Proposal to Develop a Multiple Barrel Machine Gun, 1861

From: Governor, State Governors' Incoming Correspondence, 1857-1888, Series S 577

Proposal to Develop a Multiple Barrel Machine Gun, 1861

About This Document

Early in the Civil War, Florida Governors Madison Starke Perry and later John Milton were bombarded with advice, suggestions, and offers of assistance on how to best defend the state. Among the concerned citizens who wrote to the governors was Dr. E.B. Ridley, who proposed the building of a battery of multiple-barreled guns that would be able to fire 122,880 1/2 oz. projectiles. No reply survives to this fascinating proposal, but until the end of the war single shot, muzzle loading shoulder arms and cannon remained the staple weapon of Confederate soldiers.



Tallahassee, Florida
December 13th, 1861

His Excellency
John Milton
Governor of Florida

Having invented a Gun, which, if properly arranged might, in my opinion, serve a valuable purpose in repelling the present threatened invasion of our soil, I deem it my duty as a loyal citizen of the State of Florida, to use every effort to render her defences as efficient as possible. But my means being inadequate to the undertaking, I am reduced to the necessity of asking State aid; and for the better understanding of the executive office, and herewith subjoin a description as follows:

One Hundred and twenty Eight Guns constitute a full battery: This to be subdivided into sixteen sections of eight Guns each; These, to be placed on carriages similar to Six pound cannon, to be elevated and depressed upon the same principle as cannon. but the sighting will be accomplished by means of a Tube which will occupy a central position on the carriage. By means of a rod of iron, which passes horizontally behind the breach of each Gun, and to which is attached a crank and sundry pinions, all the Guns are made to fire at the same time