In many ways the large bore marital pinfire revolver, based upon the patents of Casimir and Eugene Lefaucheux was one of the most modern and advanced handguns to see use on the battlefield during the American Civil War. Thousands of these pinfire revolvers were imported for use by US troops, and at least a few hundred (and quite probably many more) saw service with Confederate troops as well. Although US government purchases only record about 13,000 M1854 Lefaucheuxpatent pinfire revolvers as being officially purchased (along with over 2.2 million cartridges), surviving examples and regimental records indicate that far more than that were imported. The primary importer of M1854 revolvers was George Schuyler who purchased 10,000 Lefaucheux revolvers for the US government. Most of Schuyler’s purchases appear to have been made directly from Lefaucheux in Paris. However, extant examples indicate that many Belgian licensed copies were also imported during the war. The Ordnance Department did not appear to differentiate between the French and Belgian made versions, in much the same way that they often lumped French and Belgian made muskets together without any distinction at all. Other importers who provided pinfire revolvers to the US government included Herman Boker, Schuyler, Hartley & Graham, George Raphael (who provided the Raphael revolvers to the US), Alexis Godillot of Paris (who provided the Perrin revolvers to the US) and even Tiffany & Company. US cavalry units that received significant numbers of pinfire revolvers included the 5th IL, 2nd & 5th KS, 6th KY, 8th MO, 1st WI and the 9th MO State Militia Cavalry. The Springfield Research Service serial number books list the serial numbers for 69 Lefaucheux revolvers that were in the possession of Company B of the 9th Missouri State Militia Cavalry during 1863. These 69 revolvers range from serial number 33,895 through 42,522. This 9,000+ range of serial numbers within a single company of US cavalry makes it relatively easy to extrapolate that Lefaucheux revolvers within the 25,XXX through at least the 45,XXX range are within the realistic realm of US purchased revolvers that saw use during the Civil War. However, it is equally clear that any pistols with a lower serial number could easily have seen use during the war as well. Confederate units under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest had at least a few hundred of these revolvers in their possession in late 1864. A May 25, 1864 Ordnance Report from Meridian, Mississippi by Forrest showed his 1st Division in possession of 190 French Pistols and his 3rd Division in possession of another 160. It is almost certain that these French Pistols were Lefaucheux revolvers. Additionally, in 1864 the Selma Arsenal was offering Lefaucheux revolvers for sale to Confederate officers at a price of $25 each, including 12 cartridges. In August of 1864, the Selma Arsenal listed the following pistol ammunition in their inventory ”For French Pistol (Lefaucheux) caliber .472k – 52,800 rounds”. This is very clear indication that CS Ordnance Department was actively trying to keep ammunition available for a decent number of Lefaucheux revolvers in the field. Using the theory that the CS Ordnance Department was trying to maintain an inventory of between 20 and 50 rounds per pistol, this would indicate they were trying to keep between 1,056 and 2,640 pistols supplied from Selma alone.
This M1854 Lefaucheux patent revolver offered here is a classic example of a Lefaucheux produced revolver in about FINE condition. The right side of the frame shows the standard LF (Lefaucheux) prefixed serial number, in this case 24359. It is the typical martial pattern single action pinfire pistol with an octagon to round barrel and a nominal caliber of 12mm (the bore measures 11.35mm). The top of the round part of the barrel is marked in a single line:
INVONE. LEFAUCHEUX BRTÉ PARIS
The left side of the frame is crisply marked with the usual two line oval Lefaucheux patent cartouche, which reads INVON E. LEFAUCHEUX / BREVETÉ SGDG (PARIS). The initials before “PARIS” are the equivalent of the US statement “registered patent”. The interior surface of the loading gate is marked with the assembly mark 79 X. These same mating marks appear between chambers on the rear face of the cylinder and in ink inside both of the grips. Additionally, the assembly mating mark of a pair of punch dots appear on a number of the small parts of the gun. The retains a significant amount of its original finish, rating about 60%+ overall. The barrel and cylinder retains much of their original bright blue with some flaking and loss from wear, carry and use. The largest area of finish loss is on the backstrap and frontstrap, where the finish is almost completely gone from wear, and these surfaces show a smooth, silvery color with a lightly oxidized brown patina. The casehardened frame, hammer and butt cap retain some traces of their mottled case colors, with a mostly silvery gray patina, with some traces of vivid color in the protected areas. The metal is mostly smooth throughout, however there are some very lightly scattered patches oxidized freckling present mixed with the finish on metal. There are also some small, scattered areas of minor surface crust and some old grease and oil residue present as well. The revolver remains all correct and original throughout with no replacement parts noted. The revolver retains the original lanyard ring in the base of the grip and the original ejector rod along the right side of the frame. The original loading gate catch in present and functional as well. All of these parts are often damaged or missing, and it is uncommon to find all of the parts in place on one of these revolvers. The original two-piece grips are in about VERY GOOD to NEAR FINE condition and retain much of their original varnish. The grips are solid and free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. The grips show only the expected bumps, dings and handling marks from actual use, as well as a couple of tiny chips around the screw escutcheons. The right grip also shows a number of small, round impact marks, centered primarily around the grip escutcheon. The revolver is in excellent mechanical condition and the action works crisply and correctly, with fine timing and tight lock up. The loading gate opens and closes freely and locks closed, as it should. The ejector rod functions smoothly as well. The bore of the revolver is in about VERY GOOD condition. It is moderately oxidized with strong rifling and shows some lightly scattered pinpricking along its length. The bore also appears to be somewhat dirty and greasy and might be improved by a good scrubbing
Overall, this is a really nice example of the classic military pinfire pistol pattern that saw substantial use during the American Civil War. The gun is in in exceptionally nice condition, retaining more finish than is usually encountered on one of these revolvers. When compared to the condition these pistols are normally encountered in, with one is truly outstanding. The overall condition is such that you would have a hard time improving upon this gun for your collection of Civil War period secondary martial revolvers. This is a really attractive martial Lefaucheux revolver and the photos really don’t do the condition of the gun justice.SOLD