The Advancement Of The Machine Gun

2063 words - 8 pages

War has been a recurring part of America’s history for the past hundreds of years. From the 1700s to the present, America has gotten into numerous situations and turmoil, which eventually lead to the wars we currently study and know about today. Technological advancements in warfare were necessary and a great obligation during times of war. This was pursued with drastic improvement. From the transformation of the use of smoothbore muskets during the Civil War to the industrial revolution leading to weaponry innovations post civil war, the nature of warfare dramatically changed. These developments proved to be proficient in battle. In the midst of these hundreds of years, while many technological advances demonstrated to be efficient in battle, the machine gun was one of the most significant advancements in technology that changed the face of warfare through its transformation of operations and strategy.
During the civil war before the introduction of the machine guns, union soldiers predominantly used smoothbore muskets. “The rifle’s low muzzle velocity and consequent high parabolic trajectory made for difficult long-range shooting, especially since soldiers engaged in little target practice and received virtually no training in estimating distances or in using the adjustable sights to compensate for the bullet’s curved flight. The tangled terrain of most battlefields—and the black powder smoke that engulfed every battle—often rendered enemy soldiers invisible until they were within smoothbore range” (Hess 288). This was assumed to be the reason of why the war was prolonged, and the combat losses were higher during the smoothbore era. Also with an ability of only firing a “maximum of three rounds per minute” (Howey), this rate of fire was not adequate for dominance in the battlefield. “Due to these factors soldiers would use conventional battle formations by lining up in rows in order to increase the number of hits to the enemy” (Howey). While the enemy’s also practiced this same strategy due to their poor range with their muskets, this left both sides open to attack and this strategy soon became dormant. It was obvious that a progression in technology was obligatory in order to succeed in war.
Richard Jordan Gatling patented the first effective machine gun in 1861 during the midst of the Civil War, in which he named the Gatling gun. (Popenker). It was hand cranked operated and consisted of 6 barrels mounted in a revolving frame that had a rate of fire of 200 rounds per minute. (Popenker). Due to the gun’s ability of holding hundreds of .45-70 cartridges at one time (Popenker), this greatly surpassed the muzzle loading of Minié balls and revealed a great influence in the changing of warfare. With its fascinating capabilities and the already known inadequacy of the weaponry in the Civil War, Gatling hoped this weapon would end all war. In 1865, the United States was the first to purchase this Gatling gun and put it to use (Popenker)....

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