Richard Byrd Kennon

Colt Navy Revolver #96460 (1861) with “R.B. Kennon” engraved on the back strap.  This revolver is one of an historic group of four identical revolvers, two of which were cased, related by original ownership to General Philip St. George Cocke and his male family members.  Serial number 93235 and 93242 were inscribed to “Philip St. Geo. Cocke.”  Serial number 96461, the consecutive serial number to this gun, was inscribed to General Cocke’s son, John Bowdoine Cocke.  This revolver was owned by Richard Byrd Kennon, who married Louisiana Cocke, and therefore was General Cocke’s son-in-law.  The revolvers presumably were obtained from Richmond dealer James Walsh, whose label appears inside the cases of the Cocke pistols. 


Noted Southern Furniture dealer Sumpter Priddy III obtained this revolver from Kennon family members in the 1990’s.  Since then, there has been one collector-owner. 


Richard Byrd Kennon served mainly as a staff officer for Colonel Walter Jenifer, J.E.B. Stuart, R.E. Lee (briefly), Thomas Rosser, and James Dearing.  Kennon was twice mentioned in Stuart’s reports for conduct at the Battle of Brandy Station and during the Gettysburg Campaign.  In his “Report of Operations after Gettysburg (Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. II, No. 2), Stuart wrote:


“First Lieutenant R. B. Kennon, P(rovisional) A(rmy of the) C(onfederate) S(tates), temporarily attached, was entrusted with duties attended with great peril, which he performed in a highly successful and creditable manner, one in testing experimentally at night an unknown ford on the Potomac, and again in bearing a dispatch to the Commanding General from Emmettsburg.”


After his time on Stuart’s staff, he served as brigade inspector for the Laurel Brigade, hence his association with Rosser and Dearing.  Kennon took home his parole from Appomattox Court House in April, 1865.  After the war, he managed the operations of two plantations (Meherrin and Pea Hill)  in Brunswick County, Virginia, inherited by his wife from the vast Cocke holdings.  Kennon’s uniform and saber is in the Museum of the Confederacy.  Family records are in the Virginia State Library.


Description of gun:  Barrel address reads:  ADDRESS SAML COLT HARTFORD CT.  Barrel is 7.5” long, octagonal (standard length).  Serial #96460 found on the following parts:  butt of the back strap, bottom of barrel lug, bottom of frame at juncture of barrel lug, trigger guard, left side of cylinder.  As is correct, partial serial #6460 is found on the following:  top flat of rammer arm, barrel wedge, cylinder arbor.  Gun retains approx. 75% of its original silver plating on the BS & TG.  All screws are original and in excellent condition, many showing original blue finish.  The “dot” or punch mark which appears beneath the full serial number stamping on the frame, trigger guard, back strap and on the barrel lug, identifies this piece as one to be given special care because it is to be engraved.  All internal parts are original, as is the mainspring.  Five of the six original cylinder-locking pins are intact.  The dovetail front sight appears to be original and factory made, as many other models attest.  “Colt’s Patent” is engraved on the lower left side of the frame, as often seen on engraved models in this serial range.  The ivory grip is in excellent original condition.  The gun is original in all respects and is in excellent condition.  It can best be described as being “just-out-of-finish.”  Its blue finish has oxidized and in its place is a beautiful patina.