Walters 1836 Pistol from C.S.S./U.S.S. United States

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This Waters 1836 flintlock (converted to percussion) pistol is from the U.S.S United States that was found in the hold 1861 when the ship was part of the Confederal Navy at the Gosport Navy yard, Virginia Confederate Navy Sail maker William Bennett.  He was assigned to the old frigate in June 1861 when the ship was used as a harbor defense & receiving ship & found this pistol when he was helping to inspect the hold for leaks.  Bennet sent this pistol back to his home in Virginia as a prized artifact of his family’s history.  Bennett had an ancestor that sailed & fought on board the ship in the famous battle with the British frigate H.M.S. Macedonia on October 25, 1812 & was one of 12 sailors killed or wounded that day.

This pistol is 13” long with an 8 ½” barrel and is complete except for the lockplate and the rear lockplate screw that are missing.  You can still see part of the naval belt hook stud in the wood and the hole behind it where it was attached to the left side of the stock.  It is in very good condition with the iron parts having light/medium pitting and a dark brown patina.  The wood is in good condition with only a very small gouge on the left side of the grip and a small section of rot on the left in front of the barrel band.  It was conversed to percussion in the early 1850’s by the cone system.  This is where a percussion cone for a percussion cap was welded to the top right of the barrel near the breach and a percussion hammer was added to the lockplate in place of the cold cumbersome flintlock system.

This artifact comes with a certificate of authenticity from Global Xploration.



C.S.S./U.S.S. United States


At the start of the Civil War before leaving the Navy yard in 1861, Union fire crews failed to burn the vessel along with other abandoned ships, thinking it unnecessary to destroy the decayed relic. The confederates, pressed for vessels in any condition, thought otherwise. They pumped her out and commissioned the frigate CSS United States (though they often called her Confederate States) on April 29, 1861. On June 15, she was fitted out as a receiving ship with a deck battery of 19 guns for harbor defense.

William Bennett had been a sail maker in the U.S. Navy before the war & resigned on May 18, 1862 to enlist in the Confederate Naval service in June 1, 1861. He was assigned to the United States now called the Confederate State in Gosport Navy yard until the old frigate was sunk in the Elisabeth River as a block ship in May 1, 1862. He was one of the last sailors off the ship as it sank! He later served on the C.S.S. Patrick Henry & joined the Semmes; Naval Brigade after the James River Squadron was destroyed on April 3, 1865. He reached Danville, Virginia on April 4, 1865, but was unable to continue with the brigade because of health problems. He returned home when he heard of General Lee’s surrender, he never surrendered or took the oath of allegiance!

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