Previous Post
Next Post

Before the Civil War, Samuel Griswold was a successful businessman, having found a good living making cotton gins. Business was so good that he purchased 4,000 acres outside of Macon, Georgia, where he established and named a town after himself – Griswoldville, Georgia.

Arvin Gunnison had worked for Griswold many years before the war started. He was a trusted employee and was likely the person who was in charge of the actual production at the factory. Griswold handled the financial side of things; Gunnison handled the technical side of things. Beyond this, little is known of Gunnison on a personal level.

With southern weaponry in short supply, Griswold and Gunnison first entered the arms business in February 1862 when they answered the call of Georgia’s Governor Brown by making pikes.

Soon, the two branched out and excelled in the revolver market. Their production numbers were unrivaled in the South, as was the quality of their guns. Unfortunately, production ended abruptly on November 20, 1864, when Captain Frederick Ladd and the 9th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry Regiment burned Griswoldville. That began General Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Examples of the Griswold and Gunnison revolvers can be spotted by their brass frame, slight upward angle of the butt profile, and the twist lines on the cylinder, caused by its manufacture from twisted iron instead of steel.

Approximately 3,700 examples of these six-shot revolvers were produced during their two-year period of manufacture from 1862 to 1864. These .36-caliber revolvers were based on the Colt Model 1851 Navy revolver, but with a barrel assembly that looked more like the ones on a Colt Dragoon than a Model 1851 Navy.

(Firearm courtesy of NRA Museums)

Logan Metesh is a firearms historian and consultant who runs High Caliber History LLC. Click here for a free 3-page download with tips about caring for your antique and collectible firearms.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Growing up in Georgia and being a student of history, I’ve always been curious about the production capacity and machinery required to make these revolvers. I’ve heard the stories about farmers finding revolver parts at the site of the shops after a hard rain, but have never tried to verify any of it.

  2. Personally I’d rather have a LeMat myself. That was one of the few black power weapons I’ve really considered looking into it. Pity the reproductions cost to bloody much. :/

    I’m half tempted trying to cook up a reproduce of my own. >,,>

    • That depends on the reproduction. The LeMat was a very complex pistol, and as a result the reproductions are costly. But most of the other varieties, from the 1858 Remington (which, parenthetically, was patented n 1858 but not widely produced until 1861) to the various Colt 1851s, 1860s and 1861s run around $300. Not too long ago, I picked up an 1860 Army NIB in .44 on sale for $200.

      • Problem is that the cartridge versions are just so ugly compared to the black powder versions. The black powder version has an elegance to it.

        Plus in all the looking at them I have done I routinely fail to find (which doesn’t mean they don’t exist) the cartridge variant as a reproduction.

        I am hopeful though some enterprising individual will make a Westworld Ed Harris reproduction version though I am not sure how feasible that would be outside cinima magic.

        • The cap and ball version is not considered to be a firearm regulated under the GCA ’68. A cartridge version is.

  3. There’s just something about cap-n-ball six guns. I’ve shot tons of modern production guns, yet nothing is as fun as dusting of my reproduction Colt Dragoon and putting lead balls through soda cans. It’s slow, it’s dirty, and it’s just so dang awesome. I’ve never shot that horse pistol and walked away without a smile on my face.

    • Mostly used by noncoms to keep the lines dressed and a visible badge of office. Pretty much dispensed with by the end.

    • Pikes are great for charging a unit of archers. They also defend well against heavy cavalry, like mounted knights.
      Oh wait…that war started it 1860, not 860…

    • Stonewall & Lee *asked* for pikes because they knew thee was 0% chance of getting rifled muskets in the near-term. More than anything, it highlights the desperate nature of the fight they were in.

    • of all the stupid things done by confederacy, pikes ain’t even in the top,10.

      #1 was to pick an economic model of low-value-added commodities that depended on slave labor to be viable.

      #2 was to pick a fight with an opponent with a vastly superior manufacturing capacity.

      • Yeah, but remember the north had much less of a will to fight, and had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing what was needed to win. All the contemporary written history about the civil war revolves too much around the statistical differences between north and south, and much less upon the political situations occurring at the time. Too many have written that the south “never stood a chance” due to the norths “manufacturing superiority” and this is a flat out lie generated by modern academia. The fact is the North damn near lost that war due to a massive anti war sentiment and political divisions in the north during the course of the war. The REAL reason Lincoln is remembered as such a great president isn’t because he “liberated the slaves”, it’s because he was pivotal in keeping the north fighting and unified long enough to win the war. And even still, if Grant had never come along, it’s possible Lincoln could’ve failed, as Grant was the first Union General with the cojones to take the fight to the enemy, and fight to win, as opposed to just fight to keep his job.

      • It is hard to argue with your first point. However your second point bears some scrutiny. GW and the continental army were pretty much in the same predicament as the Confederacy, and the CSA more or less adopted the same overall strategy…you don’t have to win the war and conquer. You simply have to not lose. Exhaust the enemy’s will to fight and unpopular in the corps and on the home-front. Make the war too costly in terms of lives, resources and time.

    • John Brown managed to make quite a ruckus with some pikes…but yea, they were a bad idea by 1861. More of a symbolic relic hearkening back to outdated European and Napoleonic strategies.

    • yeah. because owning people as PROPERTY is what freedom is all about!

      plus it’s not technically rape if you rape a slave, because it’s YOUR property, right?

      America would be so much better off, so much further ahead today if some greedy cotton farmers had just switched to something useful and not brought all those slaves to America.

        • You killed someone and took his car. You don’t get to keep it.

          You killed someone and took his daughter as a sex slave. And you’re astonished that her uncle now wants to kill YOU?

      • Ok, ok, ok… While you are morally correct, we gotta get something straight here in our history about the slave trade. All those greedy cotton farmers didn’t bring the slaves here, Britain, France, Spain, and most notably, Portugal did. Also, the north had plenty of slaves, but they did get rid of them sooner because their economies didn’t depend on slavery, if they did, slavery would’ve lasted well into the 20th century. Also, slaves weren’t aqcuired by a bunch of hillbilly confederates marching around Africa rounding up the peaceful black natives, as been taught in modern schools. Slaves were Infact conquered people’s who were ensalved by victorious African kings in battle, who were then traded to the Ottoman Empire, and later European explorers for goods and weapons. The Ottoman Empire was the first the exploit this, and Portuguese were the ones who brought it “across the pond”, where, they created an absolute slave ridden hell hole in Brazil, that made the North American “branch” look like paradise. There’s nothing excusable about slave labor, but the history of the African slave trade has been greatly abused and distorted to generate white guilt and hatred against the south. If you’re intrested in learning about it in depth, there’s some great information about the “Slave Triangle” of the Atlantic, the explains how the African Slave trade worked in the global economy at the time.

        • Don’t forget the Dutch.
          Or English “slavery” by any other name, of the Irish. And no, we ain’t talkin’ indentured servents.
          Reportedly more Africans died in transit to the Middle East than were ever shipped to the Americas.
          And who was the original propagator of these slaves? Do you think an 18th century European sailor or marine would be very effective at pursuing native Africans through their home terrain?

      • Thank God we had the North as a moral compass back then. After they defeated us evil Rebs (most of whom did not even own slaves), Federal forces turned their attention westward for a righteous conquest against heathen, barbarian redskins! Claiming the land as freesoil for pious, American settlers.

        By conquest I mean genocide.

      • Oh “yes” the North was the “paragon of virtue” with landowners in southern areas of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio possessing slaves and that piece of crap of Glory fame Col Robert Gould-Shaw’s momma like many affluent New England residents keeping German and Irish indentured servants in near slavery on Staten Island N.Y. and in the summer up in Boston, yeah the North REALLY held the moral high ground (sarc).

        Let us not forget who sold slaves into bondage, yep it was their own people in Africa, opposing tribes raiding each other, yes they bear NO responsibility either (sarc).

  4. Damn shame Sherman didn’t finish the job. We wouldn’t have half the problems we have today without the South sucking the rest of the country dry.

    • Maybe you could expound on your opinion a little bit more. What particular problems have you noticed that would have been solved by the mass murder of more families, people, Americans?

      Perhaps you could enlighten us as to how Abraham Lincoln was really very helpful when he eliminated much of the freedom for states to make their own decisions.

      Opinions are like assholes.

      • If states freedoms have been so curtailed why has CA been allowed to squash civil rights with no retaliation from the supposed mighty

    • Without “The South” we wouldn’t have President Trump additionally when it comes to the 2nd Amendment states below the Mason-Dixon Line respect our rights and Constitution far more than the tyrants in Northern states particularly those that supported abolitionists/domestic terrorists Nat Turner and John Brown and others associated with that violent bowel movement.

    • Roy, you should probably pick up a history book, and spend less time on HuffPo. The ignorance of your statement speaks volumes.

    • I got a sense of humor and I love the charming back and forth that generates between Yankees and Southerners.

      I guess the South sucks so hard because all these Yankees and folks from the rest of the country are scrambling to come move down South. The South does suck by comparison to the North; I mean the winters are brutal down South, there’s like no jobs, everything is so expensive, blue collar workers are dependent on unions, liberal progressives control entire states- yea the South is really the big problem with the country.

Comments are closed.