Confederate Revolvers: Leech, Rigdon, & Ansley

There was not much industrial production the the Confederate States of America during the US Civil War, and Confederate-made revolvers have been very collectible for a very long time. Today we’re taking a look at three such revolvers made by a series of companies that evolved throughout the war. Specifically, a Leech & Rigdon, a CH Rigdon, and a Rigdon & Ansley.

All three are mechanically copies of the Colt 1851 Navy, as are most Confederate revolvers, but they have some distinctive features. In addition, by looking at all three together we can see some of the changes that took place as the war progressed.

Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m Ian I am here today at the James Giulia Auction house I’m looking at some of the Guns that are selling in their upcoming October of 2015 auction I found these three revolvers and They’re all very closely connected to Each other in a really actually really Interesting story so I figured we’d take A look at all three of these together Because there’s a lot more to learn from Them together than there is Independently now these are all Confederate war revolvers this is an Area of firearms collecting that has it Can be tricky to get into These guns are very old at this point And they have been people have been Making fake Confederate revolvers since Like 1865 for a very long time and it’s Actually gotten to the point where there Are fake ones out there that have been Out there for so long that they actually Have an authentic aged patina to them Even though they were manufactured new After the war so it’s really tricky to Find and properly authenticate Confederate revolvers so having access To these three here at the auction which Are definitely authentic real revolvers Is a fantastic opportunity to take a Look at this story now these are leech & Rigdon & Rigdon & Ansley revolvers now

You of course Rigden is the common name Between those two what happened was at The beginning of the war or actually Before the war Thomas Rigden was a scale Maker mechanical tinkerer made things And then Thomas leach was a con trader So the two of them set up a partnership They actually made swords at first but By May of 1862 they decided to set their Factory in Columbus Mississippi to Making handguns they made about 75 and Used them to garner themselves a Contract with the Confederate government To make fifteen hundred revolvers now These first revolvers were actually all Of these were basically copies of the Colt 1851 Navy they’re 36 caliber and That’s a recurring theme in Confederate Handguns there wasn’t a whole lot of Industry down in the Confederate south And there wasn’t a whole lot of firearms Development going on down there With a few notable exceptions but in General there wasn’t and why reinvent The wheel when the Colt company has Designed a fantastic gun and all the Sudden you know the CSA is its own new Company new country and it really Doesn’t have to worry about patent Infringement lawsuits from the north so You know why take the time let’s just Copy the best thing that’s already out There and that’s what most Confederate Revolvers are now these guns associated

With leech & Rigdon & Rigdon and anslee Are quite well made guns they’re high Quality good good materials asbestos Could be had in the south at the time And they went through this interesting Progression so they made a leech & Rigdon together made about a thousand of Their 1,500 gun contract so production Went pretty well the guns came out good They were they were well made they were Used extensively they were issued Throughout the Confederacy and by the Time they made about a thousand of them Unfortunately for them Union forces were Starting to encroach on the factory and They needed to move to make sure that The factory didn’t get overrun and Captured so they moved to Greensboro Georgia in December of 1862 and then Shortly thereafter in the spring of 1863 They moved again to Augusta Georgia and That’s where the factory would remain For the rest of the war now by the time They got to Augusta they’d made about a Thousand of their 1500 gun contract and At that point Thomas leach left the Partnership and they the company Dissolved as a formal entity no one Apparently really knows why he left Could have been any number of things Frankly However at that point Rigden acquired All of the assets of the company all the Tooling the machines and he found a

Couple new partners most primarily a guy Named Jesse Ansley and they basically Just continued to produce what the leech & Rigdon guns had been had all the same Tools all the same jigs the same Contract they finished out that 1500 gun Contract for the CSA and then they Started working on more guns and as the Firm of Rigden Ansley and company it Would make about another nine hundred to A thousand guns so total production of This well from this set of tooling Through this series of companies was About 24 And now a couple interesting things when The company becomes rigged and Anne’s Lien company they actually adopted a new And additional patent they the Manhattan Firearms company in 1859 had patented This idea of instead of putting six Cylinder stops they put in 12 and the Additional ones would act to safety not Just so you could actually lock the Cylinder hammer down right in between Two chambers and that was actually a Really cool safety addition because all Of a sudden now you can very effectively Carry the gun fully loaded six shots Without having to worry that a jar to The hammer would discharge cartridge a Cap now Colts had a safety mechanism They had little pins on the back of the Cylinder in between the nipples and it Worked but they were fragile it wasn’t

It was it worked but it wasn’t a great Solution then and this 12 cylinder stop Idea was a much better solution well it Was patented by the Manhattan firearms Company so Colt didn’t use it Charles Rigden is down in the CSA and he really Doesn’t care what northern courts are Going to say so he went ahead and just Started using that patent right Alongside the Colt patents that he was Infringing upon and so the LAT the last 900 or so the last set of Rigden and Ansley guns I’ll have this 12 cylinder stop built Into them so here we have all three of The guns lined up from earliest middle And latest now the distinctions between These guns are really pretty subtle and There’s only one significant one that You can really see in this kind of Perspective and that is the change from Having six cylinder stops to having Twelve on the latter two now when we Start looking at a little more closely We’ll see some more changes so let’s Begin with the earliest gun here notice That there is no cap removal cut out Right up here that was done basically Just to simplify production of the very First batch of guns What colt pad was actually cut out right Up there and that allows better removal Of fired caps so you fire this chamber And then it rotates down to here

When it Does that you’ve got this spent remnant Of a cap that has to come off the nipple If it doesn’t you do run the risk of it Jamming the cylinder when it starts to Rotate down around at the bottom so the Very early leech & Rigdon guns did not Have that now the really early ones also Has a slightly different style of Loading lever retainer which this gun This is number 1063 so this isn’t from The very beginning this is actually Fairly late in the first production run Marking wise let’s take a look at that The markings are one of the essential Details here this is marked leech & Rigdon CSA and it’s only marked on one Of these barrel flats so that’s typical There are some very early ones that Actually have a marking from leech & Rigdon s very earliest company which was Actually the leech & Rigdon novelty Works humorously enough those guns are Extremely rare now these will be marked With serial numbers on virtually all of Their parts something interesting to Take a look at notice the the digit 1 in This serial number because what’s kind Of funny is they only had one set of Serial number punches and as they were Making guns part started to wear and Around serial number 1200 the number one Stamp broke so when we look at it let’s Take a look at this one this is number

1500 and change you can see that that Digit 1 is now kind of just a blob Doesn’t really look like anything see The comparison we have a thousand where The stamp was in good shape about 1200 In between it breaks and then down here We have number 1500 where it’s a broken Stamp so some of the very first batch of Leech & Rigdon guns will have safety Pins on the back of the cylinder where You could rest the hammer in between Chambers this particular one does not Some do some don’t to other things we Can take note of most of these guns We’ll have an inspection stamp here Or down here this one has an N there are Four different letters that it can be And there doesn’t seem to be a good Explanation for what those letters stand For but you will typically see that down There now also of interest this Particular gun has an SC stamp in it Which is actually a known thing that South Carolina guns in about the 950 to 1,200 serial number range went to South Carolina forces this is of course number One thousand 63 and it actually has some Documented provenance back to a South Carolina officer that’s pretty cool to See on a gun like this so our second gun This is serial number almost 1600 1580 So so this is the second major style of Marking they had obviously moved to Augusta by the time they were marking

Them this way and they left off the Company name at this point it just went With the location and the CSA in the Confederate States of America stamp now This one also has an inspection mark in This case it’s a W and it’s down here on The back of the frame but still legit And again serial numbers in pretty much All of the parts appear we actually have A serial number on the front of the Loading lever and the major major Functional difference we now have 12 Cylinder stops so you can see I have the Hammer rested on a a cap there I can Pull it back rotate it to right there And lock the cylinder in place in Between two two nipples so then it would Be safe to carry safer even to carry Them the original colt style now our Third and this is probably the most Unusual and valuable of this trio this Is a very late gun this is serial number 20 182 and is one of only three that are Known to exist where they have a lot More information this is actually Stamped CH Rigdon si si Augusta Georgia On three of the barrel flats that’s a Really unusual there just a couple of Guns known to do that and they’re all Right in this exact serial number area Now I had mentioned that that stamp that Number one stamp had broken around Serial number 1200 well around 1900 Something else must have broken because

They got rid of the whole set of dyes And they went to a new set of larger Numbers so if we compare the early one To this later one you can see that the Serial numbers have gotten larger they Went to a new set of stamps so now Alright our numeral one is intact again We still however have serial numbers on All pretty much all the parts This one isn’t numbered up here Now the general mechanical pattern of This guy has stayed the same from you Know serial number 15 1600 out to the End we have 12 stops we have the Cylinder the cap removal cut out right There this has a cult style loading Lever right there so very interesting to Be able to look at three of these guns Side-by-side and see some of the Differences in some of the similarities Thanks for watching guys I hope you Enjoyed the video now if you’d like to Have any of them or all of them for Yourself well of course they are for Sale this is an auction house if you Take a look at the description text Below here you’ll find links to the Catalog pages on julia’s auction site For all three of these and you can check Out their formal descriptions and their High res pictures and everything else You need to make a decision you can Place bids online or you can come down Here and participate in the auction life

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