A Different Kind of Custer Massacre

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

While the British were busy Christianizing the uncivilized world with the Gatling Gun, the United States was at peace and had little use for it:

There was nothing to warrant the expenditure of ammunition except an occasional Indian uprising, which was suppressed by the regular army. The old-line military men were still not inclined to accept anything as revolutionary as the Gatling. Although it is recorded that each detachment in the field had several of these guns on its allowance list, nothing can be found to show their use in the Indian warfare of the Western plains.

For the purpose of conjecture and discussion, it should be noted that when Gen. George Custer’s entire troop was annihilated at Little Big Horn in 1876. his headquarters had on hand four of the 90-pound Gatlings having a rate of fire of 1,000 rounds a minute. These perfected weapons were designed especially for animal transportation, and could be fired from horseback or from the ground on a tripod mounting. They were chambered for the Army standard caliber .45-70-405 infantry center-fire rifle cartridge. Had General Custer taken with him only one of the four that were available, the phrase “Custer massacre,” so well known to every school child, would have had a reverse meaning — as one can hardly visualize a more perfect target for a tripod-mounted machine gun than a band of Indians galloping in a circle.

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