The 3rd Ga Battn Sharpshooters was formed from troops primarily from the Wofford’s Brigade which consisted of the 16th Georgia Infantry, 18th Georgia Infantry, 24th Georgia Infantry, Cobb’s Georgia Legion, and Phillips’ Georgia Legion. Cobb’s Legion, by the way, was the unit of the fictional Ashley Wilkes in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind. The units designated “Legions” were not only infantry but had their own cavalry and sometimes artillery contingents. Promotion to a Sharpshooter unit was highly desired and was based on marksmanship competitions as well as other factors. Sharpshooters (i.e. snipers) were considered more elite troops and they did not have to stand picket duty as did common infantrymen. The duty had its hazards and its privileges.

    Following the death of Stonewall Jackson following the battle of Chancellorsville (May1-3, 1863) , General Lee decided to reorganize the Army of Northern Virginia into three corps instead of two. He made a number of other changes, including the addition of several sharpshooter units to be formed from the existing regiments. These units began forming in June 1863. My Great-Grandfather’s records indicate he entered that unit sometime in June, but the unit is not mentioned in any accounts I have seen of the Battle of Gettysburg in July. The pay records for the unit don’t show up until about the time of Chickamauga (mid-Sept 1863) for which battle the unit made the long train ride, but arrived after the end of combat. The 18th Ga, (and I assume the Sharpshooters,) were involved in the night battle at Wauhatchie, TN in October, 1863, then were sent to Knoxville where they were heavily involved in the assault on Fort Sanders (a.k.a. Fort Loudon). (November 29, 1863) Wofford’s Brigade suffered heavy casualties in that battle including the death of Col. Solon Z. Ruff of the 18th GA Infantry. Longstreet’s army wintered in Russellville, TN then rejoined Lee in Virginia in the spring in time for the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, and Cold Harbor. They were sent for a time to the Shenandoah where they were defeated at Cedar Creek, then they were assigned to the trenches about Petersburg until the last week of the war. The unit had many captured at Sayler's Creek and surrendered with only 1 officer and 22 men. They surrendered with General Kershaw near Farmville, VA April 6, 1865.

    From Sharpshooters Made a Grand Record This Day:

    Several other Confederate divisions had sharpshooter battalions at Gettysburg—at least they did on paper—and these included several brigades in the “Stonewall” Division. However, only one brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia had a consistently segregated sharpshooter battalion, Colonel William T. Wofford’s brigade in the Confederate 1st Corps. In April 1863, Wofford directed each of his five regiments to commit fifty men to the battalion. All of them did so, and one regiment, the 16th Georgia, provided 100 men. Wofford, it seems, encountered some resistance to his directive, as one of his soldiers commented, “It is mean to take men from the company of their choice against their wishes and put them in a company whose officers they do not like. The feeling against it in the Brigade is bitter, and if Wofford organizes the battalion he will do it in the face of universal opposition.” Wofford persisted, completing this organization on June 9, when he announced,

    All these officers [commanding the six companies] without exception are young healthy and athletic, and from the best evidence that I could procure are moral intelligent gentlemen. In point of courage, intelligence, and morality I feel justified in saying that they are equal if not superior to the officers of any regiment or battalion in this brigade.

    This unit became known as the 3rd Battalion Georgia Sharpshooters, and Gettysburg would be its first battle.


    Lieutenant Colonel Nathan L. Hutchins, Jr., and Majors Philip E. Davant, William E. Simmons, and H.H. Smith.


    General Wofford's Brigade


    Early's Valley Campaign
    Petersburg Siege




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