Mr. Lincoln's "Coffe Mill"

Essay by Anonymous User May 1996

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Many inventions and ideas came out of the American Civil War and they helped either side in various ways. These inventions influenced post Civil War years in many ways. The Civil War is often called the "first modern war" this is because many important discoveries happened during the Civil War. Such inventions as machine guns, hand grenades, land mines, submarines, and ironclad ships were produced. No other war in history produced more new ideas, weapons, and technics then the American Civil War. By the end of the war, in 1865, war technology and strategy, such as trench warfare, was centuries ahead of 1861.

One of the earlier inventions, the machine gun was first demonstrated to Lincoln on June 24, 1861; Lincoln called it the "coffee mill" (coffee grinder) gun because it reminded him of a coffee mill. The name stuck throughout the rest of the war. The Gatling gun had been invented by Richard Jordan Gatling, an inventor earlier made rich off inventions such as the steam powered plow.

A machine gun rapidly fires ammunition as long as the trigger is held down. On the Gatling gun, instead of holding down a trigger, the operator had to rotate a crank. Gatling's gun fired 350 rounds per minute of steel or brass jacketed, .58 or .577 caliber paper cartridges through its rotating ring of six barrels. As many as 110 well trained men carrying the standard Springfield rifled musket could not produce an equivalent amount of fire in a minute as the four-man Gatling gun team.

Lincoln ordered ten or twelve of them at $1,300 for the Federal army. These arrived on January 1862 and were given to Colonel John W. Greary of the twenty-eighth Pennsylvania infantry which was guarding the reaches of Washington DC. These guns were mounted on light...