Reference Items
Remington .44 Caliber Pistol

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The Remington New Model Army revolver was second only to the Colts in the number of pistols that saw service during the Civil War.  Remingtons accounted for nearly 35% of the revolvers purchased by the Government in that time period.  Although the Remington Arms Company had been established prior to the war they had produced mostly long arms.  For this reason, the number of Remington revolvers suitable for military use but in private hands prior to 1861 was very limited. 

Remingtons commenced their war service primarily in the hands of Union soldiers.  However, by 1863 these handguns were also carried by many southern troopers, a number having been "donated" by some Union cavalrymen whose luck had run out.  They were found to be a reliable handgun, but were never as popular as the Colts.

This example is a .44 caliber percussion pistol with a 6 shot round cylinder and an 8" octagon barrel whose threads are visible at the breech end.  The walnut grips display a clear cartouche on the left grip.  Much blue is remaining on the barrel, not flaking as is often found on Remington revolvers. Clear imprint on top of barrel: "PATENTED SEPT. 14, 1858/EM REMINGTON & SONS, ILION, NEW YORK, U.S.A./NEW MODEL.  All inspector’s marks are matching.   

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-272

A Brace of LeMat Revolvers

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The LeMat revolver has always held a unique place in the hearts of Civil War enthusiasts. It is very emblematic of the Confederacy, having been designed by Alexander LeMat, a French inventor from New Orleans and P.G.T. Beauregard, a prominent Confederate General. With its nine shot .42 caliber cylinder revolving around a 18 gauge shotgun barrel it packed a unique amount of close quarter fire power, making it well suited for Cavalry use.

Presented here are two LeMats, a 1st Model and a 2nd Model.

1st Models (shown at left, above) numbered from one to the mid-400s, with serial #458 being the highest known. They were shipped directly from Paris to Richmond. The first 200 LeMats were transported aboard the British steamer "Lloyds, arriving June-July, 1862, and the second 200 were transported on the "Melita”, arriving late July-August, 1862. The 1st Model LeMat shown here was among the second group. It has the spur trigger and loading lever on the right side of the barrel. It is a rare gun having the unmistakable Confederate earmark of bearing serial numbers from three different 1st Models. The number #295 is on the cylinder and barrel, the frame is #405 and the rammer is #381. It is likely that this gun has been thus mismatched since the Civil War, possibly when an armorer reassembled it. We know of one other mismatched 1st Model. This gun is in fine condition, with sharp edges, vivid markings and an even patina, totally untouched and original. The barrel is stamped "Col. LeMat’s Patent”.

2nd Models (shown at right, above) display Paris markings, the barrel is marked "Col. LeMat Bte. S.g.d.g Paris”, and fall in a serial number range from about 950 to 2500. It is generally accepted that most of these went to the Confederacy. The 2nd Model LeMat shown here is serial #1589. It is in superb condition and retains 30-35 percent of its original blue finish. The 2nd Models are recognized by their rounded trigger guard and their loading lever resting on the left side of the barrel. This gun is numbered on the bottom of the grips, the frame, cylinder, pistol barrel, shotgun barrel, trigger guard, trigger, hammer, the cylinder hand, alignment pin, loading lever, plunger, lever mounting screw, shotgun ramrod and the grip escutcheon screw.

Further information on these guns can be found in "The Confederate LeMat Revolver” by Doug Adams.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-248

Colt 2nd Model Dragoon Revolver

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Colt 2nd Model Dragoon Revolver The six shot .44 caliber Colt Dragoon Revolver weighs in at 4 lbs. 2 oz. It has a 7½ inch part round, part octagonal barrel. Colt’s first .44 caliber revolver was the Walker. Its barrel length was 9 inches and its cylinder measured 2-7/16 inches, which had a proclivity to burst. The Dragoon series corrected this flaw by shortening the barrel length and that of the cylinder to 2-3/16 inches.

The cylinder scene on the Walker and Dragoon revolvers depicts Captain Jack Hays and his Texas Rangers fighting off a band of Comanche Indians commemorating the use of Samuel Colt’s first commercially successful Patterson Revolvers.

The 2nd Model Dragoon incorporated the two major features of Colt’s patent #7629, (1) the rectangular cylinder stops with guide grooves, which precluded the barrel from misaligning at time of discharge and (2) the slotted hammer face and pin safeties between each chamber on the cylinder breach, which eliminated hammer at rest misfires.

Part of the government contract for 1,000 Army pistols, dated 4 Feb 1850 is considered to have been filled from the 2nd Model production.

This fine 2nd Model Dragoon #10638, showing nearly 100% cylinder scene including "Model U.S.M.R.” and "Colts Patent”, is one of those from this contract. The serial number is found on barrel, frame, cylinder and cylinder pin, loading lever, grips with wedge #620. It is stamped "U.S.” under "Colts Patent” on the frame and includes the sub-inspectors mark "B” on the trigger, trigger guard, loading lever and frame. No inspector’s cartouche is visible on the grips.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-243

Colt M1851 Navy Revolver

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The Colt Navy was the first medium caliber revolver introduced by Colt after opening his Hartford, CT factory in 1847. From 1850 through 1873 he manufactured 215,348 Navys at this location, plus over 40,000 at the London factory. Next to the Model 1849, the 1851 Navy was the most popular of the percussion Colt revolvers and one of the most widely used hand guns of the Civil War.

It is a six-shot revolver in .36 caliber, with a 7½ inch octagon barrel with a hinged type loading lever. The gun weighs 2 lbs. 10 oz. The Navy gets its name from the roll-engraved motif on its cylinder, a naval battle scene of the Republic of Texas victory over Mexico’s Navy on 16 May 1843. The Texans were commanded by Commodore Edward Ward Moore, a friend of Samuel Colt. Moore was relieved of his command by Sam Houston for "disobedience, contumacy and mutiny” for fighting this battle, charges on which Moore was vindicated by the Texas House and Senate, but subsequently found guilty on four of twenty-two charges at court martial. By choosing this cylinder scene, Colt was defending the actions of his friend.

Approximately 35,000 Navy revolvers were purchased by the U.S. government for military use beginning with a 1,000 gun contract July 27, 1855 with Army purchases approximating 20,000 guns including some on the open market.

This fine M1851 Colt Navy is serial numbered #50323; it shows 100% cylinder scene and was manufactured early in 1856. It is one of the pistols acquired on the open market by the U.S. government as evidenced by the vestiges of silver plating on the trigger guard and back strap. The serial number is found on cylinder, cylinder pin, barrel, frame, trigger guard, back strap, loading lever, wedge and grips. It is stamped "U.S.” under "Colts Patent” on the frame and includes the sub-inspector mark "H” on the cylinder, backstrap, trigger guard and grips as well as an "L” on the trigger guard. No cartouches are visible on the grips. The front sight is a German Silver blade set on a steel base dovetailed onto the barrel. This type of sight is a scarce factory variant. The rear sight on the trigger is more deeply defined than is normally seen. The muzzle shows holster wear on the left side and nine small notches are filed on the inside of the grip strap. If only this gun could talk, what stories it might tell.

Further information on these guns can be found in "51 Colt Navies” by Nathan L. Swayze and in "The Book of Colt Firearms” by R. L. Wilson.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-242

Identified Confederate Enfield Rifle-musket

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This Enfield rifle-musket was made by Barnett of London, a contractor known to have supplied arms to the Confederacy during the Civil War. Nicely carved on the cheek side of the buttstock in 3” letters are the letters "EMR” with smaller letters "Co C. 11 Ala” which identifies to gun to Erlander M. Richardson, a sergeant in the 11th Alabama Infantry.

The 11th Alabama, part of Cadmus Wilcox’s Alabama Brigade, had a stellar fighting record in the Civil War, and Sergeant Richardson was deeply involved from beginning to end of the conflict. Company C was organized in Clinton, Greene County, Alabama, located in the extreme western part of the state.

Richardson enlisted as a private on 11 June 1861 and from there his fortunes follow those of the 11th Alabama until their surrender nearly four years later at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Richardson fought at Seven Pines, was wounded at Gaines Mill during fighting on June 27, 1862 as the Alabama Brigade fought so gallantly on the right wing. As a result of his wounds, Richardson was sent to the Virginia Confederate Hospital at Dansville and a month later was furloughed to return home and recuperate. He returned to Richmond in October and was again went into service with his regiment on October 13, 1862. By this time he had been promoted to Sergeant, presumably for his conduct at Gaines Mill.

Sergeant Richardson continues to show up on various rolls and receipts indicating that he fought in nearly all the battles at which the 11th Alabama participated; most notably Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor and the Crater at Petersburg.

When Lee fled Petersburg and the fighting reached Appomattox Court House, Sergeant Richardson was one of 176 men in his regiment, out of a total of 1, 192 who had enlisted at the onset of the war, to surrender on April 9, 1865. This rifle-musket most likely survived as a Union war trophy; one of the few guns not used to macadamize the road between Appomattox Court House and Appomattox Station following the surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

This Enfield rifle-musket is completely original, down to the swivels and ramrod and it remains in very good condition considering the hard use it saw during the War. The Confederate linen sling, though correct for the period, is not original to the gun.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-237

5th Michigan Spencer Rifles

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Charles Spencer had trouble convincing the Army of the merits of his revolutionary seven shot repeating rifle. Brigadier General James Ripley, the army’s Chief of Ordinance wanted to standardize the myriad array of guns and calibers being used in the Civil War and thought that the rapid firing .52 caliber rifle with its copper rimfire cartridges would lead to a waste of ammunition. Only the mid-war endorsement of President Lincoln brought the Spencers to widespread use by Union armies on the battlefields.

The Spencer rifle has a 30 inch barrel of 6 grooves, with an overall length of 47 inches and a weight of 10 pounds. It has a spring cartridge injection system located in the buttstock and utilizes a blade type extractor to remove spent cartridges from the magazine. An estimated 11,471 were sold to the Army and another 2,000 to the Navy. Contract costs ranged from $35-$40 for each arm. The rifles were being replaced by carbines during the latter part of 1863.

The first batch of twelve hundred Spencer rifles were privately ordered by Lt. Colonel Joseph T. Copeland who spared no expense while organizing his 5th Michigan Cavalry. The first five hundred were received about January 5, 1863, followed by an additional five hundred in mid to late January. The remaining two hundred arrived around February 10, 1863. The first thousand Spencers bore serial numbers ranging from #1000 to #2050; the final two hundred were numbered between #2051-#3250. Nine hundred of these new rifles went to the 5th Michigan Cav, with the final three hundred being delivered to the 6th Michigan Cav.

Identified 5th Michigan Cavalry Spencer rifles are extremely rare. Shown here are two such rifles bearing serial numbers #1253 and #1853. Both would have seen use on the East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 when newly minted Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer’s dismounted 5th Michigan Cavalry clashed with a brigade of J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry commanded by Colonel John R. Chambliss.

The Spencers turned out to be the most effective small arm of the Civil War. Their fire power transformed the Michigan Brigade under the leadership of their intrepid Boy General into the most effective cavalry brigade in the Union army.

Also shown are two tintypes (likely made by William Frank Browne) of 5th or 6th Michigan Cavalry troopers proudly displaying their "seven-shooters”.

For further information on Spencer rifles, see Wiley Sword’s excellent article, Those Damned Michigan Spencers – Colonel Copeland’s 5th Michigan Cavalry and their Spencer Rifles, Men at Arms Magazine, October, 1997.

Member - John Beckendorf
Item #: CIV-226

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