|About the Book|
Of all the regiments serving in Federal armies during the Civil War, the 66th Illinois was among the most unusual. Formed in St. Louis, Mo., during the fall of 1861 under the special patronage of General John C. Fremont, the Western SharpshootersMoreOf all the regiments serving in Federal armies during the Civil War, the 66th Illinois was among the most unusual. Formed in St. Louis, Mo., during the fall of 1861 under the special patronage of General John C. Fremont, the Western Sharpshooters were organized specifically for skirmish duty. These volunteers, officially designated the 14th Missouri Infantry, and later the 66th Illinois, came from a variety of states, primarily Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Michigan, but also Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota and Iowa. The enlisted men were armed with the Dimick American Deer and Target Rifle, a percussion long-arm favored by target shooters and Plains hunters before the war. These were carried until late 1863, when the regiments personnel began equipping themselves with the magazine-fed Henry Rifle, perhaps the most advanced rapid-fire weapon used in the war.After their service, very little information about the Western Sharpshooters (the western-theater counterpart to Berdans Sharpshooters in the Army of the Potomac) appeared in print until 1905, when Lorenzo A. Barker published a history of the Michigan soldiers who comprised Company D. Barker, a native New Yorker and veteran who rose to sergeant before wars end, capsulized the service of every officer and man in his company, and their participation in such engagements as Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth and the battles of the Atlanta Campaign. The author was among the regiments first to arm himself with the Henry, privately purchasing one for $40 in September 1863.