Old South Military Antiques

Identified Whitney Revolver and VA Sword
Item #: OS-7598

The revolver and sword shown here belonged to Major William Jefferson Dance, who raised and mustered into Confederate service, as Captain Dance’s Company, Virginia Light Artillery, on July 16th, 1861. The command was also known as the Virginia Powhatan (county) Artillery.

The following spring they were in the Siege of Yorktown, after which they were assigned to Brown’s Battalion, Reserve Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia. They were in the Seven Days Battles and then Sharpsburg, missing 2nd Manassas. At Sharpsburg the battery was equipped with one 3″ Ordnance Rifle and one 6 pounder gun. The battery was posted to guard Boteler’s Ford on the Virginia side of the Potomac River near Shepherdstown and was not on the field of the main battle at Sharpsburg Their next fight was at Fredericksburg on December 13th, 1862.

During winter quarters they were assigned to Brown’s Battalion, Reserve Artillery, 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.

In the spring of 1863, they fought in the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1-4, 1863. After which they rolled with General Lee’s artillery train to Gettysburg. At Gettysburg, Captain Dance commanded Brown’s Battalion of Artillery; his place commanding the battery was taken by Lt. John Cunningham. The battery was heavily engaged, firing 308 rounds.

In the fall the battery was assigned to the 2nd Corps Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia, when most of Longstreet’s Corps was transferred to the Western Theater. During the Bristoe and Mine Run Campaigns, Captain Dance was in Command of the Brown’s Battalion Artillery. After these campaigns, the Battalion remained relatively undisturbed during winter quarters 1863,1864

The Battalion went back into action May 5-6, at the Battle of the Wilderness and again on May 8-21, at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, where Captain Dance’s Artillery helped plug the gap after the Federal attack broke through the Confederate line. During Grant’s overland campaign the Battery engaged at the Battle of North Anna, the Battle of Cold Harbor and wound up in the works at Petersburg.

During the fall they were assigned to Hardaway’s Battalion, 1st Corps Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia, and were once again brought into battle at Chaffin’s Farm on September 29th. While Captain Dance was commanding the Battalion, he was wounded in the shoulder during the Battle of New Market Heights, which disabled him temporarily. While home recovering, he was promoted to the rank of Major, as more fitting for a Battalion Commander, but before he was able to return to duty, the War ended. His old Battery would be virtually destroyed at Saylor’s Creek. Only one man remained to surrender at Appomattox.

Major Dance’s well used Whitney Revolver, serial number 2942, is totally untouched and in the black. The revolver’s metal remains smooth, tight and original. Mechanically it is sound, but it does not always (though usually) index correctly. The barrel’s muzzle shows extensive wear from the many miles traveled in Dance’s holster. Note the butt is cut for a lanyard, a Confederate only alteration. Major Dance’s Virginia Manufactory sword, without scabbard, still survives in its untouched but not so pristine condition. It seems to have been stored in a barn rather than the house. It is dark, lightly pitted and most of the leather grip wrap is missing.

Major Dance had no descendants, so his revolver and sword passed from his sister, Virginia Eppes Dance Campbell, to her son, Irving Eppes Campbell, to his son Addie Dabney Campbell, to his son, Paxton S. Campbell, who sold the group and provided a notarized statement attesting to the line of descent, (which I have authenticated) in 2014.

I think this is quite a bargain at this price.