Archive for the Early Guns 1800-1860 Category

Albert Pott’s Centrifugal Battery (1857)

Posted in Centrifugal Guns, Early Guns 1800-1860 on September 3, 2008 by secondmdus

Albert Pott’s Centrifugal Battery

Albert Potts of Philadelphia received a patent for his Centrifugal Battery on May 19, 1857. His design featured a vertically mounted wheel on an axle. This assembly rotated between two a-shaped supports. Force was to be applied to the assembly by a pulley mounted on the right side of the axle while projectiles were fed through the center of the axle on the left side of the device. They passed into a channel inside the wheel, and their exit from the device was controlled by an eccentric that drove a racheted wheel. The angle at which projectiles left the device was also adjustable.[i]


for a full description and additional drawings.

[i] United States Patent # 17,339, May 19, 1857, Centrifugal Battery.

Scotten “Anti-Cow” Steam Gun (1858)

Posted in Early Guns 1800-1860 on August 27, 2008 by secondmdus

Over the years many inventors sought to use steam as a weapon, but for most of them, the intend targets were enemy troops, but Steven Scotten of Richmond, Indiana targeted something more dreadful – cows!

Cows were a constant problem on early American railroads – cow catchers were eventually developed, not to save cows, but to keep them from causing derailments. Scotten had something more in mind – a steam gun mounted on the front of a locomotive that would fire gravel or other missiles at cows – see his patent at:

Mitrailleuse aka moulin à café (1850-1870s)

Posted in Early Guns 1800-1860, Unconventional Artillery on August 21, 2008 by secondmdus

See this very interesting site for details of the Mitrailleuse – European volley guns along the same lines at the Vandenburg volley gun of the American Civil War –

The Perkins Steam Gun

Posted in Early Guns 1800-1860 on August 11, 2008 by secondmdus

Long before the days of the Winans Steam Gun, Jacob Perkins had a plan for using steam to change the face of warfare. See this link for a detailed history of the Perkins Steam Gun –

The McCarty Centrifugal Gun

Posted in Centrifugal Guns, Civil War Guns, Early Guns 1800-1860 with tags , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by secondmdus

A side view, top down view, and image of the propelling arm of the McCarty gun.

August 1828 found Robert McCarty of New York filing for a patent on a “Machine for Throwing Balls, Shot, Etc.” McCarty’s “gun” featured a round vertically mounted housing that was in two pieces. On the inside of these pieces, “scrolls” on each formed a “barrel” that ran in an arc from the center to the “muzzle” of the weapon. As projectiles were fed into the gun, the “propelling arm” of the gun, pushed shells into the groove and then pushed them out as it rotated. McCarty’s patent application noted that the gun could be used in a horizontal position, but that he preferred to use it vertically, as shown in the drawings in the patent.[i]

McCarty showed considerable determination – his gun, patented in 1838, was still being talked of in 1861.

May 15, 1861, found it being tested “at the foot of 39th Street, North River” in New York. “It is one of the most singular implements of war that has ever been exhibited to the American people,” said the New York Herald, adding that it placed “Winans’ gun entirely in the shade, sending balls at the rate of 480 per minute without any powder or apparent effort.”

Manned by a team of six men “at the cranks,” one feeding shot to the gun, and the inventor, “balls poured out of the gun in a perfect stream, and in appeared that one continuous stream was being hurled against the target.” The target mentioned was three boards of wood, about 50 yards from the gun. The gun was then aimed across the North River – balls dropped into the water just short of the other bank of the river –about one mile away.

The machine tested in New York used 1 inch shot, but McCarty was also working on a steam powered gun to throw 32 pound shot. The smaller gun had been built by J. Cowell of No. 340 West Twenty-Forth Street who was ready to turn out several a week. The account noted that an attempt was being made to interest the war department in it, and that an army office who had witnessed the test was thinking of securing a gun for his regiment.[ii]

Whether the gun was ever put to use in combat is not known at this point, but it is an interesting possibility.

[i] United States Patent # 1049 Machine for Throwing Balls, Shot & Etc., December 31/1838

[ii] Scientific American 5/25/1861

Jerah Stones’s Steam Gun (1820s)

Posted in Early Guns 1800-1860 on August 3, 2008 by secondmdus

A news article in The Album (Rochester, NY) for July 4, 1826 notes that “… Mr. Jerah Stone, of the Elizabethtown, Essex County, N{ew} Jersey, has constructed a Steam Gun which has discharged two hundred times in a minute, throwing a ball at each discharge, with much greater force than a common rifle.  The gun is easily directed, and with that apparatus, (weighing only five cwt.) it is easily transported on wheels.  The expense of constructing the gun is not great, and the principle of it is applicable to one of any desirable caliber.  It is believed that guns on the same principle might be rendered highly efficient in the defensive operation of war.  It is supposed that Mr. Stone does not claim entire originality in this application of steam power, but only very great improvement.  Mr. Stone has constructed a fowling piece, which with powder and ball, he discharged fifteen times a minute.”

Benjamin Reynold’s Centrifugal Gun (1830s)

Posted in Centrifugal Guns, Early Guns 1800-1860 with tags , , , , , on May 1, 2008 by secondmdus

Benjamin Reynolds of Kinderhook, NY invented a Centrifugal gun in the late 1830s. His device was operated by two men – one of each side operating a crank. A hopper dropped shot into a revolving drum which threw them. Reynolds demonstrated his gun at West Point in 1837 where it sent 1,000 2 ounce shot through 3 ¾ inches of solid pine at distance of 110 yards. Reynolds later took it to Washington, where further demonstrations were made before a Congressional committee and military officers. The Washington tests used a target of three 1 inch pieces of pine at 150 yards. The shot from the gun went through the target, and fell into the Potomac River 300-400 yards beyond! The gun fired so quickly that the committee could not determine what fraction of a second was required to fire 60 shot! Source: 5/25/1861 Scientific American