Original U.S. Civil War Whitney 2nd Model Navy Percussion Revolver in .36 Caliber - Serial 15958

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice service worn example of a U.S. Civil War issue Whitney Navy .36cal percussion revolver. It was purchased recently from a private collector, and appears to have seen much service during the war, and possibly afterwards.

The gun definitely looks to have seen much use, and has a lot of light pitting oxidation on the top of the barrel and frame, which is most likely due to long storage in a leather holster. This draws moisture to the gun, and combined with the tanning agents, easily can cause this type of oxidation. The rest of the metalwork shows a nice gray oxidized patina, with a bit of light peppering throughout. This gives it a great "worn in" look that simply cannot be reproduced.

The underside of the barrel still bears original serial number 15958 under the loading lever, as well as on both components of the loading lever. This number is also stamped on the inside of BOTH grip scales, as well as on the back of the cylinder. That make this a very nice "ALL MATCHING" example, with no parts swapped out over the years! Revolvers in this serial number range were right at the changeover from the 2nd Model 3rd Type to the 4th Type, which only really involved the engraving on the cylinder. As the engraving is completely worn, there is no way to tell whether it is a 3rd or 4th type.

The top of the barrel shows an oxidized finish with some pitting, and we can still make out parts of the original address engraving, which originally would have read:


The revolver is fully functional, and the action works well, with good indexing and a strong cylinder lock up. We did not notice any of the usual finicky behavior we often see on revolvers of this age. All of the cap nipple cones are present, and show wear and oxidation from use. Five of 6 are clear, and it looks like one or two may have been replaced at some point. The bore shows strong lands and grooves, but also wear and powder fouling, typical of used percussion revolvers. The small brass trigger guard (correct for this model) has a pleasing aged patina.

The original brass-post front site is still intact, and has not been worn down. The original walnut grip scales are in very good condition, with a lovely color and no major cracks, chips, or other damage.

Overall this is a very nice service used example of a scarce Whitney Navy that was used in the Civil War. 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.

Ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1863-64
Caliber: .36cal
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

More on the Whitney Navy Revolver:

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.

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