Major General, United States Army
Colonel, 1st United States Sharpshooters, November 30, 1861 shortly after
the outbreak of the Civil War, he was breveted Brigadier General, United
States Volunteers, for services at Chancellorsville, and breveted Major
General, U.S. Volunteers, for services rendered at the Battle of Gettysburg.
He commanded the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, III Corps and 2nd Brigade,
1st Division, III Corps. He resigned from the service on January 2, 1864.
A mechanical engineer in New York City when the war commenced, he had been the top rifle shot in the country for fifteen years prior to the Civil War. He is identified with two regiments of U.S. sharpshooters, and with the "breech loader question." Although crusty, old Winfield Scott was "very favorably impressed" with this aggressive man, "an associate of Berdan called him 'most unscrupulous' and 'totally unfit for a command.'" Major Dyer of the Springfield Armory considered him "thoroughly unscrupulous and unreliable."
He had invented a repeating rifle and a patented musket ball before the war. Later he developed a twin-screw submarine gunboat, a torpedo boat for evading torpedo nets, a long-distance range finder and a distance fuse for shrapnel.
He was born on September 6, 1824 and died on March 31, 1893. He was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo courtesy of Don Harvey
Courtesy of the National Archives
Photo (c) Michael Robert Patterson, September 1999
Page Updated: 11 December 1999 Updated: 26 November 2000 Updated: 3 March 2002 Updated: 1 September 2002 Updated: 6 September 2004 Updated: 28 March 2007