The Swamp Angel

Today, we’re going to take a look at another pocket revolver, the “Swamp Angel” rim-fire revolver. The original “Swamp Angel” was an 8-inch 200-pounder muzzle-loading rifled artillery weapon used extensively in the Civil War. The Swamp Angel earned its name when, in preparation for the bombardment of Charleston, South Carolina, in August, 1863, Major General Quincy Gillmore ordered the construction of a battery in the swampy marsh near Morris Island.  The “Swamp Angel” continued firing for two days until, on the thirty-sixth round, the gun exploded.

The Swamp Angel rim-fire revolver was manufactured by Forehand and Wardsworth in the 1870s. Manufactured in .38 and .41 caliber, this large caliber rim-fire revolver was well-made and accurate. Remember, most of the pocket revolvers we’ve looked at were “suicide” guns—they were as likely to kill the shooter as the target.

By the way, rim-fire or edge-fire revolver means the hammer strikes the rim of the cartridge to fire the gun, rather than in the center dimple of a modern cartridge.

The Swamp Angel rim-fire revolver was not only a pretty little gun, she was effective, accurate and well liked.

(Thanks to for the pic on the right)

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13 thoughts on “The Swamp Angel”

  1. Great post,I was older when I learned to shoot a gun,took a fire safety course an fired a little derringer for the first time an hit my mark,so they were impressed,more women today are learning how to properly hande a pistol for safety reasons,thats why I did

  2. This post raised some questions for me. I’m curious. Is there an advantage of rim-fire over striking the center?
    Why did they name this little gun after a large artillery piece?
    Why was it safer and more accurate? Better technology? A bit bigger in size?

    Thanks for another interesting post on guns.

  3. Your gun posts make for really nice research, Vicki. You’ve written about some weapons I didn’t know existed. When the hero, heroine or villain draws a gun, it adds a nice touch to the story to know exactly what it is.
    A friend of mine writes articles for gun magazines, and is my go-to research source. He’s probably heard of this gun, but I hadn’t until now.
    Have a great day.

  4. The more I read about guns the more I know I DON’T know. I think they’re amazing inventions. Seriously.

    I’ve maybe only shot a gun once in my life, years and years ago.

    We had a bb gun when I was a kid, and I shot that some. It’s so LOUD!!!

  5. I love reading all the gun posts. I like all the names that they have. They have a cool story to. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Tracy, you’re always coming up with something I’ve never heard about. Very interesting! And I’m sure it was a relief to gun owners to have a weapon that wouldn’t kill the shooter. That would be awful.

  7. Patricia, there are disadvantages to the rim-fire because it didn’t always fire. The new center dimpled cartridges rarely fail. In the same way, newer technology made this gun safer than its pocket predecessors.

    And the name was in honor of the artillery piece, I believe.

  8. I agree, Mary. The inventiveness, the artistry if you will, that goes into each new model, each modification–that fascinates me.

    I shot my brother’s bb gun a couple of times. Even managed to put a couple of holes in our 2nd story gutter trying to shoo away a woodpecker that thought the cedar outside my bedroom window was a delicacy. Fortunately, I’m becoming a better shot.

  9. You’re welcome, Amy. Thanks for stopping by.

    Linda, that’s why the first pocket pistols were never considered serious firepower. They were as likely to blow up in your hand as hit the target. 😀

  10. Tracy, I just love these blogs on different firearms. I’m so hung up on Peacemakers, I never expanded my mind LOL. I totally love the name Swamp Angel. Actually I thought it would work for a book title LOL. oxoxxo

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