‘American Treasure’: Revolvers Belonging To Civil War Commander Sell For Millions
Let Us Have Peace by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, depicting the end of Civil War in 1865. Created c. 1920.
Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images.

A pair of revolvers belonging to Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant brought in over $5 million at an auction of historic guns in Illinois. 

The two Remington New Model Revolvers belonging to the Union commander were purchased for $5.17 million at an auction – a record sale for the Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC). 

“Grant’s Remington revolvers, numbered 1 and 2, are arguably the most significant firearms discovered from the Civil War. The set is covered with the artistry of L. D. Nimschke, one of the most renowned master engravers of the 19th century, and features grips carved with Grant’s portrait,” RIAC announced in a press release last week. 

Widely credited with leading the Union to victory during the American Civil War, Grant also fought in the Mexican-American War, served two terms as president, and wrote a bestselling memoir with the help of iconic American author Mark Twain. 

The revolvers were gifted to the Union general after he took the key Southern city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Grant’s victory at Vicksburg, one of the Union’s most important victories in the Western theater of the war, took about one and a half months. The South’s defenders at Vicksburg held out from May 18, 1863, until July 4, 1863, and successfully repelled several attempts by the North to take the city even as the inhabitants faced starvation. 

The Union victory at Vicksburg gave them effectively total control of the Mississippi River and came just after Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s counter-invasion of the North failed at the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. Although Grant would still not be given control of the Union armies until March 1864, any hope of Confederate victory had essentially been squashed by losses at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. 

Grant’s revolvers are seen as an “American treasure” and comparable to Abraham Lincoln’s Henry Rifle or George Washington’s flintlock pistols, according to RIAC. The auction company also noted that the guns “only came to light” in 2018 and feature Grant’s portrait on the handle.

They were originally expected to sell for between $1-3 million but greatly surpassed the initial estimate.

“We are seeing remarkable prices in the collectible firearms market, and this is a tremendous example,” said RIAC President Kevin Hogan. “The growth has been extraordinary year after year, but recently there has been an explosion in the fine arms marketplace. More and more collectors are recognizing the value and importance these objects can carry.”

The auction also featured other historic weapons including a Confederate revolver, one of Wild Bill Hickock’s guns, a firearm belonging to Frank Sinatra, and a weapon owned by former FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover.

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