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Colt “Navy Model” Revolver

Colt “Navy Model” Revolver  18511851
Gift of Mrs. Stanley Edwards, 1952.5.0

The .36 calibre Colt revolver was one of the most popular American military pistols in the decade leading up to the Civil War. Produced by Hartford’s Colt Manufacturing Company, these weapons saw service in both Union and Confederate armies. Although this pistol is referred to as a “Navy Model” because of its engraved naval battle scene on the cylinder, it was used primarily by the Army.

This revolver belonged to twenty-one-year-old William Gedney Bunce (1840-1916) of Hartford, a newly-minted lieutenant with the 1st Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Cavalry in 1861. Bunce carried it during his fourteen months of wartime service, which ended after he sustained a leg wound, leaving him with a permanent limp.

Bunce, who had postponed art studies to enlist, went on to establish a career as a successful landscape painter. Ironically, after cheating death in the war, Bunce became a statistic after all—Hartford’s first auto vs. pedestrian fatality.