Col. Samuel Colt

Portrait of Col. Samuel Colt, engraving by George Catlin after a painting by Charles Loring Elliott (Wadsworth Atheneum), Hartford.


Samuel Colt died in 1862 when the Civil War was less than a year old. Yet he had a powerful impact on this conflict, which was among the first waged with mass produced, rapid fire weapons, many of them of his making.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1814, Colt displayed early talent as a gunsmith and perfected his famous revolver – the first pistol of its kind – when he was in his 20s. After initial setbacks, he built a factory in Hartford and prospered using such innovative techniques as interchangeable parts and assembly lines. By 1861, he was operating the largest privately owned armory in the world. As war loomed, he told his superintendent: “Run the armory night and day with double sets of hands.”

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