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 Hiram Berdan

Hiram Berdan

Birth
Phelps, Ontario County, New York, USA
Death 31 Mar 1893 (aged 68)
Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 2, Site 979
Memorial ID 5761 · View Source
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Civil War Union Brevet Major General. A mechanical engineer living in New York City at the start of the war, he had been ranked the top amateur rifle shot in the nation since 1846. Eager to promote himself, several ideas for inventions, and his views on weapons development, he wrote Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. He proposed to Stanton the organization of a corps of picked marksmen to be selected from the Northern states and armed with the best rifles. Such troops, he wrote, would be invaluable as sharpshooters and skirmishers. Stanton quickly approved the proposal. He was commissioned Colonel of the 1st Regiment on November 30, 1861. The marksmen that he recuited would be known as Berdan's Sharpshooters. Each man he recuited was able to place ten consecutive shots inside a 10-inch circle, firing from a distance of 200 yards without the benefit of telescopic sights. They were designated the 1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooters. The regiment did valuable service thoughout the Peninsula Campaign and at Malvern Hill and was heavily engaged at Chancellorsville. Though he personally commanded a scout of the Confederates' position on the second day at Gettysburg, he was often busy with affairs away from the front, involving himself in controversies over the superiority of certain rifles and pursuing government contracts for inventions; he was more often found in a parlor than in a rifle pit. Military and civilian Civil War contemporaries independently formed an opinion of him as unscrupulous, totally unfit for command, and a great liar. Before the war he patented a repeating rifle and rifle ball; later he worked on inventing "a submarine gunboat," a range finder, an artillery fuse, and a torpedo boat. He was Brevetted Brigadier General for service at Chancellorsville and Major General after the Battle of Gettysburg. These brevets were truly honorary, did not come with appointment to full rank, and did not allow the exercise of command above the level of Colonel. He resigned his commission on January 2, 1864, to pursue other interests.

Bio by: Ugaalltheway


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 23 Jun 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5761
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Hiram Berdan (6 Sep 1824–31 Mar 1893), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5761, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .