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Berdan Sharpshooter Cartridge Box
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In addition to their distinctive green uniforms, Berdan's men were also issued a specially designed cartridge box to accompany their Sharps rifles. Paul Johnson identified the pattern and found that the government contracted in early 1862 for two thousand to accompany the same number of the Sharps rifles intended for Berdan's two sharpshooter regiments. By 18 March 1862 1,000 had been shipped to the Ordnance Department and the remainder on or before 1 April 1862. He noted the pattern had already begun to make its way into the ranks of the 1st USSS by 3/31/62, displacing some of the standard issue boxes in ordnance returns.

Like the 1841 riflemans box, the Berdan box was to be worn only on the waistbelt, but differs in dimensions and uses two tins, each fitted with ten-hole wood blocks. Both tins with their original blocks are in place and the box conforms to the measurements given by Johnson: Leather Box - 7.2 inches length, 1.6 inches width, 4.62 inches height. Outer flap- 8.00 inches width on top, 8.25 inches length on bottom. The box also uses the correct construction for this pattern- the belt loops are secured by rivets and stitching, the latch tab by stitching alone. Like the examples in the Johnson and Troiani collections the box has been pierced for a box plate, but never seems to have had one mounted. As is correct for the Berdan box there is no maker name or inspector stamp in the box. The belt loops, side ears, latch tab, implement pouch, cover and tab are all in place. As is correct for the pattern, there is no provision for a shoulder belt.

Accompanying the box is a small black notebook that was tucked in the implement pouch. The first few pages were torn out and only two names are on the back page of the book along with amounts owed to or by the owner: Jack Diskall 4.50 and McClain 1.25, but the names have not enabled us to establish an owners identification.

The box has never had any leather dressing or preservative applied, is completely un-messed with. I have owned two other Berdan boxes like this complete with the wood blocks and one without, but they are extremely hard to find and once in a collection they tend to stay there. This represents a seldom-offered chance to acquire a dead-real Berdan Sharpshooter piece of gear.

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