Link provided by Greg, I think to prove Kurt wrong once and for all about the Johnny Reb marksmen.
Why couldn't a Civil
War soldier hit anything?
The average Civil War
soldier could not hit the proverbial bull in the behind
with a bass fiddle. Training would have helped, but
training in marksmanship was something woefully lacking in
most commands during the Civil War. Little time or
ammunition was allocated to actual range practice—and many
recruits went into battle without having fired a single
practice round. Little wonder that pounds of lead were
expended for each hit made, that many a man fired his
piece, unaimed, into the blue, or that front-rank men,
their ears ringing or their beards singed, were known to
turn about and pummel their overzealous rear-rank
What made hitting
a target extremely difficult was the high trajectory of the huge
chunks of lead thrown by the old rifled muskets. Ranges
had to be correctly estimated and sights carefully
adjusted for anything but the very closest ranges. A
bullet fired by a kneeling man at the belt buckle of a man
running toward him at an estimated range of 300 yards
would just pass over the head of a man 250 yards away.
Thus, if the shooter had overestimated the range by as
little as 50 yards he would have missed.