The Junior Historian, Volume 19, Number 2, November 1958 Page: 2
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THE JUNIOR HISTORIAN
plements, and feed mills.
In 1862 and 1863 there were few
firearms to be had in Texas, and to sat-
isfy the demand for guns for home and
war use, the Dance brothers turned
from their regular activities and start-
ed manufacturing percussion revolvers
for the Confederacy. James Dance was
manager and gunsmith and his brother,
George, was blacksmith of the plant.
The Dance brothers' revolvers can be
easily identified by the absence of a
recoil shield behind the cylinder. The
revolvers were produced in three mod-
els: the .44 caliber Dragoon size with
either an eight-inch part-round, part-
octagonal barrel or an eight-inch full
octagonal barrel, and a .36 caliber Navy
model with a 7 /S inch barrel. While
only two Dragoons with the octagonal
barrel have been located, the where-
abouts of only one of the Navy models
is known. The rare Dragoons are owned
by Victor Friedricks of Austin, who
was of great assistance to the writer in
the preparation of this paper, and by
Ted H. Zerble of Houston. The Navy
is in the Nunnemacher Collection in the
Milwaukee Public Museum.
A curious thing about the .36 caliber
Navy revolver as compared with the .44
caliber Dragoon is that the difference
does not consist of reduced caliber and
barrel length only. With some few ex-
ceptions, the Dance brothers' Navy is
a miniature copy of the Dragoon, and
the scale of reduction seems to be set
by the ratio of the barrel length: 8
inches to 7.375 inches, or a reduction
of about 8 per cent. The Navy model
shown at the top of the photograph has
a cylinder somewhat shorter than these
proportions call for and the rammer
lever is longer when compared with the
two Dragoons shown below it. When
the Navy is compared with the Dragoon
shown at the bottom of the photograph,
the proportions are correct. The reason
for this difference might be found in
the fact that the serial numbers of the
Navy and the Dragoon at the bottom
(Io7 and I 19, respectively) are quite
close. This fact also gives support to
the conclusion that one set of serial
numbers covered all models, for only a
few more than three hundred revolvers
It has been reported that a Dance
brothers' Navy with a six-inch barrel
has been found. The Dragoons invari-
ably have eight-inch barrels, and if the
Dance brothers' Navy was a scale re-
duction of the .44 Dragoon, it is an
open question as to whether a Navy re-
volver with a six-inch barrel was ever
produced, as such is decidedly not made
in the proportion normally used. It will
be necessary to await the uncovering of
additional specimens before it can be
determined whether the reported Navy
with a six-inch barrel is a model varia-
tion or an alteration. It should also be
noted in this connection that the front
sight on the Navy with the six-inch
barrel is different from those on the
Dance revolvers illustrated here.
As nearly as can be figured, about
three hundred Dance revolvers were
made. Mike C. Bell, a Confederate sol-
dier, was issued one of these revolvers
while home on sick leave in Kenney,
Texas. Before he was able to return to
duty, however, the war was over and his
revolver, No. 317, never saw action. No.
317 was evidently one of the last re-
volvers made before the manufacture of
the firearms was discontinued at the
close of the war.
Sam E. Smith of Markesan, Wiscon-
sin, reported in the Gun Collector of
May, 1948, that the highest serial num-
ber in his record of the Dance brothers'
revolvers was 324, and of that number,
there are only twenty known survivors.
He says further, "Over half of the
Dance Brothers revolvers are owned by
Texas collectors and these guns have
been hunted more diligently in Texas
than anywhere else." Fifteen of the
survivors have low serial numbers which
suggests that the first guns manufac-
tured by the Dance brothers might have
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Texas State Historical Association. The Junior Historian, Volume 19, Number 2, November 1958, periodical, November 1958; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth391553/m1/4/: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.