In the American Civil War, the North with its many factories and arsenals dominated in arms making. But two Southern percussion handguns were expediently made.
Both featured frames cast from brass in place of more difficult to obtain steel, and tales still circulate of Rebel church bells being melted to provide the necessary material. Georgia’s Griswold & Gunnison revolver (top) was built by Samuel Griswold, a transplanted Connecticut man who followed his counterpart Sam Colt’s Navy handguns for his own design. While less than 4,000 were created, Griswold’s products far outnumbered many other Confederate gun makers until his factory was destroyed in late 1864.
While initially designed in Richmond, Va., the Spiller & Burr (bottom) was also produced in Georgia, first in Atlanta and later at the Macon Armory. This single-action percussion piece followed the lines of the solid frame Whitney Navy revolver. The Spiller & Burr also bears Confederate government markings (c.s.) on its frame. Both of these .36-caliber Confederate handguns remain as mute witnesses of battles fought when our nation was torn asunder.
Both the NRA National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va., and the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo., have a fine selection of historically significant arms on display. Admission is free, and donations are gratefully accepted. For information, visit www.nramuseum.com, phone (703) 267-1600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.