Friday, September 06, 2013

"every house had its rifle or its shotgun, and every boy learned to shoot them...."


Former Lieutenant General
"Rare Exception."


   Washington, D. C. Dec. 6.--While making no mention of his retirement from the cabinet at the middle of February, Elihu Root, secretary of war, in his annual report, just made to the president, takes occasion to express his "keen and grateful appreciation of the kindness, generous loyalty and sincere effort which, with rare exceptions have characterized the chiefs of bureaus." The "rare exception" was tho attitude of former Lieutenant General Miles. He says: "A country is fortunate which has such officers to rely upon in the time of need."

   The secretary makes a strong recommendation for a suitable appropriation with which to carry on target practice and says: "I know of nothing more important in preparing for war than teaching the young men of the country to shoot straight. It is especially important to the efficiency of our volunteer armies in the future. It is of no use to pay, equip, subsist, or transport a soldier to the battle field unless he can hit an enemy when he shoots at him. Two recent changes in conditions require that we should make continuous and active progress. One is the change of modern rifles which determines battles while the combatants are at great distances from each other, and which makes practice more necessary for good marksmanship than ever before. The other is the decline In the use of  firearms among the greater part of our people. Formerly when our population was scattered and game was abundant in all parts of the country every house had its rifle or Its shotgun, and every boy learned to shoot them. Now it is probable that a majority of the young men in the thickly settled parts of the country have never fired a gun and would be quite harmless to an enemy until taught to shoot. The time to give that instruction is mow. We ought not to wait until we are actually engaged in hostilities. When that times comes they will not wait for us to give the instructions."

[The Stark County Democrat, Canton, Ohio, Tuesday, December 08, 1903. Vol. 70 No. 53. Pg. 7]

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