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Shock Troops of the Confederacy by Fred L.…
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Shock Troops of the Confederacy

by Fred L. Ray

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At its best, this book offers a different perspective on the tactical achievements of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, as the author makes a good case that sharpshooter units organized by the individual brigades (and occasionally at the divisional level) made a contribution out of proportion to their numbers. At its worst, this book reads like a padded history of Robert Rodes' brigade and then division; not that this is necessarily a bad thing. You also have to wonder whether the author is trying a little too hard to make these units seem more modern then they really were, seeing as the War Between the States is still a time of muskets, "picked men," and flank companies, and not of "special operation group"[s] (to point out one of the more jarring anachronisms); though this does place the book in the tradition of trying to draw linkages between the American Civil War and the Great War. One might also wonder about even using the term "shock" in the title, as Ray seems to use it in the broad sense of elite soldiers, rather than as direct assault troops, which the sharpshoorters generally were not. Call it the downside of independent scholarship, as the author seems to have had limited outside input into his work, when it probably would have made for a better book. ( )
1 vote Shrike58 | Feb 19, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0964958554, Hardcover)

Shock Troops of the Confederacy is a comprehensive history of the elite troops of the Confederacy, as well as an essential reference for historians, enthusiasts, and reenactors. Although little has been written about them, the sharpshooters of the Army of Northern Virginia played an important and sometimes pivotal role in many battles and campaigns in 1864 and 1865. Confederate general Robert Rodes organized the first battalion of sharpshooters in his brigade in early 1863, and later in each brigade of his division. In early 1864 General Lee adopted the concept for the entire Army of Northern Virginia, mandating that each infantry brigade field a sharpshooter battalion. These units found ready employment in the Overland campaign, and later in the trenches of Petersburg and in the fast-moving Shenandoah campaign of 1864. The term sharpshooter had a more general meaning in the mid-19th Century than it does today. Then it could mean either a roving precision shooter like the modern sniper (a term that did not come into use until late in the century) or a light infantryman who specialized in the petite guerre: scouting, picketing, and skirmishing. The book covers the history of the Confederate sharpshooters; the development of light infantry from 1700-1918; and the human story of the sharpshooters themselves -- in battle, on the skirmish line, and at their lonely picket posts.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:32 -0400)

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