Richard Gatling Patented the Gatling Gun

A Gatling gun as shown on company letterhead, circa 1875

On November 4, 1862, Richard Gatling patented his 6-barrel repeating gun known as the Gatling Gun.

Richard Jordan Gatling was born in Hertford County in 1818.  His first invention was a screw propeller for a boat but he lost the patent to another inventor.  He then patented a rice-seed planter, which he converted to a wheat planter after moving to the Midwest.  There he earned a medical degree and practiced as a physician.

At the onset of the Civil War, Gatling was distressed by the number of troops dying from disease.  He believed that if he could invent a gun that fired more efficiently, that the armies would need fewer soldiers.  With that in mind, Gatling invented the gun that bore his name—the first Gatling gun was capable of firing 200 rounds per minute.  He continued to improve upon the gun, patenting a new model in 1865.

Before selling his patent rights to the Colt Firearms Company in 1870, he created a gun capable of firing 1,200 rounds per minute.  Needless to say, the humanitarian benefits that inspired Gatling to invent such a weapon were never realized.

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