Step-brothers David Farragut and David Porter, both U.S. naval captains, worked together to capture the forts protecting New Orleans in the spring of 1862. For this immensely important Union victory early in the Civil War, Captain Farragut presented this pistol to Captain Porter. The revolver is a cased English Webley “Longspur” single action pistol engraved with gold inlaying reading: “Capt’n D.D. Porter, from Capt’n D.G. Farragut – 1862.” This outstanding Civil War presentation revolver is in its original case with appropriate accouterments.
Three tomahawks from among the large number held by the Pamplin Collection. On the left is a tomahawk recovered from the field of the Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876). At the center is possibly the earliest-known tomahawk made in the style of an English Halberd. On the far right is a Missouri War “Bleeding Heart” tomahawk (ca. 1830) mounted onto a gun barrel.
At the top of this collection of five rifles is a Sharps Model 1853 Breach Carbine elaborately decorated in solid gold wire inlay and gilt floral designs, reminiscent of Ottoman Empire fashions. Sharps were valued worldwide, including in western Asia and the Middle East.
When Columbus arrived in the New World, upwards of 100 million buffalo roamed North America’s prairie and woodlands. By the Civil War, the herds had been reduced by more than a third. Between 1865 and the early 1880s, as the hunt for tongue was overshadowed by the hunt for hides, the buffalo was nearly annihilated. The weapon of choice was the western “Buffalo Rifle,” Sharps, Remington, and Ballard being the leaders. The two largest rifles shown here (next-to-the-top and the middle gun)—among the dozens in the Pamplin Collection—are fine examples of the buffalo rifle. The largest gun here, a .58 caliber made by Sam Hawken of St. Louis, in the 1860s, is a forerunner to the 16 lbs Sharps buffalo rifles of the 1870s. It is one of the earliest of its type. The rifle at center is a Sharps 16-pounder with a long-range telescope attributed to James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, who, because of his failing eyesight, would have used the rifle with such a scope.
The second-from-the-bottom rifle, a ’66 Winchester was given to Indian scout Yellowstone Kelly by his friend Walter Cooper in 1879. One of Montana’s founding fathers, Cooper had arrived in the Montana Territory in 1863 where he sold guns and frontier goods, traded furs with Indians, and mined. Yellowstone Kelly, explored the Yellowstone Basin and served as chief scout for General Nelson Miles. He fought in several campaigns in the Indian Wars. The rifle at the bottom belonged to Captain Albert Barnitz (“AB”) of the USA 7th Cavalry. Barnitz was badly wounded at the Washita fight in 1868. The carbine was issued during the Civil War.
Earliest known American handgun–forerunner of Colt and Smith & Wesson–this gun’s lock and barrel started life together on a pistol made by the Dutch gunsmith Jan Knoop during the mid-17th century. In the early 18th century, it was restocked in cherry wood by an American gunsmith, likely in New York. All metal parts are original.