Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record

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Maker/Manufacturer:SAVAGE & NORTH
Date of Manufacture:1861-1865
Eminent Figure:
Catalog Number:SPAR 910
Measurements:OL: 35.5CM 14" BL: 18.4CM 7 1/4" 3.6 lbs.

Object Description:

Manufactured by Savage R.F.A. Co., Middletown, Ct. - Standard Civil War period wartime production of the Savage-North percussion 6-shot Navy, not to be confused with the more rare "Figure 8" Savage-North Navy (SPAR-782). Round cylinder, octagonal barrel. Blued finish, with casehardened hammer and lever, trigger guard and triggers. Two-piece smooth walnut grips. Brass cone front sight is located 7/16" from the muzzle, with the rear sight being formed by a 'V' notch in a rounded lug on the top strap behind the cylinder. Weapon weighs approximately 3 lbs. 6 oz. Approximately 20,000 were manufactured with 11,984 purchased by the government.

Frame: SAVAGE R.F.A. CO. MIDDLETOWN, CT./H.S. NORTH PATENTED JUNE 17, 1856/JANUARY 18, 1859, MAY 15, 1860.
Grips: Faint inspector's mark on left grip.

Weapon transferred to the Museum from the N.Y. Arsenal on 26 April 1902.

1909 Catalog #7060 - "Revolver. Savage Revolver. Cal. .36-25. Percussion. Savage R.F.A. Co., Middletown, Conn. From N.Y. Arsenal, April 26, 1902."

Exhibit label: "Savage & North Navy Model Revolver .36 caliber, 1861-1863, 20,000 made. In order to solve the problem of gas leakage between the cylinder and barrel, a problem common in all revolvers, the chambers of the cylinder fit over the rear of the barrel. When cocked by the lower ring, the cylinder backs up, turns, then moves forward to seal the gap. A similar system would appear years later on the Russian Nagant revolver."

Notes: Edward B. Savage received his first contract for pistols with the United States Navy on July 20, 1858. As the pistol improved, so did the contracts. Not only was the Savage selling to the U.S. Government, but his pistols were being acquired by various arms dealers who sold them to the Ordnance Department. Such retailers included William J. Sym and Bros. and Schulyer, Hartley, and Graham. Ultimately a total of 11,384 Savage Revolvers were purchased by the Union Army and 1,126 purchased by the Union Navy. By mid year 1862, the Savage contracts were beginning to dwindle as Colt and Remington were securing the majority of orders.
Union Cavalry Regiments armed with the Savage revolver included: 6th, 10th, and 13th Illinois; 5th and 15th Kansas; 11th Kentucky; 3rd, 4th, and 7th Missouri Volunteers; 7th N.Y.; 3rd Ohio; 7th Pennsylvania; Potomac Brigade; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 14th Missouri State Militia; 1st and 2nd Wisconsin; and 1st Vermont.

"The perfected Savage Navy Revolver was with the flat iron frame and a shrouded loading lever, but of more conventional hinged lever form, not creeping type. The cylinder reciprocated to seal off gas escape. Improvements in manufacturing the frame had been made; no longer was the breech turned with a rounded boss, but was just a flat lip or flange to protect in case of multiple discharge. This was quite improbable, and the nipples were set into recesses like the Wesson and Leavitts, well protected, with hammer nose striking downward through the top of the frame. A full trigger guard now surrounded the ring trigger, and extended back in a strip to the handle frame. This model by the fall of 1861 was confirmed for production. A .36 caliber six-shooter, it is spoken of as a 'Navy' revolver only because of the caliber. It was Savage's hope to sell these to the Army....
The Savage revolver was unappreciated when it was in service; without the glowing testimonials of a dozen officers flattered to find themselves in print, it was not a commercial success. Called 'Navy,' the majority were employed by the Army. Of these, hundreds which had been issued and turned in dirty and rusty, were bought out of New York Arsenal by Bannerman and peddled off at 25 cents each. But of the lot, some were brand new, in the original packing cases. For these Bannerman wanted a little more. With Colt .44 New Model Army at $2.85 each, and Whitney's complete with bullet moulds and 100 caps for $3., Bannerman had the unmitigated gall to ask - and eventually to get - $16 apiece for these rev
"...Another such arm, though somewhat better than the Pettengill, was the Savage revolver. The weapon was operated by a double ring in the shape of the figure "8" inside of an oversized trigger guard. The lower ring of the "8" operated the mechanism by rotating the cylinder and cocking the hammer; the trigger inside the upper ring was used to fire the arm. In its need for pistols, the army bought or contracted for over 11,000 of these arms, but they were liked by few, and were dropped from issue as soon as they could be replaced." - Carl L. Davis

"A .36-caliber single-action revolver sporting a 7 1/2-inch octagonal barrel, the Savage measures 14 1/4-inches from muzzle to butt - comparable in size to Colt's eight-inch-barreled Model 1860 .44 Army (which runs 14 inches in length). However, that's where any comparisons stop. Considered by many as one of the 'ugly ducklings' of Civil War arms, the Savage could be summed up as possessing both an ungainly appearance and awkward handling characteristics. Its most prominent features are a high-profile, musket-styled hammer, offset in the top of its solid frame and an oversized triggerguard containing a cocking lever and a trigger. This cocking lever cocks the hammer and rotates the cylinder by drawing it rearward and away from the barrel. When this ring-cocking lever is released, it forces the cylinder forward again, firmly against the barrel, forming a gas tight seal. Pulling the trigger then releases the hammer to fire the revolver.
Manufactured by the Savage Revolving Fire-Arms Co. of Middletown, Connecticut, the gun evolved from the earlier Savage-North design of the late 1850s. The sixgun must have been considered an oddball even by Victorian standards, as only about 20,000 were produced from 1860, when the company was formed by its patentees Henry North and Edward Savage, until the mid-1860s, when production of the revolver ceased." - Phil Spangenberger, GUNS & AMMO, March, 1999

"During the first two years of the Civil War, the government purchased 11,284 Savage-North .36 caliber revolvers at $19.00 each, of which over 10,000 were delivered to the Army, with the majority received by June, 1862." - Reilly

"Only one formal contract was entered for the North-Savage .36 caliber revolvers during the conflict. This order of May 7 with Captain Hitchcock called for the Savage Revolving Fire Arms Company of Middletown, Connecticut, to supply the Navy with 800 pistol revolvers of North-Savage patent at $20 each. The revolvers were the standard wartime models. Deliveries were as follows: 300 in May, 200 in June, 100 in July, 100 in August, and the last 100 in September. The 100 revolvers received at Philadelphia in May were issued to the frigate St. Lawrence then being outfitted for sea.
The St. Lawrence was first assigned to the Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In March 1862, she was one of the Union fleet ships damaged at Hampton Roads by fire from the CSS Virginia. She remained in naval service until December 1875 when she was sold. Other vessels to be issued the Savage during the early days of the war were the DeSoto, James Alger, Star & Stripes, Unadilla, Valley City and the Young River. The most famous vessel to have had Savage revolvers on board was the frigate Constitution. At the start of the war, she was the practice ship for the Naval Academy. On February 16, the Boston Navy Yard sent to the academy 50 Savage revolvers. These revolvers would have been on Board the Constitution when she left with the midshipmen for their new home at Newport, Rhode Island, on April 24, 1861." - McAuley

"During the Civil War, from 1 January 1861 through 30 June 1866, the national government purchased 3,477,655 muskets, rifles, carbines and pistols, 544,475 swords, sabers and lances, 2,146,175 complete set of infan11,284 Savage revolvers $221,355.75." - Hartzler, Yantz & Whisker

Davis, Carl L. SMALL ARMS IN THE UNION ARMY, 1861-1865. University Microfilms International. Ann Arbor, Mi. 1979.
Edwards, William B. CIVIL WAR GUNS. Castle. Secaucus, New Jersey. 1982.
Frasca, Albert J. & Robert H. Hill. 1909 CATALOG OF THE SPRINGFIELD ARMORY MUSEUM ARMS & ACCOUTERMENTS. Revised. Springfield Publishing Co. Carson City, Nv. 1995.
McAuley, John D. CIVIL WAR SMALL ARMS OF THE U.S. NAVY AND MARINES. Andrew Mowbray Inc. Lincoln, R.I. 1999.
Reilly, Robert. UNITED STATES MILITARY SMALL ARMS 1816-1865. The Eagle Press. Baton Rouge, La. 1970.

See, “A NORTH AND SAVAGE REVOLVING CARBINE” by Dick Salzer. The Gun Report, January, 2006.

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