Dr. Gatling’s Deterent

It has been argued war advances science and technology. Civil War can be studied through the advancements in military science and the denial of many of today’s widely accepted tactics, techniques, and practices on the battlefield. It is hard to believe that even some American history’s most revered Generals refused to think outside of their traditional military training and fought the progress of what today might be thought of common sense advancements in warfare. There is one new technology that would change the way wars would be fought forever it was Dr. Richard J. Gatling’s Gatling gun.The Gatling gun was not the first machine gun, but it was more effective and safer for the operators than its predecessors. When Gatling introduced his machine gun he thought it would eliminate the need for massive armies, and would be a deference from future wars. Sounds familiar? Gatling was deeply disturbed by the amount of casualties the civil war and wanted to design a machine that could do the job of a hundred soldiers. He granted the patent to develop his machine gun in 1862.

Gatling’s design was improvement on older designs because it used a new cartridge technology rather than minie balls and the use of multiple barrels to fire the projectiles. The new projectile was more effective because it was dependable and was more weather resistant than traditional cartridges which used open powder and flint. The multi barrel feature of the gatling gun kept the gun from heating like its predecessors and was easier to fix in case a projectile got jammed in the action.

During the Civil War Lincoln wanted the army to advance the technology in use buy the union army, but he got a lot of negative feedback from his Generals on these new inventions. One General who did adopt the new invention and employed it with success was Major General Ben Butler at the Battle of Petersburg in the spring 0f 1965. The Navy however liked the invention and individual commanders purchased the weapon for use on ships.mg-1-033-13

The Gatling gun was the beginning of modern machine gun technology and the evolution of military science. Machine guns would see expanded use in World War I, that is when they became commonplace in all future battles and crucially important to the planning process. Employment techniques have now advanced greatly, Machine guns are deadlier than ever when employed properly. Gatling’s dream of developing a deterrent was never realized but it did allow one soldier to do the work of a hundred.







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