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Spectacular 2 Session Militaria Auction: Session II
Lot 2252: RARE AND HISTORIC COLT WHITNEYVILLE-WALKER PISTO(125 views)
Description: RARE AND HISTORIC COLT WHITNEYVILLE-WALKER PISTOL "A COMPANY # 210" AND ORIGINAL FLASK ISSUED AT VERA CRUZ IN 1847 TO PRIVATE SAM WILSON (TEXAS RANGER), LATER OBTAINED BY BREVET MAJOR GENERAL JOHN REESE KENLY OF MARYLAND AND BELIEVED TO BE THE FINEST EXAMPLE OF A MARTIAL WALKER EXTANT. SN A Co. 210. The Wilson-Kenly Walker is one of the most exciting Colt discoveries in many years. This magnificent Colt Walker Revolver, SN A Co. 210, has been the subject of much research proving it to be a well documented firearm from the Mexican War that is related to both a Texas volunteer private and one of the Maryland's most respected officers in both the Mexican War and Civil War. Moreover, this revolver retains an extraordinary amount of orig finish that is a rarity in and of itself. Until now this historic treasure has been almost unknown and never photographed or offered at public sale. At the annual Meeting of the National Rifle Association in 1972 in Portland, Oregon, the current owner did exhibit it . As a result the firearm won a prestigious Certificate of Recognition for its "...outstanding historical value, or beauty, or rarity..." and the NRA Silver Medallion #127 as one of the ten best arms at the show. The Colt Walker was officially designated a pistol as it was the first revolver ever purchased by the Army Ordnance Department. Many men familiar with single shot percussion muzzle loading pistols had never seen a revolver, much less used one, resulting in many burst cylinders and the accidental firing of all six chambers. The Walker pistols were manufactured during a short production run in 1847 and were named after Capt. Samuel Hamilton Walker, a renowned national hero who fought in the Texas-Mexico wars. Capt. Walker approached Samuel Colt, a leading firearms designer, to create a stronger and more reliable revolver suitable for the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Dragoons. The new weapon was designed by both Colt and Walker, based on the Colt Paterson revolver, but clearly an improvement. It proved to be a revolver of such size, weight, and heft that Colt was reputed to have said, "It would take a Texan to shoot it". Walker wrote in 1847 that the gun was "as effective as a common rifle at 100 yards and superior to a musket even at 200". Far more powerful than the earlier Patersons, this gun quickly became legendary. In fact at the time it was made it was the most powerful handgun in the world and remained so until the advent of the .44 Magnum in about 1954. For those who could afford it, the Walker Colt was a symbol of strength, authority and great financial means. While the revolver was a financial success for Colt, Capt. Walker met a tragic end. Fighting at the front in the Mexican War, he was killed by a lance in the Battle of Juamantla in early October 1847. At the time of his death, Walker was carrying a pair of Walker revolvers--gifts from Colt which had just arrived a few days before. The spectacular condition and rarity of this revolver certainly qualifies it as a special treasure, but also of equal importance is its impeccable provenance and history. This revolver has descended through the family of Bvt. Maj. Gen. John Reese Kenly of Maryland and this is the first time that this revolver and flask have been offered for sale outside of Kenly's family descendants. Research in published materials, Colt Factory records and Federal documents show that this Colt-Walker revolver was part of the second shipment of 280 revolvers that were received from Eli Whitney's factory at the New York Ordnance Depot on August 6, 1847. Three days later, this shipment of Colts was forwarded to the United States Ordnance Depot in Vera Cruz Mexico. All 220 of the revolvers designated for "A Company" (and so marked) were in this shipment along with 60 others marked for "B Company". The revolvers arrived in Vera Cruz on October 22, 1847. On the 26th of October, Lt. Josiah Gorgas (the future Confederate Brig. Gen. and Chief of the Ordnance Bureau) issued 180 of these Colts to Col. John Coffee Hays, Commander for the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Vols. This revolver, serial number 210 was part of that issue. At the time of issue, the First Regiment was stationed at Vergara, just three miles from the Depot at Vera Cruz on the road to Jalapa. One of the privates in Company I, named Samuel Wilson, received this Colt, confirmed and attested to by his presence on the regimental roster and the crudely scratched name "Samuel Wilson" on the trigger guard. Wilson is listed in the records of Texas Veterans in the Mexican War as "died at Jalapa, Mexico" at age 33. The cause of death is unknown. It is, however, known that John Kenly was in Jalapa at that time. The circumstances under which Sam Wilson's Colt-Walker revolver was acquired by Kenly are unknown. In Kenly's published work, Memoirs of A Maryland Volunteer: War With Mexico, in the Years 1846-8, on page 366, Kenly states, "Nov 30 I was this day appointed by Colonel Hughes the military commandant of the garrison at Jalapa". On page 374, he further states, as part of his duties he was "to inspect the company drills, the company quarters, and the hospitals...". There are many mentions of his contact with Texas volunteer regiments, his duty in and around Vera Cruz and Jalapa and there is a mention that he picked up "interesting" firearms. Kenly's memoirs also mention interactions with Col. Hays, Commander of the First Regiment Texas Mounted Vols, where Samuel Wilson served. As military commandant and being in charge of the hospital (likely when Wilson died), Kenly was ideally positioned to acquire the revolver from the dying Wilson. One thing for certain is the fact that Kenly somehow acquired Sam Wilson's Walker Colt and not only kept it throughout his lifetime (together with various other accouterments and memorabilia acquired in the Mexican War, which were sold on the private market by the same consignor prior to his meeting with Julia's), but also passed the Walker (and his collection of memorabilia) onto his descendants. The revolver eventually descended to the consignor's mother to whom John Reese Kenly was her great uncle. In the consignor's sworn affidavit, which accompanies this lot, he states that in the late spring or summer of 1941 he, together with his mother and brother visited the old Kenly home for the last time. At that time, the consignor himself discovered a powder flask in a trunk in the same house, which later proved to be the orig flask for this Colt Walker. The revolver has been in his mother's possession and eventually passed to him until the time that it was consigned to Julia's. John Reese Kenly was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 11, 1818. He was schooled in Baltimore, studied law and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1845. Like all good socialites, Kenly joined one of the City's elite militia units "The Eagle Artillery". With the opening of the Mexican War, Kenly attempted to enter the United States Regulars but was told that the War Department needed companies of volunteers from Maryland and Washington D.C. and that he could achieve a higher rank by starting a company of his own to respond to the crisis. In Baltimore, in 36 hours, he had raised the necessary officers and men for the company and shortly thereafter reported for duty in Washington D.C.. Thus, now as Capt, Kenly had become attached to the Battalion of Baltimore and Washington Volunteers. During the Battle of Monterey, Kenly distinguished himself for gallantry under fire and received a formal resolution of thanks from the Maryland legislature. Upon the expiration of his term he returned to Baltimore, raised yet another company of volunteers named the Maryland and District of Columbia Volunteers and returned to Mexico in the rank of Major where he remained through various campaigns in and around Vera Cruz until the end of the war. Following the War with Mexico, John Kenly returned to Baltimore to resume his law practice, remaining in the local militia. With the outbreak of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln commissioned Kenly as Col. of the First Maryland (Union) Infantry. During Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign, Kenly was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Front Royal Virginia. In this action, at the cost of nearly 600 casualties and many prisoners, Kenly's heroism was reported to have saved Gen. Nathanial Banks' army. Kenly was paroled and exchanged on August 15, 1862. Within days he received notice of his promotion and commissioning as Brig. Gen. With his new rank he was assigned to command "The Maryland Brigade" which was a consolidation of the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th Maryland Infantry Regiments. Following the Antietam Campaign, the Maryland Brigade was assigned to Western Maryland providing protection against the constant attacks on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In the fall of 1863, Kenly received command of the 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps in the Bristoe, Virginia Campaign. Leaving the Army of the Potomac at the outset of Grant's Richmond Campaign, Kenly was sent to Wilmington, Delaware to command the District of Delaware. In the course of Confederate Gen. Jubal Early's campaign on Washington D.C., Kenly pursued the Confederates out of Monocacy Junction, Maryland with a band of local home guards and militia. The end of Kenly's battlefield career came with the destruction of a supply train in Winchester, VA by Confederates under his watch that resulted in a board of inquiry. While the results were inconclusive, Kenly was sent off to command the District of the Eastern Shore of Maryland for the remainder of the War. On March 13, 1865, Kenly received a commission as Bvt. Maj. Gen. of Vols and was mustered out of service in August of the same year. He returned to Baltimore to practice law, received, yet another resolution of thanks from the Maryland State Legislature and a presentation sword from the City of Baltimore. He died on December 20, 1891. This is a rare Whitneyville-Walker Colt Revolver along with its orig flask in extraordinary condition and believed to be the finest conditioned, martial Walker in existence. The impeccable provenance, and being identified to a prominent Mexican War and Civil War officer of note, makes it the most important and orig martial Walker known to us to exist. Opportunities to acquire rare firearms with important and documented histories do not come along very often. Of particular interest is the fact that this revolver and flask have both a documented history to Pvt. Samuel Wilson, First Texas Mounted Volunteers (including his name on the revolver) and undisputed family connections to Bvt. Maj. Gen. John Reese Kenly being a part of a magnificent collection of Kenly artifacts that have been in descendants' hands since Kenly's death. This is the first time that this revolver has ever been offered for sale. In this day and age, the sale of this revolver and flask will represent its first possession outside of the family. This fine revolver is described as having a 9" oct to rnd bbl with German silver front sight and address reading from cyl to muzzle, with a tiny "P" proof on the top flat just above the forcing cone. It has bayonet style rammer latch that is broken. Left side of bbl lug has the full serial number and right side has a small "US" over "1847" just above the wedge screw. Wedge is not numbered but appears to be the orig item. Frame has the three screws on the left side of which only the hammer screw extends through the right side and has full serial number on the left front side. It has its orig square back brass trigger guard with orig short trigger with rounded front edge on the trigger slot. Bottom front flat of the trigger guard has the abbreviated serial number with a small "H" proof at the rear edge of the trigger bow. The trigger bow has the crudely scratched name "Samuel Wilson". Back strap is blued steel with full serial number on the butt strap reading from heel to toe and has a small "H" proof about centered on the back. Mounted with a smooth, straight grain, 1-pc walnut grip with legible cartouches on each side & a small "P" proof on the left bottom edge. Right side of the front strap, under the grip, is stamped "210" which number is also stamped inside the front strap channel of the grip. It has its orig U-shaped hammer spring with no additional visible numbers under the grip. Front end of the frame, between frame pins and bottom of the cylinder arbor are also stamped "210". The cylinder, which is in the white, has its full rolled Ranger/Indian fight scene with a fine strong pressure ridge toward the rear edge. It also has the abbreviated serial number on the panel between "MODEL U.S.M.R." and "COLT'S PATENT", with fine stippled, checkered background. It has oval cylinder stop notches with a single safety pin on the rear face and the number "430" on the opposite land between nipple recesses. "430" is the sequential number of Walker revolvers produced. Bore has seven lands & grooves of about equal width with a right hand twist. It is the contention of this cataloger and numerous historians & researchers that Walker cylinders were never finished blue but were left "in the white", as this one remains today. Accompanied by its orig "COLTS PATENT", brass Walker flask with dbl sided repoussed stand of flags & trophy of arms with a mortar on the left side, a stack of cannonballs at the far left edge & a single large cannonball below the field carriage wheel. Right side has drum that is tilted well behind the other field carriage wheel. Below this scene are crossed Paterson rifles & a pair of crossed Walker style revolvers over the ribbon embossed with "COLTS PATENT". See The Powder Flask Book, Riling, No. 826, which he refers to this flask as the "later Walker" type. Also accompanied by an orig National Rifle Association of America sterling silver medallion serial number "127" which was awarded to this revolver as previously noted. (Additional Information). Right grip has a hand-carved "K", undoubtedly for John Reese Kenly. Item is accompanied by a Statement of Authenticity by Bobby Vance, Briggs, TX. PROVENANCE: Pvt. Samuel Wilson, Company I, 1st Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers; Brevet Maj. Gen. John Reese Kenly; descendants of Brevet Maj. Gen. John Reese Kenly. CONDITION: Exceptionally fine. The bbl retains 60-70% strong orig Colt factory blue, glossy & bright in sheltered areas and strong on right side of the lug. Bbl is flaked & slightly worn with left side cleaned to a blue/gray patina. Right side retains thinning orig blue. Rammer & rammer handle retain case colors turned silver with about 60% faded colors on the pivot. Wedge retains about 80% orig blue. Frame retains 30-40% faded case colors with the balance turned to a silver/gray patina. Trigger guard has lightly worn edges with a few minor nicks & scratches and retains a light mustard patina, having been cleaned a long time ago and now beginning to regain a patina. Cyl, in the white & never finished blue, has a few minor nicks around the front edge with strong clean nipples and about half of the orig safety pin. Overall, the cyl has a few minor scratches and some extremely fine pin prick pitting and retains about 85-90% strong Ranger/Indian fight scene with the fine shaded background mostly still present. Fine shading on the horses & figures is also mostly still present. Back strap retains about 50% orig blue, glossy & strong toward the top and on the shoulders. Butt strap retains about 75% thinning orig blue. Grip has a minuscule chip on the right toe with four or five dings on the right side and retains a fine hand worn patina with both cartouches legible. Mechanics are crisp, brilliant shiny bore with one spot of pitting and a few minor light spots of discoloration. Flask shows small nicks & dings and a couple of minor dents and retains a dark mustard patina. Spout is functional. 4-33737 JR493 (500,000-1,000,000)
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Spectacular 2 Session Militaria Auction: Session II