COLONEL CUSTER’S COLTSLt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s Gold Plated Navy Colt Pistols
One of the more famous names coming out of the Civil War was Brevet General George Armstrong Custer. Know as the “Boy General” he was an extremely aggressive and courageous commander, who led his troops from the front. He was hailed as a hero for his leadership and actions in the battle of Gettysburg, and continued to perform as an outstanding commander in critical campaigns such as the Battle of the Wilderness, the Battle of Yellow Tavern, the Battle of Trevilian Station and the Battle of Cedar Creek. Custer was also present and a notable figure at General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
After the war Custer considered going into politics while hoping for a new assignment from the war department. It came on July 28, 1866 where he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the newly created 7th Cavalry Regiment which was headquartered at Fort Riley, Kansas. Custer soon found himself heavily involved with another major problem, trying to protect settlers moving west on Native American land. Over time hostilities became worse, and when gold was discovered in sacred Indian territory known as the Black Hills, the Indian tribes gathered together for battle. The Battle of the Little Bighorn would become “Custer’s Last Stand” where he and his 7th Cavalry would ride to glory.
Throughout his military career, Custer had a flair for custom uniforms and carried himself with a certain dash and aplomb. His long blond curly hair, (sometimes scented with cinnamon) and flashy uniform were his trademarks.
After one of his notable accomplishments in 1863, he was presented with two, gold/silver plated 36 caliber Navy Colt revolvers engraved by Louis Daniel Nimschke, sporting eagle handles carved of elephant ivory. The pistol’s cylinders, loading levers, back straps, hammers, and trigger guards were all gold plated.
Today much of the gold plating has been worn off, and as Custer was known to sport upscale personal weapons, it is not unrealistic to presume these pistols were carried in pommel holsters during the war, as they have certainly seen service. The pistols are currently on display in the Frazier History Museum in Louisville Kentucky.
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