Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3068: Colt 1851 Revolver 36 percussion

Auction Date: December 8, 2013

Historic Civil War Confederate 24th Georgia Inscribed Factory Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $8,500 - $14,000

Historic Civil War Confederate 24th Georgia Inscribed Factory Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1851
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 36 percussion
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 2500
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 38
Class: Antique

Factory Engraved Colt Third Model 1851 Navy revolver that was manufactured in 1852. The revolver has a standard blue and casehardened finish with silver-plated brass trigger guard and back strap and one-piece walnut grip. The cylinder is roll-engraved with the Texas Navy battle scene and "COLTS PATENT". The full serial number "15927" is stamped on the loading lever, barrel lug, frame, trigger guard, back strap and cylinder. All of the visible serial numbers match. The revolver is factory engraved with Germanic scrollwork on a punch dot background. The engraving was executed by Master Engraver Gustave Young and is among Young's earliest work on Colt revolvers. The sides of the hammer are decorated with the animal head motif that is typical of Young's engraving. "COLTS/PATENT" is hand engraved in a panel on the left side of the frame. All of the screw heads are engraved. The punch mark used by Colt to designate special handling, polish or finish between 1849 and 1861 is stamped above or below the serial number on the barrel lug, frame, trigger guard and back strap. The revolver back strap is inscribed "Robert McMillan 24th Regt. Ga. Inf.". Robert McMillan was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1805 and emigrated to Georgia in 1831. He was elected to the Georgia legislature and served as a senator from 1855-56. When Georgia left the Union in 1861, McMillan organized the Habersham County McMillan Guards which were mustered into service as Company K, 24th Georgia Infantry in August 1861. Company K and the 24th Georgia Infantry contained a large number of native Irishman. McMillan was appointed Colonel of the 24th Georgia in August 1861. The 24th Georgia Infantry was assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia. It fought with distinction with the Army of Northern Virginia in nearly every major battle from Seven Days to Appomattox. In addition, the 24th Georgia served with Longstreet's Corps in the Knoxville Campaign in Tennessee. Four officers and fifty-six enlisted men of the 24th Georgia were present at the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. During the battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, the 24th Georgia was part of Cobb's Brigade defending the sunken road below Maryes Heights. Maryes Heights was the focus of the day long assault by the Army of the Potomac. When General Cobb was mortally wounded, Colonel McMillan assumed command of the brigade. Cobb's Brigade and the 24th Georgia Infantry repelled repeated attacks by the best units in the Federal Army; most notably the Irish Brigade led by Colonel Thomas Meager. The successful defense of the sunken road below Maryes Heights was critical to the decisive Confederate victory at Fredericksburg. Led by Colonel McMillan, the largely Irish 24th Georgia Infantry, again fought the Irish Brigade in the Wheat Field during the second day of Gettysburg. Following the Knoxville Campaign in January 1864, Colonel McMillan resigned his commission to run for the Confederate Congress. He returned to duty during the summer of 1864 as a Colonel in the Georgia militia during the Atlanta Campaign. Colonel Robert McMillan died in Clarksville, Georgia, in May 1868.

Rating Definition:

Good. The revolver shows wear appropriate to a pre-Civil War revolver that was carried by a combat officer who spent nearly three years in service and fought in some of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War. The blue finish on the barrel and cylinder and case colors on the loading lever, frame and hammer have aged to an attractive silver-gray patina. Metal surfaces are generally smooth with some very insignificant flash pitting on the barrel near the muzzle and light to moderate flash pitting on the percussion nipples, rear face of the cylinder and sides of the hammer. The cylinder retains 70% of the roll engraved naval scene. The cylinder safety pins are battered. Traces of the silver plated finish are visible on protected areas of the trigger guard and hammer and the brass components have an attractive patina. The flawlessly executed Germanic scrollwork on the barrel, loading lever, frame, hammer, trigger guard and back strap remains crisp and deep. The barrel legend, patent markings and serial numbers are sharp. The inscription on the back strap is deep and clear. The walnut grip shows moderate handling wear with some shrinkage near the heel but remain in good condition. The action is tight and functions well. This is a historic Colt Model 1851 Navy revolver that combines early factory engraving by Gustave Young with an inscription that links it to a gallant and well-respected Irish Confederate officer who led a hard-fighting infantry regiment that saw action in some of the most important battles in the American Civil War.

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