HAWKINS’ ZOUAVES PRESENTATION COLT 1849 POCKET REVOLVER

$1,950.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 172-5580

This Colt ’49 pocket revolver was presented by Joseph Hodges Choate, a prominent New York lawyer (and later ambassador,) to Richard Henry Jackson, a first sergeant and second lieutenant in the Hawkins Zouaves. Letters to Jackson from family and friends in the Gilder Lehman collection include several from Jackson’s father, Henry, regarding visits to Choate’s law office on his son’s behalf, and efforts to repay Choate for money advanced to the young man. (Thanks Kris, for this reference!) The context makes clear that before enlisting in 1861, Jackson had been employed in some capacity, likely as a clerk, in that office: Evarts, Southmayd & Choate (later Evarts, Choate & Beaman.) The revolver backstrap bears a very clear, professional, inscription reading: “R. H. Jackson.” in small block letters in one line, and underneath, in script: “Presented by J.H. Choate.” We find no other close association between men of those names north or south.

Born in 1844, Jackson put his age down as 19 when he enrolled on 3 May 1861 and mustered in the next day for two years U.S. service as first sergeant of Co. I (accruing 66 cents in pay from New York for one day’s state service.) The appointment may have been due to influence by his employer: later letters from Jackson’s father make clear he hoped to use the political influence of another member of the firm in getting his son a commission. It may have worked: Jackson was promoted to second lieutenant of Co. D 29 October 1862 (with rank from Aug. 10.) He was transferred to Co. H 23 November 1862; to Co. A 26 March 1863. He mustered out with the company 20 May 1863 at NY City.

Students of zouave regiments will be familiar with Hawkins and the unit. In their two years of service they lost 2 officers and 53 enlisted men killed in action; another 16 enlisted men died of wounds; and, 17 officers and 231 enlisted men were wounded and recovered, at least enough to be discharged. They took part in Burnside’s 1862 Coastal Expedition, participating in several engagements, including Roanoke and South Mills, where they suffered men killed or mortally wounded. As part of the Ninth Corps, they were at South Mountain and saw heavy action at Antietam, losing 233 officers and men, of whom 66 were killed or mortally wounded, and another 163 wounded but recovered. Col. Kimball’s OR report lists Sergeant Jackson among the wounded and indicates he was doing duty in Co. D already at that point. In the OR report of Fredericksburg his name appears among the officers present on the field.

The regiment then served as provost guard in the Army of the Potomac until April 1863, when it was transferred to the 7th Corps, Department of Virginia, taking part in the siege of Suffolk. It mustered out in New York City in May. Jackson then obtained a position as clerk in the Commissary Department for some length of time, but returned home to enter the insurance business. He married in 1874 and lived in Union County, NJ. By 1885 he had moved the family to Rhode Island, living in Cowesett and in Providence, and was active in the regimental veterans’ organization. He died in Providence in 1925.

The pistol is serial numbered 181658, giving it an 1860 date of manufacture, though the cylinder was swapped out at some point and is numbered 193760 (made in 1861.) This was the most popular of Colt’s percussion arms, some 340,000 being made from 1850 through 1873. A successor to the “baby dragoon,” and a down-sized version of the 1851 Navy, these .31 caliber pistols were immensely popular among Civil War officers as side-arms and as gifts for soldiers. This pistol rates very good for condition. The barrel is smooth metal and shows lots of thin blue with just some rubbing to the edges of the six-inch octagonal barrel. . The top barrel flat has the two-line Hartford address, appropriate for the serial number range: “ADDRESS SAML. COLT / HARTFORD CT.” There is a series of intentional pinpoint dings on the left side of the address obscuring some of the letters. The rest is fully legible. The loading lever correctly shows the last four digits of the serial number: 1658.

The frame is smooth metal, showing the steamy faint blue of faded case color. Two of the screw slots show turning; one still has some blue. The Colts Patent stamp on the left of the frame is rubbed on the top line but legible. The serial numbers of the barrel, frame, and triggerguard on the underside match. The cylinder shows wear and likely an old cleaning, with just some of the deeper lines showing of the stage coach robbery cylinder scene. The nipples are not battered. The Colt patent stamp and the serial number (193760) are visible. The action hangs up in cocking and should be looked to.

The grips are tight to the frame and backstrap. The backstrap shows some verdigris along the edges. The edges of the heel are very good, with just slight wear. The varnish is also very good, with just slight wear at the heel and some small, minor dings to the underside of the butt. The backstrap shows some silver, like the triggerguard, mostly below the hammer and at the top of the strap. The remainder is rubbed from handling with just the brass showing. The presentation inscription, however, is very clear.

This is in nice condition with a dead-real presentation to member of one of the war’s more colorful units. Needless to say, arms associated with zouave units are scarce.  [sr] [ph:L]

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