Skip to main content

Gatlings- 'Gun Stories'

One of the things that has amazed me the most about the history of warfare, is how many of the most fearsome weapons were created by men who felt their inventions would end war. Alfred Noble and his work with gunpowder and explosives, Hiram Maxim's machine gun, and before them all, Richard Jordan Gatling and his terrible marvel, the gun that bore his name.

"It occurs to me," Gatling wrote to a friend in 1877, "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 great extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease would be greatly diminished."

Depending on the model and the caliber, a Gatling could fire 150 to 700 rounds a minute. And by the way, since a Gatling required a person to crank the handle- technically, it's not a machine gun.

The Gatling saw limited use in the American Civil War. It was common practice then, Union commanders privately purchased the Gatlings for their troops. Although a Gatling cost a huge sum of $1500, $35,000 in today's currency, it was a fraction of the cost of fielding a full regiment of men; and the Gatling was worth at least a regiment.


The most famous use of Gatling guns was in the Spanish American campaign at the end of the 19th century, most notably the Rough Riders charge up San Juan Hill. Teddy Roosevelt, an enthusiastic supporter of the Gatling gun, described the first use this way: "Now suddenly smote our ears a peculiar drumming sound. One or two of the men cried out, 'the Spanish machine guns!' But after listening a moment, I leaped to my feet and called 'it's the Gatlings, men! It's our Gatlings!' Immediately, the troops began to cheer lustily, for the sound was most inspiring."


By the end of the Gilded Age and the dawn of a new century, the Gatling had already been superseded by the first true machine gun, the Maxim. But, the Gatling had brought warfare to a new and more horrific level.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Which Sight Is Faster - XS Sight Test

Jeremy Stafford traveled to Gunsite Academy to compare the speed of stock sights against express, three-dot, suppressor-height and red dot sights.

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Don't underestimate the fun factor.Review: Remington V3 TAC-13 Shotguns

Review: Remington V3 TAC-13

Brad Fitzpatrick - March 08, 2019

Don't underestimate the fun factor.

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle Historical

The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle

Kyle Lamb - January 12, 2018

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an engineering degree to tinker with; here's a look at some upgrade options to take your Ruger American to the next level, and make it something a bit different.Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades Accessories

Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades

Philip Massaro - March 15, 2018

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an...

See More Trending Articles

More Historical

An accomplished shotgun shooter, former G&A editor Buz Fawcett was quite the shot with other firearms as well.The Instinctive Shooter Buz Fawcett - G&A's Third Editor Historical

The Instinctive Shooter Buz Fawcett - G&A's Third Editor

G&A Editors - October 17, 2018

An accomplished shotgun shooter, former G&A editor Buz Fawcett was quite the shot with other...

The Spanish-­made and designed Jo.Lo.Ar. pistol has a silhouette like no other handgun. As ungainly as it looks — especially in the 9mm Largo chambering — it does not feel that bad in the hand.Jo Lo Ar - Lever-Action Auto Pistol Handguns

Jo Lo Ar - Lever-Action Auto Pistol

Garry James - January 18, 2019

The Spanish-­made and designed Jo.Lo.Ar. pistol has a silhouette like no other handgun. As...

Marlin has been in the lever-­action business since 1881, but their lever-actions are only a partial picture of Marlin's heritage. In it's 150 years of continuous production, Marlin has manufactured nearly every type of firearm.Celebrating 150 Years of Marlin Firearms Historical

Celebrating 150 Years of Marlin Firearms

Craig Boddington - November 19, 2020

Marlin has been in the lever-­action business since 1881, but their lever-actions are only a...

The Dardick revolver is one of the more bizarre firearms to come out of the mid-­20th century. Despite its unusual and ungainly appearance, it's not that uncomfortable in the hand.The Dardick Revolver Handguns

The Dardick Revolver

Garry James - March 18, 2019

The Dardick revolver is one of the more bizarre firearms to come out of the mid-­20th century....

See More Historical

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now