North Carolina-Gatling Gun-September 30

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-September 30

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.

I am not a fan of guns but North Carolina has some history with advances in the manufacturing of guns specifically the machine gun. The first successful machine gun, known as the Gatling gun was invented by North Carolina native Richard J. Gatling in 1862.


Patent 47631 R.J. Gatling Battery Gun Record Group 241: Utility Patent Drawings Rediscovery

The gun saw limited use in the Civil War because the original model proved ineffective but once Gatling perfected his machine gun, the United States Army purchased 100 guns in 1866. Over time the Gatling gun proved ineffective compared to newer Nordenfeldt and Maxim machine guns.

Gatling was born in Hertford County in 1818 to a farming family. At twenty years of age, Richard started his career as an inventor when he built a screw propelling wheel in 1838. However, the wheel had already been patented, yet this did not stop the young inventor from tinkering with other ideas. Gatling soon moved to St. Louis, Missouri and continued producing agricultural instruments.

Once Gatling moved to Missouri, he worked on rice-seed planter that he eventually fashioned as a wheat-drill. He created several other inventions at this time including a hemp brake, a steam plow, and a cotton cultivator. Even though Gatling had success with these agriculture related inventions, his best invention would be the world’s first rapid fire gun.

A hand-driven machine gun, the Gatling gun was the first firearm to solve the problems of loading, reliability, and the firing of sustained bursts. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler of the Union army first used the gun at the siege of Petersburg, Va.


Inventor Richard Gatling poses with a Model 1893 Gatling Gun with a J.G. Accles magazine. Notes – Autograph on front: “Compliments of R.J. Gatling Hartford, May 1st 1893.

Gatling died when he was 85 years of age in 1903 but not before he invented one last invention, the motor-driven plow, in 1900.



One comment

  1. Wow! I did not know Gatling was a North Carolina native, or about the motorized plow!

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