Nice above-average example of a Civil War Colt! The serial number is in the 96,000 range which would make its production in early 1863...probably February. Reason I say that is looking in Springfield Research, there are a number of 1860's in the 96,000 range recorded as being issued. The earliest ones start showing up in March of 1863. Of note, almost all of these are recorded being issued to Union Cavalry regiments. I think that would be a safe bet for this one as well. If you look closely at the right side of the muzzle, you'll notice chafing wear from jostling up and down many thousands of times while riding horseback. Interesting enough, this one is just two digits away from another 1860 that is recorded as being issued to Company I of the 1st Maine Volunteer Cavalry on May 13, 1863. The 1st Maine was one of the units assigned to guard Washington, DC. The unit participated in dozens of engagements in the western theatre including Gettysburg and had more soldiers killed in action than any other Union cavalry regiment during the Civil War. Late in the war, they were combined with other regiments to form the 1st DC Cavalry. The 1st Maine and later 1st DC Cavalry was one of the only units to be armed with the Henry repeating rifle by the federal government. At any rate, there is no historical documentation but the 1st Maine would be a possibility for where this revolver could have ended up as judging from the wear, there is little doubt in my mind that it went to a cavalry unit. That said, while there is no record of it in the National Archives, a bit more information could be uncovered as Colt still has much of the shipping records for the Model 1860. It would be interesting to get a factory letter to learn which depot Colt shipped this one to...i.e. New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, etc.
Note: Since writing this ad, we just received a factory letter from the Colt Archives confirming that this Model 1860 was shipped from Hartford, CT on February 20, 1863 in a 1,000 gun shipment to the United States Government New York Arsenal located on Governor's Island, New York. .44 caliber, 8" barrel length, and blued finish with wood grips were all confirmed in the letter. The gun will come with this factory letter...Colt Archives charges $300 for researching Model 1860's.
Overall, it grades to NRA Antique Very Good. Overall metal is a smooth gray patina. Internally, there is still a little bit of blue remaining inside the wedge, some blue inside the backstrap, as well as some of the original case colors under the cylinder. The serial numbers are 100% matching numbers throughout including the grips, cylinder, and wedge. See photos. Colt New York barrel address is excellent. Left side of frame clearly marked "Colt's Patent". Walnut grips are nearly Fine with no chips, cracks, or repairs. If you look closely, they retain portions of the original US gov't inspector cartouches on both sides. The metal components of this revolver have gov't sub-inspector markings on just about everything. Cylinder retains 75% original roll-engraved scene...with most wear towards the front due to holster wear. Rear of cylinder still shows most of its original safety pins between the chambers...they are worn but present. Action is in nice working order. Wedge still holds barrel tightly to the frame. Bore is in Very Good to Fine Condition. Good screws throughout with a few showing traces of original finish. Nice Colt 1860 that was well cared for and much better than average.