The fearsome-looking weapon was used in several movies and novels. Josh Brolin, as Jonah Hex, carried one.
In 1856, Dr. Jean LeMat of New Orleans introduced his invention to his cousin, future Confederate Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard. When the Civil War broke out, the Confederacy ordered 5,000, but only about 2,900 were produced. Most saw service.
The interesting thing about the LeMat was that it had two barrels—one was a nine-shot cap and ball revolver, and the other fired buckshot.
The revolver did make its way West after the war, but because it fired irregular sized ammo (.40 or .42 caliber), the owner generally had to make his own bullets. Yet gunhands could buy bullets for Colts, Remingtons and Smith & Wessons. Ultimately, that’s why few LeMats were made.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org