Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1238: Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver Inscribed to Union Officer

Auction Date: December 4, 2021

Historic Civil War Era Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver Inscribed to Pennsylvania Cavalry Officer Thomas Fassett with Factory Letter

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Estimated Price: $3,000 - $5,000

Historic Civil War Era Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver Inscribed to Pennsylvania Cavalry Officer Thomas Fassett with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1851 Navy
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 36
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 701
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 104
Class: Antique

This Civil War era Colt Model 1851 Revolver is inscribed to Civil War Pennsylvania cavalry officer Thomas Fassett, brother of Battle of Gettysburg Medal of Honor recipient John Fassett. The accompanying factory letter confirms the 7 ½ inch barrel in .36 caliber, blue finish and wood stocks. The letter also states that the revolver was shipped to J.C. Grubb & Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 28, 1862. This shipment contained 50 guns. It is rare to encounter a Model 1851 that will factory letter. The top barrel flat has the one-line New York address, the left side of the frame is marked “COLTS/PATENT,” and traces of the naval scene remain on the cylinder. Matching full or partial serial numbers are on the barrel, frame, trigger guard, back strap, cylinder, loading lever, wedge, and arbor pin. The back strap is inscribed “Thomas Fassett. Phila Pa.” Documentation includes the aforementioned Colt factory letter and copies of records, such as a reprinted photograph of 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Fassett, discharge papers, pension records, family summary and unit history, the consignor states were obtained from the Fassett family. Thomas’ brother John Fassett was awarded the Medal of Honor for action taken on July 2, 1863 while serving with the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry during the Battle of Gettysburg. He signed one of the pension documents in the included research binder. As for Thomas he was a member of the 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry, who had a short lived military career. After entering service on July 27, 1862, his unit was assigned to Catlett Station, Virginia, where it was attacked by Confederate General Jeb Stuart’s Cavalry. This highly successful and pivotal Confederate raid took place on August 22, 1862 against Union troops commanded by General John Pope and began on what Stuart referred to as the “darkest night I ever knew.” The purpose of the raid was to disrupt the Union rail supply lines. Stuart’s forces destroyed the Union encampment at Catlett as well as captured supplies and nearly 300 Union troops. A thunderstorm saved a railroad bridge from being burned. The biggest prize for the Confederates was the capture of Pope’s orders containing vital information that, when given to General Robert E. Lee, played a key role in the South’s victory at the Battle of Second Manassas or the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 29-30, 1862). The Union defeat cost Pope his command as he was relieved of duty and reassigned to the Department of the Northwest in Minnesota. During Stuart’s raid horses stampeded, and as a result from the disorder, Fassett sustained a disabling rupture. He was discharged on September 11, 1862, and was awarded a disability pension. The injury must have been severe because, as shown in the included documentation, he was incapable of work, and after his passing, benefits were awarded to his widow.

Rating Definition:

Very good as a Civil War revolver inscribed to and carried by Pennsylvania cavalry officer Thomas Fasset. The iron surfaces a mottled gray patina. The brass has an attractive appearance. The inscription is crisp. The grip is very fine with some minor dings and scratches and some high edge wear. Mechanically fine. A Civil War Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver inscribed to an identified Pennsylvania cavalry officer that will make a great addition to your Civil War collection.

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