This revolver falls later within the serial number range for 1866 and features beautifully executed, classic German-American scroll engraving, probably executed for a retailer by an engraver in New York City given the lack of special factory markings and was plated in gold and silver. The usual markings and features are standard, including matching visible serial numbers. The left grip is carved in raised relief with a golden eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak based on the Coat of Arms of Mexico. The left grip is inscribed "Presented to/Major T.T. Graves,/by/M.J. Carvajal, Maj. Genl. Mexican Army" and highlighted with black enamel. The revolver comes in a relined case with a "KM/579" marked powder flask, "44H" and "COLT'S/PATENT" marked mold, Eley Bros. cap tin, an L-shaped combination tool, and a second nipple wrench. The inscription on the grip connects two men at the border of Mexico and the United States during the turmoil of the Second French intervention in Mexico and resulting Civil War in which the Mexican Republic under Benito Juarez battled for control of Mexico against Emperor Maximilian and the Imperialists backed by Napoleon III's France. The U.S. government had long opposed European intervention in the Western Hemisphere under the Monroe Doctrine, but during the American Civil War, the issue was even more pressing as another country coming to the direct aid of the Confederacy could have doomed the Union. Major General Jose Maria Jesus Carvajal (also often spelled Carbajal or Caravajal) (1810-1874) was born in what became San Antonio, became a ward of Stephen Austin, graduated from Bethany College in Virginia, fought the U.S. in the Mexican-American War and then against the centralists in northern Mexico, and was appointed the military governor of Tamaulipas in 1864 by President Juarez. In 1865 and 1866, he was working in the United States to raise funds and obtain arms and men for the Republican cause in Mexico. The U.S. efforts to support the Mexican Republic and Carvajal's role are discussed in the included copies of "The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant Volume 15," "Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan Volume II," Lew Wallace: Militant Romantic, "Mexican Lobby: Matias Romero in Washington, 1861-1867," and "Jose Maria de Jesus Carvajal: The Life and Times of Mexican Revolutionary." They show that Carvajal traveled to the U.S. in March of 1865 under the alias "Joseph Smith, Esq." to seek the Lincoln administration's support and also recruit for the Mexican Army. Among the men Carvajal succeeded in recruiting was Lew Wallace who had permission to work with Carvajal. Per pages 184-185 of "Jose Maria de Jesus Carvajal," the Mexican general arrived in Washington "cloaked in secrecy, known only in the U.S. government to President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton, and General Ulysses S. Grant." Page 65 of "Mexican Lobby" states that on June 5, 1865, "General Carvajal went with [Matias Romero] to see General Grant...At my direction he asked Grant for a letter of introduction to General Sheridan, which grant offered to send to him..." Grant's papers show that on June 16, 1865, Grant did just that, writing to Sheridan introducing him to "Gen. Carvajal of the Liberal Army of Mexico and Governor of the State of Tamaulipas," noting that Carvajal was educated in the U.S. and spoke excellent English and adding "that courticies shown Gn. Carvajal will be regarded as favors to myself." Grant had Carvajal meet Sheridan in New Orleans to help unite the factions in northern Mexico, but Sheridan was unimpressed with Carvajal. Nonetheless, Carvajal worked in Brownsville, Texas, just across the Rio Grande from Matamoros on moving American arms into Mexico for the Republican war effort and negotiated the surrender of Matamoros on June 22, 1866. Under the terms, General Mejia and his Imperialist forces were allowed to remove to nearby Bagdad, and Carvajal's men, including former Union soldiers, took control of the city. Allowing the Imperialists to remove angered many within the Republic of Mexico, including General Mariano Escobedo who was in command of the Liberal Northern Army Corps and had plans to capture the city himself. Carvajal was reprimanded by the government for allowing the "traitors" to escape and thus continued fighting. His agreement with Mejia was declared null and void, and Carvajal was to be tried for overstepping his authority and was removed from his position as governor of Tamaulipas. The city was soon captured by the Imperialist forces of Servando Canales, one of Carvajal's former pupils, in "bloodless revolution," and was later captured by Escobedo in late November 1866 after a debacle in which American troops under the command of General Thomas Sedgwick briefly took possession of the city. Sedgwick was afterwards relieved of command for violating his orders and occupying Mexican territory. The French continued to withdraw over the course of 1866 leaving the Imperialists in an untenable situation and continued to lose territory to the American backed Republicans. Maximilian was captured and executed by mid-1867, and the republic was restored while the U.S. was still undergoing its own reunification under Congressional Reconstruction. Carvajal retired in 1870 to his ranch, moved to Soto la Marina in Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico in 1872, and died there in 1874. Thomas Thatcher Graves (1841-1893) from Providence, Rhode Island, was a captain and brevet major in the 114th U.S. Colored Infantry and served as an aide-de-camp to Major General Godfrey Weitzel along with his brother Eugene E. Graves. Weitzel was given command of all Union troops north of the Appomattox River during the final campaigns of the American Civil War and famously captured Richmond and made President Jefferson Davis's home his headquarters. He watched as formerly enslaved African-American soldiers patrolled the former Confederate capital, including the 114th U.S. Colored Infantry. When President Lincoln came to visit Richmond, he met Graves and asked him, “Is it far to President Davis’s house?” Graves then escorted the president to the house where Lincoln famously sat in Davis's chair. Weitzel was placed in command of the District of Rio Grande, and the 114th was soon stationed on the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas where most of them remained until mustering out in April 1867. His exact relationship with Carvajal is not known, but the two men likely became acquainted in Brownsville. The revolver may have been presented by the Mexican general as part of his efforts to recruit Americans to fight for the Mexican Republic or perhaps in relation to Carvajal's work financing, purchasing, and transporting firearms and other war materiel for the Republican cause. After returning home from the U.S. Army and the border, Graves studied medicine at Harvard and was the valedictorian of the Class of 1871. His life took an interesting and dark turn after he began treating Josephine Barnaby of Providence, Rhode Island, in 1887. When her wealthy husband died in 1889, Graves and an attorney helped her challenge his will which left her a stipend of $2,500 a year despite his estate worth being worth over $1.7 million dollars. The bulk of his wealth had been left to their daughters. In settling the matter, they agreed to give her $105,000. Graves soon gained power of attorney from Barnaby and his own annual stipend of $2,500 and had a bequest of $50,000 assigned to him in her will. Barnaby and Graves argued when he opposed her purchase of a cabin in the Adirondacks from a man that she was apparently having an affair with. He threatened to have her placed under a guardian ship. In Denver in April 1891, she received a bottle of whiskey with a note "Wish you a happy New Year. Please accept this fine old whiskey from your friends in the woods." The note implied the bottle had come from her lover in the Adirondacks. When she shared the bottle with a friend, the latter became sick and thought it was bad, but Barnaby continued to drink. She soon became very ill and died five days later on April 19, 1891. An investigation revealed that the whiskey had been laced with arsenic and had been sent from Boston where Graves had been at the time. He was charged with her murder and found guilty. The investigation, jury, and witnesses were paid by Barnaby's wealthy son-in-law. Graves protested his innocence and won an appeal in the upper court but then committed suicide by poisoning himself rather than face being retried.
Exceptionally fine with 85% plus of the period retailer applied silver and gold remaining, crisp engraving, and minor overall handling and storage wear. The grips are also extremely fine and have attractive natural aged patina and grain, crisp carving, some minor age cracks on the butt, and a distinct inscription with strong enamel. The case is fine overall, and the replacement accessories are generally very good with mild age and storage related wear. Mechanically excellent. This is an incredible Colt Model 1860 Army revolver from a turning point in both Mexican and American history presented by two men directly involved in war efforts to unite their respective nations and brought together by the U.S. government's support for the Mexican Republic at the end of the American Civil War.
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