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NEWS OF 150 YEARS AGO
From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, October 30, 1861.
TARGET PRACTICE BY THE FIRST MISSOURI LIGHT ARTILLERY.--A visit, the other day, to the camp of the two companies of the First Missouri Light Artillery, under command of Major Lathrop, at Jefferson Barracks, afforded us an opportunity of witnessing some very fine target practice with howitzer twelve-pound shell, under the direction of Major Lathrop, Capt. Maurice, Lieut. Green, and other officers. An eight-foot target has been placed at the head of the Island opposite the barracks, about nine hundred yards from the shore, and at this object a number of shells were cast with great accuracy, exploding at the previously calculated instant, and giving a vivid impression of the terribly destructive effects of this missile, in case of a conflict with cavalry or solid ranks of infantry. Some shells were also thrown nearly to the opposite bank of the river, a distance of nearly two thousand yards, the shells making a gentle curve in the air, and being distinctly visible for the space of five minutes.
A very liberal allowance of shot and shell has been allowed these companies for the purpose of perfecting themselves in the use of their guns, and the officers and men have been exceedingly diligent in the practice, and have already acquired great proficiency. The effects of the shot and shell are particularly noticeable on the trees bordering on the camp. In one instance a single shell having been fired into the body of a tough and knotty oak, the whole trunk was shattered from top to bottom. In another case which happened a few days ago, a shell exploded against a tree, and the pieces rebounded with great force, cutting through the top of one of the tents, and seriously threatening the safety of the artillerists, as well as a number of ladies and gentlemen who were looking on.
The camp of these companies is beautifully situated, and the men seem to be in fine spirits, only praying for their equipments, and hoping to be led under the command of their gallant and popular commander, Major Lathrop, against the rebels.
Major Lathrop we learn was recently tendered a Captain's commission in the Quartermaster's Department of the regular army, but would not accept it until assured by the Department at Washington, that he could retain with it his commission as Major in the volunteer service.
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