Civil War Revolvers

Discussion in '1800-1914' started by Hobilar, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. Hobilar

    Hobilar Member

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    Rather oddly there was no official model of handgun during the American civil war, nor did the Federal army make any of their own. Instead handguns to arm officers and mounted men were purchased from a number of private contractors. Throughout the war the Army purchased some 374,000 revolvers of various types, the most commonplace being the 0.44-in calibre Colt 'Army' revolver.

    The Colt 'Army' was a six-shot single action weapon using self-consuming cartridges with seperate percussion caps. It had a walnut grip, a brass trigger guard and hardened steel cylinders, frame and barrel. The Colt also had a notched frame which could accept a detachable shoulder stock, although this was little used in practice.

    The Federal army purchased 129,730 'Army' and 17,110 of the similar M1851 and M1861 'Navy' revolvers from Samuel Colt during the war. The 0.36-in calibre 'Navy' was often considered handier, and generally was more popular with those officers who bought their own weapons.

    Army holsters were made of black leather. They were shaped to be worn on the right with the revolver's butt to the front. The standard holster had a flap which fastened with a brass stud, that covered the revolver's butt when in place. Between 1861 and 1866 the US Army purchased, or made, some 325,452 revolver holsters.
     
  2. Hobilar

    Hobilar Member

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    The second most important revolver in terms of numbers was that made by E. Remington and Sons. Like the Colt the six-shot Remingtons came both in 'Army' and 'Navy' versions, but differed from their competitors design in having a steel strap across the top of the cylinder for added strength. Remington produced about 5, 000 M1861 (also known as the 1858 'Old Model' revolver) 'Army' revolvers and approximately the same number of 'Navy' revolver in 1861-1862.

    From 1863 an improved Remington revolver was manufactured-this being the Remington 0.44-in calibre 'Army New Model' in large numbers. Many Union officers considered he Remington to be a far sturdier handgun than the more numerous Colt.
     
  3. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Good post on Revolvers in the War of Northern Aggression. To me the most interesting revolver in that war was the LeMat. It had one barrel that fired a shotgun charge and also had a cylinder that held(I think) six regular pistol bullets. Of course the South had to make do with pre war pistols as well as foreign made stuff and revolvers 'liberated" from the Yankees. They also set up "factories" that made copies of Colt and remington pistols.
     
  4. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    I understand that surplus Colt handguns, both the "Army" and "Navy" models, were a very popular sidearm for outlaws after the Civil War, and weren't really supplanted until Colt was able to come out with double-action revolvers like the "Peacemaker".
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Revolvers used in US history is a very interesting story. The first use of a Colt revolver(that I know of) in combat was around 1840 in an Indian fight with the Texas Rangers led by Jack Hays west of San Antonio. The Colt Paterson revolvers were of .36 cal. held 5 balls and broke into 3 pieces to be loaded. They had been purchased for the Republic of Texas Navy but had been "requisitioned" by the Rangers. Needless to say the Commanches were surprised when the Rangers charged with the 5-shooters. Colt later went broke but a Ranger named Sam Walker visited him up North and gave him the specifications for a new model revolver which would be of more use on the frontier. The result was the Walker Colt. One piece, 6 shots, very rugged and of 45 cal. ( or .44, doing this from memory) It actually had as much muzzle energy as a 357 magnum and was effective at 100 yards. Colt had no factory so contracted with Eli Whitney to build this massive pistol. Some of the Walker Colts later blew up in the user's hand but they came out prior to 1846 and were used in the Mexican War, especially by the Texas Rangers. The Walker put Colt back in busuness and led to the 1851 Navy, .36 cal. and the Colt Dragoon and Colt 1860 Army which probably was the most popular revolver used in the 1861-1865 affair.
     
  6. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Another point about the cap and ball revolvers of the States War is that after the war, many of the pistols were converted to fire metallic cartridges.
     
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