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LOT 1296
Outstanding Historic, Documented Presentation Cased Pair of Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolvers Inscribed to Captain A.L. Hough by
the Union Rifles of Terre Haute, Indiana, During
the Civil War -A) Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver
- Serial no. 117958, 36 cal., 7 1/2 inch octagon bbl., blue/casehardened/silver finish, walnut grips. This extraordinarily high condition cased pair of Colt Model 1851 Navy revolvers is truly among the finest in the world and would be nearly impossible to improve upon. They were manufactured at the tail end of 1861 and have the additional “2” marking by the serial numbers that was used in 1862 to designate special finishing per Charles Pate’s research suggesting the pair was finished in early 1862. The back straps are inscribed “PRESENTED TO CAP A.L. HOUGH BY UNION RIFLES TERRE HAUTE IND.” In January 1862, The Terre Haute Star ran Hough’s recruiting advertisements, and he organized the Union Rifles that year. Captain Hough himself recorded the presentation
of the pair to him by the Union Rifles in April of 1862. The revolvers feature the classic combination of blue, casehardened, and silver plated finishes and have the one-line New York barrel address, standard Colt patent markings, and matching serial numbers. They are cased in their original mahogany case which contains a spare cylinder (not numbered), ID tags believed to be from the set’s time in Albert Foster Jr.’s collection, a Colt patent powder flask, Colt patent ball/bullet mold, L-shaped combination tool, Eley Bros. cap tin, four cartridge packs, and some lead balls.
This incredible pair is listed in the 1942 Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog “Loan Exhibition of Percussion Colt Revolvers” on page p. 19, pictured in “Samuel
Colt Presents” on p. 134-135, in the “Antique Arms Annual” from 1971 on p, 105, listed in “Colt’s History
and Heroes” by John G. Hamilton on p. 17 and 25. It is accompanied by an extraordinary amount of research material contained in four binders and an additional box, including copies of handwritten letters and Hough’s autobiography transcribed by Greg Lampe, along with portraits of Hough and his wife and a framed picture of the cased set, including an approximately 25 1/2 by 31 1/2 inch painting of General Hough signed by Lena Mills Everett (1867-1921) in 1901.
The inscriptions indicate this stunning set was presented to Captain Alfred Lacey Hough (1826-1908) who was born in southern New Jersey and joined Pennsylvania’s Washington Grays artillery corps in 1853. He and the Grays joined Company F of the 17th Pennsylvania Volunteers on April 18, 1861, less than a week after the firing on Fort Sumter and just three days after Lincoln’s first call for troops. Hough was discharged on June
29, 1861, in order to serve as a captain in the 19th U.S. Infantry. His time recruiting for the army in Terre Haute, Indiana, and organizing the Union Rifles is noted in the book “Soldier in the West: The Civil War Letters of Alfred Lacey Hough” edited by Robert G. Athearn (included) on pages 54-56. On July 16, 1861, from Indianapolis
he wrote to his wife saying: “Our blanks &c. arrived
from Washington to-day so I suppose I shall get off to Terre Haute in a few days. I tried hard to get my station changed but could not. I fear we shall have a hard time to
Featured in "Samuel Colt Presents" by Wilson
get recruits from all accounts; the people will volunteer but not join the regular army. I shall look for boarding for a ‘family’ as soon as I get there. Everybody says it is a very pleasant place...” He later wrote, “My life at Terre Haute was tiresome, and I longed to be in the field. I interested myself however by organizing a Home Guard, the Union Rifles, composed of the young businessmen of the place, these I instructed and was the means of preparing a number of young men for Officers of Volunteers which they subsequently became.” Hough later wrote in his handwritten autobiography, “Before leaving Terre Haute the Union Rifles presented me with a handsome pair of pistols which I still have, souvenirs of those gallant young men many of whom I afterward met in the field and too many of whom never returned from it.”
The Evansville Daily Journal on July 22, 1862, under the headline “The Union Rifles of Terre Haute” stated “Among the most prompt to respond to the call for troops to defend the border from guerrilla bands, were the Union Rifles, an independent military company of Terre Haute. This company is composed of the best men of Terre Haute. Merchants, bankers, lawyers, doctors, clerks, mechanics, etc. They are strictly independent, having equipped themselves, and are thoroughly organized and well drilled, having received valuable assistance from Capt. A.L. Hough, of the 19th United States Infantry, a highly accomplished officer...They are anxious for a fight, and it would afford them ineffable pleasure to meet Adam Johnson and his band of rebbers. They would show them how earnest men and honest industrious citizen- soldiers treat hospital robbers and horse thieves.-If they should have the good fortune to meet Adam they would
not leave him worth the last three letters of his name. They would not take many prisoners. The rifles have enlisted into the United States service.”
After receiving these revolvers, Hough fought in the Army of the Cumberland in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia after the bloody battle of Shiloh became Commissary of Musters at the Headquarters of the 2nd Division, XIV Corps under Major General James S. Negley and then served Negley’s aide-de-camp. Afterwards,
he was commissary of muster under Major General George H. Thomas who recommended him for the brevet promotion to major after Chickamauga. He served for
a period on the staff of General Rousseau as well and worked to recruit men from Indiana. He was working
for Thomas when he successfully defended Nashville against General Hood in the last major battles of the Civil War in the Western Theater and became Thomas’ Acting Assistant Adjutant General at Nashville. Hough remained in the U.S. Army as a captain after the Civil War and was later stationed in the Military Division of the Pacific as an aide-de-camp to General Thomas until the latter’s death in March of 1870 and then was reassigned to the 13th U.S. Infantry which saw service in the West during the Indian Wars, including during the Great Sioux War and as commander of Fort Davis in the Arizona Territory in 1882. He was promoted to colonel. He retired on April 23, 1890, at the mandatory retirement age of 64 after 29 years of active duty.

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