Rare CIVIL WAR CONFEDERATE Paris Contract LeMAT Grapeshot REVOLVER Antique
9-Shot Cylinder with a Shotgun Barrel Underneath!
Here we present a rare antique LeMat Grapeshot Percussion Revolver manufactured circa 1862 in Paris, France. These were purchased by the Confederate government during the Civil War. The LeMat revolver was invented by Dr. Jean Alexandre LeMat of New Orleans, which featured a 9-shot, .42 caliber cylinder with the unusual addition of a shotgun bore for buckshot under the .42 caliber barrel. It was a single action mechanism that the operator needed only to manage the tip-down lever on the hammer to put the revolver into the secondary position to fire the bottom barrel. Due to the buckshot capability, the LeMat revolver earned itself the nickname of “Grape Shot Revolver” from Confederate forces.
It saw service with the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War of 1861–65. After the U.S. patent was secured for the revolver, LeMat partnered with the Paris based Girard and Company manufacturing firm to develop the new revolver for the Confederacy. He entered into a partnership with P. G. T. Beauregard (at that time a major in the U.S. Army) in April 1859 to market his handgun to the U.S. Army. Beauregard, besides being LeMat’s cousin, was one of the first U.S. Army officers to resign and join the Confederacy.
When war broke out, LeMat received Confederate contracts for the production of five thousand revolvers, and plans were laid to manufacture the gun abroad and then import them into the Confederacy, which lacked the necessary facilities to produce the weapon locally. Confederate gun runners were able to slip shipments of the gun through the Union naval blockade into the hands of the Confederate forces. In addition to General Beauregard and Colonel LeMat, LeMat’s revolver was used by such famous Confederate officers as Major Generals Braxton Bragg, J. E. B. Stuart, Richard H. Anderson, and Captain Henry Wirz. Confederate Major General J. E. B. Stuart “was known to favor the LeMat revolver” and was carrying a LeMat revolver at the Battle of Yellow Tavern in 1864 where he was mortally wounded. General Beauregard’s personal engraved LeMat, which he carried throughout the war, is preserved at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia.
The overall condition is very good. The action is excellent with strong spring tension, solid half- and full-cock notches, proper cylinder indexing and lockup. This one has the slotted ratchet on the back of the cylinder which locks up the cylinder on each chamber (rather than the “pin in the hole” system on other variants). Nipples are in nice shape. The rifled bore shows still clearly defined rifling. The smooth bore is in good shape. Both bores have a light oxidized scale throughout. The numbers on both barrels, the frame, and cylinder match. London proofed on the cylinder and both barrels. “F” on the left side of the hammer. A small boxed “M” is located on the exterior of the cylinder, which is the mark of Confederate Navy inspector Lt. William H. Murdaugh. The “star LM” marking is just ahead of the serial number on the barrel on the right side of the gun. The loading lever is a replacement that was made from scratch, which is cracked at the rear, just above the rammer. The loading lever insert (which is the rammer for the shotgun bore), which would normally be tight enough to be held by friction within the loading lever tube, is only retained by the “thumbnail nick” near the muzzle end of the barrel. The hook within which the loading lever would usually rest was broken off at some point, as many times they are. The barrel-to-frame slot is occupied by a bolt that works rather well. The grips are an old set of replacements that are in good shape. A very rare and desirable historical revolver!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrels: Upper – 6-3/4 inches; Lower – 6 3/4 inches
Caliber: Upper – .42 Percussion; Lower – 20 Gauge (approximate)
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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