Museum Staff Research Civil War Era Revolver

Museum Staff Research Civil War Era Revolver

“Big Nose” George Parrott’s Remington New Model Army .44-caliber percussion revolver. Note the two notches cut into the grip, which may represent the two lawmen murdered by Parrott and his gang near Elk Mountain in Carbon County in 1878. Photo courtesy of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum.

GREEN RIVER – A Civil War-frontier era percussion revolver was the recent subject of the Sweetwater County Historical Museum’s Vintage Firearms Research Program.

Museum staff identified the handgun as a .44-caliber Remington New Model Army. Based on its serial number, the staff was able to assess its manufacture date as October, 1864.

The New Model Army saw extensive service during the Civil War and during the post-Civil War frontier era. About 132,000 New Model Armies were manufactured between 1863 and 1875.

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Among the museum’s current exhibits is a New Model Army that belonged to “Big Nose” George Parrott, and old west highwayman and cattle rustler. In 1878, Parrot and his gang murdered a Carbon County deputy sheriff named Robert Widdowfield and Union Pacific special agent Tip Vincent in the wake of a bungled train robbery not far from Medicine Bow. Parrott was later arrested in Montana and returned to Rawlins, the county seat of Carbon County, for trial. He was sentenced to hang on April 2, 1881, but attempted a jailbreak, fracturing the skull of a jailer in the process. After the failed escape, a lynch mob took him from his cell and hanged him from a telephone pole.

“Big Nose” George Parrott

Murderous in life, Parrott’s story is bizarre in death. Two Rawlins doctors named Thomas Maghee and John Eugene Osborne took charge of Parrott’s body after his death. The top of his skull was sawed off and is believed to have been used as an ashtray. Much of his skin was removed, tanned, and incorporated into a pair of shoes, which Osborne wore to his inaugural ball after being elected Governor of Wyoming. The shoes are currently on display at the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins.

Residents with vintage firearms and would like to learn more about them are encouraged to contact the museum at (307) 872-6435 or via email at There is no charge for the service.