Samuel Griswold (1790-1867) and his wife Louisa moved from Burlington, Connecticut, to Clinton, Georgia, in 1815. By 1825, he had advanced from store clerk to tinsmith to building cotton gins. By 1830, he owned and operated a foundry and gin factory, along with wagon and buggy
factories between Clinton and Macon. He employed slaves, freed slaves, and whites. By 1860, he had moved most of his operations out to the area soon to be known as Griswoldville to take advantage of the railroad for shipping. By this time, he had added a gristmill, steam-engine powered sawmill, and a new cotton gin factory. In 1862, he and partner Arvin Gunnison, a New Hampshire native, retooled his gin to produce six-shot percussion revolvers for the Confederacy. This factory became the largest producer of handguns in the Confederacy. Patterned after the Navy Colt, these firearms became known as the Griswold & Gunnison revolver. During the war, Griswold added a hospital, castor oil factory, and furniture factory to produce hospital beds and coffins. In November 1864, the town was burned and the factories destroyed except for a few homes and the depot. His three-story mansion served as a hospital and quarters for invading and defending generals. It accidentally burned in 1907.
First Union Raid on Griswoldville
In July 1864, General Sherman
unleashed all his Union cavalry to attack south and east of Atlanta. On 30 July 1864, Colonel Horace Capron's cavalry (3rd Brigade of Major General George Stoneman's Army of the Ohio Cavalry Corps) sent soldiers to attack Griswoldville. Along the way they destroyed track and burned railcars. As Griswoldville proved too well defended to enter, they took a captured locomotive, built it up to full steam, and sent it roaring backwards into town slamming into the rear of a passenger train, splitting the wooden car in half, and derailing others. Despite their efforts, Griswoldville was not destroyed, and the pistol works continued in production until late November 1864.
Griswold & Gunnison percussion revolver, patterned after the .36 caliber Navy Colt revolver. More than 3,500 were produced at Griswoldville before the factory was destroyed on 20 November 1864.
Arvin N. Gunnison (1825-1882) began his machinist career at
Griswold's gin factory before moving to New Orleans,
Lcuisiana. He manufactured gins until the beginning of the
war and then switched to producing guns for the
Confederacy. Just in advance of that city's fall in April
1862, Gunnison packed up his machinery in wagons
and relocated to Griswoldville. Working with Griswold,
they transformed his cotton gin factory in only three
months to make revolvers for the Confederate
Department. Using the metals readily
available in the Southern states, such as brass,
copper and iron, the Griswold & Gunnison revolvers
copied the Colt Navy 1851 model. The cylinder and
barrel were iron instead of graded steel which had
become scarce. However, the pistols had walnut grips,
a serial number, and an inspector's stamp for quality
control. They held up well in combat usage.
Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown commissioned the production of 10,000 pikes to arm the Georgia militia. Griswoldville produced 804 pikes for the Georgia State Line Reserve Militia, a unit that came to be called "Joe Brown's Pets." This is a Griswoldville produced pike. Note the stamping "S. Griswold" on the head.