- Robert E. Petersen Collection
- Ancient Firearms - 1350 to 1700
- Road to American Liberty - 1700 to 1780
- A Prospering New Republic - 1780 to 1860
- The American West - 1850 to 1900
- Innovation, Oddities and Competition
- Theodore Roosevelt and Elegant Arms - 1880s to 1920s
- World War I and Firearms Innovation
- WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Beyond - 1940 to Present
- For the Fun of It
- Modern Firearms - 1950 to Present
- Hollywood Guns
- A Nation Asunder - 1861 to 1865
Major General Richard A. Bresnahan's U.S./Colt M1903 Semi-Automatic General Officer's Pistol
This pistol (SN 562716) was presented to Major General Richard A. Bresnahan, U.S. Army. Army general officers have been issued special pistols since the Second World War. The reasons for this are obscure. Some indicate that this was done as a badge of rank, others believe that these officers required a personal defense arm that was small enough to be carried unobtrusively and would not interfere with their movements, be it in and out of aircraft, jeeps, or other modes of transport. Typically, Army general officer pistols have been John Browning-designed Colt Pocket Automatic Pistols in .32 or .380 caliber.
Major General Richard Anthony Bresnahan, U.S. Army, was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts on November 14, 1924. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York with the Class of 1946, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. From 1947 until 1949, he served as a platoon leader and company commander in Korea, then returned to the United States for duty as an instructor at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia.
He was re-assigned to Korea in 1952 and again served as a company commander during the final year of the Korean Conflict, where he earned his Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Korean Service Medal with 3 bronze service stars. After completing the Infantry Advanced Course in 1954, at which time he received his Parachutist Badge, he became a physical education instructor at West Point. He served a three year tour at the Academy, then attended the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1957.
Upon completion of the course, he remained at the College as a curriculum planner until 1961. His next assignment took him to Germany and command of a mechanized infantry battalion. He also served as a war plans officer with the U.S. Army-Europe and with NATO. He completed his tour in 1965. In 1966, Bresnahan completed the course at the Army War College and was assigned to duty at the Pentagon in the Office of the Army's Chief of Staff. In late 1968, he became Chief of Force Development, U.S. Army Vietnam, before taking command of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
During his service in Southeast Asia, he received a star for his Combat Infantryman Badge, as well as the Vietnam Service Medal with silver service star, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm. From 1969 to 1971, he served on the staff of the Army War College, then reported to the Pentagon for a three-year tour with the Joint Staff. On January 25, 1972, Bresnahan was promoted to Brigadier General. After completing his assignment with the Joint Staff in 1974, General Bresnahan served as Chief of Staff, U.S. Fifth Army and Commander, U.S. Army Readiness Region V at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.
From September 1977 to July 1979, he was posted to Greece before returning to the United States for his final career posting as Commander, U.S. Army Readiness Region VIII at Aurora, Colorado. He retired from the Army in January 1982 after 33 years of service, 25 of which were spent as an infantry unit commander and 10 as a general officer. In addition to the awards and decorations for his service in Korea and Vietnam, General Bresnahan also received the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Legion of Merit with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star, and Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters.