Pistol from Battle of Pea Ridge Given to Military Park

JULY 5, 2006 - Posted at 7:43 a.m. CDT

PEA RIDGE, AR - The great grandson of a Union soldier who was wounded in the Battle of Pea Ridge and treated at Elkhorn Tavern has given his ancestor's sidearm to the battlefield museum at the park.

William Steller of Ventura, California, told people gathered for a July 4 ceremony yesterday that the pistol belongs at Pea Ridge National Military Park.  In Steller's words, "It's history."

The revolver belonged to Corporal William Allen Austin of the 9th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.  He was carrying the Colt Navy Model 1851 revolver when he was wounded in an elbow on the first day of the two-day battle in far northwest Arkansas.

Austin refused to have the arm amputated.  He recovered and lived to 86, dying in 1922.

The pistol was passed down through the generations.  Steller says he never married and has no heirs, so he decided to donate the gun to the park.

During the ceremony yesterday at the reconstructed Elkhorn Tavern, Steller pulled the trigger a few times on the unloaded gun to show that it still works.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)