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REMINGTON NEW MODEL ARMY PISTOL – IDENTIFIED TO COMPANY E  8TH US CAVALRY – A HISTORIC AND WELL DOCUMENTED EARLY INDIAN WAR ISSUED REVOLVER:   Perhaps the best known specimen of a Remington New Model Army Revolver identified as having been in the inventory of the Company E, 8TH US Cavalry Regiment, this exact pistol is featured in GUNSMOKE AND SADDLE LEATHER by Charles Worman. 

 

This Remington presents in its original form with none of the evidence of the refurbishing to which so many of these early Indian War revolvers were subjected.  The barrel is full length at 8”, and the surfaces were not repeatedly polished, still retaining crisp edges and legible inspector stamps.  All of the serial numbers match, save for the cylinder.  Whether the cylinder was swapped with that from another gun inadvertently while being cleaned or serviced, or the cylinder was replaced due to being damaged, this cylinder has been with this revolver since its period of use on the frontier and it matches the balance of the gun in every way.  Most importantly, the grip panel bears the same matching last three digits of the pistol’s serial number, confirming these unit identified grips belong to this pistol.   

Both of the pistol’s grip panels bear the legible stamps - “Co E” and “CAV” on the left panel and “8TH” on the right panel - establishing the issue of this pistol to Company E of the 8TH US Cavalry Regiment   The format and font of this stamping is identical as those noted on the grips of two Model 1860 Colt Army revolvers, and on three Model 1868 Sharps Carbines – all bearing the same “Co E 8TH CAV” stamping, using the same font and format.  

The 8TH US Cavalry Regiment was created after the Civil War in 1866, at the Presidio of Monterey, California as the army reorganized and expanded to meet the demands of the advancing frontier.  Since the Model 1860 Colt Army pistols were replaced in 1874 with the adoption of the Model 1873 Colt Single Actions, the markings on the grips of this pistol were applied during that fairly tight intervening period of eight years.   During that early Indian Wars period, the 8TH was attached to the Department of California, and Company E was stationed, and saw considerable action, in Oregon against the Modocs, in Idaho against the Nez Perce and Bannocks, and in the Arizona Territory against the Apaches.    

It is worth noting that while the army did not approve of such unit identification stamps on the firearms, and in fact, specifically prohibited the practice via written orders, there were several units on the frontier that regularly applied stamped identification marks on their guns, to include the 3RD, 4TH, 8TH, 9TH, and 10TH Cavalry Regiments.  Of special interest is that as the army discouraged the practice, and therefore never established a service-wide standard for content, font, or placement of the identification stamps on the arms, each unit developed their own unique criteria and style, and more often than not, located the stamps on the same place on the firearms within a company or regiment.  The unique nature of these stamps has proven to be a boon to modern collectors, as once familiar with the placement and style of a particular unit’s stampings, the collector is better equipped to identify genuine stamps from spurious stamps that may be applied to enhance an unmarked piece, and as many of these early frontier arms were used heavily and often show significant wear, in the cases where a portion of the markings have been partially worn or obliterated, what markings remain are sufficient to make a complete identification of the unit possible.  

There is no doubt whatsoever that the stampings are original to the pistol’s period of use, and that they are indeed genuine 8TH Cavalry markings.  The grips, numbered to this pistol and obviously original to the revolver, are in very good condition with little of the significant wear commonly encountered on the revolvers which were used in the field.  

As a result, the fully legible stamping on these grips easily rates as excellent.  As noted above, both grip panels on this Remington were utilized to stamp the “Co E  8TH CAV” identification.  While the entire Co. E 8TH CAV stamp has been found stamped on both sides of the one piece grip of Colt Army Pistols, I suspect that the one set of stampings was divided between the two grip panels of the Remington specifically because the screw holes used to mount the separate grip panels limited the amount of space available, and the thinner grip scales were more inclined to split if the stamps were applied too close to the screw holes.   

Showing little, if any, wear across the length of each stamping, all of the characters are fully present and only the sharp edges which would have stood proud of the surface when the grips were newly stamped have worn away with time and use.  The original inspector’s cartouche is still fully legible on the left side, immediately below the “CAV” portion of the stamping, between the stamping and the bottom edge of the grip.   

The mechanics are excellent, with the cylinder indexing properly and locking up tight at full cock.  The metal finish is very smooth with quite a bit of the original blue finish remaining in protected places – quite vivid in places such as the bottom flat of the barrel and the top flat of the loading lever.  The proper inspector’s marks are still visible in all the correct places, and the barrel address stamping is clear and legible.  

Most of these post-Civil War Remington Pistols which were issued to the frontier army were exposed to harsh and extensive service, and many of them probably did not survive to be available today.  Not only did this important specimen survive in very nice condition, but it is also unit marked in a well recognized manner which adds considerably to the value.  Well documented, these unit marked pistols have become very desirable and are quite difficult to find.  There will be no doubt that you are holding a true piece of history from the early Indian Wars and one that was carried on the American Frontier.  SOLD

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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