ENGRAVED COLT POCKET REVOLVER OF LT. ANDREW JACKSON HORTON 85th ILLINOIS: ATLANTA CAMPAIGN, MARCH TO THE SEA, AND CAMPAIGN OF THE CAROLINAS!

$2,500.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 534-31

Colt pocket model revolvers were favorites with Civil War infantry officers, offering a .31 caliber sidearm for personal defense that would easy to carry on a long march. This one belonged to Lt. Andrew Jackson Horton in the 85th Illinois and has an original inscription on the backstrap and butt, somewhat awkwardly done, undoubtedly by Horton himself.

The pistol is the attractive six-inch barrel length and rates good to very good for condition, with no blue left on the barrel or silver wash on the brass, but with no pitting, clear markings, matching serial numbers, smooth metal, and tight fit of wood to metal. The front sight is worn and the top barrel flat shows some small dings on the left edge an inch or so from the sight and from the cylinder. The barrel is a mix of gray and dark gray overall with lighter lines alone the edges of the flats. The barrel address is fully legible. Only traces of the cylinder scene can be made out, but the patent markings and serial number are clear. The frame shows a mix of bluish-gray, darker gray and some brown spots on the right, but is smooth and the Colts Patent stamp at left is crisp. The brass has a medium tone with some brown age stains and just a bit of green along the edge on the bottom of the butt. The grips have good fit, color and surface with minor handling marks, but some rounding to the edges and a divot near the forward edge on the buttflat. A few of the screw slots show turning and the wedge screw was replaced, but the rear frame screw head has blue. The mechanics are good. The nipples are not battered down. The spring on the loading lever catch is weak, so the lever will drop on occasion.

The pistol has a matched serial number throughout: 232113, giving it an 1863 date of manufacture, corresponding to the owner’s commission as a 2nd lieutenant. He engraved at top with a Union shield, with an attempt at conveying three dimensions, and below that, “Lt. Horton 85th” followed by what seems to be the start of a corresponding U.S. shield at the base that he abandoned for lack of space, finishing off his unit identification on the bottom with, “Ill. Inf.”

Andrew Jackson Horton was born in New Castle, Ohio, on 10/28/35 and moved to a farm in Fulton County, Illinois, with his parents in 1853. (His parents admired certain statesmen: he had brothers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and in a bit of foresight or political partisanship, a younger brother Abraham Lincoln.) He married 25 June 1857 in Fulton County and in 1860 was living on his own farm in Woodland Township, apparently next to that of his parents, with wife Mary and son Thomas, age 3, (The couple would eventually have at least four children.) Andrew enlisted 8/6/62 and mustered into Co. H of the 85th Illinois Infantry on 8/27/62 as a sergeant, the day the regiment was officially organized. He was described on one later muster roll as 5’ 6.5” inches tall, with black hair, gray eyes and dark complexion (at least after several years in the army.) The regiment served in the Army of Ohio, Army of Cumberland, and the combined Department and Army of Ohio and Cumberland, spending most of their time in the 14th Corps, losing 4 officers and 86 enlisted men in killed or mortally wounded during their service.

Their first experience of battle was at Perryville on 10/8/62, little more than five weeks after mustering in, where they lost at least 5 men killed in action. They were then posted to Nashville and while on detached duty twenty miles southeast of the city near La Vergne, Horton was captured. He spent about four months as prisoner, but was exchanged at St. Louis in March 1863 and returned to the regiment, where he was promoted to 2nd lieutenant 3/26/63. He likely acquired the pistol at this point, officers being obliged to purchase their own unforms, equipment and weapons. He obviously wanted to mark it as his own, but did not have the wherewithal or inclination to pay to have it professionally engraved.

The regiment had seen a little action in the second day’s fighting at Stones River in his absence, but he was present for its hard service starting in 1864, particularly in the Atlanta Campaign, fighting at Resaca, Rome, Dallas, Atlanta and Jonesboro, with significant losses at Kennesaw Mountain and Peachtree Creek in particular. They then took part in the March to the Sea and Campaign of the Carolinas, being present at Bentonville and the capture of Goldsboro and Raleigh. It was mustered out in June 1865 after taking part in the Grand Review at Washington. Horton was mustered in as a first lieutenant on 3/25/65, but his appointment seems to date from August 29, 1864, indicating he was performing that duty at that time. The regimental history also notes that “toward the close of the war,” he commanded Company B for a time.

Horton returned to farming in Fulton County, serving on the county board and in various township offices. He and his wife raised at least four children. The couple were still living in Woodland in 1900, but she died that year and by 1910 he was living with one of their daughters and her family, also in Woodland, though noting in the census that he had his “own income.” In 1930 he living with son William in Champaign-Urbana. He died at age 98 in Astoria, Fulton County, Illinois, on 25 December 1933 and was buried next to his wife in Summum Sixteen Cemetery.

This is a nicely identified Civil War officer’s pistol carried by a soldier on the climactic campaigns under Sherman in the western theatre.  [sr] [ph:L]

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