THE COLT ARMORY FIRE OF 1864: IT WAS NOT AN ACCIDENT
This is a version of the article which appeared in “The Rampant Colt,” Spring 2014. It tells the story of the Colt Armory Fire of 1864 that destroyed one-half of Colt’s manufacturing capacity and heavily damaged the company’s offices. The version put out by Colt’s and most of the press was that it was an industrial accident which began in an attic, within minutes consumed the pistol works and bore down on the offices nearby.
Fires do not behave like that. They do not burn from the top down. They burn up. In the depth of the Civil War, every effort was made to keep the truth from the public, that the nation’s most important private firearms manufacturer was torched by a Confederate incendiary. Even modern writers were taken in by the cover up, leading to misunderstandings of Colt’s history itself.
Here you will find Elizabeth Colt’s eyewitness account, Richard Jarvis’s cover-up, and his dealings with the War Department.