Just who the heck is Mad Harry, anyway?
One of the first revolvers to shoot metallic cartridges, this Smith & Wesson Model No. 1 First Issue had a cylinder that held seven .22 short cartridges, patent of 1857. This particular Model No. 1 is engraved, “Mad Harry / Fairfax Court House / July 15th 1861.” on one side and on the other, it is engraved, “Lt. Col. HD Townsend / 1st Cavalry.” On the butt, is engraved “Charlotte”
Lt. Col. Townsend served in the 1st Connecticut Cavalry and received this revolver 153 years ago – less than a week before the battle of 1st Manassas on July 21, 1861. As for the “Mad Harry” nickname or just who Charlotte was? That remains a mystery
The First Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Cavalry was organized 23 Oct 1861 which means that Townsend had unit marking at least added after he received the pistol. The regiment fought with the Army of the Potomac and was present at the Battle of Cross Keys, Second Battle of Bull Run, Spotsylvania Court House, Petersburg, Strasburg, Five Forks, Appomattox and others, being mustered out of service on August 2, 1865. So you can bet this little S&W saw a good bit of campaigning.