First Machine Gun

Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling, a graduate of the Ohio Medical College in Cincinnati, invented the Gatling Gun and in 1862 developed the machinery to manufacture it. The United States Army purchased a large quantity of the guns in 1865. Soon, most major European armies had them as well. The gun was forerunner of the modern machine gun, and revolutionized warfare.

The Gatling Gun had six barrels that were mounted on a revolving frame. Later configurations included ten barrels and were know to fire at the rate of over 320 rounds a minute.  In 1870, Gatling built a factory in Hartford, CT to manufacture his invention.  He also continued to refine the design, and by 1882 it was able to fire up to 1,200 rounds a minute. In addition to guns, Gatling build sowing machines, and both a steam powered and marine steam ram.

Gatling graduated from medical school in 1850, but found that he was much more interested in inventions than he was in being a doctor.  His Gatling Gun invention was inspired by observing that most of those who died during the Civil War succumbed to disease and illness instead of battle wounds.  Gattling wrote in 1877,  "It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine - a gun - which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished."

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