Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Arms In Battle: The Gatling

Witnessing the assault on San Juan Hill, Col. Roosevelt decided to cross the steep ravine from Kettle Hill to San Juan Hill to support the fighting still going on there. Calling for his men to follow him, he ran forward, only to find just five of the Rough Riders following him (most had not heard his command). Roosevelt returned and gathered together a larger group of his men, leading them down the western slope of Kettle Hill, past a small lagoon, and up the northern extension of San Juan Hill, but the fighting was over for the top of the heights. General Summer intercepted Roosevelt and ordered him back to Kettle Hill immediately to prepare for the expected counterattack. When he returned his men were exhausted and his horse was again spent from the heat. A counterattack directed at Kettle Hill by some 600 Spanish infantry was stopped primarily by the fire of a single ten-barreled .30 Gatling Gun manned by Sergeant Green of the Gatling Gun Detachment, which (according to Spanish officers captured after the attack) killed or wounded all but 40 of the Spanish attackers.[18]

You read that right. Five hundred and sixty men mowed down by a single Gatling Gun isn't anything I'd normally take as gospel, but there's enough eye witness evidence to prove it. We really didn't have the rifles to compete with the Spaniards, but the Gatling's struck fear into them and well it should have. 

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