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   After the Battle of Little Bighorn, Fort Abraham Lincoln
remained the headquarters for the 7th Cavalry until 1882
when they transferred to Fort Meade. As discussed in included
newspaper articles, Fort Abraham Lincoln was abandoned by the
military in 1891, and Major W.C. Gooding was the custodian for
the fort which remained government property. He reported that in
1892 that settlers were “engaged in the practice of carrying off doors,
windows, blinds, hinges, shelving, lumber, etc.” and that he could not catch
the thieves. He indicated, “Arrangements have now been made so that it will be extremely
hazardous for settlers to plunder the old buildings at Fort Lincoln.” Exactly what was done to
make the place hazardous is not clear, perhaps it included turning a few revolvers into booby
traps, but whatever he tried clearly did not work. In 1894, he indicated that his efforts were
in vain and that settlers continued to steal, particularly noting, “The Russian settlers in that
vicinity have been engaged in thieving the lumber and outbuildings for some time, making
their visits mostly during the night, and all efforts to catch them have failed. During the past
few weeks, however, they have grown bolder, and on Saturday night, a small army, numbering
over 100, put in an appearance with teams, pick-axes, and all necessary appliances, read to clean every
inch of lumber from the spot.” The major attempted to stop them, but he was attacked with bricks and stones and chased off allowing the looters to continue destroying the buildings, including the house Lt. Col. Custer and his wife had called home. Little of the original fort remained. However, the land became Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in 1907 after Theodore Roosevelt deeded the land to North Dakota, and reconstructed buildings and markers built by the CCC during the Great Depression now stands in the original buildings’ places.
The included gold seal letter from noted Colt Single Action Army authority John A. Kopec indicates that, while no record was found for this revolver in
the National Archives as is all too often the case, it falls between sn. 6028 and 6177 which were both issued to Company F of the 2nd Cavalry. Kopec
indicates the “Activity dates” for 6028 and 6177 are from October 12, 1878, but Kopec indicates “Issues of these revolvers to the Second Cavalry were
made on June 11, 1874. Most of the 2nd Cavalry were at that time stationed at Fort Laramie or other nearby outposts in the Wyoming Territory.” This
revolver also falls even closer between serial numbers 6135 and 6149 noted as New York Militia revolvers on page 28 of “Colt Cavalry and Artillery
Revolvers...a Continuing Study” by Kopec and Fenn. It also falls fairly close to sn. 6038 noted as “Custer Agency” and 6048 listed as a “Custer Battle
back strap” on page 25 of the same text. Returning to the letter, Kopec further notes, “This revolver’s serial number also falls within Lot Six (#5505-#6516).
Lot Six was one of the ‘prime’ lots from which many of the revolvers issued to the Seventh Cavalry originated. Although most of the ‘Custer era’ examples had been drawn from ‘Lot Five’ (#4500-#5504). We have evidence that Lot Six had also contributed a significant share of these revolvers. These issues were well mixed by serial number between the 7th and 2nd Cavalry regiments. Our subject revolver’s serial number #6140 falls between #6067, a revolver listed in our book ‘Colt Cavalry & Artillery Revolvers’ as being a ‘Presumptive, Fort Peck Sioux Agency, Alleged battle history’ example, and #6269 a revolver which was found at Sitting Bull’s camp, Saskatchewan, Canada, c. 1959. So it is plain to see that the serial number proximity of the subject revolver also supports its being issued to the Seventh Cavalry. The Seventh Cavalry received their initial quotas of these new ‘Strap-Pistols’ on July 2, 1874, just prior to their departure into the Black Hills.” Later in the letter, Kopec notes that “Survival of these Cavalry revolvers in their original configuration is generally attributed to their having been lost, captured by the Hostiles, or ‘liberated’ by a deserter. The writer however believes that there may be other reasons for their survival which may be disclosed in future years. There just seems to be too many early Cavalry revolvers surviving today to attribute this fact only to these three scenarios.” One such scenario could certainly be that it was still at Fort Abraham Lincoln, possibly being used by Major W.C. Gooding for security, and was stolen by looters in the 1890s.
CONDITION: Fine overall with 40% original blue finish on the barrel which exhibits holster wear and fading on the sides, traces of original finish elsewhere such as flashes of original case colors in the sight groove and other protected areas, mostly a very attractive mix of natural aged gray and brown patina on the balance, some filing on the front sight blade, a series of dings on the bottom of the barrel ahead of the cylinder pin, mild cylinder drag lines, some faint pitting, distinct markings, and a very attractive frontier issued look overall. The grip is also fine and has a faint but legible cartouche on the left, moderate lower edge wear, some light dings and scratches, and strong original finish. Mechanically excellent. This is an incredible opportunity to add a highly desirable Lot Six U.S. Colt Cavalry Model Single Action Army revolver to your collection with documented North Dakota provenance.
Provenance: The Lenard Cave Collection; The Richard Atkinson Collection; The Tom Odom Collection; Property of a Gentleman.
Estimate: 30,000 - 50,000
"Our subject revolver's serial number #6140 falls between #6067, a revolver listed in our book "Colt Cavalry Artillery Revolvers" as being a "Presumptive, Fort Peck Sioux Agency, Alleged battle history" example, and #6269 a revolver which was found at Sitting Bull's camp, Saskatchewan, Canada, c1959." - author John Kopec, from the included Kopec Gold Seal letter

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