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History of the Gatling Gun

In 1861, Doctor Richard Gatling patented the Gatling Gun

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Gatling Gun

Gatling Gun

Courtesy Department of Defense
In 1861, Doctor Richard Gatling patented the Gatling Gun, a six-barreled weapon capable of firing a (then) phenomenal 200 rounds per minute. The Gatling gun was a hand-driven, crank-operated, multi-barrel, machine gun. The first machine gun with reliable loading, the Gatling gun had the ability to fire sustained multiple bursts.

Richard Gatling created his gun during the American Civil War, he sincerely believed that his invention would end war by making it unthinkable to use due to the horrific carnage possible by his weapons. At the least, the Gatling Gun's power would reduce the number of soldiers required to remain on the battlefield.

The 1862 version of the gatling gun had reloadable steel chambers and used percussion caps. It was prone to occasional jamming. In 1867, Gatling redesigned the Gatling gun again to use metallic cartridges - this version was bought and used by the United States Army.

Born September 12, 1818 in Hertford Count, North Carolina, Richard Gatling was the son of planter and inventor, Jordan Gatling, who held two patents of his own. Besides the Gatling gun, Richard Gatling also patented a seed-sowing rice planter in 1839 that was later adapted into a successful wheat drill.

In 1870, Richard Gatling and his family moved to Hartford, Connecticut, home of the Colt Armory where the Gatling gun was being manufactured.

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