Known as the Stonewall Jackson Gun this quality 6-shot revolver was patented in 1835 by Eugene Lefaucheux at the Mariette of Cheratte, France. Noted as the first metallic waterproof cartridge with primer, propellant and bullet contained in a copper shell.12 inches overall with a a barrel length of 6 inches.Bore condition is clean with good rifling marks. Most bluing is gone with some light pitting on barrel. Sights are fixed front iron. Grips are Walnut with some wear and scratches. Special Markings; Crown over L under Barrel, E. Lefaucheux over I_Brevete on left barrel, crown over Y right barrel, crown over L on cylinder, ELC in Oval on cylinder. Condition Overall is Good to Fine for an antique.
History/ Notes Frenchman Casimir Lefaucheux developed the "pinfire" metallic cartridge from the late 1820s into the 1830s before patenting his creation in 1835. The pinfire system revolved around use of a metallic brass case with the included priming compound being ignited by a striking pin mounted directly to the cartridge base itself - this pin being struck by the hammer of the gun in the usual way. By 1840, the pinfire cartridge was in widespread use throughout Europe, adopted by several of the world powers there including France, Italy and Spain - and improved through an 1846 patent by Houllier of Paris.
Lefaucheux's son, Eugene Lefaucheux, took to the family business and made his own name by developing several firearms to utilize his father's creation to the fullest. One such creation became the Model 1854 revolver which saw combat in many period clashes including the American Civil War (1861-1865) - joining a plethora of handguns to see service in the conflict. Design of the Model 1854 was quite conventional and included a well curved wood-covered grip, recurved tang under the trigger loop (allowing two fingers to be positioned at the trigger area) and standard octagonal or rounded barrels of six inches in length. The weapon made use of a six-round rotating cyclinder with integrated rammer positioned ahead and under the barrel, offset to the right side and used in clearing spent cases from their chambers. The cylinders were generally smooth in their overall finish. A lanyard loop was added to the base of the grip handle. Sighting was through a forward iron post found just aft of the muzzle. The weapon was chambered for a 12mm pinfire cartridge.
In practice, the Model 1854 was regarded as an effective, no frills system by most - in the American Civil War, the weapon gave up some power when compared to the competing Colts. The metallic cartridge was proving a revolution at the time and came about during a period when breechloading weapons were coming into their own, replacing the aging lines of muzzle-loading firearms and their complicated, time-consuming loading/reloading processes. The pinfire cartridge now allowed operators to quickly load their weapons in a safer manner as all required ammunition components were not handily contained in the metallic cartridge - no percussion caps or separate powder supplies needed.
The senior Lefauchaux died in 1852 to which his son continued in selling the world on his father's pinfire system. As such, many more revolver designs - and even some shotgun types - all followed, often times being handed the Lefauchaux name in the family's honor. With the arrival of "rimfire" and "centerfire" self-containing metallic cartridges - these not requiring the integral pin of the pinfire cartridges to actuate ignition - the age of the pinfire soon came to a close.
NRA___ The LeFaucheux was one of the only foreign-manufactured revolvers to have been imported by the U.S. government during the Civil War. Over 11,000 were ordered by Federal authorities for cavalry use, with most of these serving in the Western Theater. This number surpasses that of many American-manufactured arms and makes the LeFaucheux a significant U.S. martial arm of the period. Although not imported by the Confederacy, some Southern officers are known to have carried LeFaucheux Revolvers.
The Lefaucheux name is best known to students of history for the revolver of American Civil War-era fame, but the contributions of this father and son duo to firearms and cartridge design go well beyond this single distinction. In 1832, French gunsmith Casimir Lefaucheux patented a pinfire cartridge which featured a cardboard body with a brass base that expanded under pressure when the cartridge was fired, thus creating an effective gas seal. In addition to paving the way for breech-loading arms, this discovery made possible more powerful ammunition in smaller calibers than that typically seen up to that time. Lefaucheux later designed a breech-loading pepperbox pistol that took advantage of his cartridge design, and followed this with a breech-loading sporting rifle that featured drop-down barrels.
Although sharing the spotlight with other noted armsmakers including Samuel Colt, Lefaucheux arms found favor with the visiting public at the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. The pinfire cartridge was later improved by the invention of the metallic case and rimfire priming system, both of which were products of Lefaucheux's countrymen and competitors. In 1854, Casimir's son, Eugene Gabriel Lefaucheux, patented a simple and inexpensive yet reliable 12 mm caliber single-action breech-loading pinfire revolver. Within a few years, these arms had been adopted by military forces in France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Romania. Armsmakers in Belgium, Germany, and Austria also began to manufacture pinfire revolvers based on Lefaucheux's design.
In 1857, U.S. Army ordnance officers tested the Lefaucheux revolver, and although they were impressed with its accuracy and reliability, none were purchased. At the outbreak of war in 1861, both the Federal and Confederate governments looked to Europe to supplement insufficient arms inventories, and approximately 14,000 Lefaucheux revolvers were purchased at a cost ranging from $12.50 to $20.04 each. Of these, 12,000 found their way into Union service with known serial numbers in the 25,000 to 37,000 range.
The Lefaucheux pinfire design was not met with enthusiasm on this side of the Atlantic, with most soldiers preferring the percussion revolvers of Colt, Remington, Starr, and other makers to the French arms. Aside from their range and power, ammunition for these was readily available, while the unique Lefaucheux ammunition was not. In addition, the pinfire cartridges could be accidentally discharged by bumping the pin, even if the cartridge was in a pocket or pouch rather than in the chamber of the revolver. In addition to these drawbacks, the Lefaucheux was far less robust than American revolvers of the time.
Consequently, they were not able to stand up to the rigors associated with combat use, and many were disabled due to worn, bent, or broken parts. Some of these deficiencies were later corrected, but the improvements came too late to have much benefit for Union and Confederate soldiers. While a few of these pistols went home with returning troops after the war, most were sold as surplus. None were retained for military use.
As early as December 1861, it had become clear to both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis that the Union and the Confederacy would need to import longarms and revolvers from Europe in order to equip the tens of thousands of volunteers fighting on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Although the need was far greater for the Southern states, where armsmaking was not a widespread industry, even in the more industrialized North the burden of war would soon outstrip production.
In 1862 President Lincoln commissioned Marcellus Hartley, a partner in the New York firearm-importing firm of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham, to supply the Union with French Lefaucheux revolvers and ammunition. The Lefaucheux was to become the fourth most commonly used revolver in the American Civil War, surpassed only by the Colt, Remington and Starr percussion pistols.
More Than A Decade Ahead Of American Makers
By the mid 1840s, rimfire cartridges were already in use throughout Europe, and by 1854 the first center-fire ammunition had been developed—thus the Europeans were more than a decade ahead of American armsmakers. There was, however, a third type of metallic cartridge, the pinfire, invented in 1843 by French gunmaker Casimir Lefaucheux. His innovative design, which used a small brass pin protruding from the cartridge to ignite an internal primer cap, was so well-received throughout Europe that by the late 1840s, armsmakers were manufacturing revolvers, rifles, and even shotguns to work with a variety of Lefaucheux pinfire ammunition. The pinfire was an ingenious design; the spent cartridges could even be reloaded.
Although Lefaucheux died in 1852, his son Eugene continued his father’s work and in 1854 patented his own invention: the bored-through cylinder. He received his French patent on April 15, 1854, a full year before American Rollin White’s U.S. patent for the same design. By 1857, when Smith & Wesson introduced its first .22 rimfire revolver, the Massachusetts armsmaker had purchased the rights to the White patent, thus giving S&W the exclusive right to manufacture revolvers with bored-through, breechloading cylinders in the United States. This would prove to be a great impediment to arming the North, as White and S&W aggressively litigated every patent infringement, putting several small U.S. armsmakers out of business during the war.
Since S&W was years away from designing its first large-caliber cartridge revolver and was effectively preventing any other U.S. manufacturer from making them, between 1862 and 1865 the Union andConfederacy imported thousands of Lefaucheux revolvers. The U.S. Ordnance Dept. purchased 1,900 pinfire revolvers through Hartley and another 10,000 under direct contract during the war. The Confederacy followed suit, as well as purchasing pinfire versions of the South’s most powerful revolver, the nine-shot LeMat, manufactured in France and Belgium.
The Ordnance Men
On the Union side, Marcellus Hartley handled the majority of requisitions for imported firearms. A key figure in American industry (importing pinfire arms and ammunition before, during and after the war), Hartley was also responsible for establishing the Union Metallic Cartridge Co., one of only three American firms known to have manufactured and marketed pinfire ammunition in any quantity. UMC eventually became one of America’s most important ammunition manufacturers.
Immediately after the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861, Jefferson Davis sent Capt. Caleb Huse on a mission to Europe to evaluate the purchase and importation of arms for the Confederacy. At the start of the war thousands of Southerners went into battle with little more than an issued musket, if one was available, and a single-shot flintlock or percussion pistol—arms that had been out of date since the Mexican-American War of the 1840s. This is not to say that Southern states did not manufacture guns; quite the contrary, Southern gunmakers were very skilled but more accustomed to handcrafting sporting rifles, fowling pieces, and dueling pistols. They were disinclined toward mass production; that had always been the work of Northern manufacturers, such as Colt’s and Remington.
Before the war there had been many retailers such as Mitchell & Tyler, Kent, Paine & Co., and Samuel Sutherland in Richmond, Va.; Hyde & Goodrich in New Orleans and other prestigious firms across the South that imported fine pistols and longarms from Europe, thus the South was, by nature, more accustomed to foreign-made arms.
The Union’s Cartridge Confusion
European-made pinfire cartridges were designated in millimeters, which, for the U.S. Ordnance Dept., already burdened with far too many different guns and calibers at the start of the war, made the pinfire cartridges a considerable issue to sort out. The French- and Belgian-made guns were made in an assortment of chamberings including 7 mm, 10 mm, 12 mm and 15 mm. The 12 mm (roughly a .44) was among the most commonly used, although more exotic Belgian pinfire revolvers with as many as 20 chambers in a massive double-stacked cylinder were chambered in 7 mm and 10 mm.
It is interesting to note that payments for guns procured in England by the Confederacy were often made in trade for cotton because Confederate currency had so little value outside of the Southern States. Cotton was a badly needed commodity in Great Britain, which gave the South an advantage in purchase negotiations. By early 1863, Caleb Huse, promoted to the rank of major by Jefferson Davis, had shipped thousands of British, French and Belgian pinfire revolvers and long arms to the Confederacy, thus becoming a pivotal figure in the Civil War. An 1851 graduate of West Point (seventh in his class) he served at West Point from 1852 to 1860 when he was appointed commander of cadets at the University of Alabama.
At the start of the war he resigned his position to join his former West Point commandant, Robert E. Lee, in support of the Confederate cause. Though he first served in the Army, his knowledge of firearms made him a perfect choice for Ordnance.
Living until age 74, Huse was one of the oldest Civil War veterans. He died on March 12, 1905 at his home in Highland Falls, N.Y. After the war he founded the Highland Falls Academy, also known as “The Rocks,” a military preparatory school designed for young men who planned to attend West Point. Among his early students was a young soldier named John J. Pershing.
The guns imported from England, Belgium and France, both before and during the war, played a significant role in not only arming the Confederacy, but the Union as well. One could say that the British and the French were dispassionate, openly selling arms to both sides. While that is certainly one view, Samuel Colt (as well as other Northern arms makers who were still delivering guns to the South at the beginning of the war) would have simply considered it good business.
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