victim, he thinks, not of Agent Orange but of Russian toxins used by the Vietcong. He retreated to
a caravan on a bush block for months, and thinks he would have died there if it hadn't been for
his faithful dog, who barked at him every morning until he took him for a walk.

He has been a firearms instructor but has never been hunting since Korea. "I would hunt to feed
myself but never for sport," he says.

He learned to ride and joined a Light Horse historical re-enactment group that takes part in
parades. He still rides. Tomorrow, as in recent years, he will ride in Melbourne's Anzac Day
parade in Light Horse uniform on a borrowed police horse. His own horse is too old to use now. He
feeds him every day and dreads losing him. When his other horse - this one's mother - was injured
several years ago, he knew what had to be done but couldn't bring himself to do it.

The rifleman who once killed 30 men before lunch paid a veterinary surgeon to give his old mare a
lethal injection.

                This article originally appeared in the June 1989 edition
                              of the American RIFLEMAN
                                                           Rudyard Kipling and
                                                           Arthur Conan Doyle
                                                           both witnessed the
                                                          lethal fire that Boer
                                                            rained on British
                                                          troops in 1899. They
                                                            returned home to
                                                            promote civilian
                                                          marksmanship through
                                                            the expansion of
                                                             rifle clubs in

                                                           BY PHILIP BOURJAILY

                                                          THE civilian rifle
                                                          club movement in
                                                          England grew out of
                                                          the disasters of the
                                                          first months of the
                                                          Anglo-Boer War late
                                                          in 1899. The British
                                                          Army suffered a
series of reverses at the hands of outnumbered civilians unlike anything the
nation had witnessed in the prior years. One of the shocking revelations of the
war was the poor standard of marksmanship in the army compared to that of the
Boers. The Boers grew up hunting and riding; each burgher provided his own
horse and rifle when he joined his commando. These expert game shots, partial
to the bolt-action Mauser repeater, took a heavy toll on British troops often
ordered to advance in long lines as if fighting lightly armed tribesmen.

Two men who would later found rifle clubs early in the movement were among the
many who followed the course of the war with great anxiety: Rudyard Kipling and
Arthur Conan Doyle.

Kipling, the poet laureate of the British Army, was appalled to read in the
papers how the regulars he had glorified in his stories and poems were mauled
repeatedly by a handful of farmers. He tried to help on the home front, first
by a failed attempt to start a volunteer company in the resort town of
Rottingdean where he lived, then by writing ``The Absent Minded Beggar."

The poem was critically reviled but extremely successful in its purpose of
raising money for the wives and families of soldiers serving in South Africa.
Finally on Jan. 20, 1900, Rudyard Kipling left for Cape Town to see the
situation firsthand.

Sherlock Holmes creator Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle had been turned down by the
Middlesex Yeomanry when he applied for a commission early in the war, but he
was subsequently offered a position on the staff of a private field hospital
due to leave for the front in the spring of 1900. In the intervening months,
Conan Doyle experimented with an idea: since the Boers often fought from
trenches, why not drop bullets on their heads via "high angle" rifle fire?
Conan Doyle made and tested a prototype high angle sight and wrote several
letters to the War Office promoting his idea, which was rejected as

The tide of the war had already turned in favor of the British when Conan Doyle
arrived at Lord Roberts` headquarters in the city of Bloemfontein on April 2,
                        1900. Kipling, who had just spent six weeks working on
                        the staff of the military newspaper The Bloemfontein
                        Friend, returned to Cape Town on April 3. Although the
                        two authors were mutual admirers and casual friends--
                        Conan Doyle had been a house guest of the Kiplings in
                        Vermont in 1894--apparently they just missed one
                        another in South Africa.

                         Dr. Conan Doyle and the staff of the Langman Hospital
                         were soon swamped by a massive outbreak of typhoid
                         fever among the troops after the Boers cut off the
                         city`s fresh water supply. Nevertheless, Conan Doyle
                         found time to go briefly into combat with the army
                         during its advance on the town of Brandfort. He was as
                         impressed with the scale of the modern battlefield and
                         the range of the weapons as Kipling had been when he
                         witnessed the battle of Karee Siding in March. At one
point during the fighting, Kipling wrote: ". . . (we) move(d) forward to the
lip of a large hollow where sheep were grazing. Some of them began to drop and
kick. `That`s both sides trying sighting shots` said my companion. `What range
do you make it?` I asked. `Eight hundred at the nearest. That`s close quarters
nowadays. You`ll never see anything closer. Modern rifles make it impossible. `

Although the Boer War offered firsthand proof to the British that accurate
rifles had changed the nature of warfare, a tremendous enthusiasm had
surrounded the rifle since the authorization of the volunteer rifle companies
in 1859. The volunteers, a Victorian fad for amateur soldiering, were
popularized by periodic rumors of a French ironclad battle fleet. The National
Rifle Association of Great Britain was founded in 1859 as well, to promote a
national taste for rifle shooting and thereby sustain interest among the
volunteers between invasion scares. The association`s stated aim was to make
the rifle "what the bow was in the days of the Plantagenets"--a national
weapon. For the history-conscious Victorians, the parallels between the rifle,
a weapon requiring far more skill and practice than the smoothbore musket it
replaced, and the longbow, were irresistible.

Queen Victoria, whose reign stretched into the Boer War, fired the opening shot
at the British NRA`s first meeting at Wimbledon on July 1, 1860. The British
NRA`s birth preceded the American NRA`s by 12 years.

"What the `clothyard shaft and grey goose-wing` effected, when guided by an
English eye and an English hand at Crecy and Agincourt, the rifle bullet will
do in any future contest...." wrote Hans Busk in The Rifle and How to Use it.

The London Times went so far as to editorialize: "The change from the old
musket to the modern rifle has acted on the very life of the nation, like the
changes from acorn to wheat and stone to iron are said to have revolutionized
the primitive races of men."

Despite the NRA`s best efforts during the previous 40 years, the war in South
Africa demonstrated clearly that England was not yet a nation of marksmen. In
May 1900 Prime Minister Lord Salisbury called for the formation of civilian
rifle clubs to redress the shortcoming. In a speech to the Primrose League, he
stated his goal was no less than that "a rifle should be kept in every cottage
in the land." In response the NRA formulated its guidelines for the affiliation
of civilian clubs. Ninety-two were formed that first year, among them Rudyard
Kipling`s club at Rottingdean and Arthur Conan Doyle`s Undershaw Rifle Club.
Kipling had returned home to Rottingdean convinced that the English people had
grown too soft and complacent to defend their empire. Not only had the regular
army had a difficult time with the Boers, it had compared poorly to its
colonial allies; the Australians and New Zealanders had adapted easily to the
irregular warfare of their opponents. Kipling was then at the height of his
fame and popularity, and he was determined to use his status as a platform for
moral leadership, both through his writing, and in the summer of 1900, by

The first task facing Kipling as he started the rifle club was in many ways the
most difficult: securing space for a 1000-yd. range. On a small island nation
such space was at a premium; even the royally supported NRA had been forced to
move its annual meeting from Wimbledon to Bisley when stray bullets began
striking the Duke of Cambridge`s property. Nothing less than a full-size range
would do for Kipling, however, and in July he was able to write to his American
friend Dr. James Conland: "... the bulk of my efforts have been in trying to
get a rifle range over these open downs. At last I think I have succeeded and
after untold bothers the landowners have given their consent to our putting up
TARGETS and butts. It was a weary business corresponding with lawyers and land-
agents and generally making oneself agreeable to everyone--but now [that] we
have started a village rifle club I begin to see a reward for my labors."

It was not the Boer War that motivated Kipling but the continental war with
Germany that he already foresaw. He threw himself into club activities, serving
as president, personally paying for new TARGETS to replace the old windmill
type, presenting the club with a Nordenfeldt gun that had been used in South
Africa and taking his turn as musketry instructor, familiarizing club members
with the .303 Enfield service rifle. ". . . my real work this summer has been
connected with our new rifle range," he wrote to Dr. Conland in December. "The
men are just as keen as can be and turn up every week to put in their firing.
Can you imagine me in corduroy clothes and a squash hat with the Club ribbon
around it in charge of a firing party of four on the ground; an hour of
standing over the rifles with one eye on the TARGETS and the other on the men
(Some of `em have queer notions about shooting)."

President Kipling oversaw the construction of a drill shed for winter training.
Although Kipling spent the winter of 1900- 01 in Cape Town, the instructions he
left behind testify to his seriousness about the club`s activities:
Instructions for the use of shed during my absence:

Men to have two evenings a week for MT (Morris Tube) practice and such other
evenings as the Sergeant shall see fit for
Gardner Gun Drill
Guard Drill, etc.
Boys to have two evenings a week. One for MT practice and one for gymnastics.
Boys evenings are not to be Monday and Wednesday.
Men and Boys evenings to be kept separate.
Men to be instructed in gym work if Sergeant thinks fit.
Fatigue parties must be told off to clear up the shed, every night as there
will be no allowance for caretakers.
All damage must be paid for by offender.
The Rifle Club may hold meetings and concerts in the shed under Sergeant`s
supervision. No intoxicating drinks under any circumstances.
Smoking is permitted.
Cst. Gd. Wells is to be in charge of the Gardner Gun with right of way and free
entry into shed for that purpose.

Rudyard Kipling
Arthur Conan Doyle drew a different lesson from the Boer War than did Rudyard
Kipling. Recognizing the English peoples` aversion to conscription, and opposed
to compulsory service himself, Conan Doyle saw the war as proof that civilian
marksmen could effectively resist invasion. He founded the Undershaw Rifle Club
and explained his purpose in a letter to the Glasgow Evening News entitled
``Burghers of the Queen" in December of 1900. Conan Doyle wrote: ". . . the
idea I am working with is simply riflemen drawn from the resident civilians.
The men are quite eager to pay for their own cartridges which, with the Morris
Tube system, can be sold at three for a penny. I made ranges for them at 50, 75
and 100 yds., the latter representing 600 yds. without the Morris Tube system .
. . on Holidays I will give them a prize to shoot for . . . the whole expense
                                  of TARGETS (5), mantlets, rifles (3), with
                                  tubes is not more than £30.``

                                  For the pragmatically minded Conan Doyle, the
                                  "miniature`` or .22 rimfire smallbore range
                                  seemed a more practical solution to the
                                  problem of space than a full-size 1000-yd.
                                  range like the one at Rottingdean. (The
                                  Morris Tube was a barrel insert for the
                                  service rifle that allowed it to chamber the
                                  .297/.230 short or long, a center-fire
                                  equivalent of the .22 rimfire.)

                                  "Miniature Club" .22 rimfire or .297/.230
                                  center-fire rifles were favored by Arthur
                                  Conan Doyle for marksmanship training because
                                  the requirements for ranges were more easily
                                  met than for large bores.

                                  Conan Doyle further proposed that all men
                                  between the ages of 16 and 60 (not
                                  coincidentally the age limits for Boer
                                  soldiers) should train in rifle clubs. Those
                                  reaching a certain level of proficiency would
                                  be awarded a distinctive broad-brimmed hat
                                  and a rifle and bandolier to keep at home, a
                                  "uniform" remarkably like that worn by the

                                  When the military correspondent for the
                                  Westminster Gazetteer criticized his ideas,
                                  Conan Doyle responded: "I have stood all day
                                  today marking for our own corps of civilian
                                  riflemen. Gentlemen, shopboys, cabmen,
                                  carters and peasants were all shooting side
                                  by side. The prize, at a range which was
                                  equivalent to 600 yds., was taken by a top
                                  score of 83 out of 90; 82, 81 and 80 were
                                  next. Fifty men spent their bank holiday at
                                  my butts, and the scene was like a village
competition in Switzerland. Conceive the stupidity that would refuse military
material such as that when all it will ever ask of its country is a rifle and a

By January 1901, Conan Doyle was ready to pronounce the club a success, and he
wrote to the local paper, the Farnham, Haslemere and Hindhead Gazette: "I hope
to see similar clubs started at Headley, Churt, Tilford, Witley, Chiddingfold
and especially at Haslemere. If any gentleman desires to organize one, and so
help in what is a very urgent public duty, I will be happy to furnish him with
full information as to the methods by which we have brought our own success. "
At the end of that summer, Kipling also had reason to be pleased with the
results of his work. He wrote again to Dr. Conland: ". . . the end of the
season shows we have forty very fair shots and about thirty men who at least
know something of shooting. We`ve won every match so far (six in all) that
we`ve shot against outside teams; and some of the teams were fairly strong

Unfortunately, we have no better account of Kipling`s marksmanship other than
that he shot "adequately" despite his poor eyesight and that he scored a
bullseye at the opening ceremonies of the Winchester Drill Hall. He was,
however, a fierce competitor, shooting in all of the club`s matches, serious to
the point of surliness. When a member of the visiting Newhaven Volunteers
expressed his interest in meeting the great man at a match in Rottingdean,
Kipling snapped "Well, now you can see the animal on his own ground."

   Kipling eschewed special treatment, insisting that everyone must "muck in
  together" in the important business of preparing for war. Unfortunately his
   celebrity drove him away from the resort town of Rottingdean and the rifle
club. Curious sightseers continuously invaded his privacy, and a local tour bus
 line made his house one of its most popular stops. Late in the summer of 1902,
   the Kiplings moved to a house in the country. The Islanders was published
  shortly thereafter. In the scathingly sarcastic poem, Kipling made plain his
 scorn for the English people he felt would rather play games than prepare for
  war, and ridiculed the Duke of Wellington`s notion that wars were won on the
                            playing fields of Eton:
          Will ye pitch some white pavillion and lustily even the odds
        With nets and hoops and mallets, with rackets and bats and rods?
     Will the rabbit war with your foeman-- the red deer horn him for hire?
        Your kept cock pheasant keep you-- he is master of many a shire
              Arid, aloof, incurious, unthinking, unthanking, gelt
  Will ye loose your schools to flout them, till their brow beat columns melt?
            Kipling`s proposed solution was simple and true to form:
            Each man born to the Island, broke to the matter of war
              Soberly and by custom taken and trained for the same
            Each man born to the Island entered at youth to the game
            As it were almost cricket, not to be mastered in haste.

Although by then Kipling`s hands-on work with the rifle club movement had
ended, he continued to support any cause that he believed would promote
strength and readiness. He wrote the "Patrol Song" for Boer War hero Baden-
Powell`s newly formed Boy Scouts and spoke out on behalf of the National
Service League`s efforts to implement conscription. "The Parable of Boy Jones,"
written by Kipling in 1910 for The Rifleman, official organ of the Society of
Miniature Rifle Clubs, gave a detailed fictional account of rifle club shooting
indoors and out.

Arthur Conan Doyle, knighted in 1902 for his wartime service as a doctor and
two books, The Great Anglo-Boer War and The War in South Africa: Its Cause and
Conduct, left the healthy Undershaw Rifle Club in other hands and turned his
attentions elsewhere. In 1905, however, he was prompted to write again on the
subject of miniature rifle clubs in support of Lord Roberts, who had become the
president of the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs.

Writing to the London Times in June 1905, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle presented his
case, making the inevitable comparison to the Middle Ages: "The first point
which is worth insisting upon is that a man trained at a miniature range
(whether Morris Tube or otherwise) does become an efficient shot almost at once
when he is allowed to use a full range. What with the low trajectory and
absence of recoil in a modern rifle the handling of the weapon is much the same
in either case. I am speaking now of an outdoor range where a man must allow
for windage and raise his sights to fire . . . It was skill at the parish butts
which made England first among military powers during the fourteenth century.
My suggestion is that the parish butts be restored in the form of the parish
miniature range."

The renewed appeal helped to bring about a large increase in the number of
rifle clubs. By 1906 there were 302 miniature and 307 full-range clubs
affiliated with the NRA. The government forgave the excise tax on firearms
purchased for all but sporting use, and the Conan Doyle Cup was presented by
Dr. Langman of the Langman Hospital to be shot for with the miniature rifle at
Bisley. The rifle club movement peaked during the years 1914-18 with more than
1,900 affiliated clubs, most of them miniature clubs.

At the beginning of the Great War, Lord Roberts wrote in his president`s
message to the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs: "Proud as I am of rifle clubs
I shall be prouder still if, when the war is over, it can be said they helped
to win the victory we know is certain." It is difficult to judge what effect
the membership of 1,900 clubs may have had in a war that ultimately saw 5.7
million men serve in the army.

Before the end of the First World War, Kipling already warned of a second war
with Germany. Although subsequent events proved Kipling right, the after math
of the "War to End All Wars" saw instead an understandable spirit of pacifism
and a corresponding drop in rifle club activity. The government, alarmed by
acts of postwar violence and the large number of surplus weapons brought into
the country, reversed its previous course of encouraging the private ownership
of rifles and passed the Firearms Control Act of 1920. In 1938, on the eve of
the Second World War, only 471 rifle clubs remained.

The author wishes to thank members of the Kipling Society who were kind enough
to help him with his research.

Posted: 11/29/2001

 The link below is to the American N.R.A.'s - Institute for Legislative Action

The Weapons and Battles of the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902)

by Dylan Craig

My general was shot in the water bottle, so you can imagine what it was like
for us.

                     - General Lyttelton's batman on the fighting at Wynne Hill.


The Anglo-Boer War (or, then, the Boer War; the South African War; the Tweede
Vryheidsoorlog, and so on) was in many respects a new kind of war.
Technologically, it saw the first use of some of the generation of weapons that
are still with us today - automatic handguns, magazine-fed rifles, and machine
guns - and the last use, in an organized military sense anyway, of a relic of
14th century warfare - the cavalry lance. In the moral sense, the Anglo-Boer
War, while not inventing such concepts, also saw the first large-scale use of
concentration camps for non-combatants, and the most prolonged period of
guerilla warfare against a "victorious" army by the elements of the "conquered"
nation's military. Lastly, it has been widely acknowledged that the Anglo-Boer
War provided the British army with an important lesson in modern warfare,
especially in the sense of knowing how to proceed when faced with well-armed
and highly skilled enemy marksmen. Without this experience, it is certain that
the Great War (1914-1918) would have been a very different affair.

In what follows, I intend to cover the following areas:

      Firstly, the technological advances in small arms prior to the war;
      Secondly, the standard weapons deployed by the British and Boer forces;
      Thirdly, a comparison between the strategies of the two armies (both
       before and after the fall of Pretoria and the commencement of the
       guerilla war). This section will also cover the reasons for the defeat of
       the Boers and the failure of the guerilla war.

This essay is not intended as a general guide to the Anglo-Boer War. Hence, it
is assumed that the reader is moderately familiar with the causes of the war
and its conclusion, and the focus will lie on examining why the war took the
form it did, and how this form was shaped by the weapons and tactics with which
it was fought.

Technological Advances

Three areas of advance stand out when discussing the development of small arms
in the last few decades of the 19th Century. These milestones are smokeless
gunpowder, the magazine rifle, and the self-indexing (self-loading) breech

Smokeless powder, first used in the French Lebel rifle in 1886, cannot be
underestimated in terms of the effects it had on modern warfare. Anyone who has
seen recreated battles of the Napoleonic Wars or American Civil War will
appreciate that gigantic clouds of smoke are thrown up by a squad of men firing
even a single volley. This smoke, produced as the black-powder charge of the
weapon was ignited, would completely obscure the target and coat the workings
of the firearm in burnt residue. This, in turn, meant two things. Firstly, that
the bore and workings of the firearm had to be intentionally manufactured to be
less than a perfect fit (to allow for the fouling caused by the residue, which
would otherwise cause the weapon to jam); and secondly, that between the clouds
of smoke and the loosely-machined weapons, that individual marksmanship was
assumed to be under a severe handicap. Military forces of this era got around
these problems by formulating battle strategies that revolved around
devastating volleys delivered at close range, followed by a bayonet charge;
when the entire squad fired at point-blank range, the mere weight of
projectiles meant that some hits were bound to be achieved.

Smokeless powder changed the status quo for three reasons; firstly, the absence
of fouling meant that weapons could be machined precisely without having to
leave a tolerance for residue. This meant that infantry rifles, for instance,
could be made more accurate. Secondly, without the obscuring effect of the
back-powder charge, aimed shots could be made one after the other, with no
deterioration of accuracy. This also meant that sharpshooters - firing from
cover or across a large distance - could no longer be spotted simply by the
plume of smoke issuing from their weapons. This phenomenon was to have a
particularly noticeable effect during the Anglo-Boer war, as we shall see
later. Thirdly, smokeless powder was far more efficient during ignition;
whereas black-powder weapons could rarely propel bullets faster than 450 meters
per second, projectiles fired using smokeless powder could achieve speeds of up
to 1200 meters per second.
This had great ramifications for the range and accuracy of small arms, as
faster bullets have a flatter trajectory and thus a larger "dangerous space"
(the area along a bullet's trajectory where its path might strike a standing
man). Additionally, higher-velocity projectiles tended to cause more disabling
wounds through the process of hydrostatic shock. To sum up, therefore, the
advent of smokeless powder had made small arms more accurate, more dangerous,
and had increased their effective range significantly.

The advent of the bolt action magazine-fed weapon can, likewise, not be
underrated as a significant development in firearm technology. Infantry rifles
holding several shots were by no means a new phenomenon; as early as 1836,
Samuel Colt had developed a rifle which held six shots in a revolving cylinder.
This school of thought continued into the 1860's, with the introduction of the
Henry rifle (the ancestor of the famous "Winchester" of the Wild West). The
Henry, and its descendants, used the tubular magazine concept; that is, that
the rounds were held nose-to-base, in a row, in a cylinder running along the
underside of the barrel, and were fed into the breech by the action of a hand-
operated lever. The French Lebel rifle mentioned previously also followed this
pattern. However, except in the case of the Lebel, tubular-magazine weapons
were never adopted wholesale by Continental armies; even the doughty Winchester
was confined to action in the Turko-Russian wars of 1887-1888. The box-magazine
concept was first developed somewhat later in 1879 by James Lee (of Lee-Enfield
and Lee-Metford fame). The box-magazine held four or five rounds in a spring-
loaded box under the breech, and was quick to load. The bullets, held together
by a metal frame called a "clip" or "charger"; this frame was inserted, along
with the bullets, down through the breech into the magazine, and was ejected as
the last round fired.

This, then, allowed a soldier to make five or more aimed shots, without pausing
or having to stand to reload, in the time that it would have taken him to fire
one shot, aimed or otherwise, using the muzzle-loading percussion-cap weapons
that the magazine rifle replaced. The implications of this change for infantry
tactics are obvious; it meant that long-range shooting could be conducted with
more speed, more precision and more effect than ever before.

The third area of advance was the development of the self-indexing breech - in
more accessible terminology, the breech action which makes it possible for a
weapon to automatically load rounds into the breech; in effect, to become an
automatic or machine gun.

Multi-barreled machine guns of the type invented by John Gatling in 1862 had
become common in the years leading up to the Boer War, but by 1899 these
cumbersome weapons had been replaced by single-barrel, belt-fed machine guns
such as the Colt-Browning Model 1895 and the Vickers-Maxim. As early as 1869 it
had been known that machine guns could duplicate or even exceed the effects of
aimed volley fire. At one test, held in Germany in 1869, a cumbersome Gatling
gun showed better results over a minute of continuous firing at paper targets
over 800 yards than a company of 100 riflemen firing aimed shots. Machine-guns,
therefore, had become highly effective tools of war, and by 1899 their use had
become embedded in military strategy. In addition, as can be seen in the
example above, they multiplied the amount of firepower that a small force could
bring to bear in a firefight several times over. As would be demonstrated again
in the Great War, machine guns excelled at sweeping open ground and laying down
suppressive or harassing fire over trench lines; their use in the Anglo-Boer
War was to be both in the offensive and defensive theatres of the war, as will
be discussed later.

These three technological advances, coming as they did between 1870 and 1890,
were still relatively new on the battlefield; one must remember that, prior to
the invention of the metallic cartridge (what we today know as a "bullet"),
infantry weapons had remained remarkably similar for over 200 years. Most
senior troopers in the British army would have been trained using single shot
rifles of more primitive design (the Martini-Henry and Snider rifles); the Lee-
Metford and Lee-Enfield rifles only having been introduced in 1888 and 1895
respectively. Worse still, what veterans there were in the British force had
never faced an enemy armed with modern weaponry before. The reception which lay
in wait for them in the veldt was to come as a shock to Tommy and tactician

                                               A Maxim-        A Boer testing a
An Armstrong 12lb.     A Boer 6" 'Long
                                           Nordenfeld "Pom-   .303 Maxim machine
        gun                 Tom'
                                                 Pom"                 gun

Armaments of the Boer and British forces

As a regular army, the British force followed a more standard pattern in terms
of equipment. Primarily, their infantry weapons were the Lee-Metford and Lee-
Enfield rifles. Lee, a Canadian of Scots descent, toured Europe in 1880,
provoking interest in his idea from several nations including the Danish, and
eventually convinced the British Ordnance Bureau to adopt his system. Combined
with the Metford rifling system, the subsequent weapon was named the Lee-
Metford; in 1888, its magazine capacity was upgraded to eight rounds of .303
caliber (7.69mm). Various features of the Lee-Metford meant that it weathered
the abuse of soldiering less well than these other rifles; for this reason it
was upgraded in 1895 to its sturdier incarnation - the Lee-Enfield. Apart from
some changes in breech architecture and rifling, these two weapons were very
similar, and can be treated as one weapon for tactical analysis.

The adoption of the Lee series ran simultaneously with the development of two
other significant firearms of the period; the Mauser, which was developed in
1888 and refined in 1898, and the Danish Krag-Jorgenson. These two weapons were
used extensively by the Boers, and provided them with equivalent firepower to
the British; the Mauser used slightly heavier bullets (.317 caliber, or 7.92mm)
and fast-moving (777 m/s compared to 607 m/s) than the Lee-Metford, with a
subsequent increase in the potential severity of wounds inflicted.
Additionally, the Mauser had more slightly elaborate sights; graded out to 2000
meters compared to the 1829 meters of the Lee-Metford, this meant that the
Mauser was more likely to perform better at long-range shooting than the Lee-

The infantry were also equipped with the 12-inch sword bayonet. This fearsome
weapon was itself a relic of the days of musketry; its presence on a weapon
which could be fully reloaded in a matter of seconds was an indicator of the
degree to which British tactical thought had not yet fully grasped the impact
of the magazine rifle. Weighing over a pound (15 ounces), it must have been
cursed by many a over-burdened British soldier; however, its psychological
impact was, as was no doubt intended, great. When the cry of "Fix Bayonets!"
was heard, several accounts describe Boer surrender as an immediate
consequence. The same can be said of the famous cavalry lance. Lancers, while
also equipped with the Lee-Enfield carbine, were feared in close quarters,
primarily because of the terror value associated with being skewered by their
It should be noted that while uniformity was the general watchword regarding
British armaments, that this was not the case in all circumstances. The
Canadian forces, for instance, were armed differently, many with weapons of
American manufacture such as Colt .45 revolvers (which were the standard side
arms of the US at that time), as well as Lee-Enfields.

                            Boer small arms, on the other hand, varied
                            considerably. Mauser, Martini-Henry and Krag-
                            Jorgenson (shown alongside) rifles were all
                            employed, as well as a variety of personal hunting
                            rifles and other weapons. An excerpt from a British
                            army surgeon's diary shows that Boer forces also
                            used shotguns; this is entirely likely, given that
                            Boer recruitment advised burghers to bring their
                            own "…Rifle, ammunition, Horse, saddle and bridle,
                            [and] food for eight days" to their mustering
                            point. Rural as the Boer population was, it is
                            unlikely that every man had access to a rifle of
                            sufficient caliber as to be useful; many, then,
                            would have brought whatever they could lay their
                            hands on. A similar pattern has been seen wherever
                            armies have been raised from local populations;
                            most notably, in the American War of Independence.
                            The governments of the Boer Republics also
                            purchased weapons in bulk from overseas nations, in
                            particular Germany. Some efforts were made to
                            distribute these weapons among the troops, although
                            most were held in reserve for arming sympathetic
                            rebels in captured territories. It is likely that
                            the nature of the Boer force, with its emphasis on
                            marksmanship which had been learnt through
                            experience and not as the result of training,
                            precluded the adoption of a standard rifle.
                            Throughout the war, of course, and especially
                            during the guerilla phases where resupply was no
                            longer a possibility, many Boers took to using
                            captured British weapons. Ammunition for these
                            weapons could be stolen or captured, and although
                            the weapons themselves were less than ideal for the
                            natural born marksman, they were better than none
                            at all.

Another popular weapon, on both sides of the war, was the
German-made Mauser Model 1896 self-indexing automatic
pistol, also known as the "Broomhandle". This pistol, which
became the mainstay of many a World War 2 action movie for
its outlandish appearance, carried ten 7.63mm rounds in its
magazine, thereby almost doubling the number of bullets
available to the bearer compared to the normal six-shot
Webley pistol. While this weapon may have seen limited use
on the field of conventional battle, it was no doubt
present in many raiding parties, and as a side arm.

In terms of artillery, the Anglo-Boer War was the first to
make use of automatic light artillery. The "Pom-Pom" was a
converted Maxim machine gun used widely by the Boers. It
fired a 1-pound, percussion-fused shell. This weapon was
the precursor to the tracked 20mm "Tank killers" of the
Second World War, and its main use was against enemy
emplacements and fortifications, as well as for use against
locomotives and armoured carriages.
First-hand accounts describe the Pom-Pom as being very effective;   standard
artillery, mostly, could still be avoided by quickly taking cover   in the
interval between the flash indicating the firing of the shell and   its arrival.
The Pom-Pom, on the other hand, could keep up a continuous stream   of fire, to
devastating effect.

In terms of more conventional artillery, the British started out fairly badly
equipped; initially, only a small artillery contingent could be fielded, and
initial confrontations with Boer forces led to many pieces being overrun or
"shot free" (all crewmen killed), and then captured. This was often the case
when bad arrangement of forces in the case of a mobile enemy led to units
becoming isolated from one another. Common British artillery pieces were the 12
and 15 pound field guns, which had a range of around 5000 yards, and 5-inch
howitzers which could hurl a 50 pound shell over the same distance. The British
also fielded naval cannon in their desperation, stripped from the cruisers
Terrible, Powerful, Monarch and Doris. These weapons had longer ranges than the
other British guns (up to 10 000 yards for the 4.7 inch guns). Home-made
artillery pieces were also employed during the sieges of Mafeking and
Kimberley; these rose to a level of renown far beyond the reach of their
possible effectiveness. British cannon were often loaded with lyddite shells.
This high-explosive compound was more effective than standard high explosive,
and was used to terrible effect in several artillery engagements later in the
war, when British artillery sections had been filled out and more guns had been
shipped to the South African theatre of operations.

Boer artillery, on the other hand, was composed largely of guns imported from
the massive arms factories of Krupp and Creusot. The Pom-Pom has already been
mentioned above; for heavier shelling, the Boers relied on 75mm field guns.
These outranged the British Armstrong guns by a significant margin; indeed,
initially, the effect of Boer artillery under the direction of the
Staatsartillerie, seems to have been most impressive. Smurthwaite quotes from
the diary of Brevet-Lieutenant Colonel SH Rawlinson as follows:

"…6.15 a.m. the 4.7 Naval gun began firing at Long Tom who was battering us a
good deal. The Naval 12 pounders also opened fire but they could not get the
right range and dropped very short indeed sometimes… the enemy 6" gun shot
beautifully. Put two shells right alongside the 4.7 gun and one of these
landing a foot to the right of the right gun support took off poor Egerton's
leg at the knee, smashing also his other foot…"

The Boers also had several massive 115mm Creusot field guns which fired 88-
pound high explosive shells. Aptly named "Long Toms", these weapons have passed
into the realms of popular myth, ranking with the "Big Berthas" of the Great
War. What is certain, though, is that with an effective range of over 11 000
yards, these huge guns could out-range any field artillery the British

Unfortunately, these guns became bogged down at the various siege points of the
war, and from then on the growing strength of the British artillery meant that
it was British guns, not Boer, that held sway on the battlefield. At the battle
for Wynne Hill in February 1900, the Boer defenders could only muster eight
guns, against which the British deployed fifty. Additionally, the British were
often able to float observation balloons with which artillery fire could be
directed; this was a luxury not available to the Boer gunners.

Thus, as the British armies grew in strength, and engagements began to be
fought more on a squad level, the use of artillery by the Boers was to come
almost to a complete halt.

War Strategy
Appraisals of tactics in the Anglo-Boer War must give a certain bias to Boer
initiative; if there is an overall theme to the cut-and-thrust of the war it is
one of "Boer movement, British response". Initially, at least, this was partly
the result of sound tactical thinking on the part of the Boer generals, and
partly the result of the precarious British starting position in the war.
Britain had massive military and economic resources, which when brought to bear
on the two Boer republics could have no result but victory. The only chance for
the Boers was to strike quickly, and to cut off the British lines of re-supply
from England - namely, the ports. As a strategy, this counted on the fact that
when war was declared, Boer forces actually outnumbered British forces by a
slight margin. This meant that the British were forced by circumstance into a
holding strategy - to meet the Boer invasions of the Cape Colony and Natal,
contain them, and if possible turn them back.

In addition, several features of British military theory of the time relied on
attacking the enemy formation rather than position, by flanking movements with
mounted infantry, cavalry charges against emplacements, and so on; this had
worked well in the gigantic set-piece battles of the Crimean and Napoleonic
Wars. However, against an entrenched enemy whose positions were invisible (due
to the lack of gunsmoke), concealed (as in the case of the battle of
Magersfontein, where Cronje used concealed trenches to decimate a British
advance) or highly mobile, this strategy was completely ineffective. The
technological advances in firepower discussed previously meant that it was
effectively impossible to break an entrenched line by infantry assault over
open ground.

Time and time again, British advances against Boer trenches ground to a halt
between 500 and 800m from their objectives due to the highly accurate rifle
fire being directed against them. The initial inferiority of British artillery
in terms of range meant that counter-battery fire in support of the infantry
was impossible without risking the loss of the guns. In contrast, Boer tactics
were focused on possession of position; kopjes which provided a good line-of-
sight onto attackers were picked in advance (in the case of defensive
engagements), or taken as a matter of priority (in the case of offensive
engagements). From these vantage points, the Boers could wreak havoc on the
British forces below. When their positions became threatened, the highly mobile
Boer forces would simply move away, usually to another set of pre-prepared
defences. Another Boer tactic involved marking out ranges, using white stones,
prior to a British attack; with the aid of these distances, they could adjust
their rifle and artillery fire and increase its effectiveness. "Stay clear of
officers and white rocks", new British troops were told.

The Boer forces, then, seemed to hold all the aces. They were better equipped,
led by men of higher caliber and more proven experience, and better accustomed
to veld fighting than their opponents. Additionally, the British were having to
lean the rules of modern warfare as they struggled along, instead of starting
the war with any coherent idea of what to expect or how to accomplish victory.
Many British troops expressed concern that the Boers might not fight at all;
thus, once war did begin, they were completely on the wrong foot. The armies
that were sent out to check the Boer invasion were soon completely routed and
put to disorderly retreat. However, after defeating the British at Modder River
(28th November), Stormberg and Magersfontein (11th December) and Colenso
(December 16th), the Boer advance ground to a halt outside the towns of
Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafeking. A case in point was the battle of
Nicholson's Nek outside Ladysmith. Although it ended in an almost-complete rout
for the British forces, many Boer leaders (De Wet among them) felt that a
grievous error had been made by allowing the British to withdraw at all. It was
held by these mean that merely turning the British columns meant that the Boer
forces could do little but besiege Ladysmith, which meant that continuing the
push to the coast was impossible.

Reitz, present at the battle, describes this error thus:
"… I heard one of them exclaim, 'My God; look there!' and turning round we saw
the entire British force that had come out against us on the plain that morning
in full retreat to Ladysmith. Great clouds of dust billowed over the veld as
the troops withdrew, and the manner of their going had every appearance of a
rout. There were about 10 000 soldiers, but General Joubert had far more than
that number of horsemen ready to his hand, and we fully looked to see him
unleash them on the enemy. I heard Christian de Wet mutter, 'Los jou ruiters;
los jou ruiters' ['Release your cavalry'] but the Commandant-General allowed
this wonderful opportunity to go by, a failure that cost us dear in the days to

Later, Reitz describes how when his subordinates implored him to press his
attack, Joubert had quoted an old proverb to them, saying "When God holds out a
finger, don't take the whole hand". This cautious attitude, as Reitz points
out, has no place in a war, especially a war in which speedy victory is vital
to avoid complete defeat.

At the famous siege of Mafeking, too, a tiny and under-equipped garrison was
able to tie up a sizeable proportion of the Boer forces, despite bring out-
gunned, out-manned, and completely surrounded. Why did the Boers allow this
vital moment of strategic advantage to pass?

It is important to examine the First Anglo-Boer War of 1881 for the answer to
this question. At the heart of the speed with which the British agreed to
signed was the degree to which the 'Boer Problem' seemed to be a thorny issue
in which there was no incentive for the British to become involved. To the
Boers, however, this must have seemed to indicate that the British tended to
fold in the face of quick, decisive attacks by a determined enemy. It cannot be
doubted that Boer attacks in the opening months of the war were bold and
decisive; but one must wonder whether the Boer strategy of taking the ports was
a real aim or just a rallying cry. It seems more likely that the Boers expected
another quick British capitulation, followed by "peace on honourable terms".
When this was not forthcoming, even after "Black Week" (11-15 December 1899),
it is understandable that the Boer offensive began to stagnate. They had, in
the final analysis, tried to bluff the British into backing down, but by
slackening the pace of their advance, they had made the success of such a
gambit impossible. In addition, the lack of incentive for British commitment
had vanished as the riches of the Witwatersrand had blossomed; this alone, in
retrospect, should have alerted the Boers to the fact that the British would
not be as squeamish this time.

As time went by and the strength of the British presence in South Africa
increased, and with it the number of heavy guns available to support infantry
attacks, the Boer lines began to buckle and fall. In a mere six months the
victories won so easily by the Boers in the initial phases of the war had all
been lost; in early 1900, both Bloemfontein and Pretoria fell. At the battle of
Donkershoek, shortly thereafter, the strong British artillery presence forced
General De la Rey to withdraw from a position where the ill-fated British
cavalry section had been surrounded and was slowly being annihilated.

The message was clear; Boer marksmanship and courage were no longer the main
forces on the battlefield. By this stage, it is possible to say that the Anglo-
Boer War was, in fact, over. This view would, of course, be strongly contested
by the thousands of men who spent the next two years either engaged in guerilla
warfare against the occupying British, or in mostly fruitless sweeps through
the veld hunting the Boers, to say nothing of those unfortunates who were
interned, and who died, in the British concentration camps. However, this is
the inescapable conclusion that must be reached. The Boers would never field a
force in a conventional battle of the scale that was common in the first year
of the war; the Boer commandos had been split to the four winds with little in
the way of heavy weapons or supplies, and this limited their effectiveness
drastically. Reitz describes encountering several of these ragged groups of
rebels during this phase; most seemed most concerned with simply evading
capture, rather than striking any kind of blows against the British. Notable
exceptions, of course, were present. Commandant De Wet had managed to keep a
fighting force of several thousand men together and relatively active in the
Free State, and Smut's abortive plans for the re-invasion of the Cape Colony
and Natal had left him with around 3 000 partially assembled men in these
areas. However, what could be accomplished with these forces? Acts of
terrorism, train-wrecking and ambushes, but little else. It was eventually put
to these bittereinders that, having lost the war, they should now surrender and
attempt to "win the peace"; prolonged struggle, it seemed, was pointless.
British occupation was now too firmly entrenched to be removed by force, even
if force could be brought to bear in sufficient quantities - which it couldn't.

The war had finally been lost.


"…the smokeless, long-range, high-velocity, small-bore magazine bullet from
rifle or machine gun - plus the trench - had decisively tilted the balance
against attack and in favour of defence."

                                                                 Pakenham, p.574

Only thirteen years separate the Anglo-Boer war from the Great War, and there
are many similarities between the two conflicts. Further advances in weaponry
had much the same effect on the outdated armies of France, Austria, and other
European nations as they had on the British in the Anglo-Boer War. However, in
the Anglo-Boer War, one can only marvel at how quickly the cards were all on
the table. Within six months of the commencement of hostilities, the eventual
victor became all too apparent; from then on, it was simply a matter of time.
This is not, of course, to make light of the Boer achievements; they resisted
the full might of the greatest colonial power in the world for three years, and
for a brief and amazing time, it even looked as if they might win.

It is highly tempting to play at conjecture regarding such a "war of reverses";
what if Joubert had pressed his attack at Colenso? What if Mafeking or
Ladysmith had fallen? This alone is evidence of the degree to which the war
seems, on inspection, to have been a long shot which almost came off. However,
it is unlikely that any string of Boer successes could have resulted in
victory. As Queen Victoria said when she was inflicted of the crushing defeats
her troops had suffered during 'Black Week', "There is no one depressed in this
house. We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not
exist." .

Such was the British attitude to the war - they would stay until "Kroojer" and
his "scruffy band" were vanquished, no matter how long it took. They could
afford no other course of action - the eyes of the world, and of their old
rival, Germany - were on the goldfields of the Rand, and if the Crown did not
possess them, someone else would. That it took three years to accomplish, as
well as the deaths of thousands of civilians, is a as much of a testament to
human greed and mercilessness as it is to the more heroic virtues of
determination and duty.

    1. Adam, R. The World's Most Powerful Handguns and Rifles. New Burlington
       Books, London. 1996.
    2. Combat Arms magazine, unknown issue number. Shotguns in Combat. A
       Supplement of Guns and Ammo magazine.
    3. Miller, C. Painting the Map Red - Canada and the South African war, 1899-
       1902. University of Natal Press, Durban. 1988.
    4. Myatt, F. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 19th Century Firearms. Crescent
       Books, New Jersey. 1994.
    5. Pakenham, T. The Boer War. Futura Publications, London. 1979.
    6. Reitz, D. Commando. Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg. 1998.
    7. Smurthwaite, D. The Boer War 1899-1902. Hamlyn Books, London. 1999.
    8. Smuts, J. Memoirs of the Boer War. Jonathan Ball Publishers,
       Johannesburg. 1994.

                                     Additional Reading

    1. Coetzee, C. Op Soek na Generaal Mannetjies Mentz. Queillerie Uitgawers,
       Cape Town, 1998. A novelisation of guerilla actions against the British
       in the Free State, with a factual background of the guerilla war included
       as a foreword.
    2. Durschmied, E. The Hinge Factor. Hodder and Stoughton, London. 1999.
       Chapter 9 deals exclusively with the battles of Colenso and Spion Kop.
    3. Livesy, A. Great Commanders and their Battles. Greenwich Editions,
       London. 1897. A good sourcebook on 19th century military theory.
    4. Sandys, C. Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive. Harper Collins Publishers.
       1999. The adventures of Winston Churchill during the war; a good account
       of the war from the British side of things.
    5. Haywood, J. Atlas of the 19th Century World. Andromeda Oxford Ltd.,
       Oxfordshire, 1998. A brief but accurate analysis of the lead-in to the
       war as well as a small section on the Boers themselves.

                                 Resources on the Internet

    1. Small Arms of the Boer War: - c.13/10/1999
    2. South African War Virtual Library: - c.13/10/1999

                     Last Updated Tuesday, 20-Nov-2001 11:36:11 PST
The Battle of Talana Hill
Battle: Talana Hill (also known as the Battle of Dundee).

War: The Boer War.

Date: 20th October 1899.

Place: Northern Natal in South Africa.

Combatants: British against the Boers.

Generals: Major General Sir Penn Symons against Commandant Lucas Meyer.

Size of the armies: 4,000 British against 3,000 Boers.

Uniforms, arms and equipment: The Boer War was a serious jolt for the British Army. At the
outbreak of the war British tactics were appropriate for the use of single shot firearms, fired in
volleys controlled by company and battalion officers; the troops fighting in close order. The need
for tight formations had been emphasised time and again in colonial fighting. In the Zulu and
Sudan Wars overwhelming enemy numbers armed principally with stabbing weapons were easily kept at
a distance by such tactics; but, as at Isandlwana, would overrun a loosely formed force. These
tactics had to be entirely rethought in battle against the Boers armed with modern weapons.
In the months before hostilities the Boer commandant general, General Joubert, bought 30,000
Mauser magazine rifles and a number of modern field guns and automatic weapons from the German
armaments manufacturer Krupp and the French firm Creusot. The commandoes, without formal
discipline, welded into a fighting force through a strong sense of community and dislike for the
British. Field Cornets led burghers by personal influence not through any military code. The Boers
did not adopt military formation in battle, instinctively fighting from whatever cover there might
be. The preponderance were countrymen, running their farms from the back of a pony with a rifle in
one hand. These rural Boers brought a life time of marksmanship to the war, an important edge,
further exploited by Joubert‘s consignment of magazine rifles. Viljoen is said to have coined the
aphorism ―Through God and the Mauser‖. With strong fieldcraft skills and high mobility the Boers
were natural mounted infantry. The urban burghers and foreign volunteers readily adopted the
fighting methods of the rest of the army.

Other than in the regular uniformed Staats Artillery and police units, the Boers wore their every
day civilian clothes on campaign.

After the first month the Boers lost their numerical superiority, spending the rest of the formal
war on the defensive against British forces that regularly outnumbered them.

British tactics, little changed from the Crimea, used at Modder River, Magersfontein, Colenso and
Spion Kop were incapable of winning battles against entrenched troops armed with modern magazine
rifles. Every British commander made the same mistake; Buller; Methuen, Roberts and Kitchener.
When General Kelly-Kenny attempted to winkle Cronje‘s commandoes out of their riverside
entrenchments at Paardeburg using his artillery, Kitchener intervened and insisted on a battle of
infantry assaults; with the same disastrous consequences as Colenso, Modder River, Magersfontein
and Spion Kop.

Some of the most successful British troops were the non-regular regiments; the City Imperial
Volunteers, the South Africans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, who more easily broke
from the habit of traditional European warfare, using their horses for transport rather than the
charge, advancing by fire and manouevre in loose formations and making use of cover, rather than
the formal advance into a storm of Mauser bullets.

The British regiments made an uncertain change into khaki uniforms in the years preceding the Boer
War, with the topee helmet as tropical headgear. Highland regiments in Natal devised aprons to
conceal coloured kilts and sporrans. By the end of the war the uniform of choice was a slouch hat,
drab tunic and trousers; the danger of shiny buttons and too ostentatious emblems of rank
emphasised in several engagements with disproportionately high officer casualties.

The British infantry were armed with the Lee Metford magazine rifle firing 10 rounds. But no
training regime had been established to take advantage of the accuracy and speed of fire of the
weapon. Personal skills such as scouting and field craft were little taught. The idea of fire and
movement was unknown, many regiments still going into action in close order. Notoriously General
Hart insisted that his Irish Brigade fight shoulder to shoulder as if on parade in Aldershot.
Short of regular troops, Britain engaged volunteer forces from Britain, Canada, Australia and New
Zealand who brought new ideas and more imaginative formations to the battlefield.

The British regular troops lacked imagination and resource. Routine procedures such as effective
scouting and camp protection were often neglected. The war was littered with incidents in which
British contingents became lost or were ambushed often unnecessarily and forced to surrender. The
war was followed by a complete re-organisation of the British Army.

The British artillery was a powerful force in the field, underused by commanders with little
training in the use of modern guns in battle. Pakenham cites Pieters as being the battle at which
a British commander, surprisingly Buller, developed a modern form of battlefield tactics: heavy
artillery bombardments co-ordinated to permit the infantry to advance under their protection. It
was the only occasion that Buller showed any real generalship and the short inspiration quickly

The Royal Field Artillery fought with 15 pounder guns; the Royal Horse Artillery with 12 pounders
and the Royal Garrison Artillery batteries with 5 inch howitzers. The Royal Navy provided heavy
field artillery with a number of 4.7 inch naval guns mounted on field carriages devised by Captain
Percy Scott of HMS Terrible.

Automatic weapons were used by the British usually mounted on special carriages accompanying the

Winner: The British.

British Regiments:
18th Hussars: later the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and now the Light Dragoons.
Royal Field Artillery: 13th, 67th and 69th Batteries.
1st Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment: now the Royal Anglian Regiment.
1st Battalion, the King‘s Royal Rifle Corps (60th): now the Royal Green Jackets.
1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Fusiliers: disbanded in 1922.
2nd Battalion, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers: disbanded in 1922.
Mounted Infantry: drawn from various infantry regiments.

On the outbreak of the War in South Africa the British authorities feared the Boers from the
Transvaal and the Orange Free State would invade the British coastal colony of Natal, a triangular
shaped area sharing a long common border with the two Boer republics, its northern apex remote and
exposed to attack, situated on the Indian Ocean.

In early autumn 1899 British reinforcements rushed to South Africa from India under the command of
Major General Penn Symons.

Voices of South African experience at the British War Office in London urged Symons to keep his
outnumbered troops well back from the frontier, behind the Tugela River. Symons thought otherwise
and advanced his lead brigade to Dundee north of the Tugela, where it would be outflanked by a
Boer invasion along the length of the frontier.

On 20th October 1899 the Boer commando of General Meyer appeared on Talana Hill to the North East
of Dundee, following a night approach march.
General Symons was not impressed by the readiness of the British troops in Natal and worked them
hard. His battalions were falling in for a day‘s training when the first artillery rounds came in
from Meyer‘s artillery on Talana Hill.

During the tense months leading to open war the Transvaal Republic had bought substantial
quantities of weapons, including modern artillery pieces from the French manufacturer Creusot. The
first of these, three 75 millimetre guns, came into action at Talana, firing on the British camp.

There was a delay before fire could be returned, the British artillery horses being at water. The
batteries harnessed up and hurried through Dundee, coming into action in the open ground beyond
the town, quickly silencing the outnumbered Boer guns.

As his artillery bombarded the Boers, Symons prepared to attack their positions on Talana Hill
with his infantry, forming with the Dublin Fusiliers massed in the front rank, the Rifles in the
second rank and the Royal Irish Fusiliers in the third rank. Penn Symons insisted his regiments
attack in conventional close order, an unrealistic tactic against an enemy armed with modern
magazine rifles.

The assault went in, the first lines reaching a wood at the base of Talana Hill where in the face
of heavy fire the attack stalled. Symons arrived at the wood, dismounted and led the advance
himself, until he was mortally injured.

The British infantry attack regained its momentum and continued up Talana Hill in the face of
heavy fire, gathering below the peak for the final attack. As the troops stormed the top of the
hill the Boers fell back. One of the British batteries firing from the open ground outside Dundee
failed to identify the troops on the top of Talana as British and continued to fire on the crest,
inflicting unnecessary casualties and hindering the assault.

The Boers could be seen mounting their ponies and streaming away across the valley on the far side
of the hill. Penn Symons had sent the 18th Hussars and Mounted Infantry around Talana Hill to take
advantage of just such a situation, but there was no sign of them. The country was not familiar to
the officers and they had become lost; straying away towards the main Boer force where later that
day they were surprised by a larger contingent of Boers and captured.

The British batteries came forward but due to a misunderstanding of their orders or a failure to
identify the Boers, did not open fire on the retreating commando.

Casualties: British casualties were 250. Boer casualties were 500. The 3 Creusot guns were left on
Talana Hill, but recovered by the Boers with the British withdrawal from Dundee.

Follow-up: The British marked the battle as a victory, but it was only a temporary reprieve from
the inexorable Boer invasion of Northern Natal and the British retreat into Ladysmith.

Iain G Spence
The aim of this paper is to get beneath the 'shoot and ride' concept to examine aspects of the
mechanics of mounted warfare and how it operated—or failed to operate—during the Boer War.1
Although the paper does focus on Australian and New Zealand examples and evidence, this is firmly
set in the context of the broader conduct of the war by both the British and Boer leadership. As
will be seen, the colonial contingents did play a major role, but their employment, and the
conduct of the war as a whole, was firmly in British hands throughout.

The quintessential image of the war for most Australians and New Zealanders is the Light Horseman
or Mounted Rifleman. Whatever their specific unit title, the image of the lean bushman holding his
rifle and sitting on his horse is one of the most dominant of the contemporary period. The mounted
rifleman appears on the cover of the Australian War Memorial's A Guide to the Battlefields and
Memorials of the Boer War, Craig Wilcox's The Boer War: Australians and the War in South Africa,
1899-1902, and the Summer 1999 edition of the Australian War Memorial's official magazine,
Wartime. His Boer equivalent appears on the front cover of the Spring 1999 New Zealand Defence
Quarterly. This is quite rightly so—the Boer War, in all phases, was a war of manoeuvre and
counter manoeuvre.

The basis of manoeuvre is mobility and this is the key issue addressed in this paper. This is not
in any way to denigrate the role of firepower. The particular effectiveness of the union of horse
and rifle discussed in the paper by Jean Bou is one of the main features of the Boer War. In
addition, a unit which can only manoeuvre and which cannot inflict casualties on the enemy has
only a very limited use in combat—basically one of distraction or deception. However, firepower is
in many respects a simpler issue in the context of mounted warfare during the Boer War and which,
given space constraints, and coverage elsewhere in the conference proceedings, can be passed over
relatively briefly here.

The delivery of effective firepower by mounted troops is largely a function of the quality of the
weapons, the marksmanship, and the ammunition, and of the quantity of ammunition available.2 The
Boer War saw some difficulties in all of these areas, particularly in its early stages.
Marksmanship on the British side at least was seen as a problem, although the Banjo Paterson
aphorism 'Think how often you're shot at—think of how seldom you're shot!' quoted in Peter
Stanley's paper suggests that the Boers were not always accurate either.3

New South Wales volunteers had to pass a shooting test before enlistment or, if already serving,
they had to be assessed as a 'first class shot'.4 Despite this, the Elgin Report (the report of
the British post-war commission into the war), was scathing of the quality of the marksmanship.
This included the standard among the colonial troops.5 These were not, apparently, the natural
marksmen of bush and prairie that they, and the British, had apparently believed. The tone of the
Elgin Report in this area is one of disappointment and the post-war emphasis on musketry training
in Canada was probably not an overreaction.
The problem of poor markmanship also gains some support from the amount of ammunition expended
during the war. The Elgin Report notes that over 67 million rounds of pistol, carbine, rifle, and
machine gun ammunition were fired by British and colonial troops during the two-and-a-half year
war. It drily adds: 'this certainly seems a large expenditure in proportion to the highest
possible estimate of killed and wounded enemies.'6

At the outbreak of the war the British Army was also in the process of changing over from the Lee-
Metford to the Lee-Enfield rifle. Although generally regarded as of equivalent value to the Boer
Mauser, the original issue of the Lee-Enfield had problems. Parts of the Regular British forces
had had the Lee-Enfield for some time but it was only when the Imperial Yeomanry was issued with
the new weapon prior to deployment to South Africa that the problem was identified, namely that
the weapon's sights had been incorrectly manufactured and shot 18 inches to the right at 500
yards—just the right distance off target to make a Boer at 500 yards very happy indeed. It was
ironic, given the disdain in which volunteer or militia units were held, that they and not the
Regular Army discovered the problem—as the Elgin Report noted with some embarrassment.7

Interestingly, it was also militia units in Britain that had brought to light problems with the
Mark IV .303 inch ammunition which had caused its withdrawal just prior to the start of the Boer
War. This was an expanding round and under conditions of excessive heat where dirt was present in
the weapon the lead core tended to squirt through the small aperture in the nickel jacket of the
round, leaving the jacket in the barrel. When the next round was chambered this led to a blow-back
in the breech.8

While arguing that the Regular Army had not had this problem because they kept their rifles
cleaner than the militia, the War Office rightly concluded that even Regular troops might have
problems avoiding excessive heat and dirt in wartime and withdrew the round. The Elgin Report
stated categorically that it was not the Hague Convention's ban on expanding rounds which caused
the withdrawal of the Mark IV round in the late summer of 1899 (the four million rounds already
sent out to South Africa were withdrawn on 17 October 1899). The result was that around 66 million
rounds of the 172 million stock of .303 inch ammunition were withdrawn just prior to the
commencement of hostilities with the Boer republics, leading to a crisis in stocks. For a while
the situation was considered dangerous, but the required ammunition was in fact despatched to
South Africa. This was despite grave concerns about the stocks available for home defence and
fears that in the event of war with a European power, the British would have had no option but 'to
fight them with expanding bullets'.9

Despite these early concerns over the ammunition supply and the effectiveness of the Lee-Enfield,
their actual effects seem to have been minimal, and probably largely involved some loss of
confidence in the equipment among the troops in the field, although this does not feature in the
contemporary letters and diaries I have seen. Another potential problem issue was also fairly soon
resolved. Cavalry units were equipped with a carbine, which had a shorter range than the rifle,
and this placed British-equipped cavalry at a distinct disadvantage against the Boers. However,
the carbines did prove effective in the blocking engagement by the remnants of French's cavalry
division which preceded Paardeberg, and any disadvantage was removed when the carbines were
replaced with the rifle during the course of the war.10

In terms of firepower, the British and colonial mounted troops faced some initial problems, but
apart from the marksmanship issue none of these lasted very long into the war. The mounted troops,
including the traditional cavalry units, therefore had the tools available to them to generate
generally appropriate small arms fire during the course of the war.11

The issue of mobility is more complex and the rest of the paper will examine its importance and
some of the problems with achieving it during the Boer War. The point that mobility was important
does not need to be laboured, but it is worth reiterating. The campaigning distances in South
Africa are large and the Boers were very mobile. To fight a mobile enemy required the British and
colonial forces to adopt a similar level of mobility.12

Even in the more traditional warfare leading up to Paardeberg and the subsequent occupation of
Pretoria, the Boer tactic of fighting and withdrawing before becoming decisively engaged was very
effective against a slow-moving enemy. When the Boers did occupy fixed positions and stood and
fought, mobility offered the British forces the opportunity of seizing the initiative. General
French's great flanking march to Kimberley illustrates the value of mobility at the operational
level to split the enemy and catch him flatfooted. His subsequent blocking of Cronjé's force which
led to the destruction of the Boer force at Paardeberg is another good example.13

Perhaps the best summary of the importance of mobility is in the Elgin Report. Despite its
ambivalence over the respective value of cavalry and mounted rifles, and its caution that South
Africa was an atypical war, it stated:

In the late war the Boer force consisted entirely of Mounted Riflemen with, in the earlier stages,
a certain number of guns, operating for the most part, in an unenclosed country which offers wide
space for the movements of irregular horsemen. Except in Natal, and even there to some extent,
infantry were at a great disadvantage in this war as against mounted enemies, and, for this
reason, in the latter part of the war all active operations were carried out on the British side
by mounted men. 14
However, there were several constraints on achieving mobility which had an adverse effect on the
British conduct of the war. Some of these arose from circumstances peculiar to the Boer War.
Others arose from factors, or a disregard of factors, which are inherent and timeless in the
employment of the horse in combat.

The first potential constraint was the number of mounted troops deployed to South Africa. The
field force which embarked after mobilisation in October 1899 had a high proportion of infantry,
with mounted troops constituting only approximately 2 per cent of the total (see Table 1).

Table 1
Troop Numbers (combat arms only) deployed from Britain in October 1899

Troop Type Number
Cavalry 4586
Mounted Infantry 1163
Infantry 31,326
Artillery 4917
Engineers 1600

Source: Elgin Report, 37

The proportion of mounted troops in the 22,486 strong garrison already in South Africa at the
outbreak of war may have been higher (although the figures given in the Elgin Report unfortunately
include both Mounted Infantry and Infantry under the same heading). In addition, it was hoped to
recruit eight to ten thousand light or irregular cavalry from among local British subjects in
South Africa, particularly from those displaced by the Boer republics.15

However, it soon became apparent that the type of country and the nature of the combat required
large numbers of Mounted Infantry and Mounted Rifles. In the context of the discussion it is
important to understand the distinction between these two troop types, and between them and
cavalry. In the British documents there is a clear distinction, although the nomenclature of units
in the colonies and general usage there did not apparently maintain this distinction.

'Mounted Infantry' denoted trained infantry (and usually Regular Army infantry at that) which had
undergone additional training to allow them to ride into action. Once at the front, they would
dismount and fight on foot, using traditional infantry tactics. 'Mounted Rifles' were essentially
regarded as irregular cavalry. Equipped with infantry weapons but not trained as line infantry,
they fought on foot but were not expected to be expert in traditional infantry tactics. 'Cavalry'
were horsemen equipped with the sword or lance who generally fought while mounted, using
traditional cavalry tactics.

At the outbreak of the Boer War the British Government accepted 'mounted infantry' from Queensland
and New Zealand (although the first contingent of New Zealanders was actually designated as the
first New Zealand Mounted Rifles)16 but then sent a rather unfortunately worded cable to the
remaining Australian colonies and to Canada. This read in part: 'firstly units should consist of
125 men; secondly, may be infantry, mounted infantry, or cavalry; in view of numbers already
available, infantry most, cavalry least serviceable.'17

The post-war enquiry produced the explanation that the cable's intent was not to discourage the
colonies from providing mounted troops per se, but from providing traditional cavalry. Sir Redvers
Buller, who was the individual who had briefed Lord Lansdowne on the requirements and recommended
the wording quoted above, stated that he remembered 'saying that cavalry would be quite useless'.
However, in answer to the question 'But you did not mean by that to exclude mounted infantry?' he

No it was cavalry I had in my thoughts all the way through, because I know what irregular cavalry,
if I may say so, our Yeomanry are. As cavalry they are of no use; they are very good mounted
troops, but they are no use as cavalry.18
Although the report concedes that 'both Lord Lansdowne and Lord Wolseley admitted that the
telegram in question may have been unfortunately worded', it concluded that 'it does not appear to
have had any practically bad results'.19 Whether this is an accurate assessment or not, it does
reveal a rather infantry-centric approach on the part of senior commanders at the time and may
have caused some confusion among the colonies. The real requirement was soon realised however, and
Lord Lansdowne notes that when more substantial colonial forces were discussed 'a short time
after', the War Office accepted 4700 mounted men compared to 2400 dismounted soldiers.20

However, two factors which did have a serious effect on British and colonial mobility during the
Boer War were a general shortage of horses, particularly in the earlier stages of the war, and the
widespread poor condition of the troop horses serving in South Africa. The first point might seem
initially rather strange as during the 30-odd months of the war over half a million horses served
in the Empire forces. The figures in Table 2 illustrate one of the reasons for the problem: the
number of horses which died during the war.

Table 2
British Forces Horse Numbers, Boer War

Category Number
Served 518,794
'Expended' 347,007
'Lost on voyage' 13,144
Survived 158,643

Source: Elgin Report, 97, para 184

The odds of survival for a horse, then, were not good. Only around three per cent survived the war
and none of the 40,000 or so Australian and only one of the 8000 New Zealand troop horses were
brought home.21 The sheer scale of these losses, coupled with the difficulty of replacing them,
led to problems which affected mobility, especially in the early years of the war.

There were several reasons for these losses. The first was that some horses never made it to South
Africa. The Elgin Report records over 13,000 as 'lost on voyage' (see Table 2). Some died of
sickness, others in storms: the Glen Innes Examiner of 17 October 1899 records the loss of 100
alone on one ship in a gale off the South African coast.22

A second reason was enemy action. Because a horse is a much bigger target than a man (and
generally not so good at crouching behind cover) it has a greater chance of being hit by fire. In
one action in May 1900, for example, a Lieutenant Rundle, who had arrived in the country with the
New South Wales Lancers, had three horses shot out from under him.23 This was apparently a very
common experience and perhaps explains why the future General Chauvel seems to have spent the
aftermath of most actions in appropriating a Boer pony.24 At Eland's River, of the 1540 horses
with the defenders 1378 were killed, around nine per cent of the total. At Wilmansrust some 80
horses peacefully tethered next to the Victorians' tents were cut down in the opening Boer

However there were other hazards, natural ones, which caused horse casualties. The regimental
history of the Royal New South Wales Lancers records two instances of groups of horses being
killed by lightning strike—apparently a not infrequent occurrence on the veldt.26 Horses could
also die from eating the wrong plant life. Vernon, for example, records a case of horses saved
with considerable difficulty from a Boer-lit grass fire 'only to die some days later from eating
tulip grass'.27

Sickness too was a major problem. If disease was the common enemy of the Victorian soldier, it was
arguably worse for his horse. Their frequently poor condition left them vulnerable to disease and
many died. There were also the normal hazards associated with hard riding across rough terrain—
broken limbs or lameness. All of this might help explain why in the first New Zealand contingent a
surgeon's daily pay rate was £1-1-0 while a veterinary surgeon received £1-4-8.28

One of the distinctive features of campaigning in South Africa during the Boer War was the sight
of large numbers of dead horses, and descriptions of these are common in the accounts of
Australian soldiers.29 Two typical examples, both from letters home to northern New South Wales
written by Allan Cameron and published in the Glen Innes Examiner, give an idea of what was a
fairly common experience.

We came past the place where Cronjé was captured [ie Paardeberg], and could scent it miles before
we came to it. The horses are lying so close together that you could walk on top of them; and talk
about smashed up wagons, I never saw such a mess before.30

Between Bloemfontein and Kimberley it was something awful, the route was a scene of desolation,
strewn with dead horses and oxen, with crowds of South African vultures hovering over them, and
starving horses left by the British grazing on the scanty grass.31
The last comment in the second extract illustrates one of the other main reasons for the shortage
of horses and a key element in the reduced efficiency of those which lived. This is the harsh
conditions under which they operated and the treatment they received. Here again another cherished
view of the Australian and colonial participation in the war—our level of horsemastership, or care
of horses—does not quite bear close scrutiny.

Like the natural soldier theory of bushmen being good shots, horsemastership among the colonial
contingents is the subject of unfavourable comment in the Elgin Report. Despite praise in other
areas, care of their horses is one area where colonials were not seen as meeting the same
standards as British Regular cavalry.32 These were not necessarily of the highest standard either.
Given the strong cavalry tradition, there was probably in 1899 still an element of Cardigan's view
that it was disgraceful for any cavalry officer or even trooper to walk. This led to his famous
'sore back reconnaissance' in the Crimean War which resulted in the death of 80 of the 196 horses
involved, and the permanent disabling of many others—all without any contact with the enemy.33

This is a very serious problem for the use of horses in combat. In general they are not as
resilient as humans and once they pass a certain point of fatigue, or under-feeding or watering,
they never properly recover and are useless for further service.34 The key, unless an endless
supply of horses is close at hand, is not to take the horse past this point. However, this was
difficult to do in South Africa given the nature of the country, the nature of the conflict, and
problems of resupply.

As Kitchener pointed out, there is little that can be done to improve horsemastership once a war
starts; it is largely a product of pre-war training and experience.35 Given the speed with which
some colonial contingents were raised and despatched to South Africa, it is not surprising that
this was an area of weakness. One contemporary explanation of why Australians were apparently not
so careful with their horses as they might have been is that in the Australian peacetime
environment horses were not worked as hard and replacements were easy to come by.36

Some attempts were made to improve horsemastership, though. One of the grievances cited by the 5th
Victorian Mounted Rifles against their commander, General Beatson, after Wilmansrust (and which
helped add to unrest and subsequent charges of mutiny against three soldiers) concerned exactly
this. Apparently the soldiers concerned were particularly upset with General Beatson's habit of
making the entire regiment walk for a day if he found any men whose horses had sore backs.37

Some individuals and some units were of course better than others. The first New Zealand
contingent, for example, took 252 horses with them, of which 13 died on the voyage. Despite the
fact that on landing in South Africa they were deployed straight to the front, the New Zealanders
believed that their mounts held out better than most. They also took great pride in their claim
that they lost the smallest percentage of horses of any mounted unit during French's advance on
Colensburg.38 However, losses were accepted as natural—the New Zealanders' pride came not from the
complete avoidance of loss, but that their loss was the smallest. When the contingent returned
home after its 12 months its members were also very proud that they could pass on about 20 of the
original 252, all in good condition.39
A survival rate of under eight per cent may not seem anything to boast about, but under the
circumstances this was seen as a triumph, and confirmed that good horse-care could bring good
results in South Africa. This was demonstrated in 1885, for example, when Baden-Powell completed a
600-mile reconnaissance of the rugged Drakensburg region, averaging 33 miles per day and finishing
with his horses in 'tip top condition'. The key to Baden-Powell's success here (apart from not
being shot at) was that he used two acclimatised horses which he kept properly fed and watered,
and rotated them to allow them to rest.40

This was not the case for the British and colonial forces in South Africa, especially at the start
of the war. A variety of factors all led to problems with horses. Those from the northern
hemisphere brought into the South African summer still had their winter coats. All imported mounts
arrived in soft condition following long or very long sea voyages, during which there was no
opportunity for exercise. On arrival, horses were often loaded straight onto trains, moved
forward, and then deployed straight into combat or combat-related duties. Trooper Vernon records
the fate of one such group of horses after a 25 mile (40 km) move in one day, writing in his diary
that 'this long march and winter weather conditions proved too much for the "soft remounts" and
many had to be destroyed'.41

This was because once in the field the horses were worked hard. The New Zealand contingent, for
example, recorded one three-day period during which their horses remained saddled, and this was by
no means uncommon.42 Field conditions often involved inadequate watering and feeding,43 and, at
least initially there was no proper remount system to replace losses or allow horses to be rested.
As a result, horses died in droves (the 6th Dragoons alone lost 200 in one week, on a 170 mile
advance in May 1900)44 and the performance of those which survived was degraded.

Horse feed and logistics played a very important part. Although the uninitiated may think that
feeding a horse is easy—one simply turns it out to graze—the real situation is much more complex.
The daily ration for horses on campaign is considerably more than just grass. Table 3 illustrates
the British Army scale of rationing in the early part of this century.

Table 3
Daily Horse Ration

Animal Oats (lb) Hay (lb)
Horse (over 15 hands) 12 12
Mounted Infantry Ponies (India) 6 20
Mules (small) 6 12

Source: Field Service Pocket Book 1914
(London: HMSO, repr 1917), 169 45

There is clearly some variation here, depending on the size of the animal and the campaign area,
and obviously lower rates often had to be accepted, at least temporarily, under the exigencies of
combat. However, something similar to the amounts given for horses in Table 3 was required (less
for Boer ponies) to keep a horse functioning properly.

This was not easy. The Elgin Report concedes that there were problems with the supply of horse
feed.46 Given that the same report claims the supply of food for the men during the war was a
success story, while many soldiers' accounts complain that food was often in short supply,47 the
difficulties with horse feed were almost certainly worse than acknowledged. This problem derived
from a variety of factors. The first was that because of the political sensitivity of the
situation in the period leading into the war a conscious decision (unpopular though it was with
sections of the army) was made to limit stockpiling and local purchase.48 In addition, the large
quantities of supplies required were more than the transport could cope with. For example, Colonel
Sir Edward Ward testified after the war:

Between 7th October and 2nd November the reserves at Ladysmith had increased to 65 days'
breadstuff, 50 days' meat, including trek oxen, 46 days' groceries, and 32 days' forage for a
force of 12,000 men. But to do this 'we used every train, poured in everything we could, brought
up local supplies, and so on.'49
The level of the effort required to stockpile even this amount of supplies was very high indeed
and, combined with the large quantities of horse-feed required, meant that the supplies for the
horses were stocked at a lower level than for the men. The problems of scale here were compounded
by general difficulties in the British supply system. At the start of the war the Army Service
Corps was operating in peacetime mode, with no plans or capacity for expansion. It was initially
unable to keep up with the demand for horseflesh and horse feed. There was also no proper
organised remount system, such as that existing in the Indian Army.50

Resupply, particularly for the horses, therefore posed particular problems, and to reduce the
strain on the supply system. Lord Roberts, for example, cut in half the daily ration of feed
during the operations in the eastern Transvaal in February 1901.51 Grazing as a supplement was
also a problem. There was a lack of local grazing, especially in the poorer parts of the country,
and to graze the equivalent of 12lb of hay by itself would take a horse five hours. This amount of
time was not always available under combat conditions, and would anyway seriously reduce the
period available for movement. The limited availability of remounts was also compounded by a
prohibition on commandeering local mounts, at least in Cape Colony.52

Not surprisingly the performance of the horses dropped off rapidly under these conditions and the
individual soldier and armies alike consequently suffered a loss of mobility. This affected the
conduct of the war at both the tactical and operational levels and on several occasions prevented
the exploitation of success against the Boers. During the post-war investigation into the war
Field Marshal Lord Roberts commented on the general problems of horse condition and singled out
the lack of fresh horses as the reason why the Presidents of the two Boer Republics escaped at
Poplar Grove. Lord Methuen also claimed that the lack of fresh horses caused him problems at
Belmont.53 French was perhaps lucky at the Riet River that the Boers failed to realise that he had
only been able to deploy 1200 men to block them because of the parlous condition of his horses.54
On a lower level, letters home from Australian mounted soldiers not infrequently mention problems
in pursuing Boers because of the state of their horses or the lack of supplies.55

All of this hampered the British war effort by restricting their mobility and allowing the Boers
more freedom of movement than might otherwise have been the case. To their credit, though, the
British did develop a system to overcome this. This involved large-scale purchase of foreign
horses to overcome the lack of numbers in Britain. Horses were bought in Australia, New Zealand,
India, Argentina, and in Europe. Interestingly, this also helped bring down prices. Horses
purchased in Britain early in hostilities cost an average (to date of shipment) of £47-14-2 while
the best price was from Argentina, at £8-3-9.56 The requirement for colonial mounted contingents
to provide their own mounts also alleviated the situation, as did the setting up of a proper
remount system. Later in the war depots were set up well forward where sick or tired horses could
be exchanged for fresh ones and in turn rested and recycled.57

Gradually the balance of mobility swung away from the Boers and towards the British and their
colonial supporters, especially after the fall of Pretoria. The Boers, cooped up in smaller areas,
with less support available from the country, began to have their own problems. However, mobility
was not enough by itself. In the second phase of the war a combination of experience, the reduced
weight carried on horses, and sound intelligence allowed very good results to be achieved by
mobile columns. However, Allenby for one complained that Kitchener's poor coordination of these
mobile columns considerably reduced their effectiveness.58 Some columns covered many miles and
expended much ammunition for very small results.59 At this point the British and colonial forces
possessed a high degree of mobility, and in fact had probably progressed as far as they could in
this regard under the circumstances. What was needed was to supplement this by a reduction in Boer

This was achieved by the blockhouse and barbed-wire system which seriously reduced the Boer
capacity to manoeuvre.60 Ultimately the combination of highly mobile columns, good intelligence,
and these counter-mobility obstacles proved effective. In December 1901 Kitchener predicted
(correctly) that the Boers would not be able to hold out much past April because of a lack of
horse feed.61

Clearly lack of horse feed was not the reason for the Boer loss of the war; many other factors
were involved. However, in their pre-surrender discussions the Boers always included a lack of
horses and horse feed as one of the main reasons why they could not continue the war. Botha, for
example, claimed 11,000 burghers were still potentially active in the Transvaal, but 4000 were
without horses and the horses the others had were in poor condition.62 The Boers had simply
reached the point where they could no longer employ their greatest strength—mobility.
Mobility was crucial to British success, and logistic considerations and the physical constraints
on the use of horses in combat were a major problem for the British effort for a large part of the
war. These difficulties did reduce combat effectiveness and arguably extended the duration of the
conflict. Only when this situation was improved and the British developed measures to restrict
Boer mobility, placing the Boers in a similarly difficult position, were the full conditions for
victory met.

Mobility was a crucial factor in the war and one of the keys to victory—as it is today. So too was
the associated ability to deliver firepower quickly to the appropriate place. In this respect, and
despite some deficiencies, the colonial mounted citizen soldier—whether a New Zealand Mounted
Rifleman or the Australian ancestor of the more famous First World War Light Horseman—did play a
very real role in helping to win the Boer War.


1. This paper was invited as 'an ancient historian's perspective' on the use of the horse in the
Boer War and I would like to thank Dr Chris Pugsley of the School of Classics, History and
Religion of the University of New England for providing me with advice on available sources,
especially New Zealand ones.
2. The conditions under which the firing takes place, including range, speed of the target,
whether the firer is also under fire, also play a major role but are less easy to analyse from a
distance of 100 years.
3. From 'Maxims of War', in R Campbell and P Harvie (eds), Singer of the Bush: AB 'Banjo'
Paterson's Complete Works 1885-1900 (Sydney: Landsdowne, 1983), 493. However, witnesses at the
post-war commission of enquiry generally (but not universally) argued that the Boers were better
shots, especially at close range: Report of His Majesty's Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into
the Military Preparations and Other Matters Concerned with the War in South Africa (London: HMSO,
1903), 48, para 84 (hereinafter the Elgin Report).
4. Glen Innes Examiner, 24 October 1899, cited in AW Cameron (ed), The Boer War: A Perspective
from The Glen Innes Examiner' 1899-1902 (Glen Innes: Glen Innes and District Historical Society
Inc, 1999), 21.
5. Elgin Report, 80, para 147.
6. Ibid, 48, para 85.
7. Ibid, 93-94, para 176.
8. Ibid, 86-97, para 160.
9. Ibid.
10. For the Paardeberg incident see LS Amery (ed ), The Times History of the War in South Africa
1899-1902, vol 3 (London: Samson Low, Marston, 1905), 414-16; T Pakenham, The Boer War (London:
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979), 330 (I am indebted to Dr Stephen Badsey for pointing this out). On
the replacement of the carbine see the Elgin Report, 94, para 176.
11. It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine the debate between the utility of true cavalry
and mounted rifles. There was considerable division of opinion on this issue at the end of the war
(see the Elgin Report, 49-52, paras 88-93) and the topic has been covered in some detail in Jean
Bou's paper (see above, 99-114). For what it is worth, my opinion on this complex issue is that
mounted rifles were the most useful in South Africa, although mounted troops who could use the
arme blanche did have their uses. Trooper Vernon of the New South Wales Lancers reported the
success of the 9th and 16th Lancers' charge at Klip Drift, stating that 'it cleared all
opposition, and from then on I never saw a position held if the intention of a lance charge was
shown': PV Vernon (ed), The Royal New South Wales Lancers 1885-1985 (Sydney: Macarthur Press,
1986), 50-51 (hereinafter Vernon, RNSWL). The then Colonel Haig gave similar testimony in the
post-war enquiry, Elgin Report, 49, para 88.
12. An interesting early precedent for this is the general increase in the professionalism of
ancient Greek cavalry in the early years of the fourth century BC. This in large part arose from
Greek experiences in campaigning in Asia Minor against an enemy who made considerable use of
cavalry: IG Spence, The Cavalry of Classical Greece (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 150-51.
13. Amery (ed), Times History, III: 379-416.
14. Elgin Report, 49, para 86.
15. Ibid, 78, para 144.
16. R Stowers, First New Zealanders to the Boer War 1899 (Hamilton: NZ: Priority Press, 1983), 1.
17. Elgin Report, 77, para 143.
18. Ibid, 78, para 144.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid.
21. On Australian horses, see LM Field, The Forgotten War: Australia and the Boer War (Melbourne:
Melbourne University Press, 1979), 106. The lone New Zealand horse brought home was called
'Major': J Crawford, 'Horse Soldiers: The South African War 1899-1902', New Zealand Defence
Quarterly 26 (Spring 1999), 26.
22. Cameron, Boer War, 21.
23. Vernon, RNSWL, 56.
24. AJ Hill, Chauvel of the Light Horse (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1978), 19, 25,
although the general shortage of horseflesh and the superiority of Boer ponies in the conditions
would also have played a part in this.
25. On Eland's River, see P Firkins, The Australians in Nine Wars (Adelaide: Rigby, 1971), 13;
Wilmansrust: Field, The Forgotten War, 162.
26. Vernon, RNSWL, 59, 60.
27. Ibid, 58, although this was not a strictly South African phenomenon—the Glen Innes Examiner of
19 January 1900 (Cameron, Boer War, 26) records an Australian volunteer en route to the city to
enlist for South Africa whose 'horse died from eating "shivery grass'".
28. Stowers, First New Zealanders, 3.
29. See, for example, Vernon, RNSWL, 54.
30. Glen Innes Examiner, 27 April 1900, in Cameron, Boer War, 36.
31. Glen Innes Examiner, 7 September 1900, in Cameron, Boer War, 67.
32. Elgin Report, 47, para 82.
33. C Chenevix-Trench, A History of Horsemanship (London: Longman, 1970), 308.
34. Spence, Cavalry of Classical Greece, 38.
35. Elgin Report, 47, para 81.
36. Ibid, 80, para 147.
37. Field, The Forgotten War, 164.
38. Stowers, First New Zealanders, 68-69.
39. Ibid, 69.
40. M Lawrence, Flyers and Stayers: The Book of the World's Greatest Rides (London: Harrap, 1980),
41. Vernon, RNSWL, 57.
42. Stowers, First New Zealanders, 69; cf accounts from Troopers Watson, King and Legh of 27
hours, 34 hours, and 48 hours in the saddle, Glen Innes Examiner, 7 September, 21 September, 12
October 1900, in Cameron, Boer War, 68, 74, 81.
43. Cf Hill, Chauvel, 21; Vernon, RNSWL, 46, 51-52. French's Cavalry Division was reduced to 1200
effective men after a day without water during his pursuit of 'Long Tom' at the very end of his
arduous flanking march to Kimberley: Amery (ed), Times History, III: 413.
44. Vernon, RNSWL, 54.
45. Amery (ed), Times History, VI: 382 confirms these figures for the larger horses, but states
that the authorised ration for smaller horses in South Africa was 10lb each of grain and hay.
46. Elgin Report, 116, para 231.
47. Ibid, 116, para 228. Cf Vernon, RNSWL, 51, and the various letters of Troopers Cameron,
Gribble, and Hands, and Corporal Martin, published in the Glen Innes Examiner, 27 April, 18
September, 9 November 1900, and 19 November 1901, in Cameron, Boer War, 34-35, 72, 84, 100-01.
48. Elgin Report, 117, paras 232-33.
49. Ibid, 118, para 233.
50. Ibid, 97, para 186.
51. Amery (ed), Times History, V: 171.
52. Ibid, 117, para 233.
53. Ibid, 98-9, para 188.
54. Amery (ed), Times History, III: 413-14.
55. Glen Innes Examiner, 9 November 1900, 1 October 1901, in Cameron, Boer War, 84, 100.
56. Elgin Report, 97, para 184.
57. lbid, 99, para 189. The situation with remounts began to improve from around May 1900 onwards:
cf Amery (ed), Times History, VI: 432 ff.
58. Pakenham, Boer War, 546.
59. Cf Field, The Forgotten War, 159-60, for poor results relative to effort expended at the end
of 1901 by Rimington's column.
60. In May 1902 more than 8000 blockhouses had been built, covering 3700 miles manned by 66,000
troops: Pakenham, Boer War, 537,
61. RL Wallace, The Australians at the Boer War (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1976), 534.
62. Ibid, 389.
Remembering and learning from the past: World War I and Iraq
By Jack Sturgess - posted Friday, 12 October 2007 Sign Up for free e-mail updates!

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana (1905).

The editorial columns in the Melbourne Argus of October 3, 1891 included the following comment:
―We have yet to witness on European battlefields the momentous effects of the magazine rifle and
smokeless powder. The magazine rifle, besides its greatly increased rapidity of fire, its long
range and flatter trajectory, … will give additional advantage to the defence and create new
difficulties for the attack.‖

This opinion was based on the events of the American Civil War (1861-65), the Franco-Prussian War
(1870-71), and subsequent technical developments. The American Civil War had seen the introduction
of pistols and rifles using the patented revolver mechanism of Samuel Colt that permitted
repeating fire. It also saw the first effective machine guns, hand cranked Gatlings with six
barrels. Basic rifling had been invented earlier, along with the minie principal to more
effectively contain the gases generated by gunpowder when fired. The Franco Prussian War featured
single-shot breech-loading rifles that were accurate over a long range.


Other technical advances in the second half of the 19th century included:

brass cartridge cases, which allowed the detonator, propellant and projectile to be consolidated
into a single, easy-to-load bullet;
nitro-cellulose, smokeless, powerful propellants generated higher muzzle velocities and easier-to-
aim flatter trajectories;
metal jacketed projectiles prevented the lead slug deforming in the barrel due to the increased
acceleration generated by the new propellants;
more effective rifling imparted controlled spin to the projectile to maintain accuracy;
safe and reliable bolt-action breeches and box magazines evolved, best typified by the British Lee
Enfield .303 and the German Mauser 7.65 mm repeating rifles; and
automatic firing, notably by Maxim (British) and Spandau (German) machine guns.
The effectiveness of machine guns and accurate rifles against massed troops was demonstrated with
devastating results in the British action against the Matabeles in 1894 and against the Khalifa
Abdullah and his dervishes at Omdurman, near Khartoum, in 1898. Sir Henry Kitchener, at age 48,
was commander of the British forces (mostly Egyptian mercenaries) at the latter encounter. Winston
Churchill was also present in his cavalry unit, the 21st Lancers. In a morning, about 10,000
dervishes were slaughtered by machine guns (Maxims) and accurate rifle fire; losses for the
British forces were some 400.

On the basis of this campaign, Churchill later wrote The River War in which he reported that as
the mayhem subsided, Kitchener was heard to remark that ―the enemy had been given a good dusting‖.

Kitchener, now Lord, had a less agreeable opportunity to appreciate the effectiveness of the long
range, accurate magazine rifle when he commanded the forces of the British Empire in the Anglo
Boer War in South Africa in 1901-02. In the Canadian history of that war, published shortly after,
the authors make this observation:

The long range of the magazine rifles in the Boer-Briton war has been a factor in all engagements,
and the Boers have been the men who, at the opening of their campaign of aggressive resistance to
the British, were educated to give the improved weapons the greatest possible scope and
efficiency, while at the same time they neglected no reasonable device to take all the chances of

This scope and efficiency were demonstrated with deadly effect at Colenso (where 1,157 British
soldiers were killed, and less than 50 Boers), and elsewhere.

South Africa dramatically demonstrated the superiority of bullet power over bayonet power,
although the lesson was not generally recognised. European strategists were still overwhelmingly
influenced by the Napoleonic theory of ceaselessly renewed frontal onslaughts, which had been
effective against single shot, muzzle-loading smooth bored muskets.
In spite of the evidence that open order skirmishing lines got better and less costly results
against modern weapons than massed close order bayonet attacks, the belief persisted that ―morale‖
deteriorated when soldiers were separated into open order formation. This belief no doubt
persisted most strongly among strategists who had not faced machine gun fire.

Kitchener and his generals were vigorously criticised by the British public for their performance
in the South African conflict. In the latest history (1979) of the Boer War, Thomas Packenham
wrote the following, referring to the younger generation of Kitchener‘s officers, Byng, Robertson,
Birdwood, Allenby, French and Haig:

The central tactical lesson of the Boer War eluded them; the reasons for those humiliating
reverses were not the marksmanship of the Boers, nor their better guns and rifles, nor the crass
stupidity of the British generals - all myths which the British people found it convenient to
believe. It was that the smokeless, long range, high velocity small bore magazine bullet from
rifle or machine gun, plus the trench, had decisively tilted the balance against attack and in
favour of defence.

The world learnt this lesson the hard way, in the bloody stalemates of the Dardanelles (Gallipoli)
and Flanders (includes Passchendaele, where 38,000 Australians were killed and wounded).

Kitchener was in command of the British forces in World War I until 1916. His subordinate, General
Haig, is most remembered as the Butcher of the Somme, after a battle fought in France. In that
battle German Spandau machine guns, secure in pillbox protection, and riflemen in trenches with
accurate Mauser magazine rifles, were used to deadly effect against massed infantry in close order
formation. In one day, mostly in the first hour, the British forces suffered 57,470 casualties of
which 19,240 were deaths. Such numbers were not especially unusual on both sides.

It is easy to be sanctimonious when making judgments of past events. Still it is difficult to
understand how so many trained and experienced people, who had observed the new weapons in the
previous 50 years, could then be so wrong. No one with influence appears to have remembered the
recent past; they were, as Santayana says, condemned to repeat it. History has condemned Kitchener
and his generals for doing so.

In the case of Iraq, history offers several examples of insurgencies in the last century that are
relevant ―past‖:

the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, 1899-1902;
the Malayan Emergency, 1948-1955;
the Russian invasion of Hungary, 1956;
the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, 1968;
the Vietnam wars of France, 1945-1954; and
the Vietnam wars of the US, 1961-1975.
In the Boer War the British forces, much stronger numerically than the Boers, were in danger of
losing until Lord Kitchener perceived the necessity of separating the combatants from their
supporters who supplied them with food, intelligence and fresh horses. To accomplish this, he
established secure ―concentration camps‖ to contain the Boer non-combatant communities; he also
initiated a ―scorched earth‖ policy to minimise the food supply of the guerillas and their horses.
This policy was effective and won the war. (Distressingly some 20,000 Boers, mostly women and
children, died of disease in the camps, earning for Kitchener the intense hatred of succeeding
generations of Boers and Afrikaners).

In the Malayan Emergency, ethnic Chinese communist insurgents on the Malay Peninsula who had
fought against the Japanese, at the end of that war continued to fight against the restoration of
British colonial government. Given the Cold War dynamics underway at the time, this insurgency was
contested by the British with the support of many of the ethnic Malays, who were promised eventual
independence. Under the strategy devised by Lieutenant General Briggs the insurgents were
separated from their communities that supplied them with food and intelligence. These non-
combatants were re-settled in secured ―New Villages‖. British planes and ships prevented re-supply
of weapons and ammunition to the insurgents by sea routes, and troops secured the narrow
mountainous access from southern Thailand. Even with these tactics, it was still necessary to have
a large numerical advantage (up to 50 to 1) to finally defeat the insurgents sheltering in the
rugged and jungle-covered terrain.
The anti-communist uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia were of a rather different nature,
being spontaneous with apparently limited military preparation or planning. The Russians, with
assistance from Warsaw Pact allies in the case of Czechoslovakia, quickly overwhelmed any
resistance with little actual combat. About 2,500 Hungarians were killed and less than 100 Czechs.
The Russians had an enormous strategic advantage, in that they could control all the borders. Both
countries were 80 per cent bordered by other Warsaw Pact countries; the remaining sections were
with Austria, which was no threat to the Russians. The number of invading troops (600,000 with
6,000 tanks) was proportionately much larger in Czechoslovakia, but the total number of people
killed was much smaller; this result might be purely coincidental.

The French in Vietnam were not popular with an indigenous population restless after the defeat of
the Japanese. It was not encouraged by any promises of independence. On the commencement of
hostilities against nationalist/communist guerillas, the French were also not able to secure the
rugged northern borders. This left the insurgents free to acquire arms and ammunition from
ideological supporters China and Russia.

The Americans in Vietnam were determined to fight a conventional high-technology war and used air
power extensively, often with little or no benefit. (If technology was effective against
terrorism, Israel would have been at peace long ago.) Air power was unable to control the borders
or the communist supply lines through nominally neutral Laos, where the Ho Chi Minh trail in that
country continued to function effectively.

On the advice of British expert, Robert Thompson, a ―strategic hamlet‖ program was introduced in
1963 which was intended to isolate the non-combatant community from the insurgents. It was
unfortunately put under the control of South Vietnamese political appointees who followed their
own separate agendas, not the least of which was corruption. The program failed. To compound the
difficulties, the non-combatant population in South Vietnam was ethnically, religiously and
politically divided, while the armies of the north were politically and nationalistically united
and motivated.

In Iraq, the situation had ceased being a conventional war and had become an insurgency by late
2004. By then the majority of attacks from the numerous Islamic insurgent groups was largely aimed
at the invading Americans. Given the length of the border, (approx 3,000km), the hostility of
neighbours (Iran and Syria) and the number (25 million) of the religiously diverse population, a
US army of about 150,000 is probably several multiples below what has historically been required
to be effective. Experts used to consider a ratio of 10:1, counter-insurgency troops to
insurgents, to be the minimum necessary for success. A Washington source in March 2007 estimated
the number of Sunni insurgents at 70,000. Shia might be as many or more.

General David Petraeus, the latest US commander in Iraq recently appointed by President Bush, was
the principal author of a new and widely acclaimed US Army counter-insurgency manual (Field Manual
3-24). After 242 pages, he concludes with Appendix G, ―Learning Counterinsurgency‖, (COIN in the
army vernacular). It includes six principles; principles 2, 3 and 4 are as follows:

isolate the insurgents from their cause and their base;
secure the population under the rule of law;
generate intelligence from the population.
Lord Kitchener and Lieutenant General Briggs could have told him all that. Remember the past.

Case Identifier: BOERWAR
Case Name: Anglo-Boer: Britain's Vietnam (1899-1902)

1. Abstract
Between the war of 1812 and the First World War, there were many different "small" wars that took
place. However, unlike the war of 1812 and the First World War, these other "short lived" wars
have been completely over-looked. Why because many people wish these "small" wars did not happen
and it should be forgotten, like the US involvement in Vietnam. One of these wars that should have
not happen was the Anglo-Boer War in Southern Africa in 1899.

2. Description
This war was very different than other wars at it time, because this war was fought by people who
were not the "natives" of the area. The actual "natives" had nothing to do with the war at all.
One would say that the Boer War was the "White Man's War", even though it took place in Southern
The Anglo-Boer War started on October 11, 1899 between two former British republics (Free Orange
State and Transvaal) and the United Kingdom, in South Africa. As the war continued, Britain
brought reinforcements from Australia, New Zealand and Canada as well as some volunteers from
other British colonies. The war lasted for three years, and it had a very high casualty rate on
both sides.

The casualties of the were:

British soldiers: 7,792 (killed) 13,250 (death from disease)

Boers: 6,000

Women and Children in Concentration Camps: 26,370

Africans in Concentration Camps 20,000+ (Data from Anglo web)

During the war there was a large influx of Boer women and children and Africans that were homeless
because of the destruction of their homes, and had no place to go. The British military leaders
decided that the best way to solve this problem was to simply put these people in concentration
camps , where they would be safe from harm's way. However, these camps were not the "haven" for
the Boers, but in fact these camps were actually large death traps. Thousands of people in these
camps died of numerous illnesses. The deaths in the camps were much greater than the deaths in the
actual war. What happen in these camps was the worst event of the entire war, which many want to

On October 11, 1899 around tea time, the Anglo-Boer War officially began. Many stated that the
Anglo-Boer War was the United Kingdom's version of Vietnam. Why Vietnam, because just like the
United States and the French, the British underestimated the Boer people. The British thought that
the war would only last for a weeks, and in fact the war lasted for over two years and thousand of
people lost their lives, just like in the Vietnam war.

The purpose of this case study is to give an informative and historical analysis of the Anglo-Boer
War in South Africa. The case study will discuss the Boer and African societies, causes of the
war, the two warring parties (the two armies), a brief view of the war and a brief review of the
concentration camps and it's effects on the Boer society.

The Boer people

The Boer society was made up of Dutch farmers who had settled in the southern Africa in the 17th
century. During this time these Dutch farmers intermingled with other European settlers and
established the Afrikaner or Boer community. Although the Boer population was a mixture of various
Europeans, the predominant religion was Dutch Protestant. The Boers became very independent and
cut off all ties with the mainland (Europe). One of the major aspects of the Boers was racial
superiority; slavery unfortunately was common place in this society. By the 1850s, the Boers
established two independent Boer states, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The Boers and
British lived separately and peacefully for the next decade.

The African people
There is they little information on Africans involvement with the Boer war. The only account that
was stated in many books is that thousand of Africans die in concentration camps.

The Beginning of the War

Conflict between the British colonial territories and the Boer Republics had been going on many
years before the beginning of the war in October 1899. Especially the relationship of the Boer
states to their neighboring British colonies. "Things finally came to a head in May 1899 when a
conference was held in Bloemfontein in an attempt to resolve the most recent points of the
contention."1 This conference was the last chance for both groups to prevent the outbreak of total
war. The conference was held in the capital of Orange Free State, and the representatives for the
Boers and Britain were Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, President of the Transvaal Republic and
Sir Alfred Milner, High Commissioner in the Cape.

The main disagreement between the British government and the Boers was about the right of
'Uitlanders' (foreigners) on the Transvaal gold fields. (The hidden British idea was to get the
Boer's gold mines.) During the late 1880s in Transvaal, there was a gold rush that attracted
thousands of people into the area (many came from Europe and even America and Australia). By the
1890s these Uitlanders were paying a considerable amount of taxes and were demanding equal rights
in Transvaal. The main question at the conference was the period of residence of the Uitlanders,
before they could get the right to vote in Transvaal elections. "Kruger had been insisting on
fifteen years."2 Milner on the other hand demanded immediate voting rights for all Uitlanders who
had lived in Transvaal for more than five years. If the Boer's gave voting rights to all the
Uitlanders, the Boers would in time gradually lose power, because the Uitlander population was
rapidly growing. After hearing Milner's demand, Kruger burst into a tearful 'It is our country you
want.' Milner abruptly terminated the meeting without consulting with Joseph Chamberlain, who was
the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Kruger wish to continue talks on the subject of the
Uitlanders, but Milner still demand that all of the Uitlanders' grievances must be settled before
future discussions between them could take place. The situation worsened, when the British
government started dispatching more military reinforcements to South Africa. Kruger in turn,
insisted that the British army should stop it's advancement to the Transvaal border as a act of
peace. But the British military did not yield and they continue to advance to Transvaal's borders.
Because the British not listen to Kruger request, he was force to give the British an ultimatum.
The ultimatum stated that all of the British troops on the Transvaal's borders must be withdrawn
and reinforcements on the way sent back. The British did not yield to the Boers demand.

By October 9 all hope of peace had faded away. On this day the British Cabinet declared war on the
Boer Republics. "The Great Trek had created the Boer nation; the war was about to destroy it"3.

The two Armies

The British Army

In 1899, the British army was thought to at its apex. It was designed to defend small uprising all
over the empire, not to fight large scale war. Before 1899, the British military did not have a
large force in South Africa because it posed no immediate military threat. That changed greatly
during the negotiations in 1899.

At the start of the war, the British army considered itself to be more than a match for the Boers
(they saw the Boers as a rabble of farmers). Their senior officers had wide experience of military
administration and the army was well fled, and the army had modern transportation. Also, the
army's morale was very high at the beginning of the war. Because the army believed that no one
could defeat the "mighty British military."

The British army was very over confidant at the beginning of the war. There was little or no
training in marksmanship (unlike the Boers) and they viewed the use of camouflage as not
sportsmanlike. In fact, the British army thought of the war like a sporting match instead of an
actual war. "Most officers looked upon war as an extension of their activities on the cricket or
polo field, combined with the excitement of a grouse shoot"4

The Boer Army
Unlike the British army, the Boer army had been carefully designed for the conditions of South
Africa. The Boers had a very efficient mechanism for mobilizing their army which was called the
"commando" system. The commando system is like today's guerilla warfare, the Boers attacks were
"hit and run", they would attack an target fast and escape before the enemy attacked them.

Unlike the British, the Boer army was mainly free-lance; the only professional units were the
state artilleries. Most of the men in the Boer army (called the "Burgher") were expected to
provide himself with a rife, ammunition and sufficient food to last for eight days. If battle
lasted longer than eight days then it became the government's responsibility to feed and arm the

The Boer army was remarkable in many ways. Although men were legally obliged to take up arms when
ordered, the government did not have the right to demand complete obedience. If a solider did not
want to fight in a particular battle, he could ask for leave. It was decided that not more than
10% of the troops could be away at one time, but this rule was not strictly enforced in the early

The Boers fought as a team, they also, did not wait for an official order to take advantage of an
opportunity or to retreat when a position became untenable. These troops were also, trained as
excellent marksmen, and to save ammunition, which was very expensive and difficult to get in the
heat of battle. Boers were so good that there is evidence that Boers could pick off British
officers at 1,200 yards or sometimes further.

The War

At the beginning of the war both sides were very confident. After the Boer ultimatum, the Boers
knew that it would take least six weeks before the British troops to arrived in South Africa, and
they plan to outnumber the British forces when they landed. In October 1899 the Boers brought
between 32,000 and 35,000 men immediately into the field against a British garrison in the Cape
Colony and Natal numbering only about 20,000.

The British empire and Boer republics seemed to be unevenly matched and, it was widely believed
that once the fighting started the Boer republics would be overrun without difficulty and the war
would be very short (six months). But this was not the case, the actual war lasted for over two
and a half years.

In South Africa the Boer offensive was launched on three fronts. The republics' main force crossed
from the Transvaal and Orange Free State into northern districts of Natal, compelling the advanced
detachments of the British garrison to retire to Ladysmith, where the main body of British troops
in the colony where stationed. Between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2 General Piet Joubert, (a veteran Boer
military leader), succeeded in laying siege to the town. On the western front, Boer commandos
moved into the northern Cape and the Bechuanaland Protectorate to stop British communications
along the railroad from Cape Town to Bulawayo in Rhodesia. A third force, composed of Free
Staters, invaded the Cape midlands, where commandos rapidly gained recruits from among the
colony's population. All three of these major attacks inflicted startling defeats to the British
forces (mainly because the British army had to get to Southern Africa) The war could have been won
by the Boers if they continued to advance, but the old and "experienced" military leaders of the
Boers did not want to advance that soon. This decision ultimately cost them the war.

The war was about even until Lord Roberts of Kandahar and Lord Kitchener of Khartoum were
appointed to Commander-Chief and Chief of Staff of the British army. Roberts first plan was to
attack the township of Kimberley, by advancing along the railway northwards from Cape town. After
this he planned to dispatch the main force eastward towards Bloemfontein in the Free State.
Robert's main army advanced through the Cape towards the republics. The attack on Kimberly ended
on Feb. 15, 1900, "the Boers' most humiliating defeat of the war".5 The route was now open to
Bloemfontein and it was captured on March 13, 1900. Then Roberts moved his army to Johannesburg
(capture May 17) and then to Pretoria (capture June 5). "Having occupied Johannesburg and
Pretoria(the Boer's capitals), Robert's army went eastwards, driving the republican government and
the body of the Transvaal commandos along the railways towards the Mozambican frontier."6 By
September 1900 British troops had gained control of the entire railroad network of the Transvaal,
thus denying the Boers their last direct link to the outside world. During this time Roberts
promised to protect the people and property to those burghers who gave up their arms and had
signed a pledge to take no further part in the war.
Following the capture of the Boer capitals both republics were annexed to the British empire, the
"...Orange Free State on May 24, 1900 (to be known as the Orange River Colony), and the Transvaal
on September 1, 1900, through in view of the continuation of the war the validity of the
annexations in international law was questionable."7 The Anglo-Boer war seemed to be drawing to
its conclusion.

In November 1900 Lord Kitchener succeeded Roberts as Commander in Chief. Under the command of
Kitchener the war completely changed. About 30,000 farmsteads were destroyed during the course of
Kitchener's operations. Also, under Kitchener one of the worst event of the war happened. Boers
and Africans were removed from the devastated country and were put in concentration camps, where
many people died. About 26,000 Boer women and children and 14,000 Africans died in over-crowded,
insanitary and ill-organized camps

Once Kitchener became commander the war was practically finished. With the exception of a few more
battles during the next few months. In April 1902, the Boer government met at Klerksdorp and
agreed to open peace talks with Milner and Kitchener. These talks ultimately led to the surrender
of the Boer's independence and the signing of a peace treaty on May 31, 1902.

Concentration Camps: Social and Environmental aspects of the Boer War

During the course of the war, the British military commanders   were faced with a serious problem:
how to maintain the safely of the thousands of Boer women and   children and Africans that were in
British occupied areas of South Africa. The British commander   thought the solution to this problem
was very simple, put these people in areas of "concentration"   were they would be safe. But these
camps became a death trap rather than a "safe haven".

"These concentration camps in the Boer War must not be confused with the German camps of the
Second World War."8 The British camps were set up for an entirely different reason and were meant
to house people in comfort and safety, but this was proven to be completely false. However, the
administration of the camps soon ran into many difficulties which worsen the conditions in the

The conditions of the camps were initially not too bad. But a few months after the camps started a
sickness began to spread like "... a dark strain amongst the children, and soon reached the adults
too."9 With frightening rapidity the number of the sick began to climb in all of the camps. Death
began to be reported in an increasing number. By October 1901, out of the 113,506 refugees in the
camps, 3,156 had died, most of them children.

What was causing the deaths in the camps? The Doctors really did not know, some say that it was
scurvy, tuberculosis and a few other diseases. The major problem was that the people in the camps
had abnormal diets which in turn with the large influx of people living together in a small area
created the chance of a crisis to happen.


The Anglo- Boer war was a very tragic war, not only did the Boers lose there independence from the
British, also they lost thousands of women and children from the camps. Also, thousands of
Southern Africans (whom did not even fight in the war), lost their lives, in a war that had
nothing to do with them. Not only did the war destroy Boer towns and farms , it basically
destroyed the Boer way of life completely.

Marshal Petain Understood It All: Firepower Kills - French military officer Philippe Petain

Burton Wright, Iii
In 1870 the French Army was decisively defeated by the Prussian Army. The reasons for the defeat
were many--technology, in that the Prussians had better rifles than the French; staff work, in
that Helmuth Karl von Moltke's development of a new type of staff officer helped to coordinate the
movement of the now vast armies Europe could field; and superior leadership among the Prussian
field commanders.

After the Treaty of Paris, France burned for revenge, and the French Army felt the heat but could
not initially make the changes required to overcome the fundamental weaknesses inherent in its
training and doctrine. Internal bickering was one major problem; religious attitudes and many
officers' hatred of the Third Republic; the Dreyfus Affair that divided not only the Army but also
France; and the rise to power of Colonel Louis Loizeau de Grandmaison.

As head of the Staff College, Grandmaison believed that the only way to win was to develop the
idea of the "perpetual offensive"--French infantry closing with the enemy and routing them.
Philippe Petain was then a relatively junior major. Instead of focussing on the overwhelming
offensive, Petain spent his time studying two conflicts more recent than the Franco-Prussian War--
the Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War.

Unlike many soldiers of his time, he understood the significant lessons of both wars, which were
similar. In the Boer War, the Boers were crack shots with rifles. They were armed universally with
the German Mauser magazine rifle, while the British Army was armed with a lesser weapon. In battle
after battle, the magnificent marksmanship of the Boers stifled British tactics and piled up a
significant number of casualties.

At Colenso and Spion Kop, the Boers used steady and accurate rifle fire to win the day. The
British plan was thwarted when fog prevented the British troops from occupying the top part of
Spion Kop, which, once the fog cleared, was instead occupied by the Boers.

From their superior perch, the Boers delivered   such accurate rifle fire that British soldiers
could not rise above the shallow trenches they   had dug without fear of a bullet in the head.
Hundreds of British bodies littered the top of   Spion Kop at the end of the battle. At
Magersfontein, the Highland Brigade attempt to   use a massed infantry attack against Boers dug in
with rifle pits and spent the entire day under   the blazing sun because they were too exposed to
accurate rifle fire.

The British drew some of the correct lessons. After the end of the Boer War, they began rigorously
training their infantry in accurate and sustained rifle fire. This was so successful that when the
Germans collided with the British Army near Le Cateau, they believed the British had hundreds of
machineguns in their line. They didn't. It was the British infantry firing just as the Boers had
done before the turn of the century.

The Russo-Japanese war was an even more important one because it was the first modem war that used
a significant number of machineguns. In terms of numbers, the two sides were about evenly matched,
but the Russians had almost inexhaustible manpower reserves. The Japanese did not, but the
Russians used the machinegun to inflict severe casualties on the Japanese infantry. At several
battles before Port Arthur, the Russians used machineguns combined with fortifications and barbed
wire to mow down hundreds of Japanese infantry.

Petain saw the fatal flaw in Grandmaison's theories of offense. Courage and the offensive spirit
would be rendered useless by firepower long before the attacking force came to grips with the
enemy. He also saw that these two conflicts validated the idea that a good defense is not all that
bad. Where Grandmaison decided any defense was silly and a waste of time, Petain saw it as a means
of wearing down the enemy before going over to the offense. In the French Army of his time, Petain
was one of the few who understood the concept of the active defense.

Petain would have retired an obscure colonel with a less than spectacular record if World War I
had not given him his chance. Within a span of only 18 months, he was promoted from command of a
regiment to Supreme Army Command. With his personal rise, so rose his tactical proficiency.

As a corps commander, Petain used artillery instead of massed infantry. He was not a commander to
keep throwing fresh infantry into the maelstrom that was the Western Front. Glory at the cost of
high casualties was not his plan; victory was.

In fact, according to Alistair Home in his epic The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916, Petain made
popular some interesting phrases: "The offensive is the fire that advanced; the defensive the fire
which stops," and "Cannon conquers, infantry occupies."

His German counterparts appeared ignorant of this theory. In fact, the battle at Verdun, which
made Petain's name a household word in France, illustrated the German disregard for the
effectiveness of massed French artillery.
Today's United States Army is far closer to Petain than to Grandmaison. The average infantry
platoon of today has nearly as much firepower as a company of 1918 infantry. The ability of the
infantry-both individually and in small units-to marshal its own firepower and meld it with
artillery and air support has proved the validity of Petain's views-except that today it will not
be only artillery but a combined arms team that is decisive.

Compared with World War I, the Infantry now has the ability to use many types of weapons to
dominate either offensive or defensive operations. As time passes, technological improvements will
continue and refine our means of bringing firepower to bear.

Petain did not intend to imply rigidity or inflexibility in the employment of firepower. The U.S.
Army is moving to make its firepower agile, powerful, and flexible. Military history clearly shows
that flexibility in war-the ability to change tactics to fit the weather, the terrain, and the
enemy-is a key to victory.

In a discussion I once had with Lieutenant General Harry W.O. Kinnard, former commander of the 1st
Cavalry Division in Vietnam, I asked him about the abilities of the enemy-the North Vietnamese
Army and the Viet Cong. He praised them as worthy opponents, and he pointed out that they changed
after the battle in the Ia Drang Valley to be better able to react to the 1st Cavalry Division's
extraordinary ability to move. He also added that he changed the division's way of fighting, and
said that he hoped he was always one step ahead of the NVA and the VC.

This superb leader of troops understood the value of flexibility and firepower. Follow his lead.
Marshal Petain would have been proud to command those sky soldiers in South Vietnam. Their common
understanding of firepower transcends more than half a century.

Dr. Burton Wright, III, served on active duty in the 7th Infantry Division; in the Weapons
Department of the Infantry School; and as an assistant professor of military science, Missouri
Western State College. As a civilian historian, he has served at the U.S. Army Center of Military
History and the U.S. Army Aviation Center. He is now Command Historian of the U.S. Army Chemical
School at Fort Leonard Wood. He is a 1966 ROTC graduate of Creighton University, and also holds a
master's degree and a doctorate from Florida State University.

COPYRIGHT 2000 U.S. Army Infantry School
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

Shared By:
Description: Fred's Guide to becoming a Rifleman