Original U.S. Civil War Whitney 2nd Model Navy Percussion Revolver in .36 Caliber - Marked U.S.N.
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice condition example of a Whitney Navy percussion revolver. It was purchased from a private collector, and appears to have seen service and use long past the Civil War.
The Whitney Navy is a 6-shot, .36 caliber, single action percussion revolver that was manufactured from the late 1850s through the early 1860s. The revolver went into production after Colt's patent on his revolver mechanism expired in 1857. The first 1,500 or so (aka "1st Model" Whitney Navy revolvers) were manufactured without a loading lever and were of lighter construction than the later 2nd Model revolvers. Between the Whitney desire to improve upon the guns, and the habit of making design changes when parts on hand ran out, both the 1st and 2nd Models were manufactured in a number of different "types" with a clear pattern of evolution that took place throughout their production. Some 33,000 Whitney Navy revolvers were produced during the production run, with many seeing US government use. The US Army acquired 10,587 of the revolvers between 1861 and 1864 and the US Navy purchased an additional 6,226 between 1863 and 1865. The state of New Jersey purchased 920 Whitney Navy revolvers in 1863, but 792 of those guns were subsequently resold to the US Army in 1863 and 1864. Those guns are included in the US Army purchases listed above.
A number of Whitney Navy revolvers also appear to have been acquired by the South and saw service during the American Civil War. Some were purchased prior to the outbreak of hostilities, and these guns tend to early production 2nd Model revolvers produced prior to the spring of 1861. A good example is Whitney Navy #3110, which was owned by Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart, and is now in the collection of the Virginia Historical Society. However, Confederate forces acquired many more Whitney Navy revolvers after the conflict started. These later production guns were no doubt obtained through a combination of capturing weapons and purchasing the guns surreptitiously from secondary retailers rather than Whitney. At least two-dozen Whitney Navy revolvers are known to have been repaired for use by the 4th Virginia "Black Horse" Cavalry, and a handful of identified Whitney Navy revolvers with Confederate provenance exist was well.
It is not surprising that the revolver found favor on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, as the robust design with a reinforcing top strap, a solid frame with a screwed in barrel and the simple turn of a wing nut to release the loading lever and cylinder arbor were all significant improvements over the open topped frame and wedge-retained barrel of the Colt design. The popularity of the revolvers in the south is further indicated by the fact that the design was copied by Confederate gunmakers Spiller & Burr and T.W. Cofer, both of whom produced Whitney-like revolvers for the south.
This gun retains strong traces of original finish. The metal of the gun is almost entirely smooth throughout, with wear throughout. It has been cleaned several times, which unfortunately has made some of the markings illegible. However, it still bears several U.S. Navy markings, indicating Naval Service. There is U.S.N. stamped on the trigger guard, and an anchor on the top of the barrel.
The loading lever retains about 50%+ of its original case coloring with a clear serial number stamping of 26332 on both parts of the lever. The barrel and cylinder have traces of the serial numbers, but are illegible. They are most likely not matching. The Cylinder still shows some nice traces of the original engraving.
The top of the octagon barrel is clearly stamped:
The action of the revolver is mechanically excellent and the gun times, indexes and locks-up exactly as it should. All of the original nipples are present, though many are clogged. The original brass-post front site is in place at the end of the barrel, though it is worn.
The bore is in good condition, and shows clear rifling. The bore does show some lightly scattered pitting along its entire length. The original arbor pin retention thumbscrew is in place and operates. The hammer retains some case coloring. The small brass trigger guard (correct for this model) has a pleasing dull mustard patina. The two-piece oil finished walnut grips are present, though one appears to be a replacement, while the other has a repaired crack.
Overall this is a very example of a Whitney Navy that was used in the Civil War. All Whitney revolvers from the Civil War are scarce, especially U.S. Navy marked examples. This will be a fine addition to your collection of Civil War arms of a really hard to find revolver offered in fully functional condition.
Year of Manufacture: 1863-65
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 7 5/8 inches
Overall Length: 13 1/2 inches
Action: Single - Percussion Cap
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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