Colonel Hiram Berdan
Colonel Hiram Berdan (who also held a brevet rank of General) was born in the town of Phelps in Ontario County, New York the 6th of September, 1824 (Died aged 68 31st of March,1893 in the Metropolitan Club in New York playing chess with Admiral Crosby.). He was educated practically and scientifically as a mechanical engineer, and became well known for his inventions, including among many a repeating rifle, torpedo boat and a distance fuse for shrapnel. Colonel Berdan had been the top rifle shot in America for an outstanding 15 years leading up to the war. He was admired and therefore somewhat protected by General Winfield Scot, nevertheless Berdan was regarded as a brilliant if unlovable individual, unscrupulous and untrustworthy by the majority of his peers. Though he created in the Sharpshooters some of the most versatile and respected men of the war. It was said "to be effective Sharpshooters they had to be as skilled in field craft as they are in marksmanship, they must be self assured yet highly disciplined and above all they must be dedicated".
Berdan had envisioned a selected group of riflemen to serve the Union during the Civil War. What he got was an organisation of soldiers that forever changed the impact of riflemen on future battlefields. The 1st and 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters were an elite force, destined not only to prove their worth as skirmishers, but also to set the standards for light infantry. Operating in small groups, utilising the terrain and cover available, these men came to define the new order of infantry tactics. Specially equipped and armed, the regiments formed a reputation in the field that has to this day lived on in Civil War history.
© 2002 Andy Sherlock & Daz Selby
Many thanks to Darren Selby for contributing the main body of text. © 1999 Darren Selby No reproduction of text without the express permission of the author Darren Selby.