Original Colt 1851 Navy .36 Caliber Pistol and Silver Pocket Watch Named to Joshua Chamberlain 20th Maine Infantry
Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This extraordinary grouping comes from a phenomenal private collection originating from Indiana from which we purchased; Eddie Rickenbacker's WW1 Visor Cap, Jimmy Stewart's WW2 Army Air Force Uniform, Sergeant Bilko's 1955 Phil Silver's Show Visor cap, Frank Luke’s WWI visor cap, General Patton’s WWII garrison cap, and WW2 Captain of the Enola Gay Paul Tibbet’s uniform, all of which sold in a matter of days.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (September 8, 1828 February 24, 1914), born as Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain, was an American college professor from the State of Maine, who volunteered during the American Civil War to join the Union Army. Although having no earlier education in military strategies, he became a highly respected and decorated Union officer, reaching the rank of brigadier general (and brevet major general). For his gallantry at Gettysburg, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was given the honor of commanding the Union troops at the surrender ceremony for the infantry of Robert E. Lee's Army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. After the war, he entered politics as a Republican and served four one-year terms of office as the 32nd Governor of Maine. He served on the faculty, and as president, of his alma mater, Bowdoin College. Chamberlain was portrayed by actor Jeff Daniels in the films Gettysburg (1993) and Gods and Generals (2003).
Along with a sworn notarized statement of a 91 year-old family member of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, along with copies of over 20 original documents we have an original Colt Navy Revolver Serial Number 66745 (manufacture date of 1857) and a silver pocket watch both inscribed with the initials J.L.C
The Swiss made silver pocket watch manufactured between 1855-1857 is engraved Cylindre Huit Rubis (French translates to 8 jewel movement) and has a key marked to the retailer: Trenkley & Scherzinger, Fort Wayne Indiana. The key dates between 1866-1868 ,meaning it is a post war replacement.
Inside the back of the watch on the main body directly beneath the Cylindre Huit Rubis, in script, are the initials JLC in a style that exactly matches the script found on Chamberlain s Moore's Patent Firearms Co revolver that is currently in the collection of the Maine Military Historical Society. Please see comparative photos of the JLC initial script of this watch and his Moore’s patent revolver.
The Colt 1851 Navy Revolver Serial 66745 was manufactured in 1857 and bears stamped initials J.L.C. on the bottom strap. Although all parts are matching serial numbers this weapon retains little finish through extensive use. However the markings are all crisp and the action is tight.
With the revolver and watch comes a thick folder including detailed photographs of both items including comparison photographs of the initials on the Moore's Patent revolver, copies of multiple historical documents and research about one the Union's greatest heroes.
Also included is a quality hard wood glass paneled custom-made case for the safe secure display of such important historical artifacts.
As with everything relating to "great events" the connection of individual items to great men without doubt is not easy. There is a tale that Chamberlain wasn't even armed at the Little Round Top action having left his side arms in his saddle holsters when his horse was led to the rear. Anything is possible but knowing what he was facing would he really leave his weapons behind?
In 1991 the artist Mort Künstler was commissioned to do artwork for a companion book to accompany the film GETTYSBURG. A photo of the artwork is featured in this listing. The book has sold over 160,000 copies. Kunstler did mountains of research consulting many museum curators, historians and collectors especially concerning Joshua Chamberlain and he writes on his web site (mortkunstler.com) the following:
I also discovered a common misconception. It has been generally assumed that Chamberlain had no side arms on Little Round Top until he captured a Colt's revolver from a Confederate officer during the charge. It is also believed that Chamberlain had left his pistols in holsters on his saddle when the horse was taken to the rear. However, there is no known evidence to support this assumption, according to Curator Hawes and Dr. Thomas Desjardin, author of the book Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine.
The Maine Military Historical Society has in its collection a Chamberlain pistol. It is a Moore's Patent Firearms Co. S.A. Belt Revolver with a six inch barrel, patented in 1860 and commonly worn in a belt holster. The weapon's back strap is engraved "J.L.C." This revolver and the captured Colt are the only two pistols known to have been associated with Chamberlain. Both are described as "well tested in the Civil War" and "quite used to their business." Chamberlain's saddle, which is in the collection of the Pejepscot Historical Society, does not have holsters so it is unlikely that he left his revolver with his saddle.
Mr. Hawes says, " given the order to hold that ground at all hazards' (an ominous command suggesting a close fight) it would be hard to imagine Chamberlain leaving any of his weapons behind."
Finally, included is a notarized sworn statement by an ancestor of Chamberlain. It reads-
To Whom This May Concern
This Civil War Union officers hat, and colt pistol SN 66745 belonged to a distant relative, in our family, Gen Joshua Chamberlain, Medal of Honor Recepiant for Action at the Battle of Gettysburg.
I remember my father showing me these items when I was just a boy.
He always told me that these items need to be very well taken care of and that I was not to play with them.
I remember these two items being in a cedar chest all of my childhood.
I have had ownership of these items for over 70 years.
I am now 91 YRS old and nobody in my immediate family seems to have any desire to hold onto them.
This is the reason I decided to sell them so future generations can enjoy genuine articles from the US Civil War.
Jonathan Huggins 12/20/2013
History of Chamberlain in the U.S. Civil War
American Civil War
Chamberlain's younger brother, Thomas, who was also an officer in the 20th Maine.
Chamberlain believed the Union needed to be supported by all those willing against the Confederacy. On several occasions, Chamberlain spoke freely of his beliefs during his class, urging students to follow their hearts in regards to the war while issuing his own proclamation that the cause was just. Of his desire to serve in the War, he wrote to Maine's Governor Israel Washburn, Jr., "I fear, this war, so costly of blood and treasure, will not cease until men of the North are willing to leave good positions, and sacrifice the dearest personal interests, to rescue our country from desolation, and defend the national existence against treachery." Many faculty at Bowdoin did not feel his enthusiasm for various reasons and Chamberlain was subsequently granted a leave of absence (supposedly to study languages for two years in Europe). He then promptly enlisted unbeknownst to those at Bowdoin and his family. Offered the colonelcy of the 20th Maine Regiment, he declined, according to his biographer, John J. Pullen, preferring to "start a little lower and learn the business first." He was appointed lieutenant colonel of the regiment on August 8, 1862, under the command of Col. Adelbert Ames. The 20th was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Corps in the Union Army of the Potomac. One of Chamberlain's younger brothers, Thomas Chamberlain, was also an officer of the 20th Maine, and another, John Chamberlain, visited the regiment at Gettysburg as a member of the U.S. Christian Commission until appointed as a chaplain in another Maine Volunteer regiment. The 20th Maine fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg, suffering relatively small numbers of casualties in the assaults on Marye's Heights, but were forced to spend a miserable night on the freezing battlefield among the many wounded from other regiments. Chamberlain chronicled this night well in his diary and went to great length discussing his having to use bodies of the fallen for shelter and a pillow while listening to the bullets zip into the corpses. The 20th missed the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 due to an outbreak of smallpox in their ranks (which was caused by an errant smallpox vaccine), which kept them on guard duty in the rear. Chamberlain was promoted to colonel of the regiment in June 1863, upon the promotion of Ames.
Battle of Gettysburg
Joshua Chamberlain achieved renown at the Battle of Gettysburg. His valiant defense of a hill named Little Round Top became the focus of many publications and stories, including the 1974 novel The Killer Angels and the 1993 film Gettysburg.
On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Union forces were recovering from initial setbacks and hastily regrouping into defensive positions on a line of hills south of the town. Sensing the momentary vulnerability of the Union forces, the Confederates began an attack against the Union left flank. Sent to defend the southern slope of Little Round Top by Col. Strong Vincent, Chamberlain found himself and the 20th Maine at the far left end of the entire Union line. He quickly understood the strategic significance of the small hill, and the need for the 20th Maine to hold the Union left at all costs. The men from Maine waited until troops from the 15th Alabama Infantry regiment, under Col. William C. Oates, charged up the hill, attempting to flank the Union position. Time and time again the Confederates struck, until the 20th Maine was almost doubled back upon itself. With many casualties and ammunition running low, Col. Chamberlain recognized the dire circumstances and ordered his left wing (which was now looking southeast, compared to the rest of the regiment, which was facing west) to initiate a bayonet charge. From his report of the day: "At that crisis, I ordered the bayonet. The word was enough." While battlefield conditions make it unlikely that many men heard Chamberlain's order, most historians believe he initiated the charge.
The 20th Maine charged down the hill, with the left wing wheeling continually to make the charging line swing like a hinge, thus creating a simultaneous frontal assault and flanking maneuver, capturing 101 of the Confederate soldiers and successfully saving the flank. This version of the battle was popularized by the book The Killer Angels and the movie, Gettysburg but there is debate on the historical validity of this account. Chamberlain sustained two slight wounds in the battle, one when a shot hit his sword scabbard and bruised his thigh, and another when his right foot was hit by a spent bullet or piece of shrapnel. For his tenacity at defending Little Round Top, he was known by the sobriquet Lion of the Round Top. Prior to the Battle, Chamberlain was quite ill, developing malaria and dysentery. Later, due to this illness, he was taken off active duty until he recovered.
For his "daring heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on the Little Round Top against repeated assaults, and carrying the advance position on the Great Round Top", Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Medal of Honor citation:
Rank and organization: Colonel, 20th Maine Infantry. Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., July 2, 1863. Entered service at: Brunswick, Maine. Born: September 8, 1828, Brewer, Maine. Date of issue: August 11, 1893.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 2 July 1863, while serving with 20th Maine Infantry, in action at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for daring heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on the Little Round Top against repeated assaults, and carrying the advance position on Big Round Top.
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