Friday, February 26, 2010

Reducing The Exposure To Battle And Disease

The inventor of the Gatling Gun, Dr Richard Jordan Gatling died February 26th 1903.

Richard Jordan Gatling was born September 12th 1818 in Money’s Neck, Como, North Carolina, the son of Jordan Gatling. His father was also an inventor. Gatling’s first invention at the age of 21 was a screw propeller for steamboats, however he found that the same thing had recently been patented by John Ericsson. Gatling owned a store, and while running it he continued to invent, coming up with a planting device for rice and wheat. He made enough money from this invention, to attend and graduate from the Ohio Medical College in 1850. He married Jemima Sanders the daughter of an Indianapolis Indiana doctor October 25th 1854.

After noting during the Civil War that most of dead, died from disease, rather gunshots, Gatling began working on a machine gun. He wrote, "It occurred to me that 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 large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished." After developing a working prototype in 1862 Gatling started the Gatling Gun Company in Indianapolis. Although Union General Benjamin F Butler and Union Admiral David Dixon Porter bought the guns, the United States didn’t start buying them until 1866. Gatling sold his patents for the gun to Colt in 1870, but he remained president of the division until 1897.

After inventing the Gatling Gun he continued to work on other improvements, including toilets, methods for cleaning raw wool, bicycles, and others. He lived in St Louis Missouri, where he opened a company to manufacture his steam tractors and plows. While on a trip to visit his daughter in New York City, Gatling died at her home February 26th 1903. He is buried in the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis Indiana.

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