Berdans 1st US Sharpshooters

A few US units won special notice for their rifle-skills, none more so than the 1st and 2nd Regiments of U.S. Sharpshooters, commonly known as Berdan's Sharpshooters after the colonel of the 1st Regiment, Hiram Berdan. Seeing their role as skirmishers and special marksmen, Berdan selected experienced men and armed them with the best weapons available, the Sharps Rifle in 0.52in caliber. Many also carried telescopic sights. With a view towards camouflage,

Berdan clothed his men in green kepis or hats and dark green uniform blouses. In keeping with the rest of the army, their trousers were light blue, but these too were later changed to green. They were held to the boots with canvas or leather leggings. By 1864, losses in Berdan's outfits were such that the Sharpshooters almost ceased to exist and at the end of that year they were consolidated into a single unit, and in early 1865 they were dispersed to other regiments.

Below: Marksmanship could even win you celebrity. Private Truman Head, nicknamed "California Joe ", of Berdan's 1st United States Sharpshooters, became much lionized for his skill with the Sharps Rifle.

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