Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008
Mr. Gatling’s weapon
When it comes to the Gatling gun, perhaps Confederate soldiers put it best: "The Yankees have a gun you load on Monday and shoot all the rest of the week." And that statement stemmed from limited observation, as the gun, despite its deadly effectiveness, was little used in the Civil War. The , patented in November 1862 by Richard Jordan Gatling, was "the world's first machine gun that actually worked," Julia Keller writes in Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel: The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It (Viking). Though the man behind it has become obscure, "Gatling gun" is still heard as a metaphor for swift, unchecked activity; "gat," the slightly outdated slang for a handgun, derives from it . . .