Pale Horse Revelations #5: Weapons of the Old West - The LeMat Revolver
Hello readers and welcome back to Pale Horse Revelations where we explore the historical elements of my debut novel "Behold a Pale Horse: The Legend of the Pale Rider Part I." In this edition we will continue the exploration of old west weaponry that we began last week. The focus of this entry will be the LeMat Revolver (pictured above).
This is the weapon that Matthew Garrison, the Pale Rider, carries in the cross-over holster on the front of his left hip. The story tells us right off the bat that he came into possession of it by taking it off the body of a dead Confederate officer. Although he relies on his Colt revolvers more frequently, those who have finished the book know just how significant a part this weapon plays in the story. So, let's learn more about this fascinating weapon.
This unique weapon was invented by a Frenchman named Jean Alexander LeMat. It was developed in 1856 in New Orleans. The manufacturing effort was backed by P.G.T. Beauregard, who would later serve as a general in the Confederate army. While a limited number of pistols were produced in Philadelphia, the primary production locations were in Belgum and France. Approximately 2,900 units were produced between the two European factories. It is estimated that 2,500 found their way into Confederate service.
The original models were chambered in .42 caliber. Later during the war, a lighter model chambered in .35 caliber was made available. Unfortunately, neither caliber was a standard ammunition size in America. As a result, LeMat owners had to cast their own ammunition rather than having it issued through military supplies. Towards the end of the war production converted to producing .36 and .44 caliber versions of the LeMat but few of these made it past the Union blockades. Although the story never mentions the caliber of the LeMat that Garrison uses, the reader can safely assume that he was fortunate enough to get his hands on one of the rare .44 caliber models.
Like the Colt Army Model 1860 the LeMat was a cap and ball black powder revolver. There two design features that made this weapon a one-of-a-kind. First, was the nine shot cylinder. Second, is the fact that the cylinder revolves around a separate central barrel. The central barrel is a smooth bore and functions as a short-barrel shotgun. Most models were chambered in 20 gauge. Because of this the LeMat was often referred to as the Grapeshot Revolver. The shooter could decide which barrel to fire from by flipping a lever located on the end of the hammer. When flipped up the pistol would fire the central barrel.
Unfortunately, this weapon, especially the earlier models were not known for their accuracy. However, they were considered especially effective at close range. This is why, in the story, we see Garrison rely on his Colt revolvers far more often than the LeMat. In addition to our fictional protagonist several well-known Confederate officers were known to carry the LeMat Revolver. Among them are Generals Beauregard, J.E.B. Stuart, and Braxton Bragg.
That brings us to the end of our brief exploration of the LeMat Revolver. Thank you for joining us for this latest revelation. Please be sure to check back in next week as we turn our attention to the rifles featured in "Behold a Pale Horse: The Legend of the Pale Rider Part I"
And as always, thank you for your support.