Remember The Maine! Revolver edition

From the Artifact Collection, Naval History, and Heritage Command:

NHHC 1960-45-C

One double-action Colt “New Navy” [ Model 1892 Army and Navy Colt] Revolver. The revolver shows extensive damage and loss of material due to exposure to water. The trigger guard, cylinder center pin and the muzzle, including the front sight, are all missing. The trigger and hammer spur are thin and weak as are major portions of the frame. The revolver is completely non-functional due to corrosion and loss of material. The hard rubber grips are present and in relatively good condition aside from some discoloration. The grips both carry the Colt assembly number of 310 hand engraved on the reverse side. The Colt serial numbers for the Navy Model 1895 revolvers fall in the 16XXX to 18XXX range. Based on information available from Colt, the serial numbers 16310, 17310 and 18310 were all assigned to Model 1895 revolvers manufactured in 1895. This would indicate that the grips are at least appropriate to this revolver, if not original.

The heavily corroded condition of this revolver is attributed to the approximately thirteen years it spent underwater aboard the wreck of the USS Maine (ACR-1). In 1898, an explosion caused the Maine to sink in Havana Harbor, Cuba. The ship was raised and salvaged from 1910 to 1912, at which time material was removed as souvenirs and for memorials. It is assumed that the revolver was recovered at this time as the ship was subsequently towed out to sea, scuttled and sunk.

When the USS Maine (ACR-1) was fitted out in 1895 it was provided with the latest design in small arms, including the Colt “New Navy” revolvers. Small arms were carried aboard ship primarily for the use of the US Marine detachment and the ship’s company when engaged in landing party operations. Officers, Petty Officers and personnel such as signalmen, buglers and color bearers would be armed with revolvers while part of a landing force. The Officer of the Deck and the Master at Arms would also carry a sidearm while performing their duties aboard ship.

Notably, the A-SECNAV when Maine went down, Teddy Roosevelt, resigned his post and, with the help of a few of his hard-charging (although horseless) cowboy friends, climbed San Juan Hill (actually Kettle Hill) during the resulting Span-Am War, with one of Maine’s recovered Colts in his holster, brought away to Key West by a survivor.

TR’s historic gun went missing from Saginaw Bay for 16 years and showed up at a gun “buy back” before it was recovered by the FBI. 

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