Walker Colt

Discussion in '1800-1914' started by renrich, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    An interesting article in the latest "American Rifleman" states that at an auction recently a rare and historic Colt Whitneyville-Walker revolver with original flask sold for $800,000. This Walker Colt was issued in 1847 and was used in the Mexican War, 1846-48. The Colt Paterson revolver was used by Texas Rangers in around 1840 during Indian wars. Does anyone know of repeating pistol use earlier than this anywhere in the world?
     
  2. FlexiBull

    FlexiBull Member

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    Wikipedia that well-known font of all knowledge

    "The earliest example of a revolver is a revolving arquebus, produced by Hans Stopler in 1597.[1] Another early specimen, now in the Tower of London armories, is dated to the middle 1600s and attributed to John Dafte of London. This example, a flintlock, uses a single lock, with a flash pan for each of the six chambers. The cylinder is rotated by hand, and locks in place for firing. This was still not perfected, however, as it was apparently destroyed by a misfire.[2] James Puckle patented a revolving chamber gun in 1718. This gun, which had a 1.25 inch bore (30 mm) was tripod mounted, and the 11 shot cylinder was operated by a hand crank. It is often cited as the first machine gun. By changing cylinders to reload (an early example of a speedloader), the gun was fired and reloaded to fire a total of 63 rounds in 7 minutes.[3] Elisha Collier patented a flintlock revolver in Britain in 1818, and significant numbers were being produced in London by 1822.

    In 1836, Samuel Colt patented a revolver mechanism that lead to the widespread use of the revolver. According to Samuel Colt, he came up with the idea for the revolver while at sea, inspired by the capstan winch, which had a ratchet and pawl mechanism on it, a version of which was used in his guns to rotate the cylinder. Revolvers proliferated largely due to Colt's ability as a salesman. Revolvers have remained popular to the present day in many areas, although in the military and law enforcement they have largely been supplanted by magazine-fed semi-automatic pistols such as the Colt M1911, especially in circumstances where reload time and higher cartridge capacity are deemed important."

    So there you have it ................... or not :oops:
     
  3. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    Trivia question: Do you know who the Walker Colt was named after?
     
  4. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Funny you should ask that. LOL I just happened to have that story on the tip of my tongue. This is all from memory so please excuse any errors. An order of Colt Paterson pistols was received by the Texas Navy around 1838-40, when Texas was a Republic. The Colt Paterson was 36 caliber, held five shots, had a folding trigger with no trigger guard and broke into three pieces during loading. The Texas Rangers, a para military group formed in 1836 to protect the frontier(which was practically everywhere in Texas then) got their hands on some of the Colts and one of the best of the Ranger captains, Jack Hays, armed his company with them. They tracked down a band of Commanches west of San Antonio, near the Medina river and instead of heading for cover as was the tactic with muzzle loading rifles and pistols, the Rangers charged the Commanches and decimated them. The Rangers liked the Colts but they felt they needed more power, more shots and needed to be more robust and not break down into three pieces to load. Just prior to the Mexican War, 1846-48, a Ranger, Sam Walker, went north to meet with Sam Colt to ask him to produce a pistol more suited to frontier use. Colt had gone broke and closed his factory but sat down with Walker and they designed the Walker Colt. Colt contracted with Eli Whitney( who designed and manufactured the cotton gin which caused the increase of slavery in the South) to build the new Colt. Thus the name, Whitneyville-Walker Colt. Texas bought a good size order and Colt was off and running. More later. Incidently, after the Mexican War, in which he fought, Jack Hays pulled up stakes and moved to California where he became a sheriff, I think in SF, and later became the California State Surveyor. Sam Walker was killed during the assault at Churubusco, carrying a Walker Colt.
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The Colt sold at auction was issued to Private Sam Wilson at Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1847. He was a volunteer Texas Ranger. In many ways the Mexican War is the most interesting and certainly the most cost efficient war the US has ever had. I have heard that it is the deadliest war we ever fought which, I think, means the deaths per capita were the highest of any war. Although it may mean the casualties per capita. Most of the casualties were caused by illness and it is said that many men who fought in the war suffered from life long problems because of illness incurred during the war, dysentery, parasites, malaria, etc. Another interesting feature is that many of the leaders who fought in the later War Between the States learned a lot of their craft in Mexico, including Lee, Grant, Jackson, Bragg and Jefferson Davis, to name only a few. It was one of the first wars where photography was used and the daguerrotypes of the dusty troops tell quite a story. Without the Mexican War, California, Arizona, much of New Mexico and parts of other western states may have still been part of Mexico. The territory gained by the US in that war was essential to the US's future and was a great bargain. The other interesting factor in the war was how effective the US forces were under the circumstances. The war was fought on two fronts with Zachary Taylor's army moving south from the Rio Grande. He won victory after victory against the Mexican army, always outnumbered, penetrating deep into Mexico under incredible hardship. At that time, the US Army had no cavalry. Their dragoons were essentially mounted infantry and were of little use for scouting and countering the Mexican cavalry and Lancers which were superb. The answer to that problem was the Texas Rangers, supplied by the governor of Texas. The Rangers, some of whom had lost friends and relatives during the Texas Revolution to what they considered Mexican atrocities, gleefully went about their work, armed to the teeth with several Colt pistols, shotguns, carbines and rifles. The problem was that the Rules of War meant little to them which caused the regular army officers to hold them in less than high regard. Taylor got rid of them from his army as soon as the fighting was over. The Walker Colt played a big role. It was a massive weapon, around 44 caliber, fired six shots, weighed more than three pounds, had muzzle energy similar to the modern 357 magnum, and was more accurate and had more killing power than the average smooth bore musket of the day. It had two drawbacks, the loading lever handle would fall down from under the barrel during the recoil and sometimes jam the cylinder and sometimes the pistol would blow up in the user's hand. I have heard two causes of the latter problem. one was that the material used by the Eli Whitney Company was sub grade and the other was that if the bullet in every chamber which sat on top of the powder charge was not sealed off well enough, the charge in the cylinder which was ignited by the hammer would set off the charges in the rest of the cylinder and cause a blowup. The loading lever problem was corrected in later Colt designs. The second front was when Winfield Scott managed an amphibious assault on the Mexican coast near Vera Cruz, took the fort there and set off on the road to Mexico City. His army was small and they could not leave their supply lines protected. They fought and won every battle, always outnumbered but Mexican irregulars soon became a severe problem along the supply lines back to Vera Cruz. The governor of Texas was contacted, he obliged, and the Rangers showed up to interdict the interdictors. That problem was soon alleviated by one means or another with, of course, many tales of atrocities commited by Rangers. The Rangers fought all the way to Mexico City and during the occupation they distinguished(?) themselves by not taking any insults from the indiginous population. The story goes that one Ranger had his hat snatched by a local, who he promptly shot dead and one Ranger who found himself alone one night was slain. The next morning, 80 dead locals were found strewn about the streets in retaliation. Don't know if those stories are accurate but the Rangers and the Walker Colt played a big role in that war.
     
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