Old South Military Antiques

38th Alabama Identified Griswold and Gunnison Revolver
Item #: OS-7130









Samuel Griswold set up a cotton gin manufactory along the railroad nine miles south of Macon, Georgiain 1835. Evidently, Sam was an enterprising man. He added a foundry, planing mill, saw mill, gristmill, soap and candle factory and a post office, thus founding the town of Griswoldville. When the South was invaded in 1861, Sam began making pikes for the Georgia Government.

Arvin Gunnisonhad begun the manufacture of pistols in New Orleans, Louisiana. When the city fell to the Yankees in the spring of 1862, Arvin and his machinery moved to Griswoldville. There he joined with his old friend Sam Griswold and together they made handgun history.

From July of 1862 until November 22, 1864, when the factory was destroyed by Yankee cavalry, Griswold and Gunnisonproduced over 3,600 revolvers on the Colt’s pattern. Today their brass-framed revolvers are one of the most sought after handguns in the world.

The Griswold and Gunnison revolver shown here is serial number 708. Serial number 708 is stamped into the side of the frame, the side of the barrel lug and the cylinder. Secondary number 8 is stamped on the top of the loading lever and the trigger

The gun is completely original in all regards with the exception of possibly the wedge, as it is unnumbered. However, it has definitely been in the revolver for many, many years and probably always. Two screws are replacements, and it is missing one backstrap screw. This and the normal shrinking of the stock has left a little loose play in the stock. There is zero play between the frame and barrel lug. The gun has seen a lot of use: the grip stock dings and chips, the frame has scratches and the leg has many dings; the rifling is strong, but not pretty. The action is tight and works perfectly and locks up tight. The barrels rifling is strong, but not pretty.

This is one of the very few Confederate manufactured revolvers that are identified to an individual soldier. #708 belonged to Joseph Bankston Holley, Company G, 38th Alabama Infantry. The revolver has been handed down from J.B. Holley, to his son William Holley. J.B. had married Louisa Deloach on December 20th, 1861, just in time for war. He and his brothers enlisted in the Confederate Army and his brother William was killed at Chickamauga, no doubt he and Louisa named their son William in his honor.

William passed the revolver on to his grandson Aubrey Holley, skipping over his own son. Aubrey’s widow sold the gun in 1993, at which time the guns history was recorded by serial number and notarized; a copy of which is shown here.

J.B. Holley enlisted in the Clifton Guards, of Coosa, Alabama and became a Sergeant in Company G, 38th Alabama Infantry. Only one card is in his file, that being a record of his surrender on May 4th, and was paroled on May 12th, 1865 at Citronelle, Alabama. According to the family record he fought in 21 battles and skirmishes with the 38th Alabama.

He returned to Coosa and Louisa, has six children and a good life before passing away in August of 1915 a well respected businessman and farmer. Louisa drew a Confederate Pension for the remainder of her life. They are buried side by side in the Weogufka First Baptist Cemetery in Coosa County, Alabama.


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