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“No Texan Ranger considers himself equipped without one of them”

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143.     [COLT REVOLVERS]. UNITED STATES. CONGRESS. SENATE. In Senate of the United States, April 25, 1848. Submitted, and Ordered to Be Printed. Mr. Rusk Made the Following Report…. The Committee on Military Affairs, to Whom Was Referred the Message of the President of the United States Relative to “Colt’s Repeating Fire Arms” Dated April 14, 1848, and the Documents Accompanying the same, Report. [Washington, 1848]. 30th Congress, 1st Session, Document 136. [1] 2-8 pp. 8vo, (22.7 x 14 cm), disbound. Left blank margin with old sewing holes and small cut marks, otherwise fine.

     First edition of this important report on Colt’s revolver-brief in content, but pivotal in military history. The various documents concern the controversy surrounding the reliability of Colt’s revolver as a service weapon for use in wartime. The chief critic of the firearm, G. Talcott, then in the Ordnance Department, whose report to Secretary of War William L. Marcy is reprinted herein (pp. 4-5), states that the revolver has several defects that make it an unreliable weapon. He remarks that the gun sacrifices “solidity, simplicity, and durability,” is liable to become unserviceable due to “wear, from rust and dirt,” and has been “peculiarly liable to the accident of simultaneous discharges from two or more chambers at once.” He quizzically recommends “the double barrelled gun” as a more suitable weapon except in certain, specialized cases.

     Talcott is overwhelmed, however, by the vast amount of favorable experience gained in the Mexican-American War by troops using Colt’s revolver. A long list of veterans, including Zachary Taylor, John A. Quitman, Jefferson Davis, Texas Ranger Ben McCullough, Texas Ranger Samuel H. Walker, and B.S. Roberts, all give glowing testimony about the effect the revolver had in combat, remarking that at times it even made the difference between defeat and victory. George Wilkins Kendall declares: “No Texan Ranger considers himself equipped without one of them.” The Committee, based on the testimony that gives such “positive evidence” of the revolver’s efficacy, concludes: “Colt’s repeating pistols are the most efficient arm, for mounted men and frontier troops, now known or used; and that it is highly expedient for the government to introduce them into extensive use for these purposes.” They finally recommend that Colt himself manufacture the guns.

     Samuel Walker helped design and ordered 1,000 Colt revolvers, known as the “Walker,” for Ranger and dragoon use during the Mexican-American War, and that order proved a pivotal event in Colt’s life. Not only did it make it possible for Colt to continue manufacturing, it also gave the weapon a chance to establish its utility in actual combat, a valuable consideration that could never have been achieved by any amount of static field testing, and the effects of which are on obvious display in this report. From this point on, Colt was able to extensively expand his business in Hartford and became the major supplier of side arms for those going to the California gold fields and other parts of the West and for the federal government.


Sold. Hammer: $100.00; Price Realized: $120.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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