Handguns Colt Walker stories and questions

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Rusk County Avengers

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
Some personal background in my reading on these guns first.

I've always had a preference for cap'n'ball revolvers over any other handgun. I've no idea why but from the moment I laid on in person, an old cheap brass framed 1851 Navy of a "second father's" (long story but the pistol lacked its nipples and us kids used it to play cowboys and indians for years beating it to pieces I have it now as a cherished memento of my childhood), they've been my favorite handgun, so much so that I used to shoot them every afternoon for years. Ever since I was a kid I've read up on every bit of information I could get a hold of, with my favorites being the 1851 Navy, 1860 Army, Colt Dragoon, and the first one I saw on television (watching True Grit with my grandaddy) without even knowing its name, the Colt Walker.

Something about that gun always appealed to me and I never knew why, but a recent family tree discovery has made me wonder if it was in my blood. Going through a stack of papers and pictures belonging to my Great-Grandmother who passed away in the 50's (the very grandad of mine's mother I saw a Colt Walker with first on TV), there was one picture of a older man in what looked to be a circa 1870's picture, labeled "Grandpa Latham" which made me scratch my head as I knew of no such man. After a lot of digging, I found my "Grandpa Latham" though I highly doubt he was the one in the picture as he died in 1851 or 1852, but I was shocked to learn the real one was Lewis P. Latham, my 4thG-Grandfather born around 1804 and had not only been one of the earliest white settlers in Texas, but had been one of the Mexican War Texas Rangers! Company E/Truit's Company 1st Texas Mounted Volunteers (Hays' Regiment), the one and only regiment issued Colt Walkers with his company seeming to be the one that made off with the most of them.

Now at CW reenactments its extremely common to see cavalrymen and even some artillerymen run around with one or two Walkers which I think extremely farby considering only 1,100 of them were even made. A hundred for the open market, and a thousand for the army. From all I've been able to read, 976 were issued in the army, and 409 returned at the end of hostilities, 300 hundred having to be sent to Whitney for repairs due to exploded cylinders. Some may attribute the absurd loses to the gun's supposed main fault of blowing up, but given how every gun had been thoroughly proofed at Whitneyville, I think the men being unfamiliar with revolvers, and if loaded with loose powder and ball, conical bullets loaded incorrectly may be to blame rather than faulty manufacturing.

Some would say all that has to be why no Walkers were around in the CW, some folks are adamant all were returned and none were around in the early Western Expansion era or CW, something I almost find laughable given how the guns had to have been sold off at some point I would think, and the creative nature many soldiers have at stealing stuff.

Getting back to the my great excuse to research a favored gun and unit, I've found all kinds of wonderful information to me. A favorite is rumors of Republic of Texas Army buttons being dug in Mexico, which makes me wonder if the Hays Texas Volunteers had a few RoT uniforms early in the war, which I find funny as every account I've found has them in Mexican uniforms at the end. But going through information of the 1st Texas, I find it funny some Texas companies got not even one, other some, and other apparently like my 4thG-Grandads a pair for everyone, I'm curious to what else I can find.

So here are some questions for the small arm experts:

1. Do you think some Colt Walkers managed to make their way into the early days of the Civil War?

2. Do you think they came home with someone in Mexican War and a child made off with it or that none were used?

3. For a non-CW Walker related question, does anyone know how those hand cannons were carried in the Mexican War? I know one account I've found has a bunch being lost in a river crossing and I wonder if nothing was issued for carrying them.

By the way, there may not be many Mexican War reenactments, but this family revelation gives me the ultimate excuse to build a Mexican War Texan impression. Heck if I ever were to do early war cavalry at CW reenactments, I wonder if an excuse could be made for carrying a Walker. But sadly that'd only be proper if everyone else wasn't carrying ten of them...
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Some personal background in my reading on these guns first.

I've always had a preference for cap'n'ball revolvers over any other handgun. I've no idea why but from the moment I laid on in person, an old cheap brass framed 1851 Navy of a "second father's" (long story but the pistol lacked its nipples and us kids used it to play cowboys and indians for years beating it to pieces I have it now as a cherished memento of my childhood), they've been my favorite handgun, so much so that I used to shoot them every afternoon for years. Ever since I was a kid I've read up on every bit of information I could get a hold of, with my favorites being the 1851 Navy, 1860 Army, Colt Dragoon, and the first one I saw on television (watching True Grit with my grandaddy) without even knowing its name, the Colt Walker.

Something about that gun always appealed to me and I never knew why, but a recent family tree discovery has made me wonder if it was in my blood. Going through a stack of papers and pictures belonging to my Great-Grandmother who passed away in the 50's (the very grandad of mine's mother I saw a Colt Walker with first on TV), there was one picture of a older man in what looked to be a circa 1870's picture, labeled "Grandpa Latham" which made me scratch my head as I knew of no such man. After a lot of digging, I found my "Grandpa Latham" though I highly doubt he was the one in the picture as he died in 1851 or 1852, but I was shocked to learn the real one was Lewis P. Latham, my 4thG-Grandfather born around 1804 and had not only been one of the earliest white settlers in Texas, but had been one of the Mexican War Texas Rangers! Company E/Truit's Company 1st Texas Mounted Volunteers (Hays' Regiment), the one and only regiment issued Colt Walkers with his company seeming to be the one that made off with the most of them.

Now at CW reenactments its extremely common to see cavalrymen and even some artillerymen run around with one or two Walkers which I think extremely farby considering only 1,100 of them were even made. A hundred for the open market, and a thousand for the army. From all I've been able to read, 976 were issued in the army, and 409 returned at the end of hostilities, 300 hundred having to be sent to Whitney for repairs due to exploded cylinders. Some may attribute the absurd loses to the gun's supposed main fault of blowing up, but given how every gun had been thoroughly proofed at Whitneyville, I think the men being unfamiliar with revolvers, and if loaded with loose powder and ball, conical bullets loaded incorrectly may be to blame rather than faulty manufacturing.

Some would say all that has to be why no Walkers were around in the CW, some folks are adamant all were returned and none were around in the early Western Expansion era or CW, something I almost find laughable given how the guns had to have been sold off at some point I would think, and the creative nature many soldiers have at stealing stuff.

Getting back to the my great excuse to research a favored gun and unit, I've found all kinds of wonderful information to me. A favorite is rumors of Republic of Texas Army buttons being dug in Mexico, which makes me wonder if the Hays Texas Volunteers had a few RoT uniforms early in the war, which I find funny as every account I've found has them in Mexican uniforms at the end. But going through information of the 1st Texas, I find it funny some Texas companies got not even one, other some, and other apparently like my 4thG-Grandads a pair for everyone, I'm curious to what else I can find.

So here are some questions for the small arm experts:

1. Do you think some Colt Walkers managed to make their way into the early days of the Civil War?

2. Do you think they came home with someone in Mexican War and a child made off with it or that none were used?

3. For a non-CW Walker related question, does anyone know how those hand cannons were carried in the Mexican War? I know one account I've found has a bunch being lost in a river crossing and I wonder if nothing was issued for carrying them.

By the way, there may not be many Mexican War reenactments, but this family revelation gives me the ultimate excuse to build a Mexican War Texan impression. Heck if I ever were to do early war cavalry at CW reenactments, I wonder if an excuse could be made for carrying a Walker. But sadly that'd only be proper if everyone else wasn't carrying ten of them...
The Walker was holstered on the saddle pommel, they certainly made it to the Civil War. General John Kenley’s Walker sold at the James Julia auction in 2008 for $920,000.

I laugh when I see reenactors with them on a belt, they tend to pull the belt down they are so heavy. There are belt holsters for these arms, but they were rarely used and when found are typically in great shape as a result.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
The Walker was holstered on the saddle pommel, they certainly made it to the Civil War. General John Kenley’s Walker sold at the James Julia auction in 2008 for $920,000.

I laugh when I see reenactors with them on a belt, they tend to pull the belt down they are so heavy. There are belt holsters for these arms, but they were rarely used and when found are typically in great shape as a result.
 
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Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
 

RobertP

Major
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
The Walker was holstered on the saddle pommel, they certainly made it to the Civil War. General John Kenley’s Walker sold at the James Julia auction in 2008 for $920,000.

I laugh when I see reenactors with them on a belt, they tend to pull the belt down they are so heavy. There are belt holsters for these arms, but they were rarely used and when found are typically in great shape as a result.
If you have never been to the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco and are fairly close like @Rusk County Avengers , it’s worth a trip. I went a number of years ago and remember several Walkers on display.

The Walker Colt was .44 cal., and manufactured in 1847. Another million dollar Colt revolver earlier used by Texas Rangers is the .36 cal. Patterson which was first made in 1836. It is unique in that the trigger retracts into the frame when the hammer is down, and pops out when cocked. The pistol has no trigger guard which makes it unusual and IMO dicey. I don’t recall one in the museum but it’s been a long time.
 
Last edited:

Rusk County Avengers

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
If you have never been to the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco and are fairly close like @Rusk County Avengers , it’s worth a trip. I went a number of years ago and remember several Walkers on display.

The Walker Colt was .44 cal., and manufactured in 1847. Another million dollar Colt revolver earlier used by Texas Rangers is the .36 cal. Patterson which was first made in 1836. It is unique in that the trigger retracts into the frame when the hammer is down, and pops out when cocked. The pistol has no trigger guard which makes it unusual and IMO dicey. I don’t recall one in the museum but it’s been a long time.
One day I shall go there, Waco just isn't a place I normally find myself near. You've reminded me of a CW Paterson story.

When I first started reenacting it was with the artillery, one of the officers and his brother, (they now command that unit) showed me a letter from their ancestor. When the man enlisted he carried a Colt Paterson with him and found no need of it, but there was a young Lieutenant who just got the rank and needed a pistol. Well their ancestor sold him that Paterson for somewhere near $20 bucks and laughed about it, I really wish I had a copy of that letter, I'm surprised I remember it as its been a good decade since then.
 
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Rusk County Avengers

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
The Walker was holstered on the saddle pommel, they certainly made it to the Civil War. General John Kenley’s Walker sold at the James Julia auction in 2008 for $920,000.

I laugh when I see reenactors with them on a belt, they tend to pull the belt down they are so heavy. There are belt holsters for these arms, but they were rarely used and when found are typically in great shape as a result.
I've always heard, but never verified that one Texas officer, (I can't remember who) carried one at Gaines Farm and accepted the surrender of some Federal officers while holding it in one hand and a frying pan in the other he bought from a farm after he lost his first one and carried I into battle because he decided he wasn't going to lose another one. One day I need to dig into that story.

As for carrying the Walker, I've tried carrying one in a belt holster and had no issues. I don't know if its my size, or what but when I tried it I had no problems with one carried in that fashion. I wonder if personal preference and comfort is what that age old question comes down to.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Some personal background in my reading on these guns first.

I've always had a preference for cap'n'ball revolvers over any other handgun. I've no idea why but from the moment I laid on in person, an old cheap brass framed 1851 Navy of a "second father's" (long story but the pistol lacked its nipples and us kids used it to play cowboys and indians for years beating it to pieces I have it now as a cherished memento of my childhood), they've been my favorite handgun, so much so that I used to shoot them every afternoon for years. Ever since I was a kid I've read up on every bit of information I could get a hold of, with my favorites being the 1851 Navy, 1860 Army, Colt Dragoon, and the first one I saw on television (watching True Grit with my grandaddy) without even knowing its name, the Colt Walker.

Something about that gun always appealed to me and I never knew why, but a recent family tree discovery has made me wonder if it was in my blood. Going through a stack of papers and pictures belonging to my Great-Grandmother who passed away in the 50's (the very grandad of mine's mother I saw a Colt Walker with first on TV), there was one picture of a older man in what looked to be a circa 1870's picture, labeled "Grandpa Latham" which made me scratch my head as I knew of no such man. After a lot of digging, I found my "Grandpa Latham" though I highly doubt he was the one in the picture as he died in 1851 or 1852, but I was shocked to learn the real one was Lewis P. Latham, my 4thG-Grandfather born around 1804 and had not only been one of the earliest white settlers in Texas, but had been one of the Mexican War Texas Rangers! Company E/Truit's Company 1st Texas Mounted Volunteers (Hays' Regiment), the one and only regiment issued Colt Walkers with his company seeming to be the one that made off with the most of them.

Now at CW reenactments its extremely common to see cavalrymen and even some artillerymen run around with one or two Walkers which I think extremely farby considering only 1,100 of them were even made. A hundred for the open market, and a thousand for the army. From all I've been able to read, 976 were issued in the army, and 409 returned at the end of hostilities, 300 hundred having to be sent to Whitney for repairs due to exploded cylinders. Some may attribute the absurd loses to the gun's supposed main fault of blowing up, but given how every gun had been thoroughly proofed at Whitneyville, I think the men being unfamiliar with revolvers, and if loaded with loose powder and ball, conical bullets loaded incorrectly may be to blame rather than faulty manufacturing.

Some would say all that has to be why no Walkers were around in the CW, some folks are adamant all were returned and none were around in the early Western Expansion era or CW, something I almost find laughable given how the guns had to have been sold off at some point I would think, and the creative nature many soldiers have at stealing stuff.

Getting back to the my great excuse to research a favored gun and unit, I've found all kinds of wonderful information to me. A favorite is rumors of Republic of Texas Army buttons being dug in Mexico, which makes me wonder if the Hays Texas Volunteers had a few RoT uniforms early in the war, which I find funny as every account I've found has them in Mexican uniforms at the end. But going through information of the 1st Texas, I find it funny some Texas companies got not even one, other some, and other apparently like my 4thG-Grandads a pair for everyone, I'm curious to what else I can find.

So here are some questions for the small arm experts:

1. Do you think some Colt Walkers managed to make their way into the early days of the Civil War?

2. Do you think they came home with someone in Mexican War and a child made off with it or that none were used?

3. For a non-CW Walker related question, does anyone know how those hand cannons were carried in the Mexican War? I know one account I've found has a bunch being lost in a river crossing and I wonder if nothing was issued for carrying them.

By the way, there may not be many Mexican War reenactments, but this family revelation gives me the ultimate excuse to build a Mexican War Texan impression. Heck if I ever were to do early war cavalry at CW reenactments, I wonder if an excuse could be made for carrying a Walker. But sadly that'd only be proper if everyone else wasn't carrying ten of them...
From what I understand, there were over 500 of them in the San Antonio Arsenal now HEB HQ at the start of the Civil War, they no doubt were issued to Texas Cavalry. I'll try and find that reference.
 
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Package4

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From what I understand, there were over 500 of them in the San Antonio Arsenal now HEB HQ at the start of the Civil War, they no doubt were issued to Texas Cavalry. I'll try and find that reference.
From Morphy Auctions Serial # 25 Walker Colt sold 2017:

These massive 4 lb. revolvers were manufactured in 1847 in a quantity of only 1,000 to arm mounted troops for the war in Mexico. Subsequent to the military contract of 1,000 revolvers, Colt assembled an additional 100-104 civilian model Walker revolvers. The Martial Walker revolvers were marked Company specific from Company A to Company E with various numbers assigned to each company. Company B had approximately 175 revolvers so marked. Company B is also the unit commanded by Capt. Samuel H. Walker, the inspiration to Samuel Colt to produce these revolvers. Capt. Walker was killed at Chapultepec, Mexico in 1847 during the war. The first shipment of Walker revolvers to Mexico was only about 220 units with a 2nd shipment of 280 revolvers arriving about a week later on Oct. 26, 1847. Out of the first shipment, 6 revolvers were reported stolen. Upon arrival in Mexico these 496 revolvers were issued to various Companies including Company A, B & C which included 394 pistols issued to the Texas regiments under Col. John Hays. The 2nd shipment of 500 was delayed and did not arrive in Mexico until the war was nearly over and were not issued at that time. When the war was over the Walker pistols that had been issued were recalled and turned in at the Vera Cruz Depot on May, 8 1848. Of the 394 pistols issued to the Texans, only about 316 were turned in, with many of those missing lost in battle and others simply stolen or retained by Officers of the various Companies. The 3rd shipment of 500 pistols had been held in a New York depot until Colt provided flasks & molds and in March 1848 were shipped to the Vera Cruz, Mexico depot and in Nov. 1848 all were shipped from Mexico to the Baton Rouge Arsenal and along with the other turned in pistols were subsequently shipped to San Antonio. Many of those Walker pistols at San Antonio were issued to various units operating in Texas and were issued to the 4 companies of the Dragoons and 3 companies of Infantry assigned there to fight Indians, bandits, and outlaws in the region. In April 1850 these units were ordered to turn in their Walker pistols in exchange for Dragoon revolvers. Many of the Walker revolvers were then issued to Texas Rangers and some friendly Indians. In Feb. 1861 the San Antonio Arsenal was seized by the State of Texas, including all remaining arms & accoutrements and turned over to the Confederacy. It seems likely that all those seized arms would have been issued to Confederate troops for use during the Civil War. Very few Walker pistols survive today in any condition with any orig finish. Such a revolver today is a great rarity and seldom ever seen today.
 
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Rusk County Avengers

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Location
Coffeeville, TX
I wonder now if any troopers, or ranger as they're often called, took their new Walkers to some local Mexican leather shop for a holster. Just a wild theory I'm throwing out there.
 

Rusk County Avengers

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
From Morphy Auctions Serial # 25 Walker Colt sold 2017:

These massive 4 lb. revolvers were manufactured in 1847 in a quantity of only 1,000 to arm mounted troops for the war in Mexico. Subsequent to the military contract of 1,000 revolvers, Colt assembled an additional 100-104 civilian model Walker revolvers. The Martial Walker revolvers were marked Company specific from Company A to Company E with various numbers assigned to each company. Company B had approximately 175 revolvers so marked. Company B is also the unit commanded by Capt. Samuel H. Walker, the inspiration to Samuel Colt to produce these revolvers. Capt. Walker was killed at Chapultepec, Mexico in 1847 during the war. The first shipment of Walker revolvers to Mexico was only about 220 units with a 2nd shipment of 280 revolvers arriving about a week later on Oct. 26, 1847. Out of the first shipment, 6 revolvers were reported stolen. Upon arrival in Mexico these 496 revolvers were issued to various Companies including Company A, B & C which included 394 pistols issued to the Texas regiments under Col. John Hays. The 2nd shipment of 500 was delayed and did not arrive in Mexico until the war was nearly over and were not issued at that time. When the war was over the Walker pistols that had been issued were recalled and turned in at the Vera Cruz Depot on May, 8 1848. Of the 394 pistols issued to the Texans, only about 316 were turned in, with many of those missing lost in battle and others simply stolen or retained by Officers of the various Companies. The 3rd shipment of 500 pistols had been held in a New York depot until Colt provided flasks & molds and in March 1848 were shipped to the Vera Cruz, Mexico depot and in Nov. 1848 all were shipped from Mexico to the Baton Rouge Arsenal and along with the other turned in pistols were subsequently shipped to San Antonio. Many of those Walker pistols at San Antonio were issued to various units operating in Texas and were issued to the 4 companies of the Dragoons and 3 companies of Infantry assigned there to fight Indians, bandits, and outlaws in the region. In April 1850 these units were ordered to turn in their Walker pistols in exchange for Dragoon revolvers. Many of the Walker revolvers were then issued to Texas Rangers and some friendly Indians. In Feb. 1861 the San Antonio Arsenal was seized by the State of Texas, including all remaining arms & accoutrements and turned over to the Confederacy. It seems likely that all those seized arms would have been issued to Confederate troops for use during the Civil War. Very few Walker pistols survive today in any condition with any orig finish. Such a revolver today is a great rarity and seldom ever seen today.
I've never known the guns were still in an arsenal, I figure they may have been sold off in the 1850's. Given how much stuff Sibley's Army of New Mexico got from there, as well as apparently the Frontier Regiment, (one man of it is pictured in a sky-blue M1852 fatigue jacket) I wonder Walkers made their way to New Mexico and the Frontier Line of Defense.
 
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