Berdan Sharpshooter Uniform

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Physical Description
Jacket of army wool dyed a distinctive green color. Green wool forage cap with leather trim. Frock coat of green wool with brass buttons were later replaced with hard, black rubber buttons to prevent reflection from the light.
General History
Uniform and hat of soldiers of the 1st Regiment of U.S. Sharpshooters, better known as Berdan's Sharpshooters. Mustered in 1861, this unit was commanded by Colonel Hiram Berdan. Berdan was an inventor considered by some to be the best marksman in America. At the outset of the Civil War, Berdan believed that current infantry tactics were outdated. He wrangled a meeting with President Lincoln and presented his idea of forming a special unit of soldiers. These soldiers would be “Sharpshooters” from every state. Their goal would be to fire on specific targets rather than simply firing en masse. Lincoln was impressed with the idea and authorized 100 men to join Berdan. To qualify, recruits had to place ten shots within five inches of a bull's-eye at a distance of six hundred feet. They were the only volunteer unit in the war to bear the designation “United States” and the only one supplied by the federal government.
date made
ca 1861
unit formed
commander of unit
Berdan, C. H.
authorized unit
Lincoln, Abraham
Physical Description
wool (overall material)
green (overall color)
overall: 35 in x 16 in; 88.9 cm x 40.64 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Civil War
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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