Delve a little deeper into the inscriptions on this silver plated Colt 1849 Pocket and a lot is revealed about its original owned. A small brass plaque affixed to its lid reads, ''Surgeon Hurd, 5th Regt. M.V.M.'' Dr. Samuel H. Hurd, as the U.S. National Parks Service database reveals, was a surgeon serving during the Civil War with the 5th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia from May 1 to August 1, 1861. He participated in the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, the first major land battle of that great conflict.

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On February 4, 1864 Colt’s East Armory burned to the ground, even if the origins of the blaze are still a source of great debate. It was in this tragic event that most of the Colt records were lost forever, making it extremely rare for a Colt to have a Colt factory letter prior to the great inferno of 1864. However, documentation does prove that his Colt model 1849 pocket revolver was given to Dr. Hurd on April 29, 1861. This conclusion can be reached thanks to the handwritten letter, which reads:

“Surgeon Hurd
Dear Sir,

The Class of ’52 desirous of showing their appreciation of your courage and patriotism in thus nobly and disinterestedly giving up ‘Home’, to offer your services to your Country, hereby transmit to you this revolver, which we hope will report favorably for the safety of our classmate and friend.
In behalf of the Class of ’52,
Horace Richardson
Howard P. Arnold”

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The left barrel flat bears the inscription ''Placebo.'' The second inscription on the piece is on the backstrap of the revolver, which reads, ''Multa Manu Medica,'' which translate to ''great healing hand.'' At a time when Latin and classical literature would have been an integral part of a Harvard education, phrase is a reference to Virgil's epic poem The Aenid. It occurs in the second half of The Aenid, when the Trojan hero Aeneas returns to camp after being wounded in battle. Dripping with blood and leaning heavily on his spear, he stumbles into camp with the tip of a spear lodged in his body, unable to pull it out himself he begs nearby men to cut the wound larger so that the barbed spear head can be removed and he may return to battle.

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A physician placed herbs on his wound, which dulled his pain, stopped the bleeding, caused the spear head to be removed easily, and returned Aeneas’ strength to him as the war draws ever nearer and darts fall thick into the camps wounding and killing men all around him.

Little else is known of Dr. Hurd, other than the date of his death which a medical journal of the day confirms as February 5, 1897, in Atlantic City, NJ, at the age of 66.

The Colt 1849 Pocket will be part of Rock Island Auction's sale taking place from December 2-4, 2016. Search the full sale here.

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