I recently wrote about Capt. Nathan Barrett offering Gen. George Washington two ornate pistols that had been captured with a British officer’s runaway horse on 19 Apr 1775. (Also see Nat Taylor’s further research on the likely identity of that officer, squeezed in while the Taylor family grew by one.)
Why, we might ask, would Capt. Barrett have thought the generalissimo needed pistols? Couldn’t a Virginia gentleman acquire his own weapons? Well, there’s a curious entry in Washington’s personal accounts on 1 Sept 1775:
To Cash for recovering my Pistols which had been stolen, & for repairing them afterwards...£1.10s.I haven’t found any other information about this moment, alas.
And what might those pistols have looked like? Here’s an entry in Col. William Henshaw’s orderly book for 9 Mar 1776; it didn’t appear in Washington’s general orders, and was therefore probably meant only for troops in the southern wing of the army:
His Excellency the General lost one of his pistols yesterday upon Dorchester Neck, whoever will bring it to him or leave it with General [John] Thomas shall receive two dollars reward and no questions asked. It is a skrew’d barrel’d pistol, mounted with silver, and a head resembling a pugg dog at the butt.The commander-in-chief was “upon Dorchester Neck,” of course, to see how the final bombardment of Boston was going.
Image above courtesy of the Pug Dog Encephalitis Project.