Birge’s Western Sharpshooters Company G

(1st Independent Company of Ohio Volunteer Sharpshooters)

Under the authority of General John C. Fremont, Birge’s Western Sharpshooters were organized in the autumn of 1861 at Benton Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. Comprised of men who volunteered to serve in the Union Army, they were mainly from the states of Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio, but also from Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. They had to pass a rigid shooting test before they could enlist with the Sharpshooter’s unit. After qualifying, they were mustered in as Birge’s Western Sharpshooters and attached to the Department of Missouri. The regiment was involved with the capture of Confederate controlled Fort Donelson and then were sent down the Tennessee River where they were engaged at the Battle of Shiloh. On April 14, 1862, they were redesignated as the Western Sharpshooters, 14th Regiment Missouri Infantry. After participating in the Siege of Corinth, the Sharpshooters fought at the Battles of Iuka and Corinth. In late 1862, the designation of the Regiment was changed to the 66th Illinois Infantry. Later, they fought under General William T. Sherman at several battles in the Atlanta Campaign. The regiment was present at Confederate Joe Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina and then marched to Washington D.C. through the former Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. They were mustered out of the service in July of 1865.

History of the OVCWA’s Sharpshooters
In 1997, several individuals who had been researching Civil War sharpshooters joined together to reenact a sharpshooter detachment. This group portrayed the 1st Ohio Sharpshooters and became part of the Ohio Valley Civil War Association. As a performing part of the Living History program that the OVCWA conducts, their intentions were to develop a further study and understanding of how sharpshooters participated in the Civil War. Focused on authentically capturing many different aspects of these special Civil War units, the 1st Ohio Sharpshooters present their Living History program with a large display of the different types of weapons used by sharpshooters and demonstrate how these weapons were used and fired. The advancement in the techniques of warfare shown in their demonstrations involve the study of sharpshooters of both the North and the South.
- Pvt. Mitchell selecting a target for Pvt. Hawley. At Stones River. May, 2008. (Photo by Thomas Dixon)
- Capt. Ketron speaking to the crowd at a demonstration at Glendower. August, 2007. (Photo by Kathy Barney)
- Sharpshooters blazing away at Fort McAllister near Savannah, Georgia. March 2008. (Front to Rear) Jim Lady, Rick Spencer, and Jason Hawley. (Photo courtesy of Jim Lady)
- Demonstrating the firepower of a Henry Rifle against a musket at Glendower. August, 2007. (L to R) Capt. Ketron, Corpl. Spencer, Pvt. Guy, and Pvt. Barnett. (Photo by Kathy Barney)