Griswold & Gunnison: The Best Confederate Revolver Makers

Griswold and Gunnison were rather unique among Confederate revolver manufacturers for their ability to actually create a reliable and high quality product and produce it on a regular and predictable schedule. So many of the Confederate revolvers were made by starry-eyed novices, but Griswold & Gunnison ran a proper professional manufacturing operation, and as a result were able to produce as many guns as all other Confederate revolver makers combined.

The Griswold & Gunnison gun was basically a copy of the Colt 3rd model Dragoon, with a 7 1/2 inch .36 caliber barrel, 6-shot cylinder, and brass frame. They have a subtle but recognizable slight rear tilt to the grips, and are virtually all identical, or as close to it as can be expected for hand-fitted guns from the 1860s. In addition, the guns were made with twisted iron cylinders (instead of steel, which was too difficult to procure), and the trusted pattern of the material is often visible on the finished product. The one variation is that at about serial number 1500, the barrel shank changed from rounded to octagonal.

Arvin Gunnison was gunsmith who had been making Colt type revolver in New Orleans before the war, who partnered with Samuel Griswold for the endeavor. Griswold was a very successful entrepreneur who had built Griswoldville on 4,000 acres of land south of Macon, Georgia. There he had a wide variety of businesses, including grist and saw mills, a candle factory, a foundry, and a cotton gin factory. With the assistance of Gunnison, he converted the cotton gin factory into a revolver factory in 1862, and produced about 100 revolvers per month until November of 1864. On the 22nd of that month, Griswoldville was overrun by Union forces and destroyed.

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Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons calm I’m he And McCallum I’m here today the James Giulia auction house taking a look at Some of the guns they’re going to be Selling in their upcoming fall of 2017 Firearms auction today we’re taking a Look at a couple of confederate handguns These are Griswold and Gunnison Revolvers and I know what you’re Thinking you’re thinking Oh Confederate pistols I can predict what This story’s gonna be like some guy said I’ll make pistols for a lot of money and Then failed to really make anything Effective and then went out of business And the end well that’s the kind of Typical overview of a Confederate arms Maker However Griswold in Gunnison is a Definite exception to that rule now the Two people involved in this story are Arvind Arvind Gunnison and Samuel Griswold will start with Samuel Griswold He was actually born in Connecticut and He moved down to the south in 1822 and Became a very successful entrepreneur And you could almost say industrialists As far as there was such a thing in Georgia at the time in 1835 he bought 4,000 acres of property a couple miles South of Macon and he set up what became Griswoldville actually is what it was Called and he had a wide array of

Different business endeavors going this Place was big enough it had a post Office and then he had grist mill and a Sawmill he had a foundry he had a candle Factory he had a very nice elaborate Mansion that he lived in I presume he Probably had some agricultural fields Although I don’t know for sure And maybe most importantly he had a Factory for making cotton gins which is To say machines that are used to Separate seed from cotton fiber a very Important thing in the south and this Guy clearly was doing well had a lot of Money and when the war broke out he Wanted to do something to aid the war Effort So in 1862 in the spring the first thing He did was start manufacturing pikes as In yeah the pointy medieval weapon on a Wooden stick the Confederate government Was looking for some presumably for I Don’t What some sort of guards for something And he made a couple hundred and Delivered them and it all worked fine But of course making a pike is pretty Easy in the summer of 1862 he he Proposed to also make revolvers for the Confederate government and in this Endeavor he was aided by Arvind Gunnison Who had actually been in the business of Making revolvers at least on a very Small scale in New Orleans and he fled

New Orleans at the beginning of the war Made his way down to Georgia and hooked Up with Griswold Gunderson had brought Some of his tooling with him and between Gunnison tooling and Griswolds actual Factory set up he turned his cotton gin Factory into in harm’s factory this was Really an ideal situation for actually Making guns and Griswold and Dennison Would turn out to be by far the most Reliable and one of the highest quality Confederate revolvers made during the War they made something like 3700 total Which is pretty much the that that’s as Many as every other Confederate arms Confederate revolver maker made all put Together and there their production was Consistent and high quality and reliable And this is exactly what the Confederacy Needed in terms of arms manufacturers And it’s kind of what the Union had as Its standard everybody in the Union was Capable of doing that but this sort of Industry was much harder to find in the South so we have three examples of the Griswold and Gunnison here to take a Look at today and there there are just a Couple of variations now the biggest Variation is this one which actually has An iron frame and that is extremely Unusual in fact this is the only known Documented iron frame Griswold Now people excavating the site of Griswoldville

Have found iron frames there but nobody Has found another actual complete iron Framed gun and the exact provenance of When that was done how it was done Really isn’t isn’t clear however beyond That these revolvers really just had to Be a breath of fresh air for Confederate Ordnance because they were all Standardized yes they were hand fitted Guns these aren’t you know interred Part sorts of examples of modern modern Technology and manufacturing processes But Griswold and Gunnison started making Guns they made guns consistently and They made uniform guns and that is it’s Exactly what the Confederates needed as Opposed to their normal mishmash of Hopeful and naive Inventors and would-be industrialists Who couldn’t manage to put together Three parts to save their own lives so As a general overview what we have here Is basically a copy of the Colt third Pattern Dragoon this is navy caliber so 36 caliber six shot brass frame couple Characteristic details one of the most Visible is that the grips on these are All kind of tilted backwards it kind of Looks like you know someone started Using the bottom of the grip as a hammer And bent it but that’s not the case That’s all of the Griswold and Gunnarsson’s exhibit that shape that’s Just how they were made

There is no capping groove in the frame Normally on a Colt for example you’d Have a little center groove here that Would give you something that you could Kind of Center a percussion cap in while You’re loading and capping the cylinder You don’t have that serial numbers on These are located in a couple places on The frame on the cylinder on the shank Of the barrel you will sometimes have a Serial number on the trigger guard but Not always the one variation that you Will find in Griswold revolvers is the Barrel shank here at approximately Serial number 1500 they went from being Round to being octagonal there are a few Exceptions to that rule but in general That’s that changed and that’s really The only change beyond that all of the Griswold and Gunnarsson’s are as as Identical as you can have hand-fitted Guns be one interesting characteristic Of these is of course getting materials Was always was a perennial problem in The south for the Confederacy steel in Particular there were not very many Sources of it it was always in limited Quantity and so Griswold and Gunnison Chose to make their parts entirely out Of iron and I think this kind of scared The hell out of the confetti Arsenal inspectors but they went ahead And proofed the guns and they passed Proof testing and so you know I can just

See the inspector going geez iron okay We’ll try it for the cylinders they Actually used it twisted bar iron stock And on a lot of the guns you can Actually see striations here that show That twist it’s a little bit hard to see In this one but I do happen to have Access to this revolver which is not in This current Julius sale and it really Clearly shows you the twist of the iron So some of the some of the Griswolds you Can see it some you can’t But that’s the material that they used In making these cylinders and it Actually worked just seeing a serial Number in the 2000 range is remarkable For any Confederate manufactured Revolver there was nobody else in the South who was making guns at this level Of quality and consistency this Particular Griswold is also pretty cool Here for being engraved to a major Brown Of the 7th Virginia regiment CSA that’s Kind of cool you usually again there Aren’t enough of these Confederate Revolvers for them to have been made Into presentation guns this one almost Certain that this is not a gun that was Used like as a way to try and bribe Ordinance for adoption of the gun as was Relatively common on both sides of of The border in the Civil War This one’s relatively mid to late Production you know 2200 so this is one

That somebody bought and had engraved a Griswold and Gunnison were able to plug Long making right about a hundred Revolvers a month consistently and Predictably up until November 22nd of 1864 when Griswoldville was attacked by The Union Army Kentucky and Ohio Elements of the Union Army and it was Pretty much completely destroyed Griswolds mansion actually survived I Think because it was turned into a Union Army headquarters but pretty much Everything else on the the site the Factory complex was torched burned to The ground And that was it for Griswold and Gunnison they didn’t set up pretty they Weren’t able to move they weren’t able To reset a new production anywhere else That was that was the end of it so Obviously as with all Confederate Revolvers there aren’t a whole lot of Surviving examples but we have more Griswold and Gunnarsson’s than a lot of Other types if you are interested in Having one yourself whether it is a Standard one or an iron frame one or a Presentation engraved one well all of These are coming up for sale here at James Julia if you take a look at the Description text below you’ll find links To the catalog pages for all three of These and you can take a look at Julia’s Pictures and provenance and descriptions

All that sort of stuff Place bids on them if you’re interested Thanks for watching You

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