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Guide to the Caspar Trepp Papers
1858-1863 (bulk 1861-1863)

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan Kriete. Machine readable finding aid created by Susan Kriete.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 12, 2014
Description is in English

Descriptive Summary

Title: Caspar Trepp Papers
Dates: 1858-1863
Abstract: This collection consists of the correspondence and other documents of Caspar Trepp, Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Sharpshooters regiment (also known as Berdan's Sharpshooters). Materials include correspondence, returns of supplies and ordnance stores, receipts, dispatches, muster rolls, reports on target practice, and maps showing the regiment's positions in battle. Also included are papers related to court-martial proceedings brought against Trepp by Colonel Berdan. Portions of this collection relating to the Civil War have been digitized and are available to on-site researchers and to users affiliated with subscribing institutions via EBSCOhost.
Quantity: 0.4 Linear feet (1 box)
Language of Materials note: The materials are in English, with a few documents in Romansh and one in Latin.
Call Phrase: MS670.25

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Biographical note

Swiss-born Caspar Trepp (1829-1863) served in the Foreign Legion before emigrating to the United States. He first appears in the New York City directory as a "carpenter" in 1859 (according to his obituary, he was a professional architect). In 1861, he joined the Union Army, serving first as Captain, and later Lieutenant Colonel, of Company A, 1st US Sharpshooters (also known as Berdan's Sharpshooters).

The US Sharpshooters were a celebrated unit of expert marksmem recruited from various states. The unit was officially organized by Hiram Berdan, a talented inventor and one of the country's top marksmen. But some scholars have suggested that it was Trepp who originally proposed the idea of a rifle regiment, while Berdan supplied the clout and influence necessary to win political approval. Support for this idea is found in the writings of Trepp's fellow Swiss sharpshooters, and in the European-style tactics and camouflage uniforms of the unit.

Whatever its origin, there was growing friction between the two men which culminated in Colonel Berdan filing charges of cowardice against Trepp in 1863. Aside from his own testimony, however, Berdan could produce no evidence to support the charges against Trepp, who was acquitted of all charges at his court-martial. Trepp then filed counter-charges against Berdan, who had been separately charged with cowardice by another officer. Although Berdan was likewise acquitted, the consensus seems to be that there was some foundation for the charges against him.

Trepp was killed by a Confederate sniper's bullet at the Battle of Mine Run (Virginia) on November 30, 1863. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

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Scope and Contents note

The Caspar Trepp Papers consist of correspondence and other documents relating to his work as Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Sharpshooters Regiment.

Two folders of correspondence include a report of the part taken by a Sharpshooter regiment at the Battle of Chancellorsville, reports on target practice, letters from the Swiss Consul in Washington (some written in Romansh) and other letters dealing with regimental operations. There are also a number of letters concerning Trepp's court-martial and feud with Colonel Berdan. A few personal letters are also included.

Additional folders contain official papers and notes relating to the court-martial proceedings against Trepp and Berdan; field maps showing the regiment's positions in battle; accounts of ordnance and ordnance stores; muster rolls and clothing returns; regimental directives and military orders; and other miscellaneous documents including a Southern propoganda envelope retrieved during battle and an 1848 certificate issued to Trepp in German. Portions of this collection relating to the Civil War have been digitized and are available to on-site researchers and to users affiliated with subscribing institutions via EBSCOhost.

Arrangement note

The folders are arranged by material type, and then chronologically where possible.

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Administrative Information


Gift of Christine S. Trepp, 1932.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Portions of the collection that have been microfilmed will be brought to the researcher in that format and can be made available by Interlibrary loan. Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading Room for details.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Items that include presidential signatures will be presented to researchers in duplicate form.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Manuscripts Curator
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.


Farey, Pat (2008). Sniping, an illustrated history. Grand Rapids, MI: Zenith Press.

Early, Gerald L (2009). The Second United States Sharpshooters in the Civil War: a history and roster. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.

Col. Berdan's Sharp-Shooters (1861, August 7). New York Times.

Obituary, Lieut.-Col. Trepp (1863, December 13). New York Times.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Correspondence
1858 May - 1863 April
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1863 May-November
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Court martial papers
1863 February - March, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Maps
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Oath of allegiance
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Regimental directives
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Military orders
1862 July - 1863 July, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Miscellaneous notes and receipts
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Certificates
1846, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Accounts of ordnance and ordannce stores
1861 August - 1863 May
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Accounts of ordnance and ordnance stores
1863 June - November
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Muster rolls and returns
1861, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Envelopes
1861 - 1863, undated

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