Steel Clad Steam Chariots of War (1861)

Besides finding a detailed account of the McCarty Centrifugal Gun, (to be featured in a later post) readers of the July 6, 1861 Scientific American were treated to an editorial that mused on the use of chain mail and armored battle chariots, before suggesting a more modern adaptation. “An entirely new feature may also yet be introduced into warfare in the character of steel clad steam chariots. Each should consist of a light but strong road locomotive, covered with steel plates, and mounting a pivot rifled cannon on a shielded platform. The locomotive which was fired on by a masked battery at Vienna, Va., last week, would have been able to dislodge the enemy had it carried an 18 pounder, and been protected by an iron shield an inch thick. Steam locomotive batteries require special adaptations to secure new results, but there are inventors who can supply all the details. ” The writer also suggested an adaptation of yet another ancient weapon. “Mail clad towers may also be drawn or pushed up by steam engines close to batteries or forts. From these, soldiers may be able to send down showers of iron hail.”

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