close, the ears of the sharpshooters were made familiar with the peculiar music of the rifle, and their whole mind was exercised in the problem of affording as much annoyance as possible to the enemy.
A battalion was composed of one commandant, eight commissioned officers, ten non-commissioned officers, one hundred and sixty privates, four scouts, and two buglers, specially selected, and drafted from each brigade.
These were divided into four companies, equally officered.
As it was a matter of the utmost importance that men should be chosen of tried courage and steadiness, who were good marksmen, and possessed of the requisite self-confidence, great care and caution were exercised in the drafts.
Company commanders were ordered to present none for duty with the sharpshooters who did not come up to the standard; while the commandant of each battalion, assisted by his lieutenants, personally superintended the examination of all recruits offered for this branch of the service.
The company officers in the corps were equally set apart for their military reputations with respect to zeal, intelligence, and personal gallantry.
As soon as the requisite number of men was obtained, a separate camp was established, and in every respect the command was placed on an independent footing-reporting, as in case of a regiment, directly to brigade headquarters.
Thus closely associated together, rank and file soon learned to know and to rely upon each other.
Still further to increase this confidence, the companies were subdivided into groups of fours, something like the comrades de battaille of the French
These groups messed and slept together, and were never separated in action, save by its casualties of disability and death.
The further strengthening of this body of troops was hoped to be accomplished by thorough drill.
In order to assimilate the men and make them fully acquainted with the special character and details of the duties to which they were assigned, and above all to impart that sense of self-reliance so necessary for outpost fighting, a new system of drill and exercise was adopted.
This scheme was presented in the form of a brochure
, translated from the French
by General C. I. Wilcox
, and comprised the skirmish drill, the bayonet exercise, and practical instruction in estimating distances.
In a short time men, eager to learn and easily handled, not only became proficient in their drill and excellent shots, but from frequent practice could correctly measure with a glance the distance intervening between themselves and the objects at which they aimed.
The drill was conducted by signals on the bugle, as the line when deployed was too extended to be reached by the voice, or,