Tag Archives: teddy Roosevelt

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. 

TR’s SAA Goes for a Cool $1.3M


The above Colt Single Action Army revolver was ordered as a gift for President Theodore Roosevelt’s 54th birthday. Factory engraved and silver-plated, it was shipped four days before his birthday, just over a week prior to the election of 1912 where he ran on the Bull Moose ticket, and 10 days prior to his famous assassination attempt in Milwaukee. It was lost to history for years. 

Complete with Colt factory engraving by master Cuno Helfricht, this M1873 “Peacemaker” now ranks (at time of the auction) as the third-highest firearm ever offered by Rock Island Auction Company– and last week picked up $1.3 million smackers before the gavel ended a wild bidding war.

Sadly, I am sure it will disappear for a few years into a private collection, then resurface only to be sold for a higher bid, and this will be the closest that the public will ever get to it.

Gratefully, though, lots of TR’s hardware is well-preserved in various museum systems. For instance, I worked with Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and Springfield Armory last year to detail his specially-ordered M1903 (SN#0009), which is in their collection.

Happy Birthday, Teddy

This week is the 161st birthday of the iconic sportsman, former assistant NAVSEC, short-term colonel and occasional statesman, Teddy Roosevelt. In honor of this event, I spent the past several months researching one of his guns, a custom M1903 Springfield that had been sporterized.

Roosevelt’s modified M1903, courtesy of the Sagamore Hill collection

However, it wasn’t some aftermarket bubba hack job on the rifle. This custom work was done at Springfield Armory during the M1903’s first year of production, under the close attention of the arsenal’s commanding colonel– with BG William Crozier acting as the go-between.

And TR took the rifle on several hunting trips ranging from Colorado to Africa.

“On the great bear hunt President Roosevelt after leaving Newcastle [Colorado] for the mountains 1905” — note the sporterized M1903, with its distinctive single barrel band and cut-down pistol grip stock.

More on the story of this interesting, and historical M1903, SN0009, in my column at Guns.com.

When President Theodore Rossevelt saw the proposed design for the pigsticker on the Springfield 1903 rifle, he wasn’t amused.

Hey, Mack, there is a screwdriver on the end of your Springer there...

Hey, Mack, there is a screwdriver on the end of your Springer there…

Roosevelt, a conservationist and big game hunter who settled for being president after stints as New York City police commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy and an Army colonel in the Spanish American War knew a thing or three about firearms. Good guy Teddy even used one of the first suppressors built and marketed in the U.S. so that he could target practice at home without bugging the neighbors.

So when he saw what the Army ordnance guys at Springfield Armory came up with for the original design of the M1903 rifle, a flimsy screwdriver looking rod bayonet, he wasn’t impressed.

More in my column at Guns.com