My Great Grandfather x4 came from a long line of armory experts from France who settled in Louisiana. The Latil family men followed the tradition into the 1900s and were often challenged to shooting contests. (Pre-Civil War - Baton Rouge News prints shooting challenges issued to the Latil family by new gun entrepreneurs.)
Louis’s three sons (including my Great Grand Fatherx3 Hector, wounded at Shiloh and Great Grand Uncles, Achille and Louis Jr , (captured Port Hudson) served in the Confederacy.
Per family story and news/magazine articles, my Great Grandfather x4, Louis A. Latil invented a revolving chamber fire arm about 1836 in New Orleans. He started with a revolving four chamber and ended up with a six chamber fire arm.
For example, on Sept 22, 1849, the Scientific American, New York, No1-Vol 5, wrote that “Mr. L. A. Latil, of the Arsenal, at Baton Rouge, has invented an improvement in fire-arms which is stated to be one barrel with four chamber, and is so arranged as to shoot as rapidly as the trigger can be pulled; and yet, in size and weight, is not heavier nor more cumbersome than an ordinary gun.”
Also, the Army Navy Chronicle, Vol.6, 1836, wrote: “New Rifle – We saw yesterday, a new invention of that ingenious mechanic and valuable citizen, Mr. Louis A. Latil. It was a rifle made on the most simple plan imaginable, and yet so ingeniously constructed as to enable a soldier or sportsman to charge and discharge it about six times . . . Mr. Latil has already taken necessary steps for obtaining a patent; and we have no doubt of his making his fortune in manufacturing this improved rifle. The piece itself is a beautiful specimen of complete workmanship. We were also favored with the sight of a pistol not yet finished, which we are confident will do credit the skillful inventor. It is also on a new plan, and different from the rifle.
It was told to me that Samuel Colt stole the invention from Louis Latil and the Latil family went to court over seven times and lost. Samuel traveled up and down the Mississippi River towns teaching about laughing gas like a “Snake oil salesman”. (I have read that other countries also accused Colt of stealing gun components during this time. If anyone is interested I will gather up the articles).
Would any of you have any ideas how to located the Latil vs. Colt court cases, or find the Latil prototype that belongs to a collector? I would love to hear more and also see the prototype. By family legend, the collection would not show it to anyone years ago. Finally, any thoughts or news would be appreciated.