The Confederate Whitworth Sharpshooters
By John Anderson Morrow

19 March 2004
By Sarge

Now in its second edition John Anderson has written a book that for any practitioner of long range shooting is a must read! Yes, this is a very specific text on the Whitworth rifle as used by Southern sharpshooters but, the history of the soldiers who fired it, is as remarkable as the rifle itself.

The Whitworth rifle characteristics are .45 caliber (.451, rifled, six-sided or hexagonal, HA and we thought that was "new") with a bore of .450 inches with a 1:20 twist. Total rifle length was 49 inches (some noted at 55 inches!) Weight was 8 pounds 15 ounces, without the scope. Yes, bubba they were using scopes, a Davidson telescopic sight patented in 1862. It is very crude by today's standards but the Sharpshooters that used this set-up used it with great efficiency.

This weapon not only used telescopic sights but also, because of its unusual rifling, required the use of specially shape bullets. 1,000 of these bullets were usually shipped with the rifle. This was one of the critical factors in its accuracy.

The cost of each of these masterpieces was $1,000 including the ammunition; figure that out at today's prices!!!

The book goes into wonderful detail as to the "birth" of this rifle then onto the history of the men that used it.

Many accounts of the effectiveness of the rifle are given, but with emphasis on the man behind the rifle. These were good hard southerners that had grown up hunting to put food on the family table. They knew how to stalk, they knew how to call the wind and they KNEW what their rifle could do! Practice and marksmanship were the keys to their success! And speaking of success, we think a "kill" at 1,000 yards is some darn fine shooting. Well I hate to burst all our bubbles but these gentlemen had the ability to kill at ranges from 1200 to 1300 yards!!! And this is with a BLACKPOWDER rifle with a scope that had very limited magnification!

I could go on and on but this book is one that no long-range shooters library should be without!


John Anderson Morrow knows whereof he writes. He is a great-grand nephew of Confederate partisan leader Col. John S. Mosby and has no less than five Confederate soldier ancestors. John is also a US Army, Special Forces Master Sergeant, Retired.

You can contact John on his website to purchase this fine book.

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