Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 109: Military Presentation Smith & Wesson No. 3 American Revolver

Auction Date: September 10, 2021

Factory Engraved Presentation Smith & Wesson No. 3 American 1st Model Single Action Revolver Inscribed to Civil War Battle of Tebbs Bend Hero Union Colonel Orlando Moore

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $9,500 - $16,000

Factory Engraved Presentation Smith & Wesson No. 3 American 1st Model Single Action Revolver Inscribed to Civil War Battle of Tebbs Bend Hero Union Colonel Orlando Moore

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: 3 American
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44 S&W American
Barrel: 8 inch solid rib
Finish: nickel
Grip: pearl
Item Views: 1861
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 96
Class: Antique

The accompanying factory letter lists this revolver with 8 inch barrel, nickel plating, factory engraving, and smooth walnut grips (currently carved pearl) when sold on March 4, 1871 and shipped to George W. Schofield, who acted as a S&W distributor for U.S. troops in the Western states and territories and served as a lieutenant colonel in the Union Army. Schofield, who was breveted a Union Army brigadier general in the Civil War, is best known for his contributions to the development of Smith & Wesson’s .45 caliber revolver that bears his name and was issued to the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. The shipment including this revolver was for 10 units (8 blued and 2 plated in nickel), and it was the only revolver with engraving. Although the back strap inscription is not listed in the S&W records, it was certainly period applied. The engraving consists mostly of pattern floral scrollwork along with intertwining line, star and arrow motifs. The back strap is inscribed "Col. Orlando Moore U.S.A." The revolver wears pearl grips. The left panel features checkering and relief carved dragoon bust. The right panel features a carved floral pattern with a blossom in the center. The rib has the one-line address/patent dates marking. Matching assembly marks appear on the grip frame, cylinder, barrel and barrel latch. Copies of Col. Moore's extensive military records provided by the National Archives to S&W historian Roy Jinks in 1993 are included. Col. Moore served from 1856 to 1865 and again from 1874 to 1884. Among the storied periods of his Army career, he helped to foil a conspiracy by Southern sympathizers in the Western states and territories to form a Pacific Republic in 1861 and spent most of the Civil War commanding the 25th Michigan Infantry which had been organized in Kalamazoo in the summer of 1862. One of the regiment's first major assignments was the occupation of Louisville, Kentucky. There men of the 25th Michigan defended roads and bridges from Confederate raiders. On July 4, 1863 Moore's outnumbered command of 260 relatively untested men repeatedly repealed assaults by 800 to 1,000 battle hardened Confederate dismounted cavalrymen under the command of Brigadier General John Morgan. Arriving at sunrise, Morgan's men made little progress against the Union defenses. Nevertheless, Morgan demanded surrender to which Moore replied, "Present my compliments to General Morgan, and say to him, that this being the 4th of July, I cannot entertain the proposition to surrender." The attacks were renewed. It was fierce and bloody, often reverting to hand-to-hand combat. Lasting under four hours, the Battle of Tebbs Bend, as it would be known, was a catastrophe for the Confederacy as the battle claimed the lives of 36 men including 22 officers, who were the primary targets of Moore's sharpshooters, 45 wounded, and 30 captured. Total Union losses stood at 6 dead and 24 wounded including the female soldier Lizzie Compton, who disguised herself as a man to enlist and fight in the Union Army at the age of 14 and saw extensive action while serving in a total of seven different regiments by the time the Civil War concluded. In the words of historian James Ramage, the battle was "one of the most outstanding small victories in the Civil War. It was unusual for a small Union force to resist Morgan, and to fight so fiercely and effectively." In his private journal, Morgan's chief of staff wrote of Moore, "The colonel is a gallant man and the entire arrangement of his defense entitles him to the highest credit for military skill. We would mark such a man in our army for promotion." Moore in fact received brevet promotion and recognition for his gallant and meritorious service in action at Tebbs Bend. Moore's triumph is largely overshadowed by the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. He later faced two court martials generally considered a result from his outspoken support for the rights of blacks, ending his chances of making general. During the latter part of his military career, he served in the West where this revolver was likely presented to him. He retired from the Army in 1884 and died on October 31, 1890 in Coldwater, Michigan. Includes three inches of original document copies from the National Archives containing Col. Moore's complete military service record of assignments, promotions and demotions, battles he participated in, awards and his court martial. Truly a trove of mid-late 19th century military history. This revolver is from the collection of world famous American country singer and song writer Hank Williams Jr. and includes a certificate of authenticity confirming his ownership as well as the aforementioned factory letter, which is addressed to him. Provenance: The Hank Williams Jr.'s Collection

Rating Definition:

Very good. The revolver has smooth gray patina and a crisp engraving. The grips are excellent with minimal handling marks and crisp checkering and carving. Mechanically excellent. A factory engraved Smith & Wesson No. 3 American 1st Model Revolver made even more desirable by being inscribed to a Union hero, Col. Orlando Moore, that will be a welcomed addition to any Civil War or S&W collection.

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