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SN 47684. This is the only identified handgun in private hands identified to officer from the Custer Massacre. Cooke’s body was found along side Custer’s and was a member of his inner circle of most trusted officers. This gun and farrier’s knife were taken from an Indian by the Canadian Mounted Police and returned to the Cooke Family not long after the battle. This gun, holster and knife had been in the Cooke Family until sold in auction on April 5, 1999. The new model Remington army was made during the Civil War and was possibly Cooke’s side arm when he was an officer in the 24th New York Cavalry. It is most interesting that Cooke was known to be left handed and his regulation military holster is a left handed holster which this cataloger has never seen before in a regulation government purchased item. There are a series of three pasted labels on reverse of holster, the earliest in old brown ink which is partially discernible and reads, “This revolver…Col. Wm. Cooke who was killed June 25th 1876 at the Little Big Horn River, Montana in the Custer Massacre by Sitting Bull”. The well made farrier’s knife which measures about 6″ closed had two large blades, smaller one since broken, saw blade, hoof tool, cork screw and two other tools and still retains a pair of removable tweezers. Agents mark on each blade is “BOUDET PALIES ROYAL”. The 1-1/4″ German silver escutcheon plate is engraved in block letters “W.W.COOKE. U.S.ARMY”. Accompanying this grouping is an affidavit signed by William Cooke’s descendent Blake Cooke that the Remington revolver, holster and farrier’s knife have been in the family’s continuous possession since they were returned after having been recovered from the Indian who had captured them at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, “W.W. Cooke was my Great-Uncle”. There is included a large file of research and newspaper articles concerning this grouping. For those not familiar with Cooke’s career, here is a short biography from Glen Swanson’s 2004 G. A. Custer His Life and Times, “1st Lt. William Winer Cooke was born in Mount Pleasant, Brant County, Ontario Canada on May 9, 1846. He was born to wealthy parents who were British loyalists and moved to Canada after the American Revolution. He left home at the age of fourteen to live with relatives in Buffalo, New York. Lying about his age, he joined the 24th New York Cavalry in 1863 as a recruiter. Due to his success he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in January of 1864. Cooke was wounded in the Battle of Petersburg and returned to duty after recuperation becoming Unit Quartermaster. He was promoted to First Lieutenant and commanded Company A, taking part in the battles of Five Forks, Dinwiddle Court House and Sayler’s Creek. Through brevets, Cooke attained the rank of Lt. Colonel by the end of the war and then returned to Canada. His father wanted him to stay and form a new Regiment of Cavalry in Canada but he decided instead to join the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant in the newly formed 7th Cavalry in 1866. He was made Regimental Adjutant in 1866 through 1867. During that year he and George Custer were charged with murder when they pursued a group of deserters. Several were wounded and one shot to death. After an inquiry into the incident the charges were dropped. In 1868 Cooke took part in the Battle of the Washita, commanding forty sharpshooters who were assigned to fire on the Cheyenne village dismounted. In pursuit of renegades the following year, he and George Custer arrived unannounced in a hostile Cheyenne village at Sweetwater Creek, Texas, for a parlay. Finding his small party in some difficulty, Custer sent Cooke for reinforcement. Benteen and two companies came to his relief. In 1870 Cooke was transferred into Company I and in 1871 again became the Regimental Adjunct, a position he would hold until his death in 1876. After serving occupation duty in the South he returned to Dakota with the regiment in 1873 and was on leave at the time of the Yellowstone Expedition but took park in the Black Hills Expedition of 1874. After the attack on the village at the Little Bighorn was beginning, he would author the most famous battle message known. This message was given to John Martin to be delivered to Captain Frederick Benteen shortly before Lt. Cooke followed Custer to their death. Benteen, Come on. Big Village Be Quick, Bring Pack. p.s. Bring pacs W.W. Cooke.” Accompanying this lot are 2 rare images, one a signed Civil War CDV of Cooke, signed on verso “W.W. Cooke Lt. 24 NY Cav”. PROVENANCE: W. W. Cooke and descendants. CONDITION: Gun is gray overall with small traces of finish in protected areas. Rammer latch has a small soldered repair. Front sight is missing. There is about a 2″ crack in bbl on right side at muzzle. Markings are discernible including complete 3-line bbl address. Most parts have inspectors initials. Inspector’s cartouche is discernible on right stock. There is a large chip on left rear toe of stock that appears missing since its time of use based on patina to wood and metal. Gun appears all orig and matching though 4-digits found on cyl 9904 are different than frame and bbl however patina and condition match remainder of gun perfectly and no doubt appear orig to time of gun’s use. Gun functions with a pitted bore with discernible rifling. Holster is complete retaining about half its orig dyed finish. There are reductions around edges of flap, tab is still intact though torn; 2″ tear or cut on back of holster near muzzle. Muzzle plug is missing. Orig 2-1/2 x 1-1/2″ ink tag is about 70% intact with most text discernible with scrutiny. More recent tag has copied the orig. There is a small pasted label beneath the tag that has the partial name B. O’Reil(ly) (maybe a Mountie who returned it?) of unknown provenance. Farrier’s knife smaller of two blades is broken only 1″ at ricasso remains; largest blade complete with old sharpening, saw blade intact as are other tools. Stag slab grips retained by German silver pins and German silver plaque with inscription are sound though the plaque is bent and one pin is pushed in. CDV is very good with soiling, staining clipped corners 4-55014, 4-54845, 4-54935 JS49 (50,000-100,000) – Lot 1429

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Auction: Firearms - March 2015
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.