Original U.S. Civil War French M1854 Lefaucheux Cavalry Model 12mm Pinfire Revolver- Serial Number 34003
Original Item: Only One Available. Large frame, single action Model 1854 Lefaucheux pinfire revolver. The serial number 34003 is within the range of numbers of the revolvers imported to the USA during the Civil War (25,000-37,000).
In many ways the large bore marital pinfire revolver, based upon the patents of Casimir and Eugene Lefaucheux was one of the most modern and advanced military handguns to see use on the battlefield during the American Civil War. Thousands of these pinfire revolvers were imported for use by US troops, and at least a few hundred saw service with Confederate troops as well. Although US government purchases only record about 13,000 M-1854 Lefaucheux patent pin fire revolvers as being officially purchased (along with over 2.2 million cartridges), surviving examples and regimental records indicate that far more than that were imported. The primary importer of M-1854 revolvers was George Schuyler who purchased 10,000 Lefaucheux revolvers for the US government. Most of Schuyler’s purchases appear to have been made directly from Lefaucheux in Paris. However, extant examples with American Civil War provenance indicate that many Belgian licensed copies were also imported during the war. The Ordnance Department did not appear to differentiate between the French and Belgian made versions, much like they often lumped French and Belgian made muskets together without any distinction at all. Other importers who provided pinfire revolvers to the US government included Herman Boker, Schuyler, Hartley & Graham, George Raphael (who provided the Raphael revolvers to the US), Alexis Godillot of Paris (who provided the Perrin revolvers to the US) and even Tiffany & Company. Period documentation indicates that pinfire revolvers saw significant use by Confederate soldiers as, and many deep south arsenals maintained inventories pin fire cartridges and even offered the pistols for sale to officers. However, the use of pin fire revolvers by the North and South was not limited to the 12mm military guns. Many men took privately owned, civilian pattern pin fire revolvers into the field. It is not uncommon for relic diggers to find 7mm, 9mm as well as the more common 12mm pinfire cartridges in known Civil War campsites. Excavated and recovered pinfire revolvers are known from these campsites as well, and at least one privately owned 9mm pinfire was recovered from the wreck of the USS Cairo gunboat, and is on display at Vicksburg National Military Park.
This pistol is a solid example of a Belgian made gun, intended for retail sale or export, and is in about VERY GOOD condition. The pistol follows the pattern standard French made M-1854 Lefaucheux single action military pinfire revolver and is chambered for the 12mm variant of the round. The bore measures 11.45mm groove to groove, with the chambers measuring 11.47mm at the front and 12.10mm at the rear. The pistol is approximately 11 3/8 in overall length, with a 6 ¼ round barrel. The bore is rifled with six deep, narrow grooves with a very slow rate of twist, which almost appears straight. The bore shows crisp rifling, and is dark and dirty, with some lightly scattered pitting along its length.
The Pin Fire Cartridge had a pin protruding from it's side which when in the revolver's cylinder extended outside the cylinder wall. When struck by the hammer pushing the pin into the cartridge the internal primer was ignited and the cartridge discharged. This process was a lot faster and easier than muzzle loading and capping as were the standard Army Percussion revolvers of the day. Despite this convenience the revolver was not a success, it was considered not rugged enough for Military Service and accidental discharge of the cartridges before being loaded into the weapon became a serious problem.
Here we have Lefaucheaux Revolver number serial #34003 which fits nicely into the Union
Contract for Civil War use. The Revolver is in good working condition and has a mottled grey finish.
An unusual example of a French Revolver officially sold to the Union Government in 1861 so most probably saw action in America’s most tragic war.
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