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Richard Gatling – The Gatling Gun

Richard Jordan Gatling was born in January 1818 in Winton North Carolina, and died at the age of 85 in 1903. Gatling’s career as an inventor began when he assisted his father in the construction of machines for sowing cottonseeds, and also for thinning cotton plants. He spent a lot of time in the fields with his father who helped him build some of his inventions. Richard Jordan Gatling was a medical doctor with numerous patents for his farm equipment inventions.

To his credit he came up with the famous 1862-model Revolving Battery Gun, that is now referred to as the Gatling gun. The 1862-model was one of the first reliable Revolving guns, but still had a few problems that needed to be fixed. Richard was not the first to manufacture a multi-fire weapon, but his was the first multi-fire gun used in war because of its fast, rapid fire, and ease to use. Major General Ben F. Butler purchased 12, 1862-model gatling guns for $1000 each and used them successfully at the battle of Petersburg in 1863.

In 1865 Gatling’s improved model, the 1865-gun was tested by the Ordnance Department. One of the changes between the improved Gatling gun and the old one, was that the new weapon used rim fire copper-cased cartridges instead of the steel-chambered paper kind. Though this model did not see service, it was adopted officially in 1866. The military was so pleased with the performance of the Gatling gun that it has been used in every battle since it was invented to this day and has been continuously upgraded and improved.

Having received government approval, Gatling began to sell his guns throughout the world. This was a big mark in Richardss future, he had gone from working in the fields to developing a gun that is used throughout the military of the world. The gun was a hand-crank-operated weapon with six barrels revolving around a central shaft. Having a gun that revolves was very difficult because the barrels would not always line up correctly when being fired.

The original gun was actually designed to fire the standard military issue paper cartridge of the day, . caliber. A . 58 caliber bullet has a diameter of an inch and is capable of damaging anything it hits. The paper cartridge was placed inside a steel or brass chamber with a percussion nipple on the back end just like the muzzle loading rifles and pistols of there time. The cartridges were fed to the gun by gravity through a hopper mounted towards the top of the gun. As the six cam operated bolts alternately fired, and dropped the bullets, which were contained in steel chambers, it made quite an impression on their enemies.

Gatling also used the six barrels to partially cool the gun during firing, because if there werent some sort of cooling system the gun would become so hot that you could not touch it after a while. Since the gun was capable of firing about 600 rounds a minute, each barrel fired 100 rounds per minute, thats a steady stream of bullets an inch in diameter following each other about every 6 inches or so. The creation of the Gatling gun has changed US history.

If we did not have such great inventors at the time then we would of never have had the kind of technology and weaponry that we do today. During the Civil war, though the Gatling gun was not used that much, it had a huge impact on our military. A few years later the Navy, seeing the benefit of such a weapon started mounting larger and more improved models of the gatling gun on there ships. In conclusion I think Richard Jordan Gatling did have a big impact on the United States, with his invention of the Gatling gun.

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