This is an outstanding example of the Colt Model 1849 revolver that's inscribed to a Civil War soldier from Ohio. The Colt 1849 revolver was extremely popular with soldiers in both the Union and Confederacy who purchased them as personal carry weapons. Configuration is a standard pocket model with 4" octagon barrel in .31 caliber with the less commonly seen 6-shot cylinder. Serial number is in the 194,000 range and was shipped from Colt in September 1861...right in the middle of the rush of Americans joining up to fight. Nubers are 100% all matching throughout including wedge, arbor pin, et al. Barrel address is the single line New York address. Note: once the war started, Samuel Colt changed the address on his gun from the Hartford, CT marking back to New York...which was considered by some of Colt's former southern customers as the seat of the abolitionist movement. With no more guns shipping south, at least not officially, Colt reverted back to the New York address.
The inscription located on the base of the grips is engraved "N.W. Greenland". Norval Greenland was born in 1842 and grew up in Zanesville, Ohio where his father worked as a coppersmith. He enlisted the same month this 1849 was manufactured...joining the 19th Ohio Infantry on September 12, 1861. We know he served as a sergeant in Company "E". However, just nine months later, Greenland died of disease on May 30, 1862 in Louisville, KY. According to the regimental history, the 19th Ohio participated in the Battle of Shiloh in early April 1862. At this time, we are unsure if Greenland was with his unit at Shiloh but we are currently in the process of obtaining his service records. The high condition of this revolver appears to correlate with its owners short period of service as it has seen very little use. The first two years of the Civil War saw many otherwise healthy young men succumb to illnesses due to poor living and sanitary conditions, weather, and simply being within a large population of soldiers. In a mostly agrarian society in which many people had grown up in relatively isolated conditions on farms, most newly-minted soldiers had very little resistance to disease. Couple that with thousands of other raw recruits with equally inexperienced immune systems, and infections and illness became widespread through both the northern and southern armies. Looking through muster rolls, it's not uncommon to find soldiers absent from regimental roll calls and in the infirmary for much of their first year or two of service. Interestingly enough, by 1864, the Union army allowed new recruits to join existing battle-hardened regiments whose surviving veteran soldiers were now better adapted to fighting off infection and disease. As a result, new recruits spent less time in the hospital as illness spread more slowly and became less deadly than in the early days of the war.
Overall, this gun has survived in fantistic shape and grades to NRA Antique Fine+ to Excellent- Condition with 92% vivid original barrel blue with a few dings on the right side of the where the original owner was tapping out the barrel wedge. The frame has 70% strong original case colors...loading lever shows 80%...and hammer 50-60% faded colors. Even the rammer has much of its original blue remaining. Most of the screws show some degree of their original blue from traces up to 90+%. Cylinder has a near perfect scene (95%) depicting the stagecoach robbery and retains 30% original blue with the balance flaked to a soft gray patina. Face of cylinder even has some original blue around the center-shaft for the arbor pin (see photo). The safety pins at the back of the cylinder are still present but a bit mashed. Chambers still have most of their original blue present. The mechanics are perfect with the cylinder still indexing properly. Barrel-to-frame lock-up is very tight with the wedge still showing much of its original blue along its internal friction points. Even the bore is mint...bright and shiny with perfect rifling. From the looks of it, we doubt this Colt was fired more than a few times before Mr. Greenland passed away from his illness. The grips are in Fine condition with 90% original varnish with perfect fit to the brass grip straps. The left side of the grip has a scratch that runs about 1-1/2" downwards to the base. No cracks, repairs, or significant chips...just a little wear along the high points of the base. All in all, an exceptional example of a ID'd Colt. It's not easy to find guns we know were used in the Civil War in such wonderful condition. Most lived outdoors and were exposed to the elements year after year. This one was used just a few short months in 1861-62 and then most likely returned along with its owner's belongings to his family in Ohio.