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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