Regiment : United States. Army--Sharpshooter Regiment, 1st. Co. F (1861-1864)
Service :1861 September 13-1864 September 13
A resident of Hinsdale, N.H., Charles Merriman mustered into the service on September 13, 1861, as seventh corporal of Company F, 1st United States Sharpshooters. Few states authorized the formation of sharpshooter regiments, and only eighteen companies of sharpshooters were ever organized by the federal government over the course of the war, each company recruited locally -- mostly in Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin -- before mustering in to the federal service. Merriman's Co. F, the 1st Vermont Company, was organized at West Randolph in September, 1861. Vermont alone provided about one-sixth of the total sharpshooter volunteers.
Merriman remained a corporal for a year and then began rising rapidly in the ranks. In December, 1862, he was promoted to sergeant, followed by a promotion to second lieutenant and first lieutenant at three-month intervals. In November, 1863, he succeeded E. Wiltsey Hindes, who had been wounded in battle, as the fourth and final Captain of the company. Merriman held this commission until he mustered out with the company on September 13, 1864, and returned to private life. The entire regiment was disbanded at this time and veterans reenlisting, as well as recruits, transferred to the 2nd United States Sharpshooters.
The 1st U.S.S.S. were engaged in thirty-two battles during their three years of service, including Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Kelly's Ford, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. Merriman commanded Company F for the last fourteen engagements of its service.
Unlike most set of soldiers' letters, the Charles Merriman papers do not consist of personal correspondence, but rather of military forms and letters dating principally from Merriman's captaincy of Co. F, 1st U.S. Sharpshooters. The collection is valuable for gaining an appreciation of the paperwork required of a unit in the field, and of the close accounting practices required of officers to track military property and stores issued to their care. The last item in the collection, chronologically (folder 7), is dated at Merriman's home in New Hampshire, suggesting that nearly three months after mustering out, Merriman was still filing reports and forms to help the government track down some missing tents.