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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After the greatest military engagement in North American history, the Battle of Gettysburg, only five, serviceable revolvers were recovered and turned in to the quartermaster for re-issue.

To put this into perspective lets look at what else was turned in, deemed as serviceable for re-issue.

24,864 muskets of all types.

10,589 bayonets.

2,487 cartridge box's, (leather, holding 40 cartridges worn by soldiers on a belt or sling).

366 sabers.

114 carbines.

5 revlovers...5?..just 5?

3 artillery gun carriages/limbers.

2 rifled cannon.

The list does not include arms captured by Confederate forces, or damaged beyond repair, just what was found lying on the field some days after the fighting had ended and turned in to the quarter master, Army of the Potomac and deemed serviceable for re-issue.

I would think revolvers were prized among the troops and any soldier finding one probably stuffed it away in his kit for personal use, or cavalry to have an extra. A soldier would only carry one musket, one bayonet, one cartridge box, and who would want a saber to lug around? A canon and limber requires a team of horses and men, but a revolver on the other hand could supply some needed fire-power in a jam, make for good trade bait, or make a nice piece to send home. I would suspect many more than five revolvers were picked up on the fields around Gettysburg that would never be in Gov't inventory again.

The numbers alone show the value of Sam Colt's invention.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No doubt a few were scavenged by civilians and socked away if found lying about untended, even though it was a crime to make off with Gov't property, and the usual punishment if found out was digging graves for both man and beast killed in the battle. Longarms were a civilian favorite to make off with, and some were caught. Even judges were not exempt from military law, one being caught carrying several muskets from the field received a days hard labor burying horses and mules.

Officers, (private purchase), cavalry, some artillery, and other enlisted men carried revolvers, some private purchase, usually small pocket revolvers among any infantrymen if they desired to carry the extra weight. Certainly a number of officers were killed and wounded in the battle, and in all locations of the field. Some having no option but to loose their revolver to either friend or foe. The cavalry engagements should have yielded surplus revolvers to the North since they won the fields, but the official number of five returned to be reissued do not bear this out. I suspect there were horsemen riding about with multiple revolvers after the fight and some infantrymen burdened with two pounds extra in their kits which some no doubt traded for food and tobacco to the local populous.

Still, only five revolvers turned in after the battle amazes me.
 

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The turning point of the War Between The States...and...the United States of America !!

I was lucky enough to visit that sacred site on the 150th Anniversary...














To be there...amid the crackle of Springfields and Enfields...and the roar of 12 Pound Napoleon Cannon...is to experience the "Fog of War" !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
While I do have the reference material to list what every regiment was issued at the time of Gettysburg, it's far too extensive to copy and list. As of early 1863, Colt revolvers of several models were the predominant type issued to both armies. Almost everything available at the time from U.S. makers as well as some European would have been on that battlefield, including S&W rimfires and some pinfires from Europe.

As for the five turned in, I suppose there were, or are records somewhere saying what they were, but I do not have them. I have records of every Northern soldier killed or mortally wounded there and everything available on Southern dead, but I can only speculate on those five revolvers no better than you could.
 

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And one can only wonder...where those 'five' Revolvers are now?

If we had their serial Numbers ( and, make and model ) ya never know! One or two might eventually turn up..!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Someone could probably make quite a hobby, or go insane trying to track down records that may or may not exist. Most of the Army of the Potomac left Gettysburg to chase Lee's Army of Northern Virginia leaving few divisions and a provost to care for the wounded, burry the dead, and gather the clutter of a major battle in search of what might be useable and reissued in the future. The area was, "A strange and blighted land." as Gettysburg resident, Tilly Pierce said, and "A vast sea of misery." as another stated. By November of that year, over 10,000 dead had to be buried, and over 50,000 wounded to be cared for. The two armies had beat each other almost to the point of annihilation and the true number of killed and mortally wounded may never be known. The best estimate the Park Service can give is there are somewhere between 600 and 1,200 unmarked graves still on the various battlefields around Gettysburg. It would take Lincoln months to realize the scope of the battle and understand why his army couldn't complete a final victory or trap Lee's army North of the Potomac. The men on both sides had already given more than most of us can comprehend, footsore, hungry, tired men thrown into the caldron of hell itself and ripped apart by bullet, ball, and cannon shot, only to march again with little rest and food.

I doubt the ones left to burry the dead, care for the wounded, and clean up the mess cared much about five revolvers turned in for re-issue. Probably at most someone noted, "Four Colt's revolvers, one Remington." and placed the box on a train bound for Washington Arsenal.
 
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