Petersburg/Richmond Gatling Guns

NH Civil War Gal

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photo by @FarawayFriend from thread https://civilwartalk.com/threads/foto-friday.153456/post-1964224
I just read that Butler had half a dozen (or a dozen?) Gatling Guns at Petersburg. Is that true? If it is true, did it make a difference or was it a technology a bit ahead of its time?
 
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RochesterBill

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Butler reputedly bought 12 Gatli g guns and 12,000 rounds of ammunition out of his own po
cket (since the War Dept. refused to approve them) for a then-whopping $12,000.

There were some problems of course, the biggest being that before the age of smokeless gunpowder that rate of fire created an enormous cloud of smoke which not only blinded the gunners but also pinpointed them to the enemy.

Which led to the other big problem, which was that the ra ge was nowhere near the range of a simple brass Napoleon or other common CW artillery. So opposing gunners could simply spot the huge cloud of smoke and take free, safe pot shots at the Gatling emplacement with no worries about getting hit by it.

Nonetheless the soldiers were impressed - who wouldn't be - and generally were in favor. As long as they weren't the ones using them.
 
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I just read that Butler had half a dozen (or a dozen?) Gatling Guns at Petersburg. Is that true?
That is true.
Butler was a very wealthy man.

did it make a difference
Only at that Petersburg location. And perhaps a few other sites.
The Gatling Gun had no tactical impact on any major battle of the Civil War.

Richard Gatling and his inventions are fascinating topics. (There were also rumors that suggested he may have been
a Confederate sympathizer).

Not only did he work to improve weapons, he also focused on farm machinery, the common bicycle and even toilets.


was it a technology a bit ahead of its time?

The easy answer is probably yes and no.
Rapid fire weapons were not a new concept, but Gatling improved upon the idea.

Kind of like during the 1990's (when the old "dumb terminals" were replaced by much more advanced PC's)
 
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I'm sure that by the time Dr. Richard Gatling died he saw many other rapid fire guns used in various wars besides his own invention. And I can imagine he was very dismayed and disappointed. The reason he invented his "machine gun" was to make war so terrible no nation or person would want to participate in such a horrible thing. Apparently no nation saw the folly of war and went on to bigger and faster ways to kill people.
 
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I'm sure that by the time Dr. Richard Gatling died he saw many other rapid fire guns used in various wars besides his own invention. And I can imagine he was very dismayed and disappointed. The reason he invented his "machine gun" was to make war so terrible no nation or person would want to participate in such a horrible thing. Apparently no nation saw the folly of war and went on to bigger and faster ways to kill people.
That is true.
Technology really took off within the next 30 or 40 years.

But I can't help but think he would be happy that his "gatling gun" remains one the most feared weapons in the USAF ground attack squadrons today.

The A-10 "Warthog", AC-130 gunships and other aircraft use a modern version that can fire thousands of rounds per minute, although unfeasible ... as that rate of fire would easily overheat the weapon.

I think he would like the ship mounted Naval versions as well.
(
Now I'm thinking about the Phalanx weapons system based on the M61 Vulcan "gattling" that can fire up to 6,000 rounds per minute).

So I think Dr. Gatling would be proud.

:smoke:
 
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The reason he invented his "machine gun" was to make war so terrible no nation or person would want to participate in such a horrible thing.
Yep. That is ironic.

I may be mistaken, but I think the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel had the same thought when he invented Dynamite.
( How did that work out ? )

And the real irony is that he has an international "peace prize" named after him.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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I think the toilet was probably the most useful for mankind!

But Butler must have had a lot of faith (or hope) in the Gatling Gun to put so much of his own money into it.

How did it change things at Petersburg? I haven’t read up much about that area of the war.
 

John Winn

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One has to realize that, in addition to the ammunition problem, that the early guns were like artillery - i.e. they could only be pointed and aimed like a cannon and didn't swivel like a modern machine gun (and, to be pedantic, weren't machine guns). Of course, they were also transported like artillery pieces so weren't mobile and couldn't easily support infantry. All-in-all, while an interesting technological advance, they weren't practical for the times.

Now, John Wayne cut a good scene with one that did swivel while going down our very own Rogue River but that's a different thing.
 
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Admiral Porter purchased 1 for test on naval vessels.
Interesting note, the European Armies embraced the gatling gun faster than the US Government .

And another interesting tidbit for those interested ... check out the controversy between Richard Gatling & Benjamin Hotchkiss.

Hotchkiss invented a "revolving cannon" that looked almost identical to a gatling gun. But on steroids.
Appearance aside, the two weapons were completely different. The original Hotchkiss gun was still in use on many of the world's naval assets until WW I. Including the US Navy.

One last comment ... here's an ancient thread some may enjoy:
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/federals-with-gatling-gun.89573/


 
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I read that the Gatling guns were finally adapted by the War Department in 1865. What was so differant in 1865 than a year or two earlier?
The War Department officially ordered only a few gatling guns "for testing" during 1866.

What was different ?
Actually nothing.


The "old school" Generals & Admirals have always been opposed to embrace new methods and new technology.
The old tall ship crowd screamed the new steam powered ships would never work. Years later, the new old men used the same argument about aircraft carriers and submarines.

The Army was no different.
 

ucvrelics

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The War Department officially ordered only a few gatling guns "for testing" during 1866.

What was different ?
Actually nothing.


The "old school" Generals & Admirals have always been opposed to embrace new methods and new technology.
The old tall ship crowd screamed the new steam powered ships would never work. Years later, the new old men used the same argument about aircraft carriers and submarines.

The Army was no different.
I agree, As I was an instructor at APG when we went from M60A3 to the M1 Abrams and M113 to Bradley's and it was a zoo.
 
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Was the Hotchkiss used in the Civil War? It was made in France I think and if it was, how easy was it to get it here?
No, the Hotchkiss gun was a post Civil War weapon.

Hotchkiss was an American that licensed his product to be manufactured by other companies in Europe.
The French were one one of the first, but as usual ... the Germans improved upon his original design.

The history of the Hotchkiss company, is a classic international business success story.
 
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