Union Signal Pistols

One of the great battlefield problems in the Civil War was that the numbers of troops involved had increased greatly but the means of controlling them had scarcely improved at all. Communications between headquarters still depended upon horsed messengers and aides-de-camp, while with brigades and battalions the main systems were runners, drums and bugles, One new system, however, was the use of pyrotechnics with multi-colored lights according to a pre-arranged code. One of the means of achieving this was using the signaling pistols shown here, but it should be noted that the colored flares from such hand-held percussion pistols merely burned in place and did not shoot into the sky, as was the case with 20th century signaling pistols using Verey lights.

1 U.S. Navy Model 1861 percussion signal pistol. Made at the U.S. Navy Yard. Washington, D.C.

2 U.S. Army Model 1862 percussion signal pistol. Made by William Marston in New York

Signal Pistols

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