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Rapid Fire Guns


Here’s another Civil War innovation created by necessity as listed in the book More Civil War Curiosities by Webb Garrison.

A hand-cranked, rapid fire gun was developed by a Confederate officer “that could fire as many as sixty-five 1.57-inch shells per minute.” Because production facilities in the South were limited, “this primitive machine gun was believed to have seen service only at the battle of Seven Pines.”

A North Carolina native, Richard J. Gatling, designed a gun that fired 250 rounds per minute. Union warships used a few of them during the siege of Petersburg, but the weapon didn’t have a significant impact on the turn of the war.

It was after the war that the first modern machine gun was created. Its creator claimed that the gun killed so rapidly, wars would eventually cease to exist.


  1. Wow, I didn’t realize they had rapid fire guns during the Civil War–it’s incredible to think they had the technology to make something like that.

    Great blog, as always, Susan!

  2. I’ve always wondered when the rapid fire guns came to be. Very interesting.

  3. Caroline Clemmons says:

    Once again you’ve presented astounding info. I didn’t realize there was a rapid fire gun before Garling.

  4. I actually saw a reproductions Gatling gun in action at a Civil War living history event. But I didn’t realize someone beat Gatling to the invention.

    Out of war comes necessity, I guess. The guns they started the war with were pretty much holdovers to earlier wars.

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