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Starr Power

Sixth-plate tintype by an anonymous photographer. Brian Boeve Collection.
Sixth-plate tintype by an anonymous photographer. Brian Boeve Collection.

A Confederate brandishes a cocked Starr revolver, the most prominently pictured of three weapons. The others, a Colt pistol and a bone-handled knife, are tucked into his belt, which is fastened with a two-piece buckle with a raised star surrounded by a wreath. The soldier is dressed in a seven-button frock coat with dark cuffs and collar common to Tennessee volunteers. His trousers have seam stripes and he wears a western-style hat with the brim pushed or pinned up.

Introduced in the late 1850s by the Starr Arms Company, a newspaper advertisement published in February 1861 noted, “At this time everything connected with firearms naturally attracts attention, and among recent inventions nothing has proved more interesting and valuable than the ingenious weapons known as Starr’s revolvers.”

The ad continued, “It has two triggers—one the ordinary trigger, and the other a hair trigger. In the ordinary trigger is a spring, which being raised makes the pistol self-cocking, when the pistol is pushed down the use of the ordinary trigger cocks the pistol, and the hair trigger is then used to fire. It can be used as a repeater for encounters, or as a hair trigger pistol for deliberate aim.”

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