October 7, 1777: Dammit… The first shot had missed and so did the second. If that red-coated bastard on that horse could stay still for just a second he’d have him… He’s only about 200 yards away."Gimme another one!" Tim Murphy yelled from his perch in the tree down to his companions, who passed a loaded Pennsylvania rifle up to him. "Come on… sit still…" The battlefield smoke cleared, and the target had turned the horse and paused. Tim squeezed the trigger. The man jolted in the saddle, and then slumped into the arms of another officer on foot next to him. "GOT HIM! TELL COLONEL MORGAN!"

Thus did Major General Simon Fraser receive his mortal wound while in the act of rallying the British line at Bemis Heights, near Saratoga, New York. The dominoes began to fall. That line faltered, and ten days later a trapped "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne was forced to surrender the entire northern army to Continental Gen. Horatio Gates. When the news reached Paris, Benjamin Franklin was was ecstatic to learn that France was all in. A skirmish at Lexington and Concord had turned into a world war.
September 12, 1814: "I don’t care if it rains militia!" proclaimed Maj. Gen. Robert Ross, on his way to lead the vanguard from the front, as was his practice. He was a veteran of campaigns in the Napoleonic wars from Egypt to Spain, and had been recommended for the assignment to teach these upstart American rubes a lesson by the Duke of Wellington himself. And why should he care? They ran after a few minutes at Bladensburg, right back through the streets of Washington D.C. That town was fortunate he was a man of moderation, he thought, since he insisted that the fires be limited to public buildings like the White House and the Capitol Building.
What happened next, and how he ended up with a rifle ball through his bridle arm and into his chest, is the subject of some controversy. Most likely, two teenagers named Daniel Wells and Henry McComes, part of a skirmish line of riflemen sent out to meet the oncoming British, spotted him and gave him their best. Outraged redcoats advanced through them, and their bodies were later found with their empty rifles. But with their charismatic leader down and solid lines of militia dug in behind those skirmishers, the British assault failed, and Baltimore was safe. The evening of the next day the naval assault on Ft. McHenry would also fail, as a young lawyer on board a British warship under a flag of truce began to jot down a few words: "Oh say can you see…"
Pacific Theater, 1942-45: Marines from Guadalcanal to Okinawa scratch their heads and gratefully wonder: How come these Japs can’t shoot worth a damn? Many a boy from the backwoods chalked it up to wartime stereotypes – slanty-eyed nips can’t see straight and all that. What they didn’t understand was that Japanese soldiers could shoot just about as well as any other army in the war, but NOBODY – no entire branch of the service in any country, got the intense training with a rifle given to every American Marine.
How about today? Two words: American Sniper.
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