Odd Artillery of Ohio: The "Union Repeating Gun"

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https://www.forgottenweapons.com/manual-machine-guns/union-repeating-gun/

Better known as the "Coffee Mill" Machine Gun, and also called the Agar Gun after it's inventor, these were some of the very first practical machine guns invented during the war, though they saw limited use due to the cost of ammunition, and it's unreliability. The chief defect was the tendency of the guns to over heat after firing, as they had only one barrel and no real cooling system. I imagine fouling with black powder was a problem too! I'm not aware of what kind of limber these would have used though I'd guess at "Prairie" carriage or 6 lber style limbers. It's interesting to note that the gun's ammunition boxes are mounted on the carriage, which in terms of artillery was a bit of a throwback but given the way these guns would go through rounds was probably a plus.

Ohio received two of these guns in 1861, according to the records of the Quartermaster General, and subsequently issued them back out to a unknown unit in 1862. Does anyone know what unit might have received them?

It certainty is interesting to think that, as early as 1861 Ohio was introduced to the machine gun in a primitive form. I kind of wonder what artillerymen like James Barnett thought of the newfangled contraption at the time!
 
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redbob

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The Agar Gun used a metallic cartridge which consisted of an iron body filled with powder with a percussion cap at one end and the .58 bullet (similar to a Williams Cleaner Bullet) at the other. These were reloadable after use. Photos by ucvrelics.com
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redbob

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Wow, thanks @Western Reserve Volunteer, I never knew this. Is there a relationship between this and the Gatling gun? Other than “machine gun”?
There were probably no less than a half a dozen weapons (the Vandenburg Volley Gun, the Requa Gun, the Agar Gun, The Winan's Steam Gun, the Gatling Gun and others) that could be considered "rapid firing" guns during the Civil War, they couldn't really be considered machine guns in that human actions were required to operate them and not using recoil or gas from the firing of one round to load another. Of all of them, the Gatling Gun was probably at the top of the heap for it had multiple revolving barrels to prevent overheating which tended to doom the others to obscurity.
 
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redbob

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The Gatling's multi barrels would take care of the overheating, but I would think fouling would still have been a problem for any lengthy usage
I believe that the reality of the thing is that it was fired for relatively short durations and not for hours on end like some Western movies and TV shows would lead you to believe. And that maintenance/cleaning was very important to the weapon operating correctly.
 
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I believe that the reality of the thing is that it was fired for relatively short durations and not for hours on end like some Western movies and TV shows would lead you to believe. And that maintenance/cleaning was very important to the weapon operating correctly.
I'm sure anyone downrange would get the h-ll out of there quickly once the action started
 

CanadianCanuck

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The Gatling's multi barrels would take care of the overheating, but I would think fouling would still have been a problem for any lengthy usage
I believe that the reality of the thing is that it was fired for relatively short durations and not for hours on end like some Western movies and TV shows would lead you to believe. And that maintenance/cleaning was very important to the weapon operating correctly.
Ever since I first found out about it, I've always had a soft spot for the Agar "coffee mill" gun. Though the Gatling was far superior in design and performance, it still had its drawbacks. For all the grief given to James Ripley, he was probably correct that purchasing repeaters would have been a great strain on the resources of the nation for the war they were fighting. Useful in small doses, but a catastrophe if that was the primary armament of the army. There was no doctrine for using them and many of the weapons were not wholly reliable, and certainly weren't the equivalent of machine guns!
 

redbob

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Ever since I first found out about it, I've always had a soft spot for the Agar "coffee mill" gun. Though the Gatling was far superior in design and performance, it still had its drawbacks. For all the grief given to James Ripley, he was probably correct that purchasing repeaters would have been a great strain on the resources of the nation for the war they were fighting. Useful in small doses, but a catastrophe if that was the primary armament of the army. There was no doctrine for using them and many of the weapons were not wholly reliable, and certainly weren't the equivalent of machine guns!
The Agar also came with a replacement barrel which could be changed out like the barrel on the old M60.
 

chitoryu12

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https://www.forgottenweapons.com/manual-machine-guns/union-repeating-gun/

Forgotten Weapons did an article on it. A big problem with the overheating is that it wasn't a very heavy barrel and they used a big powder charge, which caused massive heat buildup. It also had an issue with the steel cylinders not having a very good gas seal; it really took the mass production of brass cartridges to finally get breech-loading weapons useful.
 


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