A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

Confederate Army Sharpshooter
by Gordon Eskridge (Jan 2010)

        July 4, 1907, Wynnewood, Oklahoma, in his favorite rocking chair on the front porch sits an old Confederate Army Sharpshooter by the name of William H. Eskridge. Having served in the Cleveland Guards, a volunteer North Carolina regiment, William remembers his life during the War Between the States. After dinner he has returned to the porch, and the children have returned to sit nearby to hear more stories.

        Bill, one of the neighborhood children is asking a question, “How did you become a sharpshooter in the army?”

        “Well, sir, it was like this, I had been shooting meat for the table since I was 12 years old.”

        Billy interrupts, “You were allowed to shoot a gun when you were only 12?”

        “Yes, sir, my father John Green Eskridge had taught us boys how to shoot, and I was the best shot of the group. So it became my job to help out the family by bringing home meat for dinner,” William answered. “Often Squirrels were the animals closest to the house, and shooting a squirrel is not easy. You must shoot them in the head or you would lose most of the meat. You had to be very patient and wait to get just the right shot and that is just like the sharpshooter’s job.”

        “When I enlisted at age 16, I was already well known in Cleveland County as one of the best shots around. So when the sergeant said, “You are going to be one of our sharpshooters,” I said “OK.” The Sergeant marched us over to get our rifles at Fort Fisher on the coast of North Carolina near Cape Fear where the blockade runner’s ships brought in firearms from England.

        The Sergeant told us a story about our rifles “At the first meeting of the British NRA at Wimbledon in 1860, Queen Victoria opened the meeting by firing a specially prepared Whitworth rifle from a mechanical rest at a target 400 yards away. It was a bull’s eye, the bullet striking very close to the center. I expect you to do even better.”

        “400 yards!” I said in awe.

        “My job in the war was to take the Yankee officers out of the battle, but being a God-fearing young man, I chose to only wound them enough so that they could not fight.”

        “Thank goodness,” Billy said.

        I chuckled and went on, “The time I remember most is when me, W.F. Gold, and Henry Smith captured Six Union Officers without firing a shot. We dressed up as Union soldiers and sneaked into their camp late at night, cut a hole in the back of their tent, and caught them playing poker. We tied their hands, gagged them, and marched them back to our camp. I was made a corporal for doing that.”

        “Wow, that was a great story,” said Billy.

        “Now, who wants ice cream?” William said.

        “We do!” all the children answered.


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