Guns of Little Bighorn


Capt. Myles Moylan’s Colt SAA

The Battle of Little Bighorn is one of the most studied battles in American history. Occurring June 25-26, 1876, it was one of the most important military engagements in Western history. Carrying the more popular moniker “Custer’s Last Stand,” it wasn’t a stand at all, but rather Custer leading his men into a massacre. Still, the battle embosses the romance of the Old West, and nothing carries that romance stronger than firearms.

Our friends at Rock Island Auction have a few authenticated guns related to this infamous battle. One gun was actually carried at Little Bighorn, the other, owned by non-other than Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer himself. The auction is on May 17 in Bedford, Texas. You may bid or follow the action on the Rock Island Auction website.

It’s hard to believe the condition of this gun.

History Lesson

Going to Rock Island’s website will give you pages of detailed information and pictures of the guns. Here are some interesting facts I learned when researching Custer.

George Custer achieved the rank of Major General during the Civil War but was demoted to Lieutenant Colonel when the Army downsized afterward. It was simply a reduction of numbers demotion, not a disciplinary punishment. Custer was victorious in over a hundred battles where he led the charge in previous wars. He was known for his bravery, often being several hundred yards ahead of his men during charges.

After the signing of the surrender agreement by the Confederates at Appomattox, Va., Maj. Gen. Custer’s wife was presented with the table on which the document was signed by Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. She was told no one was more responsible for the Union victory than your husband.

Portrait of Capt. Myles Moylan, 7th Cavalry and
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Capt. Myles Moylan Colt SAA

First on this list of interesting guns is a “Fresh” Ainsworth inspected Prime 7th Cavalry Range “Lot Six” U.S. Colt Cavalry Model Single Action Army Revolver accompanied with Kopec letters identifying the revolver to Capt. Myles Moylan, Commander of Co. A, 7th Cavalry, Medal of Honor Recipient and veteran of numerous significant battles, including Gettysburg, Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee. Not your typical cavalry Captain, Moylan was considered the most experienced Indian fighter in the entire Army by many. His Medal of Honor citation reads, “Gallantly led his command in action against Nez Perce Indians until he was severely wounded” during battle at Bear Paw Mountain, Mont.

This historic revolver is a rare Lot Six Colt Single Action Army in Cavalry Model configuration identified and documented as being used by Capt. Myles Moylan, commander of Company A of the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn. It was manufactured with the U.S. Ordnance Department in 1874 and from one of the prime lots issued to the famous 7th Cavalry led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876. A total of 921 Colts were shipped to the 7th Cavalry from the Rock Island Arsenal in 1874. Of those, approximately 300 were from Lot Six.

The revolver features a blade front sight and one-line barrel address. The grip has an outline of a cartouche on the left and faint markings on the right. The revolver is accompanied by letters from author John A. Kopec from 2023 indicating his belief the revolver was Capt. Moylan’s, with serial number 6055, issued to Capt. Moylan. A long-documented trail exists listing the previous owners and travels of the gun.

Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s Calderwood & Son double action pinfire revolver.

Custer and Moylan’s guns together.

Custer’s gun comes in a nifty display box.

Engraved initials of George Armstrong Custer on box.

Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s Calderwood & Son double action pinfire revolver

George A. Custer Personnel Firearm

The auction also includes a historic Calderwood & Son double action pinfire revolver with “G.A.C.” inscribed case and receipt from family descendant Lt. Col. Charles A. Custer, identifying the cased set as owned by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.

This gun is rated fine with a 30% original blue finish, smooth brown patina on the balance, and generally mild age and storage-related wear. The grips are very fine, having crisp checkering and minimal wear. The gun is rated as “mechanically excellent.” The case is also very fine, having minimal wear and crisp inscription. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a George A. Custer revolver documented as from the Custer family’s collection in Michigan! Even if you don’t bid, it’s fun watching the auction or reading about these guns on the Rock Island Auction website.

Winnie taking in her new backyard

All’s Well on the Doggo Front

After two weeks of misery mourning Cooper, the family decided it was time to get a second dog to balance out the household. My daughter Samantha found a rescue nearby us, and we picked her up this past Friday. “Winnie” is a beautiful collie/Golden mix who reminds us of Cooper.

Cooper was our first rescue dog, followed by Maisie and now Winnie. Rescue dogs are a wonderful way to bring you joy while saving a life in the same instance. It sure is nice having another dog lay beside me while I sit in my chair, occasionally dropping my hand and feeling a furry friend there again.

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