Discussion Were battery guns like the Billinghurst Requa Battery Gun practical?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
Multi-barrel guns were nothing new at the start of the Civil War. What was new was using magazines to feed them. Battery guns like the Billighurst Requa Battery Gun, with a three man crew, could reach of rate of fire of 175 round/min from its twenty-five heavy .58 caliber rifle barrels. The Billighurst Requa Battery Gun was never officially accepted by the army but it was used at the Siege of Port Hudson, Fort Wagner, Fort Sumter, Battle of Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg. The main complaint was the gun use ammunition too fast. The army did purchase five more guns in 1866 but new technology soon made this type of gun obsolete.

These battery guns could put out considerable bullets per minute but by Civil War standards were they practical? The army did not see much practical use for them.


Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
May 7, 2016
No they weren't but you have to remember when the war started if you had anything that fired you tried to get a contract. The Billinghurst wasn't the worst one the Agar was a pain to fire and the tube rounds were very expensive. Here are rounds for both in my collection.

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Nov 2, 2019
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
It was not just that multi barreled guns were mechanically unreliable & tended to spray bullets randomly. Nobody had figured out what to do with them tactically. For example, the Gatling gun was mounted on an artillery carriage & manned like an artillery piece. Initially, it was traversed by the use of the hand spike attached to the trail of the carriage just like an artillery piece. The gun was pulled by a limber with six horses, just like an artillery piece. It was deployed in battery with a caisson , just like an artillery piece. Needless to say, it wasn’t an artillery piece & was useless when deployed like one.


First Sergeant
Aug 17, 2017
Here is a link to a neat video of an Agar Reproduction a very skilled machinist made. He states in another video that he obtained the dimensions from an original located in a VA museum. I would think a battery of these used on the defense would have been very helpful supporting infantry in breaking up a charge.

The real action begins at about 2:45.



Oct 1, 2018
CO Rockies & So. Arizona
"The army did not see much practical use for them." Some officers who used them in combat would disagree.

A report by Major T.B.Brookes ( First New York Engineers) , written during the siege of Charleston, commented favorably on the Requa gun. "This rifle battery is a device for multiplying and accelerating infantry fire from rifle barrels, and appears in principle to be a substitute for a 6-pdr field gun whenever grape or cannister are needed, and to the extent of its range, case shot, over each of which it possesses greater precision and much less liability to fail in producing desirable results. On several occasions, these batteries were used against the enemy's sharpshooters and working parties, apparently with good effect."

An officer of the 39th Illinois commented on the attacks on Fort Wagner. "... proved to be of especial service in protecting the sappers and miners while extending their parallels. The men required to operate it were detailed from various regiments...the 39th Illinois, 3rd Vermont, and 9th Maine". "The rapidity of firing and and the well directed aim of the piece rendering it very unsafe for the rebels..". The gun could be fired seven times a minute by a three man crew.
Military Images Magazine Vol V, number 1, July-August 1983 Page 17
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