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HISTORIC MODEL 1861 REMINGTON “OLD MODEL ARMY” REVOLVER –  IDENTIFIED BY SERIAL NUMBER AS ISSUED TO THE 1ST MISSOURI VOLUNTEER CAVALRY IN 1863 AND RECOVERED FROM THE NASHVILLE BATTLE SITE AREA:  Recently purchased from a very old collection, this Model 1861 Remington Army Pistol was accompanied by a printed card indicating the pistol was recovered from where it had been hidden in the wall of an old house in the area of the Nashville, Tennessee battlefield.  After acquiring this Remington, I discovered that it was listed by serial number in the Springfield Research Service publication, Serial Numbers, Volume 4, on page 244, as having been issued to a soldier in Company I, of the 1st Missouri Volunteer Cavalry in 1863.   

Produced early in the Civil War, in 1862, and with the relatively low total production of only 6000, almost all of these M1861 Remington Army pistols were purchased by the US government for issue to the troops.  The serial number range of the M1861is believed to begin at 3000, making this pistol one of the first of this model produced.  This low serial number and early production is further evidenced by the use of the Beals type frame used on this particular pistol which incorporates the completely concealed barrel threads at the breech area of the receiver.  Far from common, these early Remington revolvers are seldom encountered and when found, normally show extensive use and wear.  So, the condition of this pistol, although aged, is not considerably different from the normal wear found on pistols of this model and it is still very much a representative example with the added value of having historic association with a significant Civil War battle site and a Civil War cavalry unit. 

Although showing evidence of long term storage with the lack of finish and the absence of the grip panels, this historic Old Model Army has survived in remarkable condition.  The matching serial number stamps are all legible on the barrel, grip frame and the underside of the trigger guard, as is the Remington two line address and patent information on the top barrel flat.  The brass trigger guard bears the proper inspector’s initial – a clear and legible “W” - confirming that this was indeed a US Army issued pistol.  The cylinder rotates on the cylinder pin, the hammer will hold at full cock, the mainspring is present and functional, and the trigger responds to the trigger spring, however the trigger and hammer do not work together to lower the hammer, rather you have to lower it manually.  The loading lever is missing and appears to have been intentionally removed before the gun was hidden in the wall of the house, as the aging in that area is uniform with the remainder of the gun and the hinge area where the lever was attached shows no damage.  All of the nipples are present and intact, and the loading lever retainer on the bottom of the barrel is present. The bottom curve of the brass trigger guard is flattened, as if the pistol was used as a club to strike an opponent, but the finger loop is not broken nor are there any stress cracks, just simply misshapen in a way adding to the overall character of the gun and testifying to the hard use to which it was put.    

Acquired with this Remington, and included in this offering, is a small display box of relics collected at the same site where the pistol was recovered.  The relics include a Burnside Carbine bullet, what I believe is a Confederate Enfield bullet, a brass grommet like the type used on the soldier’s gum blankets or ponchos, a brass ring with a serrated edge, a brass harmonica reed, what appears to be a lead or iron button, a brass buckle and two pieces of lead slag.   

A letter of confirmation was obtained from the Springfield Research Service (SRS) to document this Remington’s issue to the 1st Missouri Volunteer Cavalry Regiment and will be included in the sale of this pistol.  The preliminary research I’ve done so far indicates that the link between the 1st Missouri Cavalry and the Nashville area may prove to be an interesting facet of the story of this Remington.  The unit history indicates that smaller elements of the regiment were assigned to a variety of duties during the war including being attached to a number of different divisions and armies in the Trans-Mississippi area.  Several companies, F, G, K and M, were assigned to the Department of Tennessee and the District of Memphis, and further research may reveal that elements of the 1st Missouri were indeed in the Nashville area.  Also worth mentioning is that while the Federal Missouri cavalry units are not mentioned in the history of the Battle of Nashville by name, there were several Confederate Missouri cavalry units present at the battle.  As most Civil War historians are aware, the conflict exacted a particularly horrible price from Missouri, as her citizens aligned themselves with both sides of the conflict, not only enlisting in the regular uniformed services of both armies, but also engaging in an especially vicious partisan war against uniformed soldiers and civilians alike.  It may well be the pistol was captured and eventually carried to Nashville by a Confederate Missourian.  How this pistol found its way to the Nashville area, and how it came to be secreted in the wall of an old house will likely be mysteries that will remain lost to the passage of time, however that it was carried by a young cavalry trooper in Company I of the 1st Missouri there can be no doubt.  

In spite of incredible odds against it, this Remington Model 1861 Old Model Army has managed a remarkable trifecta by surviving the passing years in any condition – a relatively scarce model with a low serial number in the desirable early production configuration; recovered in the context of a significant Southern battlefield of the Civil War; and a solid identification to a specific Civil War Cavalry unit documented through records held by the National Archives.  

The collecting fraternity continually searches for those very special pieces which by the virtue of their firm historical association can transport us back to a specific place and time by simply cradling them in our hands, and stimulate our imaginations to reach out to the soldier, sailor, cowhand or warrior who carried them.  This Remington is such a piece, seldom encountered and sure to be a key addition to any collection.   $2275

 

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