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Gatlings change the American Civil War

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  • Roddoss72
    replied
    It is interesting stuff, especially the technical aspect of it.

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
    There are a lot of things that could have been different about the way the war was fought. For example if one side had mounted their 12 lb napoleon on a high angle carriage and utilized spotters at some distance with semaphore and runners and even limited telegraph it would have radically changed how artillery was employed, not to mention how troops arrayed in rear areas. Time fuzes weren't perfect but we're relatively decent. And they had tables and slide rules. Shells exploding with shrapnel between 10 and 30 feet off the ground above a massing regiment would certainly ruin their formation.

    Or if the relatively ineffective hale rocket launcher had been made with a stock for shoulder firing by a team of 3 men.....could have been an effective piece of assault gear for busting buildings in street and Fort fighting.
    Actually, a 1" Gatling gun used in "indirect" fire would be effective and vicious. Since it could easily fire to a thousand yards on a trajectory with some sort of fire controls and direction using say, heliographs it could put down a rain of fire on an enemy unit even over the heads of friendly troops
    No need for time fuses or canister rounds, just spraying the target with 1" lead bullets would be sufficient.
    Use of a pair of compass table sights and trig charts would be sufficient along with a simple rangefinder.

    Compass table


    Civil War rangefinder


    Heliograph with telegraphic shutter


    The spotter could tell the battery where the target was relative to the them. The gun crews already know their position relative to the spotters. The battery command staff can with trig tables calculate the position of the target to the battery on a large piece of paper and call out the aiming of the guns.
    Corrections could be called from the spotters once fire is opened using one gun.

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  • Marathag
    replied
    Originally posted by TacCovert4 View Post
    There are a lot of things that could have been different about the way the war was fought. For example if one side had mounted their 12 lb napoleon on a high angle carriage

    Until you get active recoil cylinders, you need terrible heavily built carriages, akin to the mortar beds, to stand up to the recoil.

    That would kill the mobility, the whole point of the battlefield cannons.

    Black powder rocketry is a bit fiddly, temperature and humidity changes in storage make the Hale and Congreve types unreliable, and sometimes downright dangerous to the crews

    Now an earlier recoilless gun built on the Davis method could have worked with the tech of the dayhttp://www.big-ordnance.com/Davis/davis_ammunition.htm

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  • TacCovert4
    replied
    There are a lot of things that could have been different about the way the war was fought. For example if one side had mounted their 12 lb napoleon on a high angle carriage and utilized spotters at some distance with semaphore and runners and even limited telegraph it would have radically changed how artillery was employed, not to mention how troops arrayed in rear areas. Time fuzes weren't perfect but we're relatively decent. And they had tables and slide rules. Shells exploding with shrapnel between 10 and 30 feet off the ground above a massing regiment would certainly ruin their formation.

    Or if the relatively ineffective hale rocket launcher had been made with a stock for shoulder firing by a team of 3 men.....could have been an effective piece of assault gear for busting buildings in street and Fort fighting.

    Leave a comment:


  • Marathag
    replied
    http://chab-belgium.com/pdf/english/...%20bullets.pdf

    The second category of explosive projectiles was conceived with the ignition of the charge achieved by percussion. An igniter made of metallic fulminate, typically fulminate of mercury, caused the explosion of the charge contained in the bullet (usually black powder). This detonator generally consisted in a small metallic stem, more often a simple nail. Upon hitting the target, the nail pierced a brass or copper capsule containing the fulminate. As the percussion caps of the rifles and revolvers of the period contained the same substance, they were often used as the detonating device to trigger the explosion of the main bullet charge. The most common explosive bullet of the Civil War was the Gardner, in caliber .54 and .58

    The Federal war department archives assert that 33,350 explosive bullets were supplied to northern troops in 1863.

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
    You seem to know the gun, so let me ask;
    That's a weird caliber, did they have .... or rather, could they have had, an explosive shell for it?
    Otherwise, it seems just the wrong size for any practical use.
    With black powder as the only explosive available, and no contact fusing a shell would have been pretty much worthless.
    But a 1.57" barreled shotgun firing say 10 to 15 rounds a minute from one or two hundred yards using shot the size of musket balls would have been devastating.
    Two guns could deliver the firepower of 100+ rifled muskets at that range. Accuracy wouldn't be a major problem either.
    Against light works (piled up wood, loose rocks, etc.) using solid shot at several hundred yards it could break them up and cause casualties.

    While militaries of the time used Gatlings, Mitrailluses, and other volley guns as artillery they shouldn't have been employed that way. Even on an artillery-like carriage they have to be used in enfilade rather than head on like actual cannon.
    The gunners also have to realize that the effective range is only about 500 yards at most and that they might shoot a bit further using proper sights to allow a plunging fire.
    All that means what today would be called an RMA needed to occur to make them really effective. That wasn't going to happen immediately. Instead it would either take a stroke of brilliance on someone's part or slow development of new tactics.

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  • Cyan67
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    This fires a 1.57 lb shot and is hand cranked. It could have been used specifically to counter battery Gatling guns as it outranges them.
    From what little I have witnessed of live fire of a Williams gun their accuracy was less than spectacular. 'Course, that could have been the gunner...

    Gatlings, at that time were artillery. They could have done some good in fortifications, but likely would be blown apart by conventional artillery long before they could have inflicted much damage on the enemy infantry. This was one of the real failings of the mitrelleuse in 1870.

    The Gatling really didn't come into its own until brass cartridges and the Bruce feed. Even so, I've seen them jam after only a few rounds (of modern gun powder).

    Michael

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  • Cyan67
    replied
    Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
    Back in '07 I was offered one of the four Gatlings George Armstrong Custer was given prior to his last campaign. Seller said he had documentation but I didn't have that kind of money.
    How much was he asking? Furthermore, I would like to see the documentation. The Army did not keep track of gun numbers very well. Trying to track a particular gun's history is pretty much an excercise in futility.

    Michael

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  • The Exorcist
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    The Williams is the same way. It needs to be more of a "galloper." That is a light gun that accompanies the infantry or cavalry forward used in pairs with fire and movement. Supplied with canister it would be devastating.
    Add a lower carriage to make it less visible and maybe a small shield to protect the crew from small arms fire and it could substantially increase the infantry's firepower as well as provide a means to take on light works using shot.
    You seem to know the gun, so let me ask;
    That's a weird caliber, did they have .... or rather, could they have had, an explosive shell for it?
    Otherwise, it seems just the wrong size for any practical use.

    Leave a comment:


  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
    I need to spread some more Rep around....



    With a little more resources and development time, the South could have had a real killer there, just the thing for destroying enemy guns deploying out in the open... as they normally did.

    The problem here is that neither gun is going to be the game-changer that us 21st-century folk seem to think.
    They are NOT Machine-Guns.
    They are artillery pieces on wooden, horse-drawn carriages that would be deployed a batteries in the same way other field artillery was at the time. Just as the French did with their own similar weapon in 1870, and probably with the same very limited effect on the overall situation.

    Where I think the Williams might have been a real killer was at sea, behind a little armor plate maybe. Image a couple of them in the fighting tops of the Alabama, sweeping the decks of Kearsage.
    To make the Gatling or Williams really effective requires a change in tactics for their use. They cannot be employed as traditional artillery would be. That alone would have taken someone with imagination and vision who thought the problem through. That may or may not happen.

    As an example, we now know that a gun like the Gatling would be best employed on the flanks of the line of battle firing at an angle across the field not set up so that it faced the enemy directly. The latter would result in few casualties and a lot of wasted ammunition.
    Firing across the field flanking the advancing enemy it would have sawed down masses of men. It's the reverse of what you would want with artillery using shrapnel or canister. That would require a paradigm shift in thinking and is unlikely to occur until the guns have been in use a while. It might take years to occur.
    The heavier 1" Gatling would also be effective on ships even against ironclads. It can be used to sweep the decks but it can also be used to fire at an ironclad such that rounds go through the gun ports and kill or disrupt the crew, something that only with a lucky shot with a large cannon occurs occasionally. The Gatling would have multiple rounds going through the ports immediately if in range.

    The Williams is the same way. It needs to be more of a "galloper." That is a light gun that accompanies the infantry or cavalry forward used in pairs with fire and movement. Supplied with canister it would be devastating.
    Add a lower carriage to make it less visible and maybe a small shield to protect the crew from small arms fire and it could substantially increase the infantry's firepower as well as provide a means to take on light works using shot.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Exorcist
    replied
    I need to spread some more Rep around....

    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    Well, the Confederacy would have been at a huge disadvantage as they lacked the raw materials and industrial capacity to produce useful quantities of brass cartridges necessary for the gun's operation.

    I could see them fielding more than the 7 batteries they did of the William's gun instead.



    This fires a 1.57 lb shot and is hand cranked. It could have been used specifically to counter battery Gatling guns as it outranges them.
    With a little more resources and development time, the South could have had a real killer there, just the thing for destroying enemy guns deploying out in the open... as they normally did.

    The problem here is that neither gun is going to be the game-changer that us 21st-century folk seem to think.
    They are NOT Machine-Guns.
    They are artillery pieces on wooden, horse-drawn carriages that would be deployed a batteries in the same way other field artillery was at the time. Just as the French did with their own similar weapon in 1870, and probably with the same very limited effect on the overall situation.

    Where I think the Williams might have been a real killer was at sea, behind a little armor plate maybe. Image a couple of them in the fighting tops of the Alabama, sweeping the decks of Kearsage.

    Leave a comment:


  • Marathag
    replied
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    It is with breech loaders and paper cartridges that were in use in 1862. Brass cartridges were an extreme rarity at the time. What happens with paper ones is you invariably end up with some residue all over the breech area and eventually it jams up.
    Not quite paper, Gatling's first 1862 model used steel cylinders, like the Agar, that the paper cartridges were used to load

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  • Wooden Wonder
    replied
    Originally posted by D1J1 View Post
    Nothing really changes the outcome of the ACW, especially the introduction of or greater use of a weapon. The vastly superior manufacturing capability of the Union states gives them an insurmountable edge in any such scenario.

    Regards,
    Dennis
    Yes, 'my 200 Gatlings trumps your 100' - force majeure - a good big one will most always beat a good little one in the end.


    Having said that, there are always the individual battle cock-ups. With the following inventory under Chelmsford's command, the South Wales Borderers at Isandlwana should have massacred the Zulu, and not the other way around.


    'We have 1,365 Europeans here all told, and about 100 Natives, including pioneers, but exclusive of leaders and drivers, the number of whom I don't quite know. We have in round numbers 1,200 rifles and 332 rounds of ammunition [each] for that number, also 127,000 rounds Gatling, 37 Naval Rockets, 24-pounders (shot; not shell rockets), 46 Rockets, (shell) for 7-pounders, also for 7-pounders 200 Shrapnel, 254 common shell, 20 double shell, and 33 case.'

    Tactically two mess ups in 5 days - Little Big Horn and Isandlwana. But strategically it was the 'big guns' that were the 'winners'.
    Last edited by Wooden Wonder; 08 Sep 14, 09:33.

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  • D1J1
    replied
    Nothing really changes the outcome of the ACW, especially the introduction of or greater use of a weapon. The vastly superior manufacturing capability of the Union states gives them an insurmountable edge in any such scenario.

    Regards,
    Dennis

    Leave a comment:


  • OpanaPointer
    replied
    Back in '07 I was offered one of the four Gatlings George Armstrong Custer was given prior to his last campaign. Seller said he had documentation but I didn't have that kind of money.

    Leave a comment:

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