This is an early Colt US Army Model 1892 Double Action Revolver with a fascinating inscription found inside one of the grips. Standard US Army Issue Model 1892 with six inch barrel, blued finish, and plain walnut grips. The grips, however, were the interesting part. When I first pulled them, I was looking for a serial number/assembly # which the Colt workmen usually wrote in pencil or ink during production for re-assembly after finishing various components. Instead, we found something scratched in cursive handwriting that's far more interesting. It reads: CHAS. TODD. A year date of 1902 (scratched perpendicular to the name) and a very strange looking word beneath the name that was long and started with the letter "B". It was partially covered in years of dirt and crud and while my initial thoughts were that it probably was "Battalion" or "Battery", there were no unit numbers before or after. Furthermore, the letters I could make out were not in the correct order to correctly spell either word. After a couple of weeks, I finally got the courage up to clean off some of the crud to see if we could find a little more definition and clarity to the letters. Some of the photos that we took are before we cleaned it up and some were taken after. After a little cleanup, the word began to reveal itself. It reads "BATANGAS". So now we had WHO, WHEN, and finally what turned out to be "WHERE". Batangas is a region located towards the bottom of Luzon in the Philippines and underneath the capitol of Manila. The capital of this region is also named "Batangas". From 1899 to 1902, this region saw violent clashes between the Filipino Resistance and the American occupation forces following the capture of the Philippines from the Spanish during the Spanish American War of 1898.
The story of how the United States went from a spat with Spain over Cuba to capturing the Philippines is really the stuff movies are made of. It was essentially the result of one man's actions on one day when the boss was out of the office. And when you learn who the man was who made all of this happen, it should come as no surprise: Theodore Roosevelt. As my college history professor once explained, Teddy Roosevelt was quite a muckraker and reformer. In just five years, Roosevelt went from a NYPD commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897, colonel and war hero in the Span-Am War of 1898, Governor of NY, Vice President, to President of the United States. In each one of those jobs, he made a lasting impression but it was the one you never hear about that concerns the Philippines. When war was brewing between Spain and the United States over Cuba, Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Remember, what started the war was the mysterious explosion aboard the USS Maine in a Cuban port. Ten days after the sinking of the Maine, the Secretary of the Navy, John Davis Long, took a day off from work. In Roosevelt's mind, this made him (the under Secretary) the acting Secretary of the Navy that day. Roosevelt wasted no time in ordering the US Pacific Fleet stationed in Hong Kong under Admiral Dewey to load up coal and steam to Manila Bay. When Long returned to the office there was telegraph tape all over the floor from Dewey loading up coal and heading off to the Philippines. There was nothing he could do but probably glare at what had to have been a grinning Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy had just expanded the war. What was in Manila Bay? The Spanish fleet, however, it was soon under Manila Bay once Dewey's fleet arrived. This effectively ended over 350 years of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. Of course, Teddy Roosevelt quickly resigned as Assistant Secretary to form the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, a.k.a. "The Rough Riders". The revolver he used during the Battle of San Juan and Kettle Hills was a Colt 1895 DA Navy recovered from the USS Maine. The story we were told was that when President McKinley learned of the news that the United States had just taken the Philippines from the Spanish, he had to go find it on a map. Prior to Roosevelt, it had never been part of the US policy to take the Philippines from Spain. At first, the arrival of the Americans was a welcome sight. They had vanquished Spanish colonial rule but when the United States was slow to withdraw from the islands, an insurrection sprouted up resulting in brutal attacks on American troops which were followed by brutal reprisals by the US military. The uprising in and around Batangas lasted from 1899 to 1902 which corresponds to the date found scratched on this revolver "Batangas 1902" by a soldier named "Chas. (Charles) Todd". To date, I've only found one Charles Todd who served in the Philippines; a newly minted US Army lieutenant who was the first commissioned US Army officer from Texas A&M. However, according to my research, Todd was badly wounded near Manila in 1899 and had left the Army altogether in late 1901. It seems unlikely this could be the same Charles Todd unless he took his revolver home and scratched the date 1902 to commemorate the end of hostilities in Batangas. What I can tell you about our Chas. Todd was that he was educated, literate, and could write in cursive. It is likely he lived either in or near a town where he would have had access to an education. From there, I will leave this research for someone else to figure out. What we know is the name, and that this revolver was there in Batangas during the Philippine insurrection...and the wear and use seems to support that it saw some action.
US Army MODEL 1892: There were a total of 8,000 US Model 1892's ordered by the US Army. This one is in the 7,300 serial range and would have been in the 2nd Contract of 1892's shipped to the Army. It has the standard 6" barrel in caliber .38 Colt with the military walnut grips instead of checkered hard rubber as found on civilian models. Barrel has the early 1884 and 1888 patent dates with no 1895 patent. RAC (Ronaldo A. Carr) inspector stamps can be found on the bottom of the barrel, rear face of the cylinder, and frame. Cartouches on the bottom of each grip are all but worn away from years of holster and carry wear.
SPRINGFIELD ARMORY UPGRADE: Since this was the first official main issue revolver in double action to the US Army, problems were bound to arise with the Model 1892. The Army had cautiously stood back and let the US Navy order the Model 1892's forerunner, the Model 1889 double action. This was likely to see how the revolver fared in service conditions before making a commitment which turned out to be a wise choice. The main improvement was the addition of a secure bolt lock/notches for the cylinder. The long flutes on the cylinder were shortened to allow the addition of a new set of cylinder stops which became the Model 1892. That said, while the 1892 was a vast improvement over the original 1889 design, the Army did find a problem about a year after the 1892 was adopted. If the cylinder latch was not fully engaged, the gun could still be fired. The Army made Colt aware of the problem and Colt quickly came up with a solution in the form of a safety device that blocks the hammer when the cylinder latch is not fully engaged. Colt took out a patent on the fix and all subsequent orders had the hammer blocking device which became known as the Model 1894. Colt was expecting the Army to return all of the 1892's for the upgrade but the Army had other plans. Instead, they began ordering the hammer block components and having their own arsenal at Springfield carry out the modifications. The cost of the spare parts were pennies on the dollar for what Colt would have charged. However, from Colt's point of view, they had come up with the solution to the problem, patented it, had made an investment on the improvement, and they felt the Army shouldn't get the fruits of their labor for next to nothing so what did they do? Apparently, they refused to sell the Army any more spare parts for upgrading the Model 1892. This forced the Army to send the bulk of their 1892's back to Colt which not only got the hammer blocking device, but were rebuilt, remarked with the Model 1894 designation, and were refinished back to new. This was the fate of many of the original issue 1892's...they were redone by Colt while some were simply upgraded by Springfield with just the device. By the year 1898, around 7,600+ Model 1892's had been upgraded with the safety hammer block device either by Springfield or Colt. This prompted a final push to locate the stragglers and I believe around 40 or 50 more were located and upgraded. That said, there were a small percentage of 1892's that were never upgraded...about 300 out of the original 8,000. Most of these likely went to National Guard units, were lost, or stolen. This particular example is one of the ones that received the upgrade by Springfield, and thus still wears its original finish, Model 1892 markings, and early patent dates. From there, it never had the 1901 upgrade where Colt rebuilt these revolvers again and installed a lanyard loop. It also escaped the rebuild program in World War I where thousands of Colt US Army DA's were refinished at Remington. It just has the first upgrade and because it was done by Springfield and not Colt, it is as close to its original form as you'll find excluding the few that escaped all the upgrades...only about twenty known and they are EXPENSIVE!
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Very Good with the metal having turned to a mostly smooth brown patina with 25% original blue remaining mainly on the frame and down in the flutes of the cylinder. There are a few pinprick pits on the right side of the barrel, likely from being stored in a holster that got damp. The edges and markings are all present and good. On the 1892, the serial number is also the assembly number for the first 8,000 Model 1892's. This revolver has all matching numbers which includes the frame, inside the frame (assembly #), yoke, cylinder, side plate, latch, and barrel. Due to the inscription, I cannot make out a number on the left grips but I am certain they are original to this revolver. They fit perfectly and show the proper amount of wear and age not to mention the dark rust stains, etc that line up on the inside of the grips to the internal edges of the grips straps. The grips are surprisingly good for 125 years old having seen a war and are solid with no chips, cracks, or repairs. However, no cartouches remain although if you use your imagination, I think there may be a hint of the top of the cartouche on the right side. Action works in both double and single action modes. The bore is average...grooves are fairly bright with a few pits while the lands (rifling) look a bit tired. Good solid example of an early desirable Colt Model 1892 issued to the US Army with an extremely rare soldier inscription indicating this Colt was present in the Philippine Insurrection.