Military Police Pistol History
MILITARY POLICE PISTOLS HAVE A UNIQUE HISTORY
The two Harper’s Ferry pistols in the Military Police Museum at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, are special to the MP Corps. They are a part of MP Corps history, and they are unique originals in their own right, with their own unique history and personalities. The serial number of one of the two Military Police pistols is 754. The other one has no serial number, no proof mark and no “U.S.” mark. The markings were probably never on the barrel. There is no indication at all that they were worn off. Perhaps, a later replacement barrel? Harper’s Ferry weapons experts may be consulted on this issue.
One handle has a checkered/knearled area carved into its handle. Neither pistol has ever been converted to the later percussion style but retain the original flintlock mechanism. This conversion to percussion was fairly common for many flintlocks when possessed purely for utilitarian use.
The process of attempting to trace the chain of ownership of the two pistols is underway. At present, chain of ownership can only be traced back to the time when the then Military Police Association (MPA) came into possession of the pistols in 1962. Chances of successfully tracking these, however, are slim.
The Institute of Heraldry has been contacted concerning any papers about the 1922 design process for the MP symbol. The SN of the pistol used for the drawings was apparently from the collection of a Major Jerome Clark, retired at the time, of Purcellville, VA.
The PMG (Provost Marshal General), MG Ralph Butchers, sent a letter to all major command Provost Marshals for the fund campaign. The total purchase cost for the two pistols was $1,875, although the purchase source was not mentioned. This information is from the June 1962 MP Bulletin. In the September 1962 issue, came the announcement that a total of $3,566.94 was donated to offset the purchase price and to build a display case and other museum improvements. In a letter dated 3 Dec 1973, signed by COL Zane Kortum, association president, the pistols, along with other items, were formally donated to the MP Museum to maintain proper chain of ownership.