The Gatling Machine Gun

Creator: Richard Jordan Gatling

Context: The Gatling gun was a weapon first used late in the Civil War. Its multiple barrels made it capable of being fired more rapidly than previous weapons.

Audience: Made for the use of the Union Army.

Purpose: To enable the Union Army to defeat the Confederacy more easily.

Historical Significance: The Gatling gun was a significant advance in weapons technology. It had the capacity to kill people much more efficiently than any gun previously invented. It appeared too late to have a major impact on the Civil War, but it increased the already dominant position of the U.S. Army over the Western Indians during the conflicts of the late 19th century.