ONE-OF-A-KIND Inscribed CONFEDERATE Copy of a COLT 1860 ARMY Revolver .44
“C.S” Marked w Reference to BATTLE of TUPELO, MS!
Here we present an antique Handmade Copy of a Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver in .44, marked with references to Colonel H.P. Mabry & Private Upton Crooks, both Confederate soldiers in the War Between the States. Even without the inscriptions—which cover both sides as well as the top and bottom of the barrel—this revolver is a fascinating study. There is no doubt that the maker used the Colt Model 1860 Army as his muse—a refined, reliable, and very lethal weapon if ever there was one.
This specimen may be less refined but is undoubtedly very functional and equally lethal. Similarities to the Colt include the overall profile, to include the 8-inch round barrel and rebated 6-shot .44 caliber cylinder. However, the construction of this piece is completely of iron. Differences are numerous between the two, primarily having to do with the means of manufacture employed. Asymmetry will be noticed throughout, which was a result of the heavy use of a file in order to shape this gun and is further evidenced by the very noticeable file marks on the entire exterior of the piece.
Right away one will notice the barrel wedge, which is rather blockier than the flat, grooved wedge of the Colt. This one lacks the retainer screw for the wedge as well. Looking inside to the cutout on the cylinder arbor, you will notice that it is not nicely centered but high up and causing the material on top to be quite thin. The recoil shield is next and is again asymmetrical as seen from the back of the gun. Unlike the Colt, which has a fully rounded and complete recoil shield (aside from the cutouts for priming and for the attachable shoulder stock), this one tapers on both sides from the top down, joining the bottom portion of the frame where it turns completely flat. The left “lobe” of the recoil shield is a bit larger than the right.
Turning our attention to the bottom of the revolver, you will notice how thin the material was connecting the barrel assembly to the front of the frame; it is so thin, in fact, that the shaping with a file of that area actually broke through to expose the mounting pins within. The creeping loading lever too, bears great resemblance to the Colt’s, however, it was shaped by hand with a file and the cogs are not perfectly uniform. The profile of the grip strap shows a full and “pregnant” look, rather than flat with parallel edges. The holes for the screws for the hammer, trigger, and cylinder stop are not concentric. The hammer does not have any checkering on the spur. The bore is .44 caliber but is smooth and devoid of any remnant of rifling. Bore also not perfectly concentric as observed at the muzzle. 5-pointed stars may be seen throughout on the right side of the frame, the front of the trigger guard, the loading lever, and the inside of the grip frame (under the grip).
As mentioned above, there are inscriptions cut throughout. Perhaps the most mysterious one being the “J.W.J.” on the backstrap. Clearly these are initials. “C.S.” with a 5-pointed star between is marked on the right side of the barrel assembly just behind the loading lever. “TUPELO (HARRISBURG) MISS. JULY 15th 1864” is inscribed on the right side of the barrel, “COL. H.P. MABRY ~ 3RD KY. CAV. 1863 C.S.A.” on the left, “UPTON CROOKS 1848-1933 3RD KY. CAV. C.S.A” on the top, and “Upton S. Crooks St. Joseph, Mo. 1848” on the bottom.
“COL. H.P. MABRY ~ 3rd KY. CAV. 1863 C.S.A.” Hinche Parham Mabry was a Texas State Legislator in the antebellum period beginning with his election in 1856. During his last year as state representative, Mabry saw the dawn of the Civil War (1861), and even though he opposed secession, he cast his lot with his state of Texas and the Confederacy. Quickly, in May of 1861 he served among the ranks in a volunteer expeditionary force that took command of two Federal Forts in Indian Territory. In the following month, he joined the 3rd Texas Cavalry and was promoted shortly thereafter to Captain. Mabry saw action at the Battles of Elkhorn and Iuka, being severely wounded and taken prisoner in the latter. After being released in a prisoner exchange in late 1862, he was promoted to Colonel and became commander of a brigade of units from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Stationed at Mississippi in 1864, he and his men captured the Federal gunboat “Petrel”. His latter service saw him serve under General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and attempt to cut off Union supply routes that were the logistical tail of General Sherman’s brutal drive to Atlanta. The Battle of Tupelo (also known for nearby Harrisburg) was a part of this effort.
“Upton S. Crooks St. Joseph, Mo. 1848” & “UPTON CROOKS 1848-1933 3rd K.Y. CAV. C.S.A.” Upton Crooks was born circa 1848 in St. Joseph, Missouri as is indicated on the bottom of the barrel. This inscription is different from the others as a different and smaller font was used and the letters are not all capitalized. We believe this is original to the period during which the revolver was used. Crooks enlisted and mustered into H Company of the 3rd Kentucky Mounted Infantry on 1 April 1864.
“TUPELO (HARRISBURG) MISS. JULY 15th 1864” This is the tie between Mabry and Crooks, both of them having served under Forrest during this timeframe in Mississippi and each having a part of the action in the Battle of Tupelo 15-16 July 1864. The Union forces would eventually overcome the Confederates but after a protracted and pitched battle that took place over about 10 miles of ground.
It comes in a very fitting black leather holster. It is an open-top design with a high side on the back that curves around to the front to shield the gun from brush when riding. The back is cut to allow it to slide onto a wide belt (about 2-3/4 inches). The seam is secured by large leather cord. A large star emblem adorns the exterior. Very solid.
This old revolver was made with rudimentary tools—and could very well have been a one-off—as part of the Southern war effort and purchased as a sidearm. The initial inscription to Crooks on the bottom of the barrel was made during the war or perhaps in the years following. The larger, all capitalized inscriptions on the top and sides of the revolver appear as a memorial to Crooks as it includes his date of death in 1933. It is a treasure in itself and its interest is only enhanced by the inscriptions memorializing both these men—the full relationship of which we may yet discover—and the pointed Battle of Tupelo.
The overall condition is very good. The action is strong. The bore is practically smooth with regards to rifling and a deep plum color. Gray patina on the exterior. An exquisite historical sidearm that is truly one-of-a-kind!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 8 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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