DescriptionTwo Colt Revolvers Belonging to Lt. William H. Sharp 8th Texas Cavalry Terry's Texas Rangers with Great Back Story These two revolvers were the subject of national news stories after the consignor went to an estate auction in Fayetteville, Tenn. in October of 2006. One of the items at the auction was a large 19th century leather traveling trunk that was locked and could not be opened. The auctioneer said they chose not to damage the trunk by trying to open it and it would be sold 'as is where is'. It was obvious to the consignor the trunk contained something but he, of course, had no idea what. He went ahead and purchased the trunk for $30. After drilling out the lock he discovered in the right tray of the trunk hidden by some clothing, these two pistols.
The first of the guns is a Colt M1851 .36 caliber percussion Navy revolver #86256 matching, manufactured in 1859. The gun is overall smooth and dark with just a couple of tiny patches of light pitting, very minor, showing honest wear and use. retains traces of the cylinder scene has a number of tiny dings on the bottom of the grip straps and the bottom of the left side grip shows serious damage as if possible eaten by a rodent. Obviously a very long time ago. The right grip is fine. The action works fine but the gun will not stay at full cock. Very neatly inscribed in block letters on the inside grip strap, obviously with a hand tool, is "LT. W. H. SHARP", the periods actually being tiny squares, and on the top of the grip strap, obviously by the same hand "T. R. ". Sharp mustered into the 8th Texas Cav. on September 7, 1861. He was wounded seriously at Murfreesboro, Tn. on December 31, 1862 and left on the field, being subsequently captured. After recovering from his wound (doubtless without the guns which apparently remained in Tennessee) he reported to his conscript officer in February of 1863. He returned to his regiment in August 1863, but was subsequently appointed Assistant Adjutant General to General Wharton. After the war Sharp was elected Sheriff of Brazoria County serving from 1878 until 1882. It is certainly reasonable to assume that the "T. R. " on the backstrap of the Navy refer's to Terry's Rangers.
The other gun is a Colt M1849 Pocket model , #29144 matching manufactured in 1853. Five shot with two line New York address. The gun retains 50% of the original cylinder scene and 40% of the original silver. There is one replaced frame screw, done by the consignor. The gun exhibits a generally smooth dark patina overall with some scattered salt and peppering. Mechanically fine with excellent grips. Although there is nothing that specifically identifies this gun as also belonging to Sharp it is certainly a reasonable assumption based on the circumstances under which it was discovered. The set is accompanied by much other documentary material including a letter from the auction company verifying that the consignor purchased the trunk with the contents sight unseen as well as voluminous additional history on Sharpe. Both guns are completely in the black and untouched, with the exception of the replacement of the frame screw.
Terry's Texas Ranger fought in more days of combat, across more states, with fewer desertions, than any other Confederate military unit. The Rangers fought in over 1000 engagements and were identified by Union Gen. William T. Sherman as the best of all Confederate Cavalry regiments.
A superb piece of Civil War Confederate and Texas history with a remarkable story related to its coming to light.
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