Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Joslyn revolver, one of the more rarely encountered of US made percussion revolvers used during the American Civil War.


The B.F.Joslyn Army revolver, 5 shot .44 caliber that was manufactured by the Joslyn Firearms Company of Stonington, Connecticut. A total run of 3000 were made. Approximately 500 “First Models” and approximately 2,500 “Second Models”.

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.



It is estimated that total production was around 3000 revolvers. The majority being offered for sale on the commercial market but many of these still appear to have found their way onto Civil War battlefields as the result of additional government commercial purchases and individual state purchases. 
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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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Greene carbine, manufactured by Massachusetts Arms Co. circa 1855-1857, with a total production of only about 300, they are extremely rare.





















A majority of these carbines were manufactured with a 22 inch barrel, 54 caliber and had a brown finished barrel, blue receiver and case hardened lock and breech tang. All Greene carbines were equipped with the Maynard tape primer. A few were known to have been manufactured with the longer barrel, tin finish and smaller caliber. 
On page 31 of the book "Civil War Carbines Vol II" by McAulay, he mentions that a few American Greene carbines were made with the 26 inch 45 caliber barrel, and finished in either tin or nickel. 200 of these carbines were delivered to fill a U.S. contract in March of 1856. Of the 200, 170 were sent out west and issued to the 1st Cavalry for field testing and carried on the Cheyenne Expedition in May of 1857. Most of the remaining carbines were sent to Florida for field trials.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the quantity remaining in U.S. arsenals, were issued to the 6th Ohio cavalry.



These carbines have a unique hinged breech loading system. There is a set of two triggers, the rear trigger fires the gun and the front trigger releases the barrel. Upon pulling the trigger to release the barrel the user rotates the breech and barrel section 90 degrees in a counter clockwise direction, this would unlock the two large lugs from the frame. The hinged breech and barrel assembly could then be pushed forward and swung open to the right by 90 degrees, exposing the chamber. When the nitrated paper or linen cartridge was loaded, the barrel section was then swung back to the left, pulled to the rear and rotated clockwise to lock it. 


When the barrel section was pulled back to seat against the receiver of the carbine, a pointed, hollow extension from the breech face punctured the cartridge and made sure that the spark from the primer flash was communicated directly into the power in the cartridge.






And I quote, “While the process sounds somewhat complicated, it was actually rather simple to do and the action worked smoothly”. On horseback? Sorry but that doesn’t sound simple to me.


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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Colt M1877, this was Colt's first attempt at manufacturing a double-action revolver and was also the first successful US-made double-action cartridge revolver.


Build as an deluxe exhibition piece this Colt Model 1877 "Storekeeper" revolver was manufactured in 1877. The revolver is factory engraved, finished in nickel with factory gold hammer and cylinder and niter blue on the small components. Fitted with smooth two-piece pearl grips. 




  
Colt Sheriff's Model 1877 manufactured in 1895. The revolver was profusely engraved by Nimschke with a beautifully executed floral scroll pattern featured on the barrel, frame, trigger guard and cylinder flats. Even the sides of the trigger guard are engraved with a checkered pattern. Walnut grips.
















Professionally restored Colt Sheriff's Model 1877. Nickel-plated finish with niter blue screws and two-piece pearl bird's head grips. The revolver features flawlessly executed Germanic scroll engraving on a punch-dot background with zig-zag, double line and dot borders.

















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Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Tucker, Sherrard and Company story, another line of Texas made Confederate revolvers.






The Tucker, Sherrard pistol story begins with a notice in the Dallas Herald of February 19, 1862: "Messrs. Sherrard, Killen and Brunie, of Lancaster, have formed a copartnership for the purpose of manufacturing Colt's and other revolving pistols. They commence immediately to arrange the necessary machinery . . . and if justified by large subscriptions, will be able to manufacture this arm in any desired quantities . . . at $40.00 each for Navy pistols and $50.00 for the Army size. Those desiring to add their names to the list can address either Dr. J.H. Swindell, Hon. Jeff Weatherford, or J.H. Sherrard, Esq., Lancaster, Texas."

This notice saw quick response from the State Military Board and March 6, 1862, the Military Board wrote John M. Crockett of Dallas, Texas, who was Lieutenant Governor of Texas, requesting that he "interview immediately with gentlemen in your County who are constructing revolving pistols, and learn” .

Crockett, with the Military Board's offer in his pocket, apparently went to the Lancaster pistol people and offered them a chance at a government contract if they would make him a co-partner, which they did, and from then on Crockett was spokesman for the pistol firm in all its relations with the State.


By April 11 the Military Board offered "Messrs. Tucker, Sherrard & Co." $5,000 in advance on signing of a contract with a performance bond, the contract promising the Board would, at $40 per weapon, "take . . . all the pistols they shall make within one year, not to exceed three thousand" with 100 pistols per month to be delivered after May, 1862. It also stipulated, "Said pistols are to be of the kind and quality of the Colt Revolver, but the exact form and style being immaterial so that said pistols are good and substantial arms of the size and after the manner of said Colt Revolver."

The Lancaster men signing this contract were Laban E. Tucker, Joseph H. Sherrard, W.L. Killen, A. W. Tucker, Pleasant Taylor, and John Crockett.

Laban Tucker, along with two sons, had manufactured revolvers prior to the war, Joseph H. Sherrard was a Lancaster blacksmith, W.L. Killen was a wagon maker, while Pleasant Taylor, the capitalist of the venture, was a Lancaster merchant.






On June 30, 1862, the final deadline for delivery of the initial shipment, Crockett was forced to write the Military Board, "We are not ready to deliver 100 pistols."

The lack of manpower and inflating material costs forced Crockett to write that “Confederate government agents were buying up every article needed by the pistol factory at the most exorbitant prices."

They were in constant fear that when pistols were made ("We have several hundred on the way") they would be confiscated by Confederate officers.


In another letter he wrote, "The effort & expenditures we are making would intimidate most men & they would most likely shrink from the engagement - indeed two of our men have already shrank from it & gone out of the concern: the two Mr. Tuckers, the pistol makers - but they are working for us at wages. I think they became dissatisfied at our contract to make pistols for $40 when we could sell them for $60 to $100." (With the exit of the Tuckers the company was renamed Sherrard, Taylor & Co.)




This scenario would continue for more than a year until the Military board in September 1863 reported, "The Legislature . . . thought proper to relieve the parties of the contract.

At the time of the cancellation Sherrard stated they had 400 revolvers "nearly finished, lacking only a few parts."

The loss of the contract ended the Sherrard, Taylor & Company without supplying any production revolvers to the Confederate government.

End of story, not quite.

Confederate arms historian, William Gary, who has spent a good part of his life researching and documenting Confederate revolvers, feels that after reading all the material from the Texas Archives, one would have to come to the conclusion that Colonel Crockett also sold revolvers on the retail market at a higher price than the Texas Military Board would allow for them. How many, we will never know.

In Mr. Gary’s 1987 edition of “Confederate Revolvers” he mentions that serial number 23,103,106 and 129 were the only absolutely authentic Tucker & Sherrard specimens that he could authenticate at that point in time. (the above pictures)

Now after nearly 30 more years of continued research an additional four, “Low Hammer” examples, are documented to have seen Civil War service. These are serial numbers are 52, 54, 56, and 81.


















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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ironically, it was this American made British military rifle that resulted in one of the Union’s finest rifles.





The Pattern 1853 Enfield, Windsor Pattern.
In 1856, the Windsor pattern rifles were manufactured by Robbins and Lawrence of Windsor, Vermont, under contract with the British War Department. 


During the Crimean War (1854-1856) there was a shortfall of Enfield rifle muskets. Insufficient numbers were being produced in the United Kingdom and, despite a contract for their manufacture being placed in Belgium, further assistance from both the United States and France was sought. An American contact was swiftly set up in February 1855 for 25,000 US rifle muskets, altered to the Enfield bore, to be made by Robbins and Lawrence of Windsor, Vermont. Enfield rifle muskets made in Britain were variously stamped on the lock 'ENFIELD' - for those made at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield - 'LAC' for those manufactured by the London Armoury Company or 'TOWER' for other contract gunmakers. The American produced Enfields were stamped with 'WINDSOR' on the lock.



Unforeseen financial difficulties at Robbins and Lawrence and complaints in Britain that the American Enfields were of inferior quality resulted in a total of only some 16,000 rifle muskets being produced in the US for the British Army.


Colt would become a benefactor of the Robbins and Lawrence failure. Colt purchased the barrel rifling and other manufacturing machinery from R&L and produced 131,000 Colt "Special" Model 1861 Rifle-Muskets for the Union during the American Civil War.





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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Parker, Snow & Co. US Model 1861 Contract Musket




























It took the Union the first couple of years of the Civil War to ramp up its production capacity to meet the war needs. It would be a number of domestic contractors like Parker, Snow of Meriden Connecticut, who stepped in to give the National Armory at Springfield the necessary boost in production to fully equip its armies and end the dependency on imports from Europe.

For example, the Union had imported nearly half a million Enfield rifles from Great Britain since 1861 but by the early fall of 1863, with domestic production in full swing, it had no need to purchase Enfields.

Prior to the war, Charles Parker and Snow had merged their operations to become the Meriden Machine Company. The company had both a machine shop and a foundry where they produced train wheels, steam engines, printing presses, and piano stools.

During the early part of the Civil War, Parker Snow had functioned in the role of supplier for various components, such as trigger guards and locks, for the Model 1861 which it sold to other contractors.

As the war progressed, their foothold on the Model 1861 expanded and so did their confidence. On Sept 28, 1863 Parker Snow took things a step further and acquired its own government contract for 15,000 Model 1861 muskets with 40” .58 caliber three-groove rifling barrels. Having an excellent machine shop, skilled workmen, and prior experience manufacturing components for the Model 1861, there is little doubt these factors helped the company fulfill 100% of its contract with all 15,000 units delivered to the US government by November, 1864.

Post war, the company became better known for its line of double barrel shotguns which we know today as Parker Brothers.




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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I normally post "Bright & Shiny" weapons but for a change here are seventeen well worn revolvers & leather that show the reality of the past..............

































Other posts like this can be seen HERE and HERE

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