Handguns Colt’s ‘Old Model Navy’ Revolvers Found a Ready Market in the West

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
Both the 1851 Colt Navy and the 1860 Army were used in the West in significant numbers after the Civil War
whether they were in original black powder form or conversions to cartridges before the Colt 1873 Peacemaker
and other cartridge revolvers replaced them with time. The Colt Navy was a useful firearm in the hands of a
skilled shooter, like Wild Bill Hickok who carried a pair of Colt Navy revolvers for most of his life and killed Davis
Tutt in 1865 after the war in Texas with a shot at seventy five yards during what is considered the first classic
Wild West gunfight.

I agree with everything you said except I believe "Wild Bill" killed Davis Tutt in Springfiled MO., not Texas
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Hamp Watts wrote his memoir rather later in life. I agree with @Booner. Trust General Fisk on this one. Also, I will point out that this just proves once again what an ecxellent and capable officer Reeves Leonard was--unlike some other militia leaders. I don't think Leonard EVER failed!
 
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diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
I'll add my two bits! This gun was much favored by Forrest - he got 500 of them in Kentucky at the start of the war for his men. He was well known as an excellent shootist, and liked the weight and fit of the Navy Colt. He did not carry spare cylinders because his kind of fighting was 'mix with 'em' and no time for much else. Usually he had two to four guns in his belt, plus two more in saddle holsters. It gave him a formidable amount of firepower. The effectiveness of this style was very evident at Fallen Timbers, where he ended up alone and surrounded by Sherman's infantry - he shot his way out, leaving six dead behind and at least that many more wounded. Sherman noted that when he met up with Forrest at the time of his charge down the hill he had already emptied two pistols but he had several with him as later events showed! Throughout the war he preferred the Navy Colt to any other and would rather his men have them and shotguns than other weapons. No mentions of extra cylinders but his men may have carried them for other reasons.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
In Sept. of '64 in Central Missouri, 6 guerrillas from Anderson's band were caught and surrounded in a barn by a troop of 200 Union cavalry. The guerrillas were all killed in the fight. The Union troopers found 30 revolvers on them. No report of any extra revolver cylinders found on the guerrillas.
So 6 didn't have spare cylinders out of a guerrilla group that you have said ihad close to 1000 members...........not a very conclusive sample size. Not sure if extra cylinders were present why they would be in the report, it would be probally the most detailed report I've seen if it detailed every personal possession

Note- again I'm not saying it was routine or widespread, but someone else said it was a modern reenactor myth, when evidence shows the practice was known even before the cw, and both colt and Remington offered spare cylinders for sale. To say it was unheard of would seem a stretch.
 
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Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
The Colt Navy was certainly used in large numbers by the western Missouri guerrilla forces. I presume also by other guerrilla bands in the state. William Elsey Connelley devotes an extensive footnote and illustration to the revolver. This is in QUANTRILL AND THE BORDER WARS. I have not looked at it in some time, but I seem to recall a footnote that covers most of two pages. He and some of the guerrilla memoirs describe light loads of powder. This was originally done to conserve powder, but the boys discovered that a light load could be just as lethal as a maximum load. McCorckle describes having a .44 caliber Army model for some time, but he got rid of it and much preferred the .36 caliber Navy model.

Many of these firearms were converted to cartridge use later. This involved installing cartridge cylinders and different hammers and, doubtless, some other modifications as well. Conversion kits are still made and sold today. Read about the conversions near the bottom of the standard wiki article:
So 6 didn't have spare cylinders out of a guerrilla group that you have said ihad close to 1000 members...........not a very conclusive sample size.


@archieclement, I have spent hours discussing Missouri guerrillas with @Booner, and I have never heard him claim that Quantrill or Anderson had nearly 1,000 followers. To the contrary, he always discusses the smaller bands that dispersed easily--coming together in larger numbers for certain operations. He has probably asserted that there might have been nearly 1,000 guerrillas in total in the state of Missouri--but never assembled in a single force.
 

Jobe Holiday

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Location
The Perpetually Frozen North
In the post-ACW era when the percussion revolvers were converted to rimfire and centerfire the original cylinders and original hammers were modified, rather than being replaced. This was not only cheaper to do, but the cylinders and hammers were factory timed to each individual revolver. New replacement parts would have to be first manufactured, and then hand fit to each revolver being converted. I say this from having a fair amount of personal experience with cartridge converted ACW revolvers and have yet to see one that had a new, purpose made, replacement cylinder and hammer.
J.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
The Colt Navy was certainly used in large numbers by the western Missouri guerrilla forces. I presume also by other guerrilla bands in the state. William Elsey Connelley devotes an extensive footnote and illustration to the revolver. This is in QUANTRILL AND THE BORDER WARS. I have not looked at it in some time, but I seem to recall a footnote that covers most of two pages. He and some of the guerrilla memoirs describe light loads of powder. This was originally done to conserve powder, but the boys discovered that a light load could be just as lethal as a maximum load. McCorckle describes having a .44 caliber Army model for some time, but he got rid of it and much preferred the .36 caliber Navy model.

Many of these firearms were converted to cartridge use later. This involved installing cartridge cylinders and different hammers and, doubtless, some other modifications as well. Conversion kits are still made and sold today. Read about the conversions near the bottom of the standard wiki article:



@archieclement, I have spent hours discussing Missouri guerrillas with @Booner, and I have never heard him claim that Quantrill or Anderson had nearly 1,000 followers. To the contrary, he always discusses the smaller bands that dispersed easily--coming together in larger numbers for certain operations. He has probably asserted that there might have been nearly 1,000 guerrillas in total in the state of Missouri--but never assembled in a single force.
In a recent thread I thought he said he was working on a database of guerrillas that was approaching a 1000.

Which didnt seem unrealistic to me considering the loose organization of the guerrillas, in many cases it would be hard to confine one to Q, anderson, todd, poole, jackson, thrailkill, ect.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
In the post-ACW era when the percussion revolvers were converted to rimfire and centerfire the original cylinders and original hammers were modified, rather than being replaced. This was not only cheaper to do, but the cylinders and hammers were factory timed to each individual revolver. New replacement parts would have to be first manufactured, and then hand fit to each revolver being converted. I say this from having a fair amount of personal experience with cartridge converted ACW revolvers and have yet to see one that had a new, purpose made, replacement cylinder and hammer.
J.
Pretty interesting. I was unaware that existing gun parts were modified for the conversions--or at least for most of them. It makes very good sense when explained this way.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
In a recent thread I thought he said he was working on a database of guerrillas that was approaching a 1000.

Which didnt seem unrealistic to me considering the loose organization of the guerrillas, in many cases it would be hard to confine one to Q, anderson, todd, poole, jackson, thrailkill, ect.
I haven't seen @Booner's spreadsheet in a while, but I am sure he is including many bands of guerrillas and also any guerrilla who might have served however briefly or however long with any other group. He tries to put them in place as he is able to trace them and their affiliations. He is chiefly interested in the Fristoe family system and its interrelations, but I doubt he excludes others.

The six guys who Leonard's patrol killed in the Blackfoot Hills were probably a small, dispersed bunch from Anderson's company. We were talking about it yesterday. We suspect six of Anderson's boys because of the location of the ambush and the fact that the Goslin's Lane incident had just happened.
 

sourdough

Corporal
Joined
May 29, 2017
Location
Pe Ell, Washington
William Elsey Connelley devotes an extensive footnote and illustration to the revolver. This is in QUANTRILL AND THE BORDER WARS. I have not looked at it in some time, but I seem to recall a footnote that covers most of two pages. He and some of the guerrilla memoirs describe light loads of powder. This was originally done to conserve powder, but the boys discovered that a light load could be just as lethal as a maximum load. McCorckle describes having a .44 caliber Army model for some time, but he got rid of it and much preferred the .36 caliber Navy model.

Patrick H,

Thanks so much for posting the name of that book, which I could not recall! My HDD died on my 10-year-old machine a few months ago, and I lost pretty much everything. I am slowly working to replace those files. I found the .pdf version of that book today and downloaded it.

Thanks again!

Jim
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Patrick H,

Thanks so much for posting the name of that book, which I could not recall! My HDD died on my 10-year-old machine a few months ago, and I lost pretty much everything. I am slowly working to replace those files. I found the .pdf version of that book today and downloaded it.

Thanks again!

Jim
You are totally welcome, Jim. I'm glad I helped you. Other curious readers might wish to know that they can download various formats of the book, but the PDF is the best way to go. The reason is the footnotes. They are EXTENSIVE, and it's impossible to follow along with them if you can't see them underneath the main text. In fact I think the footnotes are the best part of the book.
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
Just re-reading a few older posts. I respect Phil Spangenberger as a writer (for many years), but his article's photo and the rest of his discussion is most primarily about the 1863 Remington NMA/NMN. There were many more Colt revolvers being used by both sides in the ACW, especially prior to 1863, and that would have not been a good option with the Colt guns.

As has been stated, forget about the spaghetti Westerns insofar as being historically accurate.

Jim

I note that the 2012 article by Phil Spangenberger referenced at the start of this thred is illustrated by a nice engraved set of Remington revolvers with PERCUSSION cylinders in place, and an extra set of CARTRIDGE cylinders for each included in the cased, engraved set.
Remington made rimfire cartridge cylinders that would interchange in a percussion Remington revolver without any modification and with the same original hammer that would properly strike percussion or rimfire cartridges. Either cylinder could be inserted into the same revolver, and so it made sense to sell a revolver with an extra cylinder, one percussion, one cartridge.

I bet that is what Bruce McDowell, who wrote the book on cartridge conversion revolvers, was referencing, not the carrying of a duplicate percussion cylinder.
 
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