Florida in the 1830’s was a battleground with the U. S. army engaged in a war against the Seminole Indians. It was not a place you would have expected to find a young inventor from Paterson, New Jersey, promoting his products. His name was Samuel Colt and he was selling guns.
Colt felt that his 8-shot revolving-cylinder carbines would find instant favor among men armed with single-shot rifles. But his success was limited. He sold a few handguns to officers, but his only quantity order was from Gen. Thomas S. Jessup for 50 carbines and more than half of them may be in a Florida swamp today, awaiting some lucky treasure hunter with a metal detector.
In a letter dated November 8, 1850, Col. Harney of the 2nd U. S. Dragoons reported; “Gen. Jessup ordered the purchase of 50 and they were placed in my hands . . . they were the first ever used or manufactured. Thirty of them were lost at Caloosahatchee . . .”
Stories vary as to just how the carbines were lost. One persistent version has it that the arms, still in their oak, zinc-lined, grease-filled cases, were lost when the canoes in which they were being transported were capsized during an Indian attack. If this is so, it’s likely the guns may be in good condition today. Harney Point is part of present day Cape Coral.
Lost Treasure Stories