Gatling, Richard Jordan, 1818-1903Variant names
Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling (12 September 1818–26 February 1903) was born in Hertford County, North Carolina, to Jordan Gatling (14 May 1783–13 April 1848) and Mary Barnes Gatling (30 October 1795–30 September 1868). Jordan Gatling owned and farmed a large tract of land in Hertford County. Jordan and Mary married on 30 October 1795, and had six children: Thomas Barnes Gatling (29 September 1811–14 May 1857), Mary Ann Gatling (29 September 1813–4 October 1838), James H. Gatling (15 July 1816–2 September 1879), Richard Jordan Gatling, Wa. Jesse Gatling (19 July 1826–6 August 1884), and Martha Sarah Gatling (29 September 1828–22 July 1846).
Richard Jordan Gatling copied records in the office of the county clerk in Hertford County at age 16. At age 19, R. J. took a position teaching school, but he soon abandoned this position to enter the realm of merchandising. Richard Jordan Gatling invented the screw propeller used in steam-vessels, but when he applied for a patent in 1839, he found that a patent had already been granted to someone else for the same invention. Soon after, he invented a seed-sowing machine for sowing rice and received a patent for his invention. He also adapted his machine to sowing wheat in drills. R. J. moved to St. Louis in 1844 and worked as a clerk in a dry-goods store. By 1845, his seed-sowing machines were so popular that he gave up all other occupations to focus on improving and selling these machines.
While traveling from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh by steamboat in the winter of 1845–1846, R. J. Gatling contracted small-pox and lay without medical attention for 13 days because his steamboat was stuck in the ice. It was this experience that led R. J. to study medicine. He took classes at the Indiana Medical College, Laporte, and at the Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati. He concluded his studies in 1850, and then resumed the manufacturing and selling of his seed-sowing machines in Indianapolis. He received many prizes and medals for his drills. Another agricultural invention introduced by R. J. Gatling was a double-action hemp brake. In 1849, he introduced the idea of distributing power from a main source to other points by way of compressed air in pipes laid beneath the ground as gas and water pipes are laid. R. J. invented a steam-plough to be operated by both animal and steam power in 1857, but was unable to work out the details due to ill-health.
Richard Jordan Gatling married Jemima T. Sanders (May 1837–26 September 1908) on 24 October 1854. Richard and Jemima had five children: Mary S. Gatling (5 October 1855–?),Ida Gatling (5 September 1858–13 January 1911), Willie S. Gatling (24 January 1861–?), Richard Henry Gatling (7 March 1870–14 January 1941), and Robert Boone Gatling (9 October 1872–2 December 1903).
The invention for which Dr. Gatling is most well-known is the machine gun known as the Gatling gun, conceived in 1861. When the Civil War broke out, Dr. Gatling realized that most of the casualties in war were the result of disease and exposure, so he sought to invent a labor-saving device for war. He thought that if one man could do the work of a hundred, by way of a machine, then many men could be saved from danger and large armies would no longer be necessary. Dr. Gatling constructed and fired the first Gatling gun in the spring of 1862 in Indianapolis. It fired 250 shots per minute. Gatling guns were first employed by the Union forces under James Butler on the James River near Richmond. The guns were adopted by the government and, in August 1866, the government ordered 100 of them. The Gatling gun was soon adopted by Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Egypt, and England. Dr. Gatling settled in Hartford Connecticut and founded the Gatling Gun Company.
Dr. Gatling accumulated both wealth and fame following his invention of the Gatling gun. By 1897, however, his wealth had vanished and he was living in New York City with his wife and daughter. He turned his attention to inventing a tractor in 1901, but his health failed. On 23 February 1903, he died penniless. Two ships were named after him by the U.S. government during World War II, and his gun was revived in 1958 as the Vulcan gun on U.S. warships and warplanes.
|associatedWith||Busby, Lester M.||person|
|correspondedWith||Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935||person|
|associatedWith||Denver, James William, 1817-1892.||person|
|associatedWith||Gatling Gun Company.||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Harrison Veterans of 1840.||corporateBody|
|alumnusOrAlumnaOf||Indiana Medical College||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Love, John, 1820-1881.||person|
|alumnusOrAlumnaOf||Medical College of Ohio (Cincinnati, Ohio)||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Nobel, Alfred Bernhard, 1833-1896.||person|
|associatedWith||Remsburg, George J.||person|
|correspondedWith||Wachschlager, Laura M.||person|
|associatedWith||Wallace, Lew, 1827-1905.||person|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York City||NY||US|
|Firearms industry and trade|