CONFEDERATE COLONEL R.L. WALKER’S Inscribed WILLIAM TRANTER Revolver
Later Brigadier General Reuben Lindsay Walker of Virginia
Here we present an antique William Tranter Double Action Percussion Revolver with the inscription “Col. R. L. Walker” on the top of the frame, made circa 1861.
Reuben Lindsay Walker (29 March 1827-7 June 1890) of Albermarle County, Virginia, was a civil engineer and farmer before the outbreak of the Civil War, having graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1845. Standing at 6 feet 4 inches, Walker was a mountain of a man compared to most in that era (average height of US male then was about 5’7”). He enlisted at the beginning of the war on 20 April 1861 as a captain of the Virginia Purcell Light Artillery (named for John Purcell of Richmond who personally equipped the unit) of the Northern Army of Virginia, just 8 days into the conflict. His first major engagement was the First Battle of Manassas (21 July 1861; aka the First Battle of Bull Run). He re-enlisted on 15 January 1862 and was promoted to Major in March. Walker fought in the Maryland Campaign (the South’s first invasion of the North), during which he was in charge of General Ambrose Powell Hill’s Light Artillery Division for the Battle of Harpers Ferry (12-15 September 1862) and Antietam (Sharpsburg; 17 September 1862). He made Lieutenant Colonel in March of 1863 just a few months prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. When Hill was promoted to command the Third Corps, Walker was put in charge of the III’s artillery and made full Colonel. It is noted that Walker fought in every major battle the Army of Northern Virginia fought, with the exception of the Seven Days Battle, due to illness. His battle record included 63 engagements. He was promoted to Brigadier General in February of 1865.
When the war ended, he resumed his career as a civil engineer. He was the superintendent of the Marine & Selma Railroad, then worked for the Richmond Street Railways before he moved to the Richmond & Allegheny Railroad. He also oversaw the building of the Virginia State Penitentiary and the Texas State Capitol building. He would pass away in Albermarle County, Virginia, where he was born, on 7 July 1890 of Blight’s disease, and be buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Examples such as this one produced by William Tranter, are speculated to be the most advanced handguns that the Confederacy would have wielded during the American Civil War. After apprenticing under Hollis Brothers & Co., working with Robert Adams, and being in business for himself, Tranter held many patents under his belt. His “self-cocking” patents and double-action revolver mechanisms were industry changers. Tranter’s whole life seems to have been dedicated to firearm production, as he worked in the gun trade until 1885, before passing away 5 years later in 1890.
The top of the frame reads “COL. R L. WALKER”. Thin engraved borders on the top of the frame, sides of the frame, and around the front of the cylinder. The serial number is “21192” and all numbers match. A very small “HH” is stamped onto the left side of the frame. Birmingham proof marks are located around the cylinder between each chamber.
The overall condition is good. The trigger will revolve the cylinder; however, the hammer is only infrequently engaged by the sear. The bore is in good condition with nice rifling. Blue finish with a smooth gray patina. A lovely Confederate revolver with great historical significance!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 7-5/8 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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