In May 1861, Samuel Colt was Hartford's richest, most famous citizen.
A charismatic, driven entrepreneur, Colt possessed inventive genius, boundless imagination and unsurpassed marketing prowess. He had built an internationally renowned business centered in a state-of-the art armory in Hartford's South Meadows that produced the revolving handguns bearing his name.
Instruments of "moral reform,'' Colt once sardonically called his artful, deadly devices. How they were used, and by whom, did not trouble him much.
His British customers accused him of selling guns to their Russian adversaries during the Crimean War. And his agents allegedly negotiated contracts with...