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Gatlings change the American Civil War

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  • Gatlings change the American Civil War

    The Gatling gun saw limited used by the Union in the Civil War.

    WI both sides had been equipped with Gatlings by 1863, with the mutual annihilation of Napoleonic infantry attacks, leading to 19th century trench warfare and an impetus given to the development of long range artillery, resulting in a stalemate, and a CSA enduring to this day?


  • #2
    The union's manufacturing capacity would bury the Confederacy....
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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    • #3
      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.



      A rather overly optimistic description.



      The problems with the Gatling are going to be partially with its early design. It jams frequently and powder build up will quickly make that worse. The second problem is cost. The gun is expensive. The ammunition is expensive. It uses a lot of it too. Those drawbacks are going to combine to make the gun in the eyes of the Army undesirable as it historically did. The Civil War models have to be carriage mounted as they are typically 1" or .50" guns.



      The other issue is going to be tactics. How the gun is to be used is going to take some serious trail and error. Supplying the ammunition is another issue. Then defending against it and counterbattery is going to become issues to be developed.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
        The problems with the Gatling are going to be partially with its early design. It jams frequently and powder build up will quickly make that worse.
        Black powder buildup wasn't a big a problem as muzzle loaders.

        Recall, Maxims' first machine gun used BP cartridge, the .450/577, and was capable of thousands of rounds of operation without fail

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Marathag View Post
          Black powder buildup wasn't a big a problem as muzzle loaders.

          Recall, Maxims' first machine gun used BP cartridge, the .450/577, and was capable of thousands of rounds of operation without fail
          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.

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          • #6
            Gatling, the over optimistic 'humanitarian':

            “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.” ― Richard Jordan Gatling

            Far more realistic, is, at least for a while against 'the colonials':

            “Whatever happens, we have got
            The Maxim gun, and they have not.” ― Hilaire Belloc

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            • #7
              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.
              Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
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              • #8
                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
                If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

                Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

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                • #9
                  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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                  • #10
                    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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                    • #11
                      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.
                      "Why is the Rum gone?"

                      -Captain Jack

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                      • #12
                        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.

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                        • #13
                          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.
                          "Why is the Rum gone?"

                          -Captain Jack

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                          • #14
                            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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                            • #15
                              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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