The history of warfare reached a milestone on March 29, 1862 when Union troops in the Shenandoah Valley won a skirmish against Confederate troops at Middleburg, Virginia. The Union troops used two gatling guns, nicknamed “coffer grinders” by the troops, the first use of the new weapon in battle.
The gatling gun was invented by Dr. Richard J. Gatling in 1861. In later years he wrote down why he invented his gun:
“In 1861 … (residing at the time in Indianapolis, Ind.) I witnessed almost daily the departure of troops to the front and the return of the wounded, sick and dead: The most of the latter lost their lives, not in battle, but by sickness and exposure incident to the service. It occurred to me if I could invent a machine—a gun—which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a great extent, supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease be greatly diminished.” (more…)