The Naval History and Heritage Command at the Washington Navy Yard has an extensive collection of historic arms. It includes weapons from the early 18th century all the way through today. But it was recently determined that the collection had a significant gap from one of our Navy’s earliest conflicts: the War of 1812.
With this year’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration picking up steam under US Navy direction, the Naval Historical Foundation decided to look for an opportunity to acquire an appropriate firearm from that period for the Navy’s collection, for study and for possible future display. Receiving word of a U.S. Navy model flintlock pistol being made available through the Rock Island Auction Company, the Foundation contacted the auction house and got involved in the bidding. This pistol was made by John Shuler as a result of a contract from the U.S. Navy in 1814/15, where he used parts from his 1808 Army contract and parts furnished by Schuylkill Arsenal to assemble the Navy contract flintlock pistols. Some parts were made in Great Britain with British proof marks evident. The pistol was inspected by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Edward Trenchard, and his inspector “ET” initials are on the left stock flat. Fortunately, NHF was the successful bidder for the pistol.
On 18 May, the pistol was gifted to the Navy by NHF Chairman, Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret). Accepting on behalf of the Navy was NHHC Director, Captain Jerry Hendrix, and Frank Thompson, Head of the NHHC Curator Branch. The pistol will be accessioned and prepared for storage in the recently re-organized NHHC Weapons Armory.