CIVIL WAR Era Antique SMITH & WESSON No. 2 “OLD ARMY” .32 Caliber Revolver
Made During the Civil War Era Circa 1864
Here we present an antique Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 Old Army Revolver, made circa 1864 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Smith & Wesson purchased the rights to the Rollin White patent for the bored through cylinder, which would forever change the development of revolving firearms. Beginning in 1857 they produced the Number 1, a 7-shot .22 rimfire pocket pistol, which was quite successful. This was fine for the commercial market, but S&W knew they could scale up their design for a pistol that could be worn on the belt in a holster. They began shipping their Number 2 “Army” Revolver, a 6-shot .32 caliber, just 2 months after the beginning of the American Civil War. Smith & Wesson continued to leverage their patent well beyond the war and they remained very popular with the public and on the frontiers. There was a total of 77,200 of these revolvers made during their production run from 1861 through 1874.
Though it never received any large federal contracts, it was adopted at the state, unit and individual levels. Per Charles Pate, Kentucky ordered 731 Number 2 “Armies” from Kittredge & Co. late in 1862, and even more in 1863. He says that “Most, if not all, of the revolvers used to fill the Kentucky order were almost certainly under 10,000 in serial number.” He also lists individuals and units that used these revolvers, per records and personal correspondence. The 7th Kentucky Cavalry appears to be the only unit officially issued this handgun during the war. Among the most famous of users was future U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, who began his part in the war as Lieutenant Colonel and ended it with Brevet Brigadier General. Ulysses S. Grant wrote about him “his conduct on the field was marked by conspicuous gallantry as well as the display of qualities of a higher order than that of mere personal daring.” Another name and legend from the Civil War who used the Number 2 was General George Armstrong Custer, who owned a pair of them. “Wild Bill” Hickok wore this gun the night he was assassinated while playing cards, his last hand now called the “Dead Man’s Hand” of Black Aces and 8s.
The overall condition is very good. Original blue finish turning plum with age. The action is strong and tight. The bore is in good condition. Both grips are solid rosewood with a sliver of filler along the rear of the right panel and the heel of the left panel. One of the first Smith & Wesson revolvers ever made, and just in time for the American Civil War!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 5 inches.
Caliber: .32 Long Rimfire
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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