is a very fine example of a Colt U.S. Contract Second Model Dragoon
revolver that was manufactured in 1851. This revolver was one of the
Second Model Dragoon revolvers issued to the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts by the Ordnance Department in the early 1850s and is
stamped with the Massachusetts "MS" property mark on the underside
of the trigger guard between the trigger guard bow and screw.
revolver was the property of Dr. Norman Smith of Lowell,
Massachusetts. Dr. Smith was appointed as the regimental surgeon of
the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Regiment when it mustered
into federal service on April 15, 1861, three days after the attack
on Ft. Sumpter, South Carolina.
April 16, 1861, the 6th Massachusetts was ordered to Washington,
D.C., to garrison the capital. When the regiment de-trained in
Baltimore, Maryland, on April 19, the troops of the 6th
Massachusetts were assaulted by a pro-secession mob. In the riot
that followed, four soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts and twelve
civilians were killed. The 6th Massachusetts then proceeded to
Washington and was stationed in the capitol defenses until it
mustered out of federal service in August 1861.
Smith treated the Massachusetts soldiers wounded in the Baltimore
riots and had the dubious distinction of performing the first
amputation of the Civil War when he removed the foot of a soldier
who accidentally shot himself in the ankle. The amputation was
performed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building.
Smith mustered out of federal service with the rest of the 6th
Massachusetts Militia on August 2, 1861.
revolver has the distinctive combination of square-back brass
trigger guard and cylinder with rectangular stops that identify the
2700 Second Model Dragoon revolvers manufactured in 1850-51. The
barrel and cylinder have the Colt military blue finish.
loading lever, frame and hammer have the dove-gray casehardened
finish peculiar to Colt Dragoon revolvers. The trigger guard and
hammer are bass and the one-piece, walnut grip has an oil finish.
cylinder is roll-engraved with the Ranger and Indian fight scene and
"MODEL U.S.M.R./COLT'S PATENT". The top of the barrel lug is
roll-stamped "-ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY-" reading toward the
breech. "COLT'S/PATENT/U.S." is roll-stamped on the left side of the
"B" Ordnance Sub-Inspection marks are stamped on the loading lever,
barrel lug, cylinder, left side of the frame, left side of the
hammer, bottom of the trigger guard bow, top of the back strap and
the bottom of the left side of the grip.
full serial number, "10646" is stamped on the bottom of the barrel
lug, frame, trigger guard, back strap and the side of the cylinder.
The partial serial number "0646" is stamped on the loading lever.
All of the visible serial numbers match.
lower left side of the of the grip is stamped with the script
initials of the Ordnance Sub-Inspector "JCB" enclosed in a rectangle
with rounded ends. The script "WAT" initials of the Ordnance Final
Inspector enclosed in an oval are stamped on the lower right side of
mahogany case is lined with purple felt and has five compartments.
The case is complete with a key, assortment of .44 caliber bullets
and round balls, blued L-shaped screw-driver with blades at either
end and copper Dragoon-style powder flask with plunger top.
flask has two triangular strap rings on the sides and a ball
compartment on the top of the flask. One side of the flask is
embossed with a stand of colors, a cannon and military trophies
above two crossed revolving rifles and two crossed revolvers with
"COLTS PATENT" in a ribbon at the bottom of the flask. The embossed
stand of colors is slightly different from most Colt Dragoon flasks
and the crossed revolvers are distinctly different from the
revolvers on typical Colt Dragoon flasks.
lid of the ball compartment lacks the "COLTS/PATENT" markings found
on Colt Dragoon and Walker flasks.
old, hand-written tag in the case is inscribed "Revolver of/Surgeon
Norman Smith/Loaned by/Norman K. Smith". The revolver is accompanied
by copies of a number of documents that detail Surgeon Smith's
military service and the history of the 6th Massachusetts Militia,
and a hand written note from a Jennie Smith advising that she was
sending a newspaper that the family had kept through the years. The
original newspaper also accompanies the revolver. The article was in
the Lowell Courier Citizen dated April 19, 1909 and relates to
Lowell's part in "stirring" the events at opening of the Civil War,
the Baltimore riot on April 19, 1861. The article details Company B
of the 6th Regiments part in the Baltimore riot and there is a photo
of Dr. Norman Smith.