With the coming of the Civil War and the US Ordnance Department finding itself woefully short of military style percussion revolvers, they placed an order with Bruff Brothers of New York (Joslyn’s sales agent) for 225 revolvers. This order was placed in November or December of 1861. Over the next few months the government ordered an additional 875 revolvers, bringing official US military purchases to 1,100 revolvers.
Joslyn Army revolvers were issued to the 16th Illinois, 3rd & 7th Iowa, 7th Kansas, 1st Missouri and 5th & 6th Ohio volunteer cavalry units. This indicates that many more than the 1,100 officially purchased revolvers (of which at least 225 went to the Navy) ended up in military service.
The revolvers that were procured on the open market were not marked with US inspector marks or cartouches.
The 5th & 6th Ohio Volunteer cavalry used their Joslyn revolvers at the Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7, 1862), where the field reports were not positive. In fact, the report of Lt. Charles Murray of the 5th Ohio Cavalry, Company I read in part: “We are in possession of but 28 pistols (Joslyn) and they are long since condemned as wholly unfit for service. They are spurious a weapon, made out of cast iron, and one half of the time will neither cock nor revolve….” As a result, most of the US military purchased pistols were removed from active service by the end of 1862 or beginning of 1863 and were subsequently held in reserve at US arsenals until the end of the war.
The US Government began disposing of Joslyn revolvers in October of 1865, and a total of 393 revolvers were sold off over the next 36 years. The guns initially sold for between $3.65 and $4.00 each, and by the time the last guns in inventory were sold on June 19, 1901, they were selling for $.16 each. These guns were sold from the Watervliet, Allegheny, Columbus, Washington & New York Arsenals.
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