Gatling Gun: The first Machine Gun

Source: Preliminary Inventory of the E. Frank Stephenson, Jr., Collection, 1736-1981, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #692

Richard Jordan Gatling and Gatling Gun

Richard Jordan Gatling and Gatling Gun

Staff Person: Nanette Hardison


This remarkable invention, which was a revolving battery gun with a firing capacity of 250 rounds per minute invented in 1865, was the creation of a Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling who was born on September 12, 1818, here in North Carolina in Hertford County. An inventor of mostly agricultural devices, Gatling conceived the idea of making a machine gun that would largely remove the necessity of large armies in the hope of putting an end to war. His desire was born from witnessing the terrible sight of wounded soldiers in the early years of the Civil War. Sadly, the Gatling Gun, as it was to be known, did not end war itself rather it changed warfare since it serve as a phototype for more deadly weapons in the future.

Richard Jordan Gatling and Gatling Gun

Richard Jordan Gatling and Gatling Gun

Source: Gatling: A Photographic Remembrance by E. Frank Stephenson, Jr. Ahoskie, NC: Meherrin River Press, 1993. E. Frank Stephenson, Jr., Collection (#692), Special Collections Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Additional information can be found at

Click on the images of the Gatling Gun and Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling to see an enlarged version of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>