Rare CIVIL WAR Paris Contract LeMAT Grapeshot REVOLVER Antique CONFEDERATE
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 top flat of the octagonal portion of the barrel reads “COL. LeMat BTE. S.G.D.G. PARIS”. There is a “0” on the left side of the hammer. The action maintains a good spring tension and the hammer will hold both the half- and full-cock notches, but the hammer can be pushed out of the full-cock notch. Both bores have darkened but remain in good shape, especially for their age, with defined rifling in the top barrel. The grips are firm with expected surface wear, smooth from use and age. The numbers match on the barrels, cylinder, and frame the loading lever on this example is a flat, Kerr-style piece akin to the one in LeMat The Man, The Gun by Forgett & Serpette on page 81. The barrel/frame keeper is absent, though the threads are well-timed for alignment and friction keeps things in place.
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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