Artillery Rapid Fire

rapid_1It is not well known that the first attempt in multi barrel guns started back in the 1300’s.  Although attempts were made to produce machine type guns for the Military during the Civil War, the military authorities refused to be interested. A few unique styles, i.e.: Requa, Ager “coffee mill” Gun, & Claxton, were sparingly used by the Union, and the Confederacy also had their own models.

The Gardner Gun was invented in 1874. And although it rated high in the several tests that the military performed, because of the Gatling, the Military felt no desire to adopt this weapon. Following another test is 1879 the Navy adopted the gun and purchased a limited number. In 1880 another test was performed and despite the good performance and the recommendation that the War Department purchase a limited number, nothing was ever done officially.  By its inaction, the U.S. lost the benefits of one of the best machine guns of all time.  Although Pratt & Whitney produced several hundred of these guns and in 1883 General Grant presented one of these guns, suitably inscribed to the viceroy of China and another to the Mikado of Japan, the British Admiralty, not only adopted the gun but purchased manufacturing rights.  Pratt & Whitney continued limited production of the Gardner in the U.S. but with declining sales eventually stopped.

In 1871 Benjamin Hotchkiss invented his first machine gun, a revolving cannon type, to such a point of perfection that it was hailed as a novel and successful weapon.  It fired a 37mm projectile that was primarily designed for the Army as a flank defense weapon.  Although in 1877 Hotchkiss had his chance to prove its usefulness to the Navy.  The appearance of the high speed torpedo boat as a new weapon of naval warfare created demand for this type of gun.  The revolving cannon was used by practically every navy in the world at one time or another making this one of the most successful selling weapons in history.

Museum Examples

Gatling Gun Model 1875
The well-known Gatling Gun was introduced to the West in 1867 and was to see wide use with many NEW and IMPROVED models. Its use briefly started with the Civil War.  Its combat record for the Indian War Era includes the Red River War, Nez Perce War, Sioux Wars, and Bannock War.  It continued use into the Spanish American War and the Philippine Insurrection.



Gatling Gun Ballistics Information
Most commonly known to the public, this gun with the 10 exposed barrels can fire up to 800 rounds a minute with 1500 yard accuracy. It has a stick feed magazine of a 40 round capacity. This weapon is accompanied by its horse drawn Colt ammunition limber, which held 50 magazines, a capacity of 2000 rounds.

Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon Model 1875
One of the more unusual artillery weapons introduced in the West was the 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannon. During the Milk River Campaign of 1879 the Hotchkiss revolving cannon was used against Sitting Bull's warriors.  This gun was also used in Cuba during the Spanish American War.


Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon ballistics information
This rare revolving cannon has 5- 37mm barrels (which placed this weapon in the cannon category), capable of firing 43 rounds a minute with an accuracy range of 2000 yards (approximately 1 mile). Each feed magazine holds 10 rounds, weighing approximately 18 lbs. The revolving cannon is accompanied by a horse drawn limber, which holds 110 rounds plus 6 magazines totaling 170 rounds.

1886 Gardner Gun
As competitor to the Gatling Gun, the Gardner Gun because of limited production for the U.S. Military is considered rare.  Our specimen is uniquely rare because it is the only known specimen to be fully engraved and fully inspected and marked, along with US cartouches.  Although many tests were performed by the US military, it is not known to have been used in any notable U.S. battle.


Gardner ballistics information
This unique weapon has 2 reciprocating barrels surrounded by a bronze case which protects them.  It fires three times at each revolution of the hand-crank, with rapidity, this equals approx. 357 shots per minute.  Ammunition is loaded from the pasteboard packages (holds 20 rounds each of .45 cal.) into a feed-guide.  It’s limber has a capacity of 5400 rounds.  The weigh of the gun is 142 lbs. and the gun and carriage together weigh 502 lbs.