Heritage, 2009, Volume 2 Page: 32
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11 I
VIn addition to the Rangers, the Texas Navy was also to leave an
indelible mark on Colt history. The cylinder engraving on the fa-
mous Colt Navy revolver Model of 1851 commemorates a Texian
engagement with the Mexican fleet offCampeche on May 16, 1843.
Badly outgunned, and fighting sail against steam, the Texians were
victorious. In fact, this is the only recorded victory of sail over steam.
The Colt Navy Model of 1851 also became a favorite of Texans and
was used extensively throughout the 1850s and 1860s, including
intense employment in the Civil War.
VUntil the mid-1850s, guns were loaded with loose powder, a
lead bullet, and a percussion cap. Using three separate compo-
nents made reloading a slow process. It was so difficult to reload
in the heat of fire that some men carried as many as five or six
loaded guns at one time. All that was to change in 1854 with
the introduction of the metallic cartridge for firearms. This in-
vention led to the development of the cartridge revolver and the
lever-action repeating rifle made famous by Oliver Winchester.
A metallic cartridge had a copper case with a primer, basically
an improved percussion cap in the base, that was filled with
powder and capped with a lead bullet. It was completely self-
contained. The first ones were much like the modern .22 rim-
fire cartridge. They were waterproof and made reloading much
easier. Another important change that the metallic cartridge
brought about was that instead of loading guns from the front
(muzzle-loaders), firearms could now be loaded from the rear
(breech-loaders). Smith & Wesson Co. of Springfield, Massa-
chusetts, owned the patent for this improvement and controlled
the market throughout the 1860s.
Colt Model 1851 Navy revolver serial number 28. This gun was
found in San Antonio by collectors in the early 1950s and is the
earliest one known. Courtesy of Bill Stewart.
Early metallic cartridges shown with relics
unearthed at a Texas Ranger camp near Utopia, Texas.
There were many great guns that
played an important role in the de-
velopment and evolution of the Re-
public and State of Texas...certain-
ly none were more significant than
those manufactured by Samuel Colt
in the 1830s through the 1870s.
HERITA GE Volume 2 2009
the newly designed
Texas Historical Foundation
website coming soon
with added on-line
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 2, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254213/m1/32/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.