It was near the Brazos River in Columbia, Texas, that one of the Confederacy’s most distinctive sidearms was produced at the Dance Brothers “steam factory.” While the flat-framed Dance revolvers—easily recognizable with their lack of any protruding recoil shield—were offered in both .36- and .44-caliber versions, fewer than 500 are known to have been made. Most of the Dance revolvers were .44-caliber versions that some dubbed “dragoons,” after the earlier, large-framed Colt percussion guns. Fewer than 150 of the .36-caliber Dance guns were built.
While bearing serial numbers in several places but no maker’s markings, these Dance revolvers were important enough to the state of Texas that the governor exempted factory personnel from military service. And in the postwar years, the Dance six-gun was to be seen in the hands of many on the frontier, including the Apache leader Geronimo, who once posed for a series of photographs with a .44-caliber Dance revolver. This Dance revolver is currently on loan to the NRA National Firearms Museum from DJT.
The NRA National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va., the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo., and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M., each have fine selections of historic arms on display. Admission to each is free, and donations are gratefully accepted. For more information, visit www. nramuseums.com, phone (703) 267-1600 or email [email protected].