This martial-marked cap and ball handgun is a very fine and most pleasing specimen of the Model 1842 single shot percussion pistol produced by Henry Aston of Middletown, Connecticut. Aston and Ira Johnson, both of Middletown and the Palmetto Armory of Columbia, SC, produced some 24,000 of these fine horse pistols from 1845 through 1852 with Aston producing only 6,000 from 1850 to 1852.
This .54 caliber smoothbore muzzleloading dragoon horse pistol is 14” long and fitted with an 8½” round barrel. This pistol has all brass furniture including the buttcap, backstrap triggerguard, side strap and barrel band. Brass wears a light bronze patina. Sub-inspector marks on the brass side-strap, back strap tang and triggerguard. Flat lock plate with very good maker markings on the thin side. Show “US / H. ASTON” in front of the hammer and “MIDDtn / CONN / 1851” behind the hammer. Stamped on the upper barrel at the breech are the proof marks of “US / JH / P” .
The fine walnut stock displays two thin inspector’s cartouches on the left flat back. Stock wears a pleasing brown patina on its wood surface. Pistol mechanics are super tight and crisp. The is crisp and the weapon is mounted with a swivel type steel ramrod and button-shaped head. All gun metal has been moderately cleaned MANY decades ago and the weapon exhibits a smooth, semi-bright light gray sheen with scattered spots of oxidation over the surface. This is a handsome Aston percussion single shot pistol which at some point was personalized with the owner’s initials carved in as shown. The weapon surfaced in an estate sale in the 1950s in Martin County, NC, but no history beyond that is known. Many of these weapons saw extensive use by mounted troops early in the Civil War era.
The Model 1842 Percussion Pistol was the last single shot percussion handgun to see service with the U.S. Army. Model 1842 Pistols saw extensive use during the Mexican War and were still in limited service at the start of the Civil War. The Model 1842 Percussion Pistol was a well-designed, robust weapon that represented the final development of the single shot “horse pistol”.