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Re: Colonial firepower


Gatlings: The major cause of a jam was when a cartridge fouled the barrel and couldn't be ejected. Each gun had 10 barrels that turned and were locked in to place prior to being fired. When a cartridge got stuck it prevented the next round from entering that barrel and the whole cycle for turning the barrels stopped. Rather than having to force the problem round out (as with the Martinis) the lock to the jammed barrel was removed so the gun would continue its cycle but only firing the other 9 barrels, the offending barrel not locking and passing over the firing mechanism. If during this procedure the jammed round could be easily removed, all the better. Once done the gun could continue to be used during the engagement. I don’t know how long removing a lock took but it wouldn’t have been too long and would probably seem like an eternity when you have the opposition charging at you!

Revolvers: They were point blank weapons. You may have hit someone if you were faced with a wall of warriors but it may not be the individual you were aiming at. The Zulu had little regard for revolvers. They had a name for them, which I can’t recall at the moment but it was along the lines of ‘pop gun’. There is a Zulu statement that at Isandlwana one warrior was shot 3 times by an Officer using his revolver before the warrior overpowered him. Either the accuracy or effectiveness was questionable.

Officers of the Volunteers and Irregular horse were issued revolvers and the 1822 light cavalry sword. Volunteers were also issued revolvers along with their carbines. However, as the Officers of the Volunteers were elected by their units there would be nothing stopping them also carrying carbines.

Carbines for Mounted Troops: At Isandlwana, Hlobane, Khambula and at the Mahlabathini plain prior to Ulundi the tactic was for mounted troops to dismount to fire before remounting and riding to their next position.

Hope it helps!

Re: Colonial firepower

Many, many thanks for the responses.

I'm beginning to think this HaT Forum should be my first stop with an historical query.


Re: Colonial firepower

With most machine guns theres a number of things that can go wrong heres what the manual say:
"Should Jams occur in firing this may generally be attributed to the defective management of the drum"

It goes in to some detail in a couple of sections about how to operate the drum correctly to avoid problems and how to clear jams from other causes and it also has instruction on how to go about removing the locks, I think though most remedies other the simple jams would take way to much time in combat and present a serious danger if the enemy was close and advancing rapidly....

The Handbook Gatling .45 calibre Naval British version:

If you want more technical info on the guns themselves this American manual may be helpful it also includes images of just about everything associated with the guns:

The British manual is only one I've seen of several that includes the info regarding jamming etc

Too put it in perspective normal rate of fire for a gatling gun is 525rpm this is equivalent to about 50 men rapid firing with Martini Henrys, but the barrels would quickly get to hot to handle.. the gatling could however maintain that fire reliably for up to 8 minutes non stop with a good crew before ammo started cooking of in the barrels.....