Kinda sad that Turn is over. For those who feel likewise, here is “To Range the Woods” depicting two members of the colonial-era American provincial militia (Rogers’s Rangers) conversing with a British Regular NCO during the Seven Years (French and Indian) War, 1760
During the colonial wars before the Revolution, Ranger patrols, often led by sergeants, performed valuable scouting missions for the British regulars trying to capture Canada from the French. Such military operations in heavily forested North America differed from Old World linear tactics.
As opposed to their European NCO counterparts, who were used primarily to prevent straggling and maintain fire discipline, American NCOs had the opportunity to demonstrate small-unit leadership skills and independent judgment. Here Rangers, including an American sergeant about to set off on a raiding mission into French territory, discuss their mission with a regular sergeant of the British Army.
Eighteenth-century uniforms derived from contemporary civilian clothing on both sides of the Atlantic. British coats, waistcoats, and knee breeches were made of red cloth, the “national color” (leading to the nickname “lobsterbacks”). Long leggings or gaiters protected the legs. Variation in “facings” (cuffs, lapels, and lining) and the lace around the buttonholes distinguished different regiments. The British regular sergeant shown here is distinguished from private soldiers by the sash with facing stripe worn around his waist, and by the European halberd he carries instead of a musket-the halberd being more of a badge of office than a true weapon.
American Provincial units’ uniforms appeared similar, but differed in color — either blue or, in the case of the Rangers, green. Wilderness conditions caused practical modifications, such as discarding the standard cocked hat in favor of headgear less prone to get in the way in the woods. The longer European coat was replaced by a shorter jacket, and shoes and gaiters were abandoned in favor of moccasins and Indian cloth leggings.
NCOs in this era were distinguished from privates by having better — quality uniforms. The Ranger sergeant wears worsted cording (instead of the even more ornate silver that an officer would wear) around his buttonholes. He is armed, like his men, with a cut-down musket and a tomahawk, which the Rangers favored instead of traditional European edged weapons.
And with that, here are Maj. Robert Roger’s “28 Rules of Ranging” in 1757
I. All Rangers are to be subject to the rules and articles of war; to appear at role- call every evening on their own parade, equipped, each with a firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet, at which time an officer from each company is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute’s warning; and before they are dismissed, the necessary guards are to be draughted, and scouts for the next day appointed.
II. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemies forts or frontiers for discoveries, if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body, if the ground you march over will admit of it, to give the signal to the officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number, & c
III. If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other to prevent the enemy from tracking you (as they would do if you marched in a single file) till you get over such ground, and then resume your former order, and march till it is quite dark before you encamp, which do, if possible, on a piece of ground that may afford your sentries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.
IV. Sometime before you come to the place you would reconnoiter, make a stand, and send one or two men in whom you can confide, to look out the best ground for making your observations.
V. If you have the good fortune to take any prisoners, keep them separate, till they are examined, and in your return take a different route from that in which you went out, that you may the better discover any party in your rear, and have an opportunity, if their strength be superior to yours, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.
Rogers Rangers VI. If you march in a large body of three or four hundred, with a design to attack the enemy, divide your party into three columns, each headed by a proper officer, and let those columns march in single files, the columns to the right and left keeping at twenty yards distance or more from that of the center, if the ground will admit, and let proper guards be kept in the front and rear, and suitable flanking parties at a due distance as before directed, with orders to halt on all eminences, to take a view of the surrounding ground, to prevent your being ambuscaded, and to notify the approach or retreat of the enemy, that proper dispositions may be made for attacking, defending, & c. And if the enemy approach in your front on level ground, form a front of your three columns or main body with the advanced guard, keeping out your flanking parties, as if you were marching under the command of trusty officers, to prevent the enemy from pressing hard on either of your wings, or surrounding you, which is the usual method of the savages, if their number will admit of it, and be careful likewise to support and strengthen your rear-guard.
VII. If you are obliged to receive the enemy’s fire, fall, or squat down, till it is over, then rise and discharge at them. If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourself occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal to theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution with equal force in each flank and in the center, observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other ten or twelve yards. If the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance through’ them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternately, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground.
VIII. If you oblige the enemy to retreat, be careful, in your pursuit of them, to keep out your flanking parties, and prevent them from gaining eminences, or rising grounds, in which case they would perhaps be able to rally and repulse you in their turn.
IX. If you are obliged to retreat, let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear hath done the same, making for the best ground you can; by this means you will oblige the enemy to pursue you, if they do it at all, in the face of a constant fire.
X. If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded by them, let the whole body disperse, and everyone take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening, which must every morning be altered and fixed for the evening ensuing, in order to bring the whole party, or as many of them as possible, together, after any separation that may happen in the day; but if you should happen to be actually surrounded, form yourselves into a square, or if in the woods, a circle is best, and, if possible, make a stand till the darkness of the night favors your escape.
XI. If your rear is attacked, the main body and flankers must face about to the right and left, as occasion shall require, and form themselves to oppose the enemy, as before directed; and the same method must be observed, if attacked in either of your flanks, by which means you will always make a rear of one of your flank-guards.
XII. If you determine to rally after a retreat, in order to make a fresh stand against the enemy, by all means, endeavor to do it on the most rising ground you come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.
XIII. In general, when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will then put them into the greatest surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage.
XIV. When you encamp at night, fix your sentries in such a manner as not to be relieved from the main body till morning, profound secrecy and silence being often of the last importance in these cases. Each sentry, therefore, should consist of six men, two of whom must be constantly alert, and when relieved by their fellows, it should be done without noise; and in case those on duty see or hear anything, which alarms them, they are not to speak, but one of them is silently to retreat, and acquaint the commanding officer thereof, that proper dispositions may be made; and all occasional sentries should be fixed in like manner.
XV. At the first dawn of day, awake your whole detachment; that being the time when the savages choose to fall upon their enemies, you should, by all means, be in readiness to receive them.
XVI. If the enemy should be discovered by your detachments in the morning, and their numbers are superior to yours, and a victory doubtful, you should not attack them till the evening, as then they will not know your numbers, and if you are repulsed, your retreat will be favored by the darkness of night.
XVII. Before you leave your encampment, send out small parties to scout round it, to see if there be any appearance or track of an enemy that might have been near you during the night.
XVIII. When you stop for refreshment, choose some spring or rivulet if you can, and dispose your party so as not to be surprised, posting proper guards and sentries at a due distance, and let a small party waylay the path you came in, lest the enemy should be pursuing.
XIX. If, in your return, you have to cross rivers, avoid the usual fords as much as possible, lest the enemy should have discovered, and be there expecting you.
XX. If you have to pass by lakes, keep at some distance from the edge of the water, lest, in case of an ambuscade or an attack from the enemy, when in that situation, your retreat should be cut off.
XXI. If the enemy pursues your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form an ambush to receive them, and give them the first fire.
XXII. When you return from a scout and come near our forts, avoid the usual roads, and avenues thereto, lest the enemy should have headed you, and lay in ambush to receive you, when almost exhausted with fatigues.
XXIII. When you pursue any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest they should be discovered by their rear-guards, who, at such a time, would be most alert; but endeavor, by a different route, to head and meet them in some narrow pass, or lay in ambush to receive them when and where they least expect it.
XXIV. If you are to embark in canoes, battoes, or otherwise, by water, choose the evening for the time of your embarkation, as you will then have the whole night before you, to pass undiscovered by any parties of the enemy, on hills, or other places, which command a prospect of the lake or river you are upon.
XXV. In paddling or rowing, give orders that the boat or canoe next the sternmost, wait for her, and the third for the second, and the fourth for the third, and so on, to prevent separation, and that you may be ready to assist each other on any of emergency.
XXVI. Appoint one man in each boat to look out for fires, on the adjacent shores, from the numbers and size of which you may form some judgment of the number that kindled them, and whether you are able to attack them or not.
XXVII. If you find the enemy encamped near the banks of a river or lake, which you imagine they will attempt to cross for their security upon being attacked, leave a detachment of your party on the opposite shore to receive them, while, with the remainder, you surprise them, having them between you and the lake or river.
XXVIII. If you cannot satisfy yourself as to the enemy’s number and strength, from their fire, & conceal your boats at some distance, and ascertain their number by a reconnoitering party, when they embark, or march, in the morning, marking the course they steer, &c. when you may pursue, ambush, and attack them, or let them pass, as prudence shall direct you. In general, however, that you may not be discovered by the enemy on the lakes and rivers at a great distance, it is safest to lay by, with your boats and party concealed all day, without noise or show, and to pursue your intended route by night; and whether to go by land or water, give out parole and countersigns, in order to know one another and dark, and likewise appoint a station for every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you.
Morgan’s Riflemen, the Rangers of the War of Independence, are remembered, along with tattered bluecoats, in John Doyle’s famous 1976 piece, Continentals, in the collection of the Smithsonian.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune has been sending a drone-equipped camera guy to scout the swamps surrounding the Big Easy for old Civil War-era masonry fortifications. An important strategic key to the country (mouth of the Mississippi, largest city on the Gulf of Mexico, et. al), the city was well-protected by a series of forts, almost all of which (except for Fort Livingston which was swallowed by the river decades ago) are still out there, largely in ruins.
Fort Jackson, at the mouth of the Mississippi south of the city
Fort Proctor, or Beauregard’s Castle on the shore of Lake Borgne just north of the mouth of Bayou Yscloskey.
Fort Macomb, east of the city on the western shore of Chef Menteur Pass.
Fort St John (Old Spanish Fort), on Bayou St. John, which dates back to 1704.
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Feb.8, 2018: Roll Tide, Vol. 4ish
Here we see the Illinois-class pre-dreadnought type battleship USS Alabama (Battleship No. 8) as she appeared at around 1904, just before her inclusion in the Great White Fleet. Sadly, she would never be this beautiful again.
The Illinois-class battlewagons were under construction during but were not able to fully take advantage of, lessons learned by the U.S. in the Spanish-American War. At 12,250-tons, these ships were very hefty due to the fact they packed a quartet of 13″/35 main guns in twin turrets and 14 smaller 6″/40s in casemates into a hull that was slathered in as much as 16.5-inches of steel armor.
In the end, they weighed three times as much as a frigate of today, though they were arguably shorter in length at just 375-feet. Still, they were capital ships of their time.
Laid down within six weeks of each other (we have a modern Navy to build here, folks!) from three different yards, Illinois (BB-7) was built at Newport News while Alabama was made by the good folks at William Cramp in Philly and the final installment, Wisconsin (BB-9), was built by Union in San Francisco. Though sandwiched in the middle of the three, Alabama was completed first, entering the fleet in October 1900, months (almost a year compared to Illinois) before her two sisters. She was officially the 4th U.S. Navy ship to bear the name.
Alabama proved a popular ship, extensively photographed in her day, and many images of her crew exist today.
These same 13″ guns were used in the Navy’s first nine battlewagons from USS Indiana (BB-1) through USS Wisconsin (BB-9) and were pretty effective, with Navweaps noting “During the Battle of Santiago on 3 July 1898, the battleship Oregon (B-3) engaged in a running shoot with the Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colon. Oregon‘s last shots traveled 9,500 yards (8,700 m) and landed just ahead of the Spanish ship, convincing her to surrender.”
Illinois and Alabama, based on the East Coast, were like peas and carrots. They toured Europe and for 15 months steamed around the world with Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet– joined by Wisconsin halfway through.
However, even before they left on the circumnavigation the entire class was obsolete with the advent of large, fast, all-big-gun battleships such as HMS Dreadnought (21,000-tons, 21-knots. 10×12″ Mk VIII’s).
This led to a three-year modernization, picking up lattice masts and removing such beautiful ornamentation as the bow scrolls and hardwood furnishings. She also ditched the gleaming white and buff scheme for a more utilitarian haze gray.
Returning to the fleet in 1912, Alabama was made part of the doldrums that was the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, where, much like the 1990s-era NRF ships, she was manned by a skeleton crew of primarily NCOs and officers and used to train Naval Militia (the precursor to the Navy Reserve) and midshipmen.
She continued this mission during World War I, transitioning to basic recruit, gunnery and machinist training on the East Coast. She was laid up in November 1919, having served less than two decades in the fleet, with arguably most of that in reserve.
To both shed tonnage to be used to keep modern new dreadnoughts because of limitations in the Washington Naval Treaty and give Army Air Force wonk Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell, a chance to prove himself, Alabama was decommissioned in May 1920 and subsequently transferred to the War Department’s custody.
There, she joined the old battleship Iowa (BB-4), the slightly more modern but similarly disposed of battleships New Jersey and Virginia, and several captured German ships to include the submarine U-117, destroyer G-102, light cruiser Frankfurt, and battleship Ostfriesland, all to be used by the lumbering Handley Page O/400 and Martin MB-2/NBS-1 bombers of Mitchell’s 1st Provisional Air Brigade operating out of Langley.
The Navy protested vigorously over the Army-organized test, arguing they were borderline rigged to show off a predetermined outcome. The German ships and Iowa went first in July off North Carolina, with Alabama, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia following in September in the Chesapeake.
Alabama took a significant punishment over a three-day period, then remained afloat for several days while she filled with seawater via her shattered hull, finally going to the bottom 27 September 1921. Her bones were sold for scrap in 1924.
Sister Illinois, disarmed in 1924 and converted to a barracks ship (Prairie State), was ultimately sold for scrap in 1956, while Wisconsin was unceremoniously broken up in 1922.
Of course, the Navy went on to commission other Alabamas including the very lucky South Dakota-class battleship (BB-60) which has been preserved in Mobile since 1964…
…and SSBN-731, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine commissioned in 1985 and currently in service.
However, the old battleship’s silver service lives on.
Presented by the state to the ship’s officers in 1900, it was retained by the Navy in storage until given to the follow-on SoDak class battlewagon in conjunction with a new platter and punchbowl crafted by the Watson Silver Co. in 1942. In 1967, the Navy returned the set to the state archives of Alabama and it has been on display aboard BB-62 since then, though part of the service has been presented to SSBN 731 and is now on permanent display in the boat’s wardroom.
Displacement: Full load: 12,250 long tons (12,450 t)
Length: 375 ft 4 in (114.40 m)
Beam: 72 ft 3 in (22.02 m)
Draft: 23 ft 6 in (7.16 m)
Installed power: 8 fire-tube boilers
Propulsion: 2 shaft triple expansion engines 10,000 ihp (7,500 kW)
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
4 × 13 in (330 mm)/35 caliber guns
14 × 6 in (152 mm)/40 caliber guns
16 × 6-pounder guns (57 mm (2.2 in))
6 × 1-pounder guns (37 mm (1.5 in))
4 × 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes
Belt: 4 to 16.5 in (100 to 420 mm)
Turrets: 14 in (360 mm)
Barbettes: 15 in (380 mm)
Casemates: 6 in (150 mm)
Conning tower: 10 in (250 mm)
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Heard you were looking for a pre-owned M1 or M1911? CMP just got 99K of the first and 8K of the latter..
The Civilian Marksmanship Program has recently received truckloads of vintage M1 Garand rifles long ago loaned to U.S. allies overseas and is preparing to inventory M1911 pistols as well.
Gina Johnson, CMP’s general manager, told me via email Tuesday the federally-chartered non-profit corporation has been moving the repatriated 30.06-caliber rifles into their warehouses in recent days.
“We have roughly 86,000 rifles from the Philippines and roughly 13,000 rifles from Turkey in our possession,” said Johnson.
And then there are the 1911s…
More in my column at Guns.com.
“We were now four hundred yards from the foot of Cemetery Hill, when away off to the right, nearly half a mile, there appeared in the open field a line of men at right angles with our own, a long, dark mass, dressed in blue, and coming down at a “double-quick” upon the unprotected right flank of Pickett’s men, with their muskets “upon the right shoulder shift,” their battle flags dancing and fluttering in the breeze created by their own rapid motion, and their burnished bayonets glistening above their heads like forest twigs covered with sheets of sparkling ice when shaken by a blast…”
Owen went on to take command of the decimated 18th Virginia after Gettysburg as the seniormost officer still able to walk. When the 1,300-billet unit surrendered 5 April 1865 at Sailor’s Creek, only 2 officers and 32 men remained. Owen died in 1929 and his papers are preserved at the Library of Virginia.
In the above video shot by my homie Ben Philippi, Sig’s Rich Morovitz talked to us at SHOT Show about the U.S. Army’s new M17 sidearm and points out some of the differences between the military’s variant and winner of the landmark Modular Handgun System contract and the standard Sig Sauer P320. Besides the manual safety– an Army requirement– Morovitz also goes into detail on the removable top plate for a Leupold DeltaPoint Pro sight, which is a big move for a MIL-STD handgun meant for the common Soldier in the field.
More info if you are curious here.
Via the National Park Service:
Cannon Row at Fort Moultrie is home to eight pieces of heavy artillery original to Charleston Harbor. Each piece has a story to tell of ingenuity, technology, and resourcefulness. Cannon Row includes a 13-inch seacoast mortar, two 10-inch Rodmans, a 10-inch Confederate Columbiad, a 10-inch Columbiad that was rifled and banded during the war, an 8-inch Parrott, a 10-inch Parrott, and the 7-inch triple-banded Brooke Rifle. Of the 8 pieces, the rifled and banded Columbiad and the Brooke are the most unique.
The modified Columbiad was originally a Union piece and then was captured by the Confederates during the surrender of Fort Sumter in 1861. At a later date, the gun was hit at least twice by artillery and became unserviceable. Beauregard sent the piece to be rifled by a private firm in Charleston. It was outfitted with a bronze trunnion band bearing the initials “CS.” When the gun was recaptured by the Union, they very crudely carved a “US” into the band.
The triple-banded Brooke, now at Fort Moultrie, is the only one surviving of the three ever cast. Thanks to its hard-hitting, iron-penetrating bolts, the gun became a favorite for the soldiers on Sullivan’s Island and a terror for the Union Navy.
Pictured above is Fort Moultrie’s cannon row with an impending thunderstorm in the background.