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    1873 Springfield Little Big Horn Relic Gun. Accompanied by a notarized affidavit detailing the discovery of this gun in 1938 by a fly fisherman who saw it barely sticking out of the Sandy Bank of the Little Big Horn. Like the Colt Army sold in our first Legends of the Wild West auction in June 2012 (Lot 44165), this Springfield was most probably dropped into the water during heat of battle, as the river was very high on June 25, 1876. However, once the river receded to its usual level, the guns were left embedded in the sandy bank, where they would wait some six decades to be recovered. The original discoverer of the Springfield provided a map showing where the gun was found, roughly at the point where Reno's men retreated across the river to take up a defensive position on higher ground.

    While it would be exciting to believe that this Springfield was dropped by a 7th Cavalryman, it is much more likely that it was carried into the battle by an Indian combatant. It is true that the 7th was armed with 1873 Springfields, but they were saddle carbines. This gun is a correct military-issue Springfield, but it is a rifle, not a carbine, immediately identifiable by its barrel length. However, the barrel of this rifle had been cut down while still in use to a length in between that of a carbine and a standard rifle, most probably to make it a more convenient length for use by a mounted warrior. Unfortunately the gun has deteriorated too badly for a serial number to be recovered, but it is likely that it was a prize obtained in an earlier clash with regular army troops.

    The relic Colt from Little Big Horn auctioned by Heritage in 2012 drew very spirited bidding before hammering for $45,000. The Springfield offered here has been effectively mounted for display, partially inset into a wood plaque for wall hanging. While generally deteriorated, it is essentially "all there," and has an appealing, haunting display presence. A rare opportunity to obtain such an evocative relic of this legendary battle.

    Please note: It has come to our attention that the sight on this military-issue Springfield dates it to 1877 or shortly thereafter. Accordingly, it cannot have been dropped during the Little Big Horn battle as previously believed. It is still highly likely that this gun was obtained and used by an Indian because of the cut down barrel. There is no reason to doubt the notarized affidavit describing how and where the gun was discovered, so the odds are that it was lost in the river by a passing Indian sometime in the next several years after the battle.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,251

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
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