Museum The Journey Of A Confederate Generals Colt Navy Pistol


Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
May 7, 2016
While visiting my sister (who doesn't believe in TV) in Sparta,Tennessee for Christmas I decided to walk up to the cemetery. One of the few CS graves was one of Gen. Dibrell. When I mentioned it to my Sis she said "Oh his pistol is in the museum" The museum was closed the whole time I was there and I knew they wouldn't let me play with it anyway.

The Journey Begins.
According to Colt's records this Colt Navy was shipped from the Colt manufacturing company in Hartford Connecticut on April 3, 1861, to it's New York Office. So how did it make its way South in 1862???????????????????
dibrell colt.jpg

When the war broke out George G Dibrell enlisted as a private in the 25th Tenn Inf. He went on to be elected as Lt. Col. In May of 62 the unit reorganized at Corinth and he was not reelected. He traveled to Richmond and was given permission to raise a cavalry regiment. He returned to Sparta where he raised the 8th Tenn Cav. Before he and the regiment left Sparta the citizen gave him a Colt Navy revolver on which was inscribed "Presented to Col. George G. Dibrell 8th Tenn. Cav. by friends and citizens of Sparta, Tenn." The gun was first presented to Dibrell upon his formation of the 8th Tennessee Cavalry on Sept. 4, 1862 - the only regiment raised entirely in the Upper Cumberland, including men from White, Jackson, Smith, Van Buren, Overton and Putnam counties. The unit marched from Sparta to Murfreesboro to become part of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's brigade, and was involved in a remarkable number of battles and skirmishes during the war.

Promoted to Brigadier General in early 1865, Dibrell commanded a division under Wheeler during the Carolina Campaign. He accompanied the flight of the Confederate government following the evacuation and fall of Richmond in April 1865, having charge of protecting the national archives of the Confederacy and escorting President Jefferson Davis from Greensboro NC into Georgia. He was finally captured and paroled near Washington Ga. on May 9, 1865.
cw photo.jpg

By command of Union General James H. Wilson, the officers were allowed to retain their personal sidearms and horses, but, the enlisted men were to be dismounted & disarmed. The parolees of Dibrell's Tennessee Brigade proceeded to march in military order towards Chattanooga where they were to receive rations for the rest of this march home. In Chattanooga, the Provost Marshall would not honor the terms of the surrender & all private property was confiscated including Gen. Dibrell's personal revolver, his horse and even his boots. Gen. Dibrell appealed to the regional commander, but to no avail. The Provost Marshall, who was a member of the 138th Indiana, took the pistol home as a war souvenir.

After the war an appeal by Dibrell to retrieve his sidearm later was unsuccessful. The story is, there was an understanding by the Provost Marshall and his men not to tell anybody he had this pistol, because Dibrell's name was on it, Efforts to find the name of the provost on duty that day in Chattanooga had proved unsuccessful, but research shows the gun did end up in Wabash, Ind., where it stayed until the 1950s, when a door-to-door insurance salesman saw the revolver and worked out a deal with the family to purchase it. When that man died, his widow sold the revolver to the private collector in Connecticut, who didn't even know its significance until searching Dibrell's name, which is etched on the handle, on the Internet. And, even though two groups in Indiana had expressed interest in purchasing the gun, he offered to sell it to the museum for the same price he had paid for it.

The citizen of Sparta and White county raised the $22.500 to buy the pistol and now it is back home.
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Lanyard Puller

Nov 29, 2017
South Carolina
[[email protected]
""According to Colt's records this Colt Navy was shipped from the Colt manufacturing company in Hartford Connecticut on April 3, 1861, to it's New York Office. So how did it make its way South in 1862?""

There are Colt '51, Hartford addressed Navies which were shipped to Southern dealers especially in Virginia, and South Carolina.
Some of them in the higher serial number ranges {96xxx on up} might "Letter" with Colt Research.
I know of 3 in the 97xxx range which are lettered as shipped in 1861: 2 of which went to Peter, Williams & Company, Richmond, shipped on April 15, 1861, where Gen'l. Drebill would have been later, and 1 to a dealer in South Carolina.


Brigadier General
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Mar 15, 2013
Here's General Orders No 7, Headquarters Chattanooga, dated May 18, 1865, naming Major J W Burch 44th Indiana as Provost Marshall. I'm still looking to see if I can find out who was Provost Marshall prior to that date.


Dec 7, 2008
Nashville TN
Thanks for posting. I used to walk by his house on my way home from school. We moved there from Ark when I was a junior. My mom said they had a ceremony at his house every year. I think I also posted a thread on this pistol. As I recall, a CBF flew over the house. The area was an open field with some trees, and I took a path that came within 100 yards of the place but never walked up to the yard.
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Michael W.

First Sergeant
Jun 19, 2015
The Hoosier State
Great pistol! The unit history for the 138th Indiana says that it was comprised of 100 Days volunteers that were mustered out in Aug, 1864, so I'm not sure how one of them could have been the Provost Marshall in May of 1865?
Companies F and G were from Wabash. The guy who was PM probably re-enlisted in another unit. Since the gun ended up in Wabash, its a good bet he came from one of these two companies.


Sep 15, 2018
South Texas
Curious about this General. How did He both surrender with Joseph Johnston and then be part of the escort for Jefferson Davis?