At the dawn of the age of automatic pistols, young Lt. George S. Patton relied on reverse technology when he used his famed ivory-stocked, 1873 model Colt in a shoot-out with Capt. Julio Cardenas and two of his fellow Villistas.
(Patton used the same Peacemaker during WWII.) Although this fight was a legitimate military encounter, it had all the earmarks of a Wild West gunfight. The History Channel’s Wild West Tech Producer/Director Martin Kent was so taken with this incident that he included it in the military episode, which aired on April 6.
Wild West Tech is a new weekly series hosted by Keith Carradine that debuted on March 30. Examining the innovations, contraptions and gear that transformed the frontier, the series shows how such advancements laid the groundwork for America’s high-tech future. But sometimes, as a review of Patton’s history shows, improved technology didn’t mean that people used it.
To recreate the historical skirmish, Kent found his Lt. Patton in Sam Dolan, a 24-year-old film production assistant and a historical re-enactor who appeared on Wild West Tech’s gunslingers episode and the Discovery Channel’s Unsolved History program about the O.K. Corral. Dolan’s uniform was matched against 1916-era Patton photos, as were the uniforms of his men, who were outfitted with 1903 Springfield .30-06 bolt-action rifles and other period gear from the segment’s costumer Al Frisch.
The final touch was Patton’s famed Colt. Although Frisch had several Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers that were similar, he and I agreed that we needed a duplicate of Patton’s Peacemaker.
Back in the mid-1980s, I had written an article on a limited-edition commemorative clone of this famed six-gun for Guns & Ammo magazine. This detail-perfect copy was produced by the American Historical Foundation (AHF) of Richmond, Virginia.
I telephoned my longtime amigo, AHF President Robert A. Buerlein, to see if I could obtain a Patton commemorative. He had just one—his personal copy—serial No. P0001 of the series. Excited about the History Channel project, Buerlein agreed to loan us his revolver for the filming.
Arriving just two days before production, the AHF revolver was a spitting image of Ol’ Blood and Guts’ original gun. Patton’s replica .45 Colt-chambered SAA had a 43⁄4-inch barrel, smokeless powder-era frame (circa 1916) and was embellished with silver plating and hand engraving.
Although Patton’s Colt had two-piece genuine ivory stocks, the AHF Italian-made, Uberti replica sported simulated ivory. However, in keeping with the real McCoy, the right grip panel was incised with Patton’s “GSP” initials and the gun’s butt had a lanyard swivel.
With his dead-on, shooting copy of Patton’s Colt, the handsome, young, flesh and blood “replica” of Lt. Patton joined his troopers and three mounted Villista vaqueros for the recreation of the Cardenas fight. The show will also air close-ups of the Colt commemorative.
Patton’s fight is one of many in-depth subjects airing on the Wild West Tech series, which includes shows on the evolution of the saddle, cardsharp tricks and train robbery techniques employed by the likes of Butch Cassidy.