Major W.S. Dunlap
In early 1864, Robert E. Lee began experimenting with tactical innovations for the upcoming spring campaign. To this end, he ordered the organization of sharpshooter battalions. William S. Dunlop was the commander of the sharpshooter battalion formed from the 1st, 12th, 13th, and 14th South Carolina, and Orr’s Rifles. In Lee’s Sharpshooters he chronicles the training processes, the ordnance tests and the marksmanship exercises the soldiers went through to become skilled and confident skirmishers.Robert E. Lee’s decision didn’t turn the tide of the war, but it did give rise to the specialized soldier whose “ intelligence, marksmanship and unfaltering courage” was remarkable. Contributions from other battalions such as those of Lt. Robert F. Ward from Davis’s Mississippi brigade provide first hand accounts of the sharpshooters’ part in the battles of Wilderness and Spotsylvania.