On The Square

Confederate Pistol Waves the Flag

By Bidsquare

Apr 22,2016 | 13:00 EDT

Simeon H. Merrill was a 20-year resident of Bridgeton, Maine when the Civil War broke out. Answering a 90-day call for service, he enlisted as a Corporal in Co. C of the 1st Maine Infantry on May 3, 1861. Merrill would rise through the ranks, and with the loss of two superior officers took command of Co. I, of the 11th Maine Infantry in November 1864.

150 years later, the Civil War record of Captain Merrill will once again be highlighted when an extremely rare Confederate Cofer revolver goes under the hammer on Day 1 of Cowan’s Auctions’ Historic Firearms and Early Militaria sale. How rare, you ask? Well, this prized handgun, selling here as Lot 81, is one of only fifteen known Cofer revolvers still in existence.

A fresh-faced Captain Merrill pictured in uniform (left), and a group of captured Confederate soldiers

The 11th Maine served in the eastern theater, and Merrill’s active engagements included the Peninsula Campaign, the Siege of Yorktown, the Battle of Seven Pines, Bermuda Five Hundred, Siege of Charleston, and the Sieges Petersburg and Richmond. Based on the date inscribed on the holster - July 21, 1864 - Merrill and the 11th were attached to the Army of the James in the run-up to the battle of Deep Bottom, Virginia. On June 21, they crossed over Strawberry Plains in order to reconnoiter the Confederate front, where they were soon engaged by a Confederate battery. Eleven prisoners were captured before the 11th was forced to retreat - presumably, the Cofer was captured during this action.

The Cofer is just one of a number highly prized Civil War collectibles set to go under the hammer during the Historic Firearms and Early Militia sale. Lot 84 (above), a near mint condition LeMat carbine, is sure to be one of the stars of the catalog. The only foreign-made long gun and repeating arm made for the Confederacy during the war, belief is that no more than 125 were ever manufactured and, due to the sufficating grip of the Union blockade, most never reached American shores.

Lot 83 is another Civil War gem, although not many would have said so at the time. The Tarpley breech loading carbine was plagued by poor design and quality control, and never entered into widespread service. Of the approximately 400 Tarpley carbines known to have been manufactured, only twenty are still with us, either in private hands or museums.

Cowan’s Auctions’ Historic Firearms and Early Militaria sale is set down fro Tuesday, April 26 and Wednesday, April 27, and consists of over 1300 expertly curated lots.