A Remington 1858 with a Story
During the US Civil War, more than two million Americans volunteered for or were called to the service of their state, territory, or country. They were armed with any number of weapons including muskets, carbines, shotguns, pistols, pikes, lances, sabers and of course, revolvers. One of the most common Union revolvers encountered during and after the war was the Remington 44. Also known as the Remington Model of 1858, they were produced by Eliphalet Remington & Sons, in Ilion, New York from a patent by Fordyce Beals between 1862-1875.
Several versions of the Remington 1858 were produced with the 1863-vintage New Model Army being the most popular. The New Model Army has an 8-inch barrel, a new front sight, a low spur trigger, larger loading lever and a cylinder pin that was held by two pins. The New Model Army, with its solid top strap was one of the most powerful and rugged performers of its day and outlasted many of its competitors.
- This Union cavalryman is shown with three Remington revolvers of various types along with his saber. It is likely that he has posed with his buddies pistols to look more fierce for the family back home.
More than 132,000 of these revolvers were made. Of course, not all of these went to the Union Army and after the war a number were made for the Armies of the Tsar, the Mikado, the King of England, and the Republic of Mexico. They were found in US service as late as the Plains Indian Wars and even carried by some volunteers as late as the Spanish American War. By the turn of the century with inexpensive Iver Johnson and Savage cartridge handguns available, those New Armies that were not converted to cartridge cylinder guns were going for just a handful of Buffalo Nickels.
One of the first legends in what would now be called military surplus and collectible sales, Bannerman and Sons ran by Francis Bannerman VI from his huge warehouse on Broadway in New York and owner of a fortified castle island in the Hudson River, often sold these guns for dirt-cheap prices. The problem was, Union guns were common and could be bought and sold for fishing weights. What people wanted were confederate pieces. Bannerman, always a slave to his customers, promptly began selling many old Union arms emblazoned with CSA markings. The best of both worlds!
Here is one example of a Remington 44-caliber Model New Army made during the Civil War. Correct Brass trigger guard, Stylized "GP" marking in small rectangle box on chipped grip panel which are the initials of Giles Porter, a Principal Sub-Inspector for the US Ordnance Department.
Under the barrel on the flat, there are the markings 85504 CSA in a staggered strip as well as the same markings on the frame under the left grip panel.
There are no Barrel markings on the side of the barrel and it either may have been refinished or possibly not stamped at all as the barrel marking on the flat underside is still crisp and readable.
I have seen no other Remington New Army's marked CSA anywhere, which gives the revolver two possibilities:
1. Could this be an act captured US Army weapon that was turned around and used by the Confederacy with CSA markings? (Most doubtful. While many Union-made and issues arms were captured and turned against their former owners, it is almost unheard of for them to be marked as CSA property.)
2. Could the markings instead have instead been placed post-war by a surplus seller such as Bannermans to increase their value in the 1900s?
Either way, you can see both an example of a fine Union Army pistol used in the later post-Gettysburg period of the War Between the States.
If you ask me, long before it made it to the hands of the family that showed it to me, it stopped off for a brief stay on Broadway....