Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver

A Civil War Sidearm

1860 Colt Model Army Model

1860 Colt Model Army Model

The 1860 Colt Model Army Revolver was a commonly used sidearm weapon in the Civil War. Cavalry, artillery, and infantry all used this revolver. It was a percussion weapon made by the Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. Although varied pistols were used in the Civil War, the 1860 Colt Model Army Revolver was the official United States Army pistol.

Over 200,000 of the 1860 Colt Model Army Revolvers were manufactured from 1860 through 1873. From January 4, 1861 through November 10, 1863 the War Department furnished over 107,156 1860 Colt Model Army Revolvers. They became known as the New Model Army pistol and the previous 1848 version of the pistol was then called the Old Army Model.

A Revolver

The 1860 Colt Model Army Revolver was a cap and ball revolver that fired a .44 caliber cartridge with a round lead ball or a conical projectile, from an eight-inch barrel using a six-shot revolving cylinder with hammer. A rammer in front of the cylinder was used to load the sidearm. When fired, a brass percussion cap struck the hammer igniting a 30 grain black powder charge. This pistol was made of iron or steel and had a bronze trigger guard and front strap. It weighed 44oz.

The revolver’s fixed sights were usually set at 75 to 100 yards at manufacture, this being the accuracy range of the gun. Sometimes, this pistol would be adapted with a rifle-like shoulder stock, in order to improve steadiness of aiming and accuracy at further distances. At firing, the projectiles of the 1860 Colt Model Army Revolver achieved a muzzle velocity of approximately 750 feet per second.

Reliable And Popular

The 1860 Colt Model Army Revolver was the most used pistol by Union troops in the Civil War, and regarded as very reliable. It was popular with all troops in the Civil War, but was a favorite weapon of officers, cavalrymen, and artillerymen. The Confederacy recognized the capability of the 1860 Colt Model Army Revolver and produced its own knock-off version of the pistol.

The 1860 Colt Model Army Revolver’s main rival as a weapon of choice in the Civil War was the Remington Arms 1861 Remington .44 percussion revolver. The Remington looked very similar to the Colt, but it had a shorter barrel and the revolving cylinder of the Remington was enclosed.

Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver Demonstration


Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver From A Mosby Raider

Presented To A Union Cavalry Officer

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls was a slave born on April 5, 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina. His mother was a house slave, his father an unknown white man. When Robert was only 12-years-old, he began working in the Charleston, South Carolina shipyards.

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls

Smalls was 23-years-old when he became the pilot of a steam-powered side-wheeler named the Planter. The Planter was used to move cotton bales through the coastal waters of South Carolina. The Confederate States of America also used the Planter for missions in waters held by the Rebels.

On May 13, 1862 slave Robert Smalls dressed as the Planter’s captain, and with help from family and other slaves, he commandeered the boat. As a ship pilot, Smalls knew the necessary signals that would allow the Planter to get by the Rebel-held Fort Sumter. Smalls took the Planter out to the Yankee navy boats blockading Charleston, and turned the boat over to the Union. Smalls, and the other slaves on board, gained their freedom. The Union got the Planter, along with four cannon, the cannon’s armament, and important intelligence regarding Confederate defenses in Charleston.

Smalls continued to pilot boats, but now he did it for the Union. As a civilian, Robert Smalls became the Planter’s captain and the boat took part in 17 engagements during the Civil War. On April 7, 1863 Smalls was piloting an ironclad ship named Keokuk during an attack on the Rebel-held Fort Sumter. During a flotilla attack of this engagement, Smalls was injured in his eyes while piloting the Keokuk. The ironclad Keokuk Smalls piloted was hit 90 times, most of the hits were at or below the ironclad’s waterline. The Keokuk sank the next day.

Robert Smalls was rewarded with fame and fortune for his heroic actions. Smalls met President Abraham Lincoln, and helped in fund-raising activities. Smalls learned how to read. President Lincoln signed a Congressional bill awarding prize money in the amount of $1500 to Smalls (Smalls’ associates also received money).

In August of 1862, Robert Smalls and a missionary named Mansfield French met with President Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Smalls and Mansfield were asking Lincoln and Stanton for authorization to recruit African-American troops. Soon permission to raise the African-American troops was obtained.

Robert Smalls’ success did not end when the Civil War ended. After the Civil War, Smalls purchased the home of his former owner and master, and the slave quarters he was born in. He lived in his former master’s home the rest of his life. Smalls became a politician and served in the South Carolina house of representatives for two years, and then in the state senate for three years. His record was not without blemish however, as a state senator Smalls took a $5,000 bribe and was sentenced to three years in prison. Smalls was pardoned and served no time.

Robert Smalls was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1875 and served five terms. Later, he was the collector for the Beaufort, South Carolina port. Congress awarded Robert Smalls a $30 a month pension in 1897, then he was awarded $5,000 in 1900 for capturing the side-wheeler Planter. Smalls died in 1915.

There is nothing small about Robert Smalls’ life accomplishments.

Robert Smalls: A Daring Escape