Analysis of the objects found in the "Home"
An amazing amount of details and evidence can be seen in the "Sharpshooter's Home" photo.
I invite you to take a very careful look at the above blown-up image detail: Photo purchased
from the LOC by the artist
A is the soldier's kepi hat and a rare find as it would and should have been grabbed by a fellow comrade. Curious to see it still there. None show in the other photos of dead confederates.
B is the knapsack- A lovely and very useful piece of equipment unlike anything else showing up in any of the other death studies taken by these photographers. It makes the journey down the hill but remains hidden as it was already a very conspicuous element here at the "Home". As it is a very useful accessory for a soldier, I feel that its presence- still attached to the body- is another strong indication no confederates ever came around to check on this fellow.
C is a piece of rotten stump-wood. Another section of this stump-wood can be seen at the right of letter "G". I believe they were once joined and used to make a rifle rest for careful aim at the distant battery on LRT. It's corky condition could protect the rifle from bouncing sharply off the hard rock wall surface thus spoiling aim and scratching the rifle barrel. Since we cannot see the condition of the haversack in the stereo (photo 2) because it has the blanket covering it, this stump-wood provides the clue to which photograph- the plate (photo 1) or the stereo (photo 2)-was taken first. In the stereo, the wood has been moved away from the body's head to make
room for the spreading of the blanket. It has been placed at the mid-foreground side of the mid-blanket area. As it is nothing more than an 'unimportant' piece of rotten stump, I can think of no
reason why the photographers would have moved it to the soldier's head area for their first shot.
But I can see why they would move it for their second shot to make room for the blanket.
Because of its "unimportance", I surmise the photographers probably found it lying to this side of
the dead soldier's head to begin with.
D is the bulge caused by a rock laying for several days upon the opened frock coat. Originally a very obvious bulge it looks centrally pushed in by somebody's fingers. This bulge and the bottom edge of the frock coat get flatter after the body is dragged down the hill and further recording occurs. Who opened the coat days earlier? I think Union Soldiers.
E is the as yet full haversack- soon to be emptied like the knapsack, making it a very normal appearing element for the photos taken down the hill and so it will show up in plain sight.
F is an ammunition pouch- another valuable item that would have been taken if the shooter's brethren had visited him in his "Home". It remains at the "Home" when the body is removed.
G is a rock and different in appearance from the bulging haversack.
H is the piece of blanket lying beneath the sharpshooter-its mate is still within the haversack. Both very obvious and unusual blankets will remain at the wall. Seen also L and R of E.
I is a mystery item, so never mind about this just yet.
J is the "hallmark"prop rifle placed there by the photographers; in no way possible the rifle that would be used with accuracy from this great a distance to the battery on LRT.
K is the ageless "puddle rock" weather gauge- which tells you it rained recently. I luckily visited the "home" just after a two hour moderate rain storm -close to but not quite a down-pour. The puddle was full. I had to remove half the water to get the puddle into the same condition as is shown in this photo. The copious amounts of rain, off and on in the days after the battle, should normally have filled this basin. From what I have been able to glean, weatherwise, it rained Friday night and Saturday morning, afternoon, night, Sunday morning, afternoon, evening, some on Monday, off and on all day Tuesday and also 3 AM Wednesday to about 11 AM ( when it concluded in a major downpour) before clearing out later that afternoon. Thus, no matter which day the photographs were taken, this oddly half-filled basin leads me to believe the 5-inch-trunk deciduous tree had a spreading and rain-shedding canopy of leaves; one more clue that it was alive and the photographer's sawed it down.
L another mystery item. Please ignore it for now.
M is the 5-inch deciduous tree sawn approximately 2-3 feet from the ground (better seen in photo 2- note: what seems to be the ground appearing in the stereo is actually a flaw in the negative. As indicated by the stereo effect, the actual ground may be easily a foot below this horizontal flaw. What seems to be roots are more likely lower branches). Though it is blurry to the eye, still it can be observed to be plainly cut with a saw at two different angles; the whitest (right)section at about 35 degrees- the left section nearly flat. Odds are greater the right cut was made first by someone standing on this side as it is poorly accomplished. The left cut was made from the "Home" side and is both deeper and flatter, intersecting with the first cut. With practice comes correction and efficiency, and so it seems probable the sawyer was right handed. The pie-shaped section was probably formed when the tree was bent back towards us- whoever cut it down did not want it to fall inwards toward the "Home". This tree is not nearly big enough for lumbering. If it was a live tree, such as I portray it in my paintings (the cut and stomped branches around it--and several appearing to emerge near the bottom edge of the photo-- all exhibit leaves), then it would be too wet for firewood. If it was an old dead tree then it could have been sawn for firewood but why would the sawyer leave the bottom and best section?! Further, if soldiers were looking for firewood in this area, then why not take that dead pine visible nearby the "Home" in the blurry distance of photo 5?
This 5-inch (Aspen?) tree is way too big for a tent-pole or a litter. It could only provide natural cover for the sharpshooter, a good thing; obstruction and darkening effects to the photographers, a bad thing. So.... who do you think cut it down? Soldier? Farmer? Photographer?
N is a rock out of place to the wall. This flat rock does not add to the bulk of a stone wall and should not be here. Rather it is "capstone" material, and would have been placed at the very top level. I believe it was used by the sharpshooter as a "shelf" to rest his elbows upon while aiming his rifle. As such, it came tumbling down when the shell blast came roaring through. It is the likely culprit for the flattened state of the sharpshooter's lower legs and especially the obviously
dislocated left knee (knees don't bend that way). My guess is it was removed and carelessly but
handily "ooomph'ed" into the wall-base by the photographers. Same with the rock upon it.
O This is the soldier's right leg....more on this later!
In summation, just regarding the few elements I have described above, there is a marvelous amount and variety of visual clues contained in the "Sharpshooter's Home" photo. As the photographers were seeking props along their way, it is plausible some of the items above went with them to other scenes. Yet, except for the rifle prop shown, I have been unable to recognize any of the items found in the "Home" to have been recorded before the "Home".
This leads me to believe these various items were probably found in the "Home", and were not
props carried in by the photographers from other and earlier sites.
As mentioned above, I feel this dead soldier was never found or checked upon by his brethren. The Federals who may have stopped by on Saturday would not be interested in the odds and ends lying about the body. But the poorly equipped Confederates would have taken most everything.
Except for a rifle, knife, and a canteen, nothing seems to be missing from the usual
In other words, I believe the photograph of the "Sharpshooter's Home" is a veritable time capsule
of treasure, providing many insights to the world of the sharpshooter during the civil war.
Where is this Sharpshooter's Rifle?
What sort of rifle would be effective from this distance? A normal Enfield rifle with standard or
elevated vernier sights would not deliver anything more than harassment fire to those arty crews
in the distance of LRT. We should keep in mind that the battery on LRT had the best elevation
and range of any other upon this Battlefield. Although it was reported that, because of the
narrow summit, only two cannon could be used against Pickett's charge, still the enfilade
shelling was more damaging to the confederates than any other bursts from the entire Union line.
Regardless of that historical note, we can figure the Confederate Army was well aware of the
importance of the battery atop LRT. If they could call in a 'specialist' with just the right
equipment who could operate effectively at long range.....well....they might be able to mess with
those cannoneers' aim. The view from LRT as photographed by Brady shortly after the battle
showed the Eastern side of Houck's Ridge to be almost tree-less. However, the ground south
around the Devil's Den did contain some large boulders and ample shrubbery -- an excellent
elevated location for direct shooting at LRT. But it was a "no- mans land" under the capable
sights of those cannon; not a place to station troops! Still one or two sharpshooters with special
equipment might be placed there with good effect.
I believe the confederates found just the right fellow by the evening of the second. I think he
was an actual member of a sharpshooter's unit.
This fellow was handy with what could be called a "Northern Target Rifle". It was an unusually
heavy piece with a scope attached; just what was needed for the job at hand. This rifle couldn't
be carried in the usual manner. With no fore-stock, it had its ball-ended ramrod placed within
the muzzle of its big barrel and the entire piece was carried in a leather rifle-case. To be used
with accuracy, this rifle needed several additional elements.
I know this man existed and doubtless died on the third day of the battle because his rifle was
found in the Devil's Den area on the Sunday after the battle ended.
I will now tell you about some history I have gathered from the Gettysburg Military Park
Yep to the rifle- nope to the scope?
In August of '97, I was finally able to get back to the park museum and check out that school
boy's remark [to the tour guide] about some sharpshooter's rifles. I was walking about the
amazingly crowded room just beyond the book store exit. I had to make way for an oncoming
family and I backed up against some low piece of furniture. I looked around to see if I had done
any harm and....bingo....I beheld three rifles in a display case. My eyes were immediately drawn
to the middle one. I recognized it as a Northern Target Rifle. Simply stated, it is one heck of a
rifle, even heavier in type to the norm of NTR's [Its weight is about 36 LBS.] made years
before and after the war by numerous riflesmiths working throughout New England. What
caused my preliminary exultation was the scope "attached" to the top of the long octagonal
barrel. I had very good reason to be searching for a scope. But the one I sought would be missing
a particular section. At first glance, this one appeared complete.
There was a sign to the right of the monster. In essence, it said this rifle, originally made by
George Leonard of Keene, N.H., was found "in the devil's den" on Sunday, July 5th '63, by John Rosensteel (age: 17-18 years?).
According to a story I caught from a park employee at the Cyclorama desk, later on when the
battlefield became a popular attraction, the Rosenteel's opened a museum in the battle area and this
rifle and others plus various battle accouterments went on view therein. Still later, the museum
moved into town, and finally the collection was acquired by the park in the 1970's. I haven't
checked further into this story and so I apologize for any inaccuracies. My overwhelming
concern at the time was for the rifle's appearance.
From my own past experience as a onetime (economically unsuccessful) black-powder riflesmith, I recognized what this rifle was and what it was especially good for. I also knew there were a number of items necessary for its' accurate function:
1) A wooden, leather or sheepskin rifle-case for carrying the weapon--it has no fore-stock and can only be fired accurately from a "rest" position. Additionally, the scope must be protected from accidental shock and damage associated with the normal handling and carrying of such a heavy weapon ( I read of one version made by W.Billinghurst weighing 60 pounds) .
2) A ramrod for loading and cleaning between shots -- normally placed within the barrel when in transport.
3) A bullet mold, to make its' peculiar ammunition ( probably a picket bullet or cylindro-conoidal) and a swadge, a compressing device to ensure uniformity in that ammunition.
4) A false muzzle with a separate bullet starter.
5) cross-patch cutter for its cloth or paper patches, powder flask, strips of cleaning cloth (this rifle had to be cleaned between shots-unlike the standard weapons in use by the common soldier). Also a flask for carrying the black powder. For accuracy these rifles were loaded exactly the same meticulous way each time.
6) A few small tools and extra parts to maintain the piece.
7) A Shooting bag to hold and carry the smaller items above.
It is certainly strange that Rosensteel did not collect some of these other items as well. Perhaps
this rifle was not found where it was being used, or the young Rosensteel did not see or
recognize the other necessary elements for the rifle's function. Or they may have been misplaced
through the intervening years.
Regardless, what Rosensteel found was quite a prize. For example, this rifle could reach out
with accuracy to the Union Cannon atop LRT from the position of the " Sharpshooter's Home"
in the Devil's Den. And if it had an accurate scope attached(2x-20x), it certainly would provide
more than harassment fire against the battery crews. It is amazing that such a prized and useful
piece would have been left upon the battlefield by the confederates. I can only think that they
must not have come back into the area in a search for it or its owner. I should mention the rifle is
engraved with the letters H.C.P C.S.A 1862. Perhaps the owner (sharpshooter H.C.P) of this
rifle died alone and no one came to check on him.
Today, this rifle can be viewed with a long scope "attached" to its barrel. I say "attached"
because it is not actually and correctly mounted to the rifle. The forward mount is not adjustable
with set screws for windage, and its base seems to be carelessly soldered to the barrel, rather
than shoed into a machined or filed barrel dovetail for proper support. File marks are clearly visible
upon the top land of the octagonal barrel. This is not the handiwork of a good riflesmith. But it could have been done using a blacksmith's forge or even a campfire.
According to the sign in the display case, this scope is marked Wm. Malcolm, Syracuse, N.Y.
Malcom was well known to be the maker of excellent scopes using a 3/4 OD solid tube design
instead of the older Chapman-Morgan James method of manufacture from sheet-steel, or sheet-iron, with seam. The older method required a flat piece of metal to be soldered over the seam the entire length of the scope. Oddly enough, this seems to be the method used to manufacture this
particular scope. Perhaps history of the Malcolm design is in error, or this is an early version.
To continue, the scopes rear mount doesn't "fit" either. Although the rifle obviously has a rear
adjustable telescope-base installed in the metal stock-tang, it in no way fits this scope. The
circular yolk is broken and is now used as a cradle for the scope which is kept in its place by a
thin strand of what looks like fishing line. Evidence suggests something violent has occurred
around this rear mount and stock as well. It looks like a blast force has hit here. Like-wise with
the scope. It seems to have a 7 or 8 inch repair to the steel seam cover but nothing that would
reflect the terrific force that would take away the top half of the rear mount yolk and damage the
stock. Curiously, there is no 'ghost' marking or any indications the rear-mount yolk ever encircled any part of this scope. Yet it should have, as all yolks did.
Something else puzzling is the length of the scope itself. According to proper design, each scope
was made to fit the rifle. Malcolm scopes were generally made to be about 6-1/2 inches longer
than the rifle barrel. This rifle's barrel is 32-½ inches. The scope measures 32 inches.
Conceivably, there could be another 7 inches of scope if this scope was made for this rifle.
Again, not earth-shattering info but it is notable.
Finally, the ocular-- or eyepiece-- is out of sync in color to the rest of the scope. It is silver and I
reason it should be black. It would be hard enough to sight through an eyepiece to start with, let
alone one that is so bright (and not good camouflage either). The image seen through these
scopes comes from lenses that are a mere ½ inch in diameter and so they do not gather light as a large objective lens (used with, say, a regular telescope) would. And so the eyepiece, measuring
about an inch long, is one more oddity (I have since learned- May, '98- this eyepiece has no lens and is simply pushed onto the rear of the scope. There is an inner lens visible some 5 inches further up the tube)
This said, I should like to point out the obvious answer to all these inconsistencies. It could be
that the entire last six or seven inches of this scope were torn away by the same blast which
caused the stock to appear to have been slammed down against a rock. The same with the
scope's rear yolk mount. Also, the area of the lock has heavy damage to the upper wood surrounding it. Someone has even glued or brass-tacked the wooden surround back in place. The visible damage to this rifle could not have been caused by a mere bullet strike. But I think it does seem very consistent to being in close proximity to a cannon shell blast.
If this scope is (and it may not be) the actual scope found with this rifle on Sunday the 5th 1863, then I suspect the following:
Finding most of the damaged rifle scope still attached by its front mount, the Rosensteels simply
bent it back straight. Then they square-cut the damaged rear section away from the better part.
They also soldiered a new 7-inch seam cover to the rear section. Lastly they remounted the entire
remaining 31- inch scope to the rifle by relocating the good front mount down the barrel some
six inches (or, if this really was the actual position of the forward mount, they simply slid the scope back five inches from the muzzle end). Eventually they procured a silver eye-piece and voila! The scope is now only 32 inches long but it looks like a perfectly good CW sharpshooter's rifle to show the visiting
Well, who knows for sure? Am I an expert at old rifles? No, and I admit it.
Of course, there is
another possibility to
explain all the
oddities. Maybe this
scope wasn't found
on this rifle. Perhaps Rosensteel replaced the heavily damaged original scope with this poorly
fitting substitute (the damaged rear mount can only mean there was once some sort of scope
attached that did fit the broken yolk) . He may have wanted to use his prize for some target
shooting and found a replacement somewhere around town. It is conceivable a lot of normal and
strange things happened to this particular rifle before it came to rest in its current display case.
Whose rifle was this? I believe a close look at the engraving within the stock escutcheon reveals
the original owner was probably a Union soldier and not a confederate. I know what the
engraving says, but wait a moment. The engraving is consistent with the work of a fair scratch
engraver. All lettering is slight, large and succinctly frugal in space-saving workmanship. No
room is allowed for last names -contrary to the norm called for. No regiments, either. And
"CSA" is as well balanced and equally spaced with the rest which indicates it was done at the
same time. Therefore, we have a simple engraving done while the owner was a proud member of
his army. As the rifle was made in N.H. and this "Malcolm" telescope was made in N.Y., then
of course there is nothing to link this rifle to the south except the engraving, which could have
easily been done as a camp pastime. My suspicion is "finder's keeper's" sometime after a fight
And so my thinking is this rifle was taken from the capture, or the cold dead hand, of a yank.
After taking a very close look at the engraved escutcheon in the stock a strong urge came upon
me. I wanted to pry that piece of silver from the stock and flip it over. My curiosity was to see
what might be on its other side. Too bad I couldn't take it from its display case. I would love to
get it really close to my eyes. Alas, all I could do was look at it through that plexiglass shield. [Update, May'98. I was allowed to examine the rifle out of its display case and found the other side of the stock has a cheek-rest. There is a larger rounded silver escutcheon positioned in the middle of this rest. Lengthy, still faintly discernible scratch marks cover the entire area of the cheek-rest and ornament. I would venture that whatever was possibly engraved on the silver escutcheon had been removed by someone. There are no similar marks anywhere else on either side of the stock, which seems to be very finely sanded all over.]
Tying It Together
Why should I be going on and on about this rifle in the visitor's center? Well, as you may have guessed, I am fairly certain that this rifle actually belonged to the sharpshooter in his "Home". I have very good reason to say this. First, I'll tell you why I was looking for a sharpshooter's rifle with a scope last May of 97.
Photo 1 detail/ LOC
Flip back to that description of the various objects found
in the close-up shot of the sharpshooter's home photo.
Specifically, take a good look at item (L).
"L" is a tubular piece of very thin metal. It is black in color if you
compare it to the "prop" rifle barrel in the background.
Something rather round has struck it with great force in its
front part and rammed it open by spreading and separating its edges. Further back it is seen to
be flattened somewhat and surrounding its rear is a thin unrolled sheet of metal still attached on
the left and top-side.
This tubular object is about six inches long and 3/4 of an inch in diameter. I know this because I made an exact substitute for it out of a piece paper, rolled-up and taped around. I flattened one side and opened up the other. I even included taping the small sheet to its far end. Then I took this little facsimile with me on a trip to the battlefield and placed it carefully, using some rocks for elevation, in the exact same position as its long gone metal cousin. I took some photos with my old 35mm.
After development and scanning, I was able to compare the photos side by side to the "Sharpshooter's Home" photo on my computer screen. What I had constructed from paper was an excellent match. See for yourself: A comparison of my current photo to the LOC photo of 1863. Except my tube is light brown and the other tube is black. Note: Both tubes were placed upon the ground beyond the "puddle rock"-even though it looks like the black tube was placed upon the edge of that rock. The actual stereo view proves this notion to be false.
I had spotted that tubular object lying in the foreground early on and my suspicion has always
been that it could be a part of a CW era rifle-scope. Not a telescope or a spotting scope. Not a
rifle barrel. The photo "test tube" comparison was another hopeful key.
So....there she was. Very possibly the missing rear section of that Northern Target Rifle scope on
display in the military park visitor's center/museum. It was right there just out of my physical
reach, resting clearly and comfortably in that 134 year-old photograph. This rear-scope piece
ties the rifle found by Rosensteel in the Devil's Den on Sunday the 5th, to just possibly being the one the sharpshooter was using that fateful day of the third.
The little flap of sheet metal still partially surrounding the rear could be a thickening sleeve placed and soldered around the scope where it would be passing through the rear mount collar. The sleeve would provide extra strength and girth at that area of shock. Or, it could be the actual rear end of the scope and held the eyepiece, which was threaded inside. Also note: I have seen a clearer version of this photo at the LOC and, although my copy shows it poorly, I think the little semi-circular piece of metal extending around 6 to 9 o'clock at the flared open (front) end, corresponds in size and shape to a scope seam-cover.
But I knew this proof wasn't certain. If it is/was part of a scope, the photographers may have simply found it lying around and carried it to the "Home" site where it became a prop. Not likely, but one odd item can appear where it doesn't belong. I did ask myself if the photographers would even recognize this object for what it was. Dubious, but I supposed they could have.
But I kept searching the photograph for other visual clues. After all, if the sharpshooter was
shooting a long-range rifle from his "Home" that day, then there should be other items to tell the
tale. I knew the rifle would have to be cleaned between shots and a close look at the ground in
the photo does reveal several strips of white cloth- just like those I used when I shot my
own black powder creations. It wasn't much more to go on but I kept looking. I knew there
would have to be several items necessary to maintain and shoot the rifle. I was certain the
sharpshooter was killed by the effects of a shell blast and the H.C.P rifle sure did look like it had
been exposed to a blast also. If this northern target rifle wasn't the sharpshooter's piece then I
knew the odds of two long-range rifles being used in the Devil's Den area and being in two
separate shell blasts were rather high. What I mean is it doesn't say much for southern
sharpshooters. And my thoughts have always been they were absolutely and VERY competent.
I had read those rampant reports saying the Devil's Den area was crawling with sharpshooters on the third; I (and the various historians) could only take them with the proverbial grain of salt. Nothing but sporadic harassment fire could have been coming from the woods of Round Top or the Plum Run Gorge. The Gorge was too low in elevation for effect against the stone works upon LRT-- and directly under the fire from the summit. The woods of RT would have limited the effects from that corner also. The best effective observation and fire would have come from the elevation of Houck's Ridge above the Devil's Den. However, this place was not the spot for the common sharpshooter. It was too far away for good effect with an Enfield.[When your rifle's front sight is larger than the distant object you're training on, then only luck or psychic ability will make the hit.]
Considering the various valuable objects left behind in the "Home", we can surmise the sharpshooter was alone and stayed that way; nobody came to check on this fellow because nobody else was in that area. It would have been simple and rather safe to come up from the West rear of Houck's Ridge after the shell blasting occurred at the "Home" site (try it yourself--just stay low and nobody on LRT will see your approach). I have to believe if other confederates were somewhere within the vicinity they could have easily checked up on their brother and would have taken away his valuables. But they obviously did not.
These were my thoughts last summer while I was searching the photograph of the
"Home" for clues. I hadn't purchased the copy photos from the LOC and it really is difficult to make things out in the small book illustrations. Still, one morning I did see something. There.... way back behind the mid-body.... that dark folded piece of something with straps leading to it.
I had looked at it often, supposing it to be another type of back-pack/ haversack. That particular
morning the thing finally came out and showed itself to my stunned eyes.
Go back to the enlargement and look closely at item (i) beyond the body and to the right of the prop rifle.
Detail photo 1
Can you tell what that thing is? I do seriously doubt that you can because I must have looked at it fifty times before it made any sense to me.
That curling dark leather item is a rifle carrying case. You still won't be able to make it out
even now that I've revealed it. It is just too difficult to fathom. I must make a drawing here to
show you what you are seeing. As the body blocks our view, I'll have to wing it with my imagination
to connect the muzzle-end with the polished top of the leather stock end. Behold:
I think you may be able to see it now. You see, when the sharpshooter pulled his rifle from this tight-fitting carrying case, it caused the leather to collapse somewhat into a "snake-skin" condition. And when he last tossed it aside and
out of his way forever, it remained in this spineless, lifeless pattern. If you are like me, I think you
will also notice that this case's muzzle-end matches the aformentioned fat-barreled and scoped Northern Target Rifle like a well-fitting glove. In addition, the stock-end (just down from the strap) has an obvious pointed (shiny) impression from the sharp-ended butt-plate of that NTR (one of the odd things about that type of target rifle that differentiates it from the normal butt-plates of regular rifles). I believe I can also make out a dimple or hole coinciding with the telescopic sight's rear and eyepiece section. You may also notice the strap caught in the rock wall leading to the muzzle-end where it was attached--that's what's holding the muzzle-end in its upright curling position. I am uncertain what the open muzzle-end of the rifle case was used for but my eyes tell me it was normally tied shut. Perhaps the ball-ended ramrod and false-muzzle wouldn't always come out of the tight-fitting case when the rifle was withdrawn from the larger stock-end. Or, maybe it was a separate compartment for carrying the bullet-starter device and the false muzzle.
Now what are the odds that the photographers found this highly unusual piece of equipment lying elsewhere and thought to toss it into the "Home"? Or, if the photographers did place this item in the "Home" then why did they not position it in a more noticeable spot-- say, on the ground our side of the body?
To sum up, the visual evidence suggests a sharpshooter using an NTR at the position of the wall and boulders. Further, it was a big scoped version. Still further, it sustained damage to the stock, lock, and the rear of the scope and the mounting collar. Add to that whoever grabbed the damaged rifle failed to retrieve some extras that went with it, as they are still seen within the photo.
When you consider everything presented then you must agree that Northern Target Rifle with
the initials HCP, which, through a strange quirk, has been on view to millions since about 1880, could very well be the rifle operated by the sharpshooter in his "Home"on that fateful third of
Well...its either that or there were a minimum of two big and scope-fitted
Confederate-owned Northern Target Rifles hit by shell-fire (which damaged both their rear
mounts) in the Devil's Den that day. One was being used by this sharpshooter. The other found
by young Rosensteel. The one found by Rosensteel was without its carrying case. The dead
sharpshooter has the right "glove" but no rifle. It IS interesting....
Why doesn't Rosensteel know whose rifle he picked up? Years later, when he came in probable contact with Gardner's "Sharpshooter's Home" photo, why did he not recognize what he had in his possession? Could it be that Gardner's prop rifle leaning against the wall in the photo had him fooled into believing that sharpshooter was using another rifle?
For additional Rifle photos
The Search for HCP
After bumping into that NTR last August, I was able to take the old photos and apply a soldier's
initials to this long lost body. The odds I keep speaking of maintained good certainty that this
fellow really was HCP. Finding a name on a roster should have been an easy task--I mean, didn't
they keep very good records back then? It should have been simple. Just look for any H.C.P.s
who were listed as killed or missing on the 3rd of July. Once you find your man then you try for a photo.
Should have been, could have been....but it wasn't. What I was unaware of is that several people
with the Park who knew about the initials on the rifle were already dead-ended in their own searches for HCP. And who knows how many other folks had tried their hands at it before the rifle came into the Park's acquisition in the seventies.
I have little to complain about. I confess I never tried too hard at this particular research task.
Frankly, I thought I should stick with putting together the visual clues. Searching the visual
realm is my forte; searching through historical tomes is not. I admire scholars as those who have
a penchant for finding and exploring the written words of others. As for myself, I do not have the
knack for it.
Aware of my weakness (but unaware others had tried to match HCP with a name), I turned to a
trusted friend, Kurt Graham, of Georgia. A thorough and consummate civil war enthusiast,
scholar, and art collector, Kurt proceeded to put himself through the proverbial wringer trying
to find HCP. The CW-resources available within two hundred miles of Kurt's location were
pretty good. Our outlook was hopeful.
Our initial thinking last summer was that HCP was a member of Robertson's Brigade. As anyone
who studies the 2nd day's events will find, the unlucky 124 NY regiment (fighting around the forward 4th NY battery cannon) lost an amazing number of their officers and so they may have been coming under scrutiny by some Texas or Arkansas sharpshooters. It was a very unusual but promising clue. Mr. Graham picked that ball up and ran with it, finding several HCP's (including one wounded on the 2nd day while fighting in the Devil's Den) but none listed as dead or-- much more likely--missing on the 3rd. Kurt offered the wise speculation that HCP may not have been the one using the rifle on the 3rd. For instance, if incapacitated on the 2nd, then he may have lent his rifle to some apprentice on the 3rd. Neither of us liked the thought, but things like that do happen. Kurt is still trying to track down more info on the wounded Texas HCP. In the mean-time he branched out to other Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas regimental possibilities.
Eventually he found a Calihan Parker, member of the 3rd Arkansas under Robertson, who was listed as killed on the 3rd. That in itself would raise my hopes because July 3rd was a day of relative inactivity for the 3rd Arkansas. I was almost ready to bet the ranch on Calihan (Calihan being a probable middle name). But later, Kurt found another book listing Calihan as wounded, captured and then dying some days after the battle.
While Mr. Graham plugged away down South, I began to appreciate not being involved with library searches for long dead HCP's. I was glad my search was with the comparatively concrete photographic, and not the examination of somebody else's compilations. In truth, I was flabbergasted with the missing or conflicting information available "out there". My faith in finding HCP was eroding. As for my good friend down South, it might be accurate to say Mr. Graham was on some kind of HCP roller-coaster. Every good lead Mr. Graham found in one book was dashed by dead-ends or the confusingly different information found in another. Mind you, Mr. Graham does have some leads and hasn't given up the search.
For instance, while tackling the first 25% of the entire Confederate Army roster, Mr. Graham
came across a fellow with the name of Calvin Pack who was listed as a 9th Battalion NC Sharpshooter. Although it seemed unlikely at the time, an inquiry made at the
Gettysburg Park Library produced a trite file with a photocopy of a poorly written letter. It seems
the author was a member of the North Carolina battalion of sharpshooters, and, although the
writer wasn't there,[I think he says] the unit did play a role in that battle. As I said, it
was hard to decipher. That's all as yet found by that route. Future research may prove something
I also laid eyes on the file of Georgia Sharpshooters at the Park Library.
Although it contained no roster of its members, there did seem to be a complete and accurate
listing of all dead, missing and wounded after the battle. Of course, HCP was not amongst them-else the Park Service would have found him out years ago. One sharpshooter who showed as
missing was J.A. Carter, Co. F. -- I found that intriguing, but .....not HCP.
I did Email a letter to Author and Teacher Dave Dameran, who recently published a book about
(http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/3795/benning.html). Mr Dameran was able to go through some of the known rosters of Georgians-who were supposed to be in control of Houck's Ridge from the 2nd to the 3rd of July.
Unfortunately, nothing hopeful came to light from Mr. Dameran's search (my thanks Dave).
As Kurt Graham had early on informed me, too many rosters are still incomplete.
At Kurt's urging, I also tried to get some info on the rifle made by George Leonard by writing to
someone I thought might be a direct descendent in Keene, NH. This inquiry produced nothing.
I also accessed the town Library of Keene, NH. and found nothing in their book catalogue
associated with the old Riflemaker. Next stop may be the local historical society. I know
Leonard would have kept records of everything he made and who ordered it. Perhaps they have
survived down to our time. As I said earlier, I do not expect to find a buyer by initials of HCP,
but it would be interesting to find out just who this unusual target rifle was made for.
As already noted, I am now inclined to think HCP was not a member of the local infantry regiments long thought by historians to be placed around the Devil's Den area. If he were then why would some of his friends not sneak up the back way and check on his health after what would have been an obvious duel with the cannon atop LRT? I repeat, the evidence is overwhelming that nobody did come up to check on the sharpshooter. And so, at battle's end, his name would show up as "missing"on the third.....somewhere.
After 135 years he is still missing. If you have any information that might help in identifying HCP, please contact Kurt Graham. Mr. Graham would appreciate hearing from you.