Inscribed to General McCook of the "Fighting McCook" Family and Later Presentation to Hawaiian Royalty.Historic Engraved Henry Model 1860 Lever Action Rifle with History Related to American Civil War General Edward McCook and Hawaiian Royalty, King Kalakaua and Princess Kawananakoa.
Serial no. 8850, .44 RF Henry, 24 1/2-inch octagonal barrel with silver front sight and fixed rear sight. Brass frame, blued barrel and American walnut stock. Samuel Hoggson engraved in typical pattern with arabesque foliate pattern and a vignette of a deer hopping a fence. All three flats are also engraved in the same style of foliate. Top of flat also engraved GEN'L MCCOOK in a ribbon style pattern. The right side of the stock is fitted with a plaque that reads KING KALAKAUA'S / FAVORITE RIFLE / TO / PRINCESS KAWANANAKOA / FROM / COL. JERRY BRANT.
The Henry Rifle: Designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry and manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company from the early 1860s though 1866, this reliable and practical lever action, breech-loading rifle was adopted in limited numbers by Northern forces during the Civil War. In those days, the average soldier was expected to be able to fire up to three rounds per minute through his muzzle-loading Springfield rifle. The groundbreaking Henry could fire sixteen rounds (or seventeen with one in the chamber) without reloading. It was referred to by jealous Confederate soldiers as "That damned Yankee rifle that loads on Sunday and shoots all week long!" Though 14,000 Henrys were manufactured, the government only purchased 1731 for use by soldiers. This caused many soldiers to purchase their own, often with re-enlistment bounty money. Owning a Henry was a point of pride (not to mention a way to dominate a battle).
This rifle was produced in 1865 and is possibly one of the Type II Martial Henrys purchased that year by the Union Army. It is known that the Henry Rifle Company was finding it so difficult to fulfill contracts that they took rifles from civilian production, some of which were engraved and plated, and shipped them to the military. Oftentimes when one of these engraved models showed up at a unit, the officers took them for their own. It is not known if this is how McCook came to possess this weapon or if it was a presentation.
Edward McCook (1833-1909): A member of the famed "Fighting McCook" family of Ohio. Four of his brothers and ten of his first cousins became officers in the Civil War; six family members became generals before the end of the war. Born in Steubenville, Ohio, McCook moved to the Kansas Territory to become a lawyer. He joined the Pike's Peak Gold Rush in 1859 and represented that region in the territorial House of Representatives. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, he traveled to Washington, D.C. serving as a governmental secret agent before enlisting as a cavalry lieutenant in the regular army. Joining the volunteers as a captain in the 2nd Indiana Cavalry, he rose to the rank of colonel by mid-1862, commanding a brigade at Perryville and a regiment at Chickamauga. In April 1864 he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers in command of the First Cavalry Division in the Army of the Cumberland. In May 1865 his division was assigned to regain Federal control and authority in Florida. On May 20, it was McCook who read Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation during a ceremony in Tallahassee, thus officially ending slavery in Florida. By war's end McCook had reached the rank of brevet major general, his fifth brevet promotion for gallantry and meritorious service.
McCook returned to the regular army when the volunteers were mustered out and resigned in 1866 to return to civilian life. He was commissioned by President Andrew Johnson to be the U.S. Minister to the Kingdom of Hawaii, March 21, 1866, serving until April 1869. During his term, one of Gen. McCook's roles was to negotiate a reciprocity treaty between the U.S. and Hawaii. He worked closely with King Kamehameha V, and a treaty was accepted by Hawaii, but not ratified by the U.S. Senate (it would take another eight years for one to pass). The King named McCook a Knights Commander of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I of Hawaii. While in Hawaii, Gen. McCook worked and socialized with a key member of the King's staff, David Kalakaua, and this Henry rifle ended up in his hands. In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Gen. McCook Governor of the Territory of Colorado. He served two terms before returning to personal and business pursuits. His shrewdness as an investor made him one of the richest men in Colorado. He died in Chicago and his buried in his town of birth.
King David Kalakaua (1836-1891): Elected King of Hawaii in 1874, and as it turns out, was the last reigning King of Hawaii. Often called "The Merrie Monarch" for his love of parties, balls, and entertainment, Kalakaua was also a serious leader who secured a reciprocity treaty to eliminate U.S. tariffs, on the condition that Hawaii restrict its sugar trade to the U.S. He took a world tour to enhance relationships around the world, and at a time when several other countries wanted control over the islands, he worked hard to keep Hawaii for the 48,000 native Hawaiians, while still maintaining diplomatic relations. Toward the end of his reign, his cabinet was overthrown and a new constitution developed, taking away most of his power. His health failing, he traveled to the U.S., and though it seemed that he might be getting better, he died suddenly in San Francisco in 1891.
Chain of Provenance through the Hawaiian Royal Family: The McCook/ Kalakaua Henry rifle passed from King Kalakaua to Queen Kapi'olani at Kalakaua's death, and on to Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole upon her death in 1899. The rifle was in the rifle cabinet of Prince Kuhio when the prince died in 1922. Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana?ole, later known as Prince Kuhio, was born in 1871, and became a prince when he was adopted by King David Kalakua's wife, Queen Kapi'olani, who was his maternal aunt. He was appointed to Kalakaua's royal Cabinet administering the Department of the Interior. He is also a significant part of Hawaii's history: in 1895, at the age of 24 and after the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, he participated in an unsuccessful rebellion against the Republic of Hawaii and was sentenced to a year in prison. After his release, he travelled in Europe and South Africa, fighting in the Second Boer War. Upon his return to Hawaii, he continued the family's history of leadership and commitment to the people of Hawaii through his election and service in the US Congress for ten successive terms starting in 1903. After his death, his widow, Elizabeth Kahanu Kalaniana?ole Woods, donated the entire contents of the rifle cabinet to the Bishop Museum which put this rifle and other firearms up for auction in 1932.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerald C. (Jerry) Brant was a pilot and an officer in the U.S. Army Air Force who served as the commanding officer of the 18th Composite Wing (Hawaiian Department) between 1931 and 1934. Brant (a friend of controversial General Billy Mitchell) is said to have issued a warning in 1933 - long before Pearl Harbor - to the Robinson family in Ni'ihau, Hawaii, that the Japanese might be planning an air attack on Hawaii, and that Ni'ihau might be involved. Commander Brant purchased the McCook/ Kalakaua Henry rifle at the Bishop Museum auction in 1932, and made a gift of it back into the royal Hawaiian family, with a nameplate attached to the rifle that reads "King Kalakauas Favorite Rifle - to Princess Kawananakoa from Col. Jerry Brant."
The princess referred to was Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, who lived from 1882-1945. She became Princess as the wife of Prince David Kawananakoa (1868-1908), who was Prince Kuhio's older brother and first cousin to King David Kalakaua. Prince Kawananakoa was a Hawaiian leader in his own right, participating in the 1895 Counter-Revolution, and helping to found the Democratic Party of Hawaii, but died early at age forty. In 1922, with the death of Prince Kuhio, the princess effectively became a key leader of native Hawaiians and took an active part in Hawaii's politics as their advocate. In 1932, she would have also been the Republican national committeewoman for Hawaii.
Princess Kawananakoa's will left the guns belonging to King Kalakaua to her son, David Kalakaua Kawananakoa, who died in 1953 (and whose widow died around 1980). At some point the McCook/ Kalakaua Henry rifle came back to the Bishop museum. The story is that the museum eventually decided that it would no longer display firearms, and the rifle was sold. The last owner was antique firearms collector and Hawaii firearms historian John A. Bell (1931-2008), who cherished the rifle and its incredible history.
NOTE:This is a truly unique Henry rifle with a rich history. It was owned by a hero of the Civil War, the last reigning King of Hawaii, key members of the Hawaiian royal family who significantly impacted Hawaii's history, and by a U.S. Army Air Force Officer who helped develop the U.S. Air Force from its very beginning, served with honor in World War I and World War II, and passed on the prediction of a Japanese air attack on Hawaii long before it happened. Included with this desirable piece of history is an amazing and extensive archive of related research material contained in a 2.5" thick deluxe binder.
PROVENANCE: General Edward McCook; King David Kalakaua, Hawaii; Queen Kapi'Olani, Hawaii; Prince Kuhio Kalaniana'ole, Hawaii; Elizabeth Woods, Hawaii; Col. Gerald C. Brant; Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, Hawaii; David Kalakaua Kawananakoa, Hawaii; Bishop Museum, Hawaii; John A. Bell, noted Hawaiian historian.
CONDITION: Fine as configured. Barrel retains about 15-20% of a restored blued finish with the remainder a mottled silvered-brown patina with fine wear. The receiver retains original traces of silver with minor sharp edge wear and a dark patina. Buttplate retains about 50-60% of the original silver. Buttstock has been revarnished. It has a 1-inch repair size chip of the left side of wrist with various nicks and scratches throughout. Barrel, lever, hammer and screws were refinished with the hammer, trigger and screws retaining bright high polished blue, with moderate to heavy rust on rear edge of hammer. Plaque on the buttstock is a silver patina. Action crisp. Bore very good with rifling. Although the gun has been reconditioned, it shows minor use.
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