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THE PETTENGILL PERCUSSION ARMY REVOLVER

AND IT'S SIBLING

THE RODGERS AND SPENCER  PERCUSSION ARMY REVOLVER

 

A TWO PART RAMBLING OF TWO REVOLVERS WITH THE SAME FRONT END!

 

Two Double Action Percussion Army Revolvers
TOP: THE PETTENGILL .44 CALIBER DOUBLE ACTION PERCUSSION ARMY REVOLVER
BOTTOM: THE RODGERS AND SPENCER .44 CALIBER SINGLE ACTION PERCUSSION ARMY REVOLVER

 


 

PART 1
THE PETTENGILL PERCUSSION ARMY REVOLVER

 

     On June 27, 1862, Edgar A. Raymond and Charles Robitaille entered into a contract with the federal government for 2,000 of their somewhat unusual revolver at price of $20.00 each. An earlier contract for 5,000 of them had previously been canceled by the Ordnance Department. It's pepperbox mechanism had been patented by C.S. Pettengill of New Haven, Connecticut on July 22, 1856. It was improved by a patent on July 27, 1858 submitted by Edgar A. Raymond and Charles Robitaille of Brooklyn, New York and by a later patent by Henry F. Rodgers of Willow Vale, New York on November 4, 1862. The revolver was manufactured by Rodgers, Spencer & Company at their Willow Vale facilities. It preceded the Rodgers and Spencer revolver by over two years which utilized the basic frame front, loading lever assembly and barrel design of it's predecessor and sibling, the Pettengill revolver of the type featured in this posting. It was basically a weapon designed by committee and was to suffer the same fate as many items so brought to production. It appears that there were just too many cooks involved in the design and production of this arm.

 

LEFT SIDE VIEW OF THE PETTENGILL  .44

 

RIGHT SIDE VIEW OF THE PETTENGILL  .44
LEFT  & RIGHT SIDE VIEWS OF THE PETTENGILL  .44 CALIBER DOUBLE ACTION PERCUSSION ARMY REVOLVER

 

     A total of 1,500 Pettengill Army revolvers were delivered in 1862 with another 501 being delivered in early 1863 making a total of 2,001 received by the government during the six months before mid January of 1863.  However, existing serial numbers, ranging from 1600 to 4600, would indicate that about 3,000 were actually produced. The serial number on the government inspected arm featured in this posting is 4307. Many of these arms were issued to the Army of the Mississippi under General William S. Rosencrans and other Federal troops in the West. They very likely were used at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky in 1862 and although a failure in the field and officially "discarded", many undoubtedly served through the war or at least until the user thereof could replace it with a more efficient side arm. It's front end design was later incorporated into the Rodgers & Spencer .44 cal. single action revolver, which, although the better of the two arms, arrived too late for service in the war.

 


LEFT SIDE VIEW OF THE PETTENGILL ARMY REVOLVER WITH THE COMBINATION LOADING LEVER / CYLINDER ARBOR MECHANISM, THUMB SCREW AND CYLINDER REMOVED
LEFT SIDE VIEW OF THE PETTENGILL ARMY REVOLVER WITH THE COMBINATION LOADING LEVER / CYLINDER ARBOR MECHANISM, THUMB SCREW AND CYLINDER REMOVED

 

     This double action or "self cocking" six-shot concealed hammer weapon is .44 caliber and weighs 3 pounds.  The 7-1/2" barrel is rifled with 6 grooves. Measured diagonally from the tip of the butt to the muzzle face it is 14-11/16" overall. The barrel is unmarked except for the government sub inspector's marking of  "WW" on the left flat just forward of the frame. The "WW" stampings are those of William Walters, Armory Sub Inspector, 1862-1864. The same "WW" stampings are also found on the left side of the frame above the 7/16" diameter thumb screw and at the rear of the cylinder just forward of a nipple well. A single "W" is also stamped on the left side of the combination loading lever and cylinder arbor mechanism. Frame markings also include "PETTENGILLS / PATENT 1856" which is stamped in two lines on the top strap to the right of the sight groove and the two line stamping of "PATD JULY 22 1856/ & JULY 27 1858" stamped on the top strap to the left of the sight groove. Additionally, the bottom of the frame bears the stamping of a non factory deeply incised "X"  forward of the normal two line stamping of "PATENTED / NOV. 4, 1862". It should be noted that earlier production arms were stamped"RAYMOND & ROBITAILLE / PATENTED 1858" on the top strap to the left of the sight groove and that some specimens may also have had "PETTENGILLS PATENT" stamped on the barrel. Other markings on this arm include the serial number "4307" which is stamped on the cylinder, the butt strap and inside of both grips. The cartouche of the inspector's initials is also stamped in the left grip. It is very difficult to read but may be "CGC" for Charles G. Chandler, Armory Sub Inspector, 1861-1863.

 

"WW" INSPECTOR STAMPING "WW" INSPECTOR STAMPING
"WW" INSPECTOR STAMPINGS - LEFT FLAT OF BARREL, FRAME AND CYLINDER

 

"W" STAMPING ON SIDE OF COMBO LOADING LEVER
"W" STAMPING ON SIDE OF COMBO LOADING LEVER / CYLINDER ARBOR

 

CYLINDER SERIAL NUMBER STAMPING
CYLINDER SERIAL NUMBER STAMPING "4307" & "PETTENGILLS PATENT 1856" TOP RIGHT FRAME STAMPING

 

TOP  LEFT FRAME STAMPING 
"PATD JULY 22 1856 & JULY 27 1858" TOP  LEFT FRAME STAMPING 

 

INCISED "X"  & "PATENTED NOV. 4, 1862"  STAMPING
INCISED "X"  & "PATENTED NOV. 4, 1862"  STAMPING

 

SERIAL NUMBER STAMPING "4307" - BUTT STRAP
SERIAL NUMBER STAMPING "4307" - BUTT STRAP

 

LEFT GRIP CARTOUCHE "CGC"(?)
LEFT GRIP CARTOUCHE "CGC"(?)

 


     There is a brass cone front sight, set on center, 3/8" from the muzzle face. The top of the frame is grooved and provides a "V" rear sighting base. The malleable iron blued frame is rounded behind the cylinder. A slight flaring of the metal provides a rather thin recoil shield on both sides of the frame. A cone shaped loading groove that passes entirely through the frame is wider on the right side than the left. Loosening of the frame screw on the right side allows for removal of the left rear frame plate and access to the "L" shaped hammer concealed therein. A pull of the trigger revolves the cylinder, fires the weapon, and cocks the hammer for the next shot. This unusual weapon was the only American martial revolver of the Civil War made with an internal hammer. Due to the delicate internal mechanism this arm, as previously mentioned, proved a failure in the field and was replaced with more substantial side arms such as the Remington and Starr revolvers. The six-shot blued cylinder is 2-1/4" long. The nipples are recessed in open, separately partitioned, wells. The case-hardened loading lever has a plunger type latch that is held by a catch mortised into the bottom of the barrel 1-1/2" from the muzzle. The large sweeping oval trigger guard is blued as are the grip straps that are integral with the frame.   The black walnut two piece grips are oil finished with the inspector's cartouche being stamped into the left grip.  It should be noted that the arms made for civilian use have varnished grips.

 

FRONT CONE SIGHT
FRONT CONE SIGHT

 

TOP SIGHTING GROOVE
TOP SIGHTING GROOVE

 

INTERNAL MECHANISM
INTERNAL MECHANISM
(NOTE SERIAL NUMBER "4307" INSIDE GRIPS)

 

REAR CYLINDER VIEW
REAR CYLINDER VIEW

 

FRONT CYLINDER VIEW
FRONT CYLINDER VIEW

 

BARREL & RAM ROD BARREL & RAM ROD
LEFT & RIGHT SIDE VIEWS - BARREL & RAM ROD

 

SIDE VIEW OF  COMBO RAM ROD & CYLINDER ARBOR
SIDE VIEW OF  COMBO RAM ROD & CYLINDER ARBOR

 

TOP VIEW OF COMBO RAM ROD & CYLINDER ARBOR
TOP VIEW OF COMBO RAM ROD & CYLINDER ARBOR
(NOTE LACK OF SERIAL NUMBER)

 

THUMB SCREW
THUMB SCREW
(ALLOWS REMOVAL OF COMBO RAM ROD & CYLINDER ARBOR)

 

RIGHT GRIP VIEWS LEFT GRIP VIEW
RIGHT & LEFT GRIP VIEWS

 

TOP OVERALL VIEW

 

BOTTOM OVERALL VIEW
TOP & BOTTOM OVERALL VIEWS

 


 

     The next posting, Part 2 of 2 of this series, will feature the theRogers And Spencer .44 Caliber Single Action Percussion Army Revolver, which is a sibling to the Pettengill revolver featured in this posting. The familyresemblance is noticeable due to a very similar front end.

 

     Reference material for this posting came from "U.S. Military Small Arms 1816-1865" by Robert M. Reilly, "Civil War Small Arms", an American Rifleman Reprint - Articles "Civil War Revolvers Part 1 & 2 of 2" by C. Meade Patterson & Cuddy De Marco, Jr. and Norm Flayderman's "Flayderman's Guide To Antique American Firearms.....And Their Values".

 

     The photographs are all originals of mine as are any assumptions or errors in this posting.  The ace webmaster is Reed Radcliffe, my son, who puts this all together for your viewing.

 

GOD BLESS AMERICA!!

 Dave Radcliffe