Colonel Hiram Berdan was born in New York in 1823 (?) and became a mechanical engineer. Colonel Berdan was engaged in service with the Union Forces during the Civil War and was cited for gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Colonel Berdan was recognized as the nation’s leading marksman from 1846-1861. He invented a method of low-cost brass drawing for cartridge cases and a cartridge of his own design had a bump in the bottom of its primer pocket against which the primer was struck. The primer was much like the old-fashioned percussion cap, having no internal anvil.
The Berdan primer was the first generally successful and widely used primer in the United States. It is still used in small arms ammunition over most parts of the world.
Colonel Berdan resigned his commission on June 2, 1864 and devoted his time toward perfecting a system to convert muzzle-loading rifles to breech loaders. In 1865, he received brevets as Brigadier General and Major General for his Civil War service. Colonel Berdan died on March 31 1893.