|Description and Photograph||
In the spring of 1862, Thomas Leech and Charles Rigdon contracted with the Confederate Government to produce 1,500 revolvers. They began manufacturing revolvers on Colt’s pattern in Columbus, Mississippi. No more than two to three hundred were made in Mississippi before December of 1862, when the firm evacuated and eventually relocated in Greensboro, GA. Production on their pistols began again in March of 1863. Leech and Rigdon manufactured revolvers in Greensboro until their partnership dissolved on December 13, 1863. It is thought that 900 revolvers were made in total up until this dissolution.
On January 1, 1864 another partnership was formed for the purpose of supplying the Confederacy with revolvers. This new partnership consisted of Charles H. Rigdon, Jesse A. Ansley, A. J. Smith and Charles R. Keen. This firm was known as Rigdon, Ansley & Co. With the formation of Rigdon, Ansley & Co. another move began; this time to Augusta, Georgia. In Augusta, approximately another 600 revolvers were manufactured which completed the original contract for 1,500 revolvers.
Upon the completion of the original contract some few changes in the design were made, the most notable of which was the addition of six extra cylinder stop cut outs, for a total of twelve. This allotted one stop for each cylinder and one to provide a safe seat for the hammer between each cylinder. The loading lever catch was also changed and a cap release groove was added. The lowest surviving “12 stop” Rigdon, Ansley revolver known is number 1512 and the highest is number 2373. The “Leech & Rigdon CSA” barrel marking was reduced to “Augusta GA CSA” for about 150 revolvers and then dropped to “CSA”. Rigdon, Ansley & Co. continued their production until April of 1865 when Sherman took Augusta. Charles Rigdon was at the founding of Leech & Rigdon and the fall of Rigdon, Ansley & Co. during which time he produced 2,400 revolvers, making him the second most successful revolver maker in the Confederacy.
The Rigdon, Ansley Revolver shown here is number 1857. The serial number is found on the cylinder, frame, trigger guard, stock, leg, loading lever, loading lever catch and back strap. The trigger assembly was not disassembled, but shows no sign of having been disturbed.
Not only is the gun original, it is in excellent condition; there is no play between the frame and leg - none! The gun is in such good condition it is a bit hard to tell, but in my opinion the gun was cleaned sometime prior to 1984. The rifling remains strong. The mechanics are tight and function well. The markings, including the CSA are extremely strong and crisp. In the accompanying image of the CSA, it appears as though there is a shiny area where the CSA is stamped, this is not the case; the bright area is an optical illusion created by the photo lights. There are some small pits on the barrel and leg created by a vice, but not a modern vice, these were done at the Rigdon, Ainsley factory. There are also some dings on one section of the cylinder where someone pecked on it or it rode against something metal while holstered. With the exception of these couple of places the metal is perfect. The lines remain sharp. In sum, the gun has very little wear. In fact it is in near mint condition.
This revolver is listed by serial number 1857, in William Albaugh’s Confederate Revolvers, page 54.