Monday, October 15, 2012

'Honey, I'd really like to buy a Gatling gun'


Cartridge for a Gatling gun round.

When I work up enough courage, I am going to put my arm around my wife and slowly whisper in her ear, "Honey, I'd really like to buy a Gatling gun to add to my little Civil War collection. It will complete me." Until that far-off day, I must live my life vicariously through Bill Schultz, who somehow convinced his wife that a replica Gatling gun was something he had to have after he saw one for sale in Fredericksburg, Va., a few years ago. God bless him.

At a Civil War encampment in Simsbury, Conn., on Saturday afternoon, Schultz patiently explained to me the history of the Gatling gun -- an ancestor of the modern-day machine gun -- and even fired off a 20-round clip from his replica weapon  (see end of video above). To the ever-lasting thanks of the re-enactors in the line of fire, they were all blanks. The thing is great for taking out, say, a field of pumpkins, but I'd strongly advise against using it for deer hunting. Just sayin'.

Invented by Richard Gatling in 1861, the gun actually saw little service during the Civil War, as Schultz explains in the video. After the war, Gatling moved to Hartford, where his hand-cranked weapon was manufactured at the famous Colt factory. His invention was used more extensively during the Spanish-American War. A terrific engineer, Gatling received 36 patents during his lifetime, including one for a device to improve the flush toilet. 

If you want to pick up a replica Gatling gun of your very own, it will set you back about $5,400 (without the carriage).

"Honey..."

Thankfully, those Civil War re-enactors in the background suffered no injuries when this
 Gatling gun was fired Saturday in Simsbury, Conn. It only shot blanks.
Bill Schultz's replica Gatling gun at a Civil War encampment in Simsbury, Conn.
A replica Civil War Gatling gun could cost you $5,000-plus (without the carriage.)

FACES OF THE CIVIL WAR: Stories and photos of common soldiers who served during the war.
16TH CONNECTICUT SOLDIERS: Tales of the men in the hard-luck regiment.
MORE ON ANTIETAM: Read my extensive thread on the battle and the men who fought in it.

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