The War for Southern Independence
About This Site
Contact Us

The Rigdon & Ansley Machine Works

  • The Finest Confederate Handgun
  • Located at Marbury St. (10th) at the Canal
  • Predecessor to the Georgia Iron Works
    Rigdon & Ansley Machine Works
    Marbury St. at the Canal
    Augusta, Georgia

    Charles H. Rigdon began in the revolver business before the war as an engineer for Shawk and McLanahan in St. Louis. After the war began, he moved to Memphis with some machinery and teamed up with Thomas Leech (not "Leach") to set up a revolver works in that city. On May 9, 1862, with the approach of Federal forces, Beauregard ordered evacuation of arms plants, and Leech and Rigdon pulled out and moved to Columbus, MS, and on December 15 to Greensboro, GA.

    This was the first place Leech and Rigdon revolvers were actually made. They received a contract from the C.S. government on March 6, 1863. Guns made after that are reportedly marked "CSA" on the barrel. The Leech and Rigdon partnership ended in December, 1863, and Rigdon moved to Augusta, GA, where he went into partnership with Jesse Ansley to form Rigdon and Ansley.

    The number of guns made is in dispute, but the highest serial number of a Leech & Rigdon revolver is reported to be 1461, with 1546 being a Rigdon and Ansley, In a letter from Col. Rains, he complained to Charles Rigdon that "something must be done with the 'hair trigger' as our men are shooting themselves in the foot." The characteristic 12 notches are found in higher numbered guns. Rigdon & Ansley Gun

    The gun pictured at the top of this page is #1532. Pictured to the right are a pair of consecutive - numbered pieces - considered the finest Confederate revolvers in existence. These Rigdon-Ansley pistols, SN 1774 & 1775 may actually be the two finest Confederate Navys of any make or model known. The Augusta Museum of History acquired one of these guns several years ago at a reported $38,000.

    The revolvers were fairly good copies of the Colt Model 1851. Tens of thousands of reproductions have been made in Italy with the Leech & Rigdon marking, and thousands more repros have been re-marked with that legend. In other words, fakes are far more common than original pistols.

    As to value, a Leech and Rigdon in excellent condition can be traded about even for a Lexus. The repros bring $100 or so.

    The Augusta Machine Works, located on the other side of Marbury Street and part of the same complex, also manufacured handguns and these are even more rare than the Leech and Rigdon. The picture is from the Library of Congress showing the Augusta Machine Works in 1850. After the war this became the Augusta Lumber Company and was the predecessor of Georgia Iron Works.

    My gun more closely matches the pictures I have seen of the Augusta Machine Works Guns. It has an octagonal barrel and is stamped Augusta, GA and C.S.A. on the top.

    The Rigdon & Ansley company formed a home guard unit that was called into action at the Battle of Griswoldville where they lost 2 men and at the Battle of Aiken they were detailed to defend Horse Creek which runs "up the valley" from Hamburg to Graniteville.

    References: Arbaugh, The Finest Confederate Hand Gun
    Rigdon, John C. The Battle of Aiken
    Rigdon, John C. The Quest for the Confederate Gold
    Rigdon, John C. My Uncle Charley's Gun Shop
    Damon Mills Fine Antique Arms (
    James D. Julia Auctioneers (
    Revolvers of the Civil War (
    Library of Congress - Augusta Machine Works (

      © 2007 John Rigdon