Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Berdan Sharpshooter's M1859 Sharps



This Sharps New Model 1859 Rifle was manufactured as part of a 2000 rifle contract executed by the Ordnance Department on January 27 and February 6, 1862 to arm Colonel Hiram S. Berdan’s  1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooter Infantry Regiments. 

The Berdan Sharpshooter's M1859 Sharps Rifles were specially fitted with double set-triggers and had angular socket bayonets. 

Berdan, of New York state, began recruiting men for the first Sharpshooter regiment in 1861. He recruited men from New York City and Albany and from the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan and Wisconsin. The volunteer recruits had to pass a rifle test in order to qualify to be a member of the Sharpshooters; each man had to be able to place ten shots in a circle of 10 inches (250 mm) in diameter from 200 yards (180 m) away. They were able to choose a rifle and position of their preference for the test.  For a man to become a Sharpshooter, it took cool nerves in order to be able to estimate their target carefully, determine the high trajectory needed and to take in consideration the effect that any current wind may have. 
In the beginning, the men of the Sharpshooters regiment were armed with various types of rifles, including the Sharps rifle, the Whitworth rifle, sporting arms, and various other custom-made privately owned target weapons. 
Some of these rifles weighed up to 30 pounds. Some were fitted with the first breed of telescope sights. At first, many of the Sharpshooter riflemen used their own weapons, but this began leading to problems when it came to ammunition supply. 
As a result, Berdan made a request to receive issuance of Sharps rifles to his men. 

On May 8, 1862 the sharpshooters were finally issued their Sharps rifles on May 8, 1862. Nevertheless, many of the men still continued to use their own rifles.  
In mid-1862, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton came to believe that regiments made up exclusively of sharpshooters were too unwieldy for tactical use, and the riflemen would best be organized as companies or squads, or even just as individuals, in regular regiments, to be deployed as the field commander chose. This became the practice for both Union and Confederate armies for the remainder of the war.


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This blog is filled with interesting weapons from the 19th Century so be sure to brouse the "Blog Archive".