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Rogers & Spencer .44 Army: Possibly the Best Civil War Revolver

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Amos Rogers and Julius Spencer ran a company making mostly farm equipment in the 1840s and 1850s. In 1859, they took on a firearms manufacturing contract (as mechanical fabrication companies often do) to make Pettengill revolvers. The Pettengill was not a fantastic design, but it was good enough that after the Civil War broke out, the Union gave Rogers & Spencer a contract to make 5,000 of them and also 25,000 standard muskets. The musket production went well, although the revolvers had problems – more due to the design than any fault of the manufacturers.

By the summer of 1864, Rogers and Spencer had decided to try their own hand at revolver design. Using the experience gained from the Pettengill, they came up with a .44 caliber single action Army type revolver very similar to the Freeman, and in November 1864 got a contract to make 5,000 of them for the Army. Deliveries began with 500 in January of 1865 and a further 500 each month until the contract concluded successfully. Naturally, being a well-designed and effectively manufactured gun, they were too late to actually see combat service in the war.

Instead, all of the Rogers & Spencer revolvers were put into storage, where they stayed until 1901. At that point they were finally old as surplus. The entire lot of 4,982 (eighteen having gone mine over the intervening 4 decades) was purchased by Francis Bannerman for jut over 25 cents each, and then listed for sale in his catalog at $3.85.

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