GDG- Custer (and Gettysburg) On the Tube Again

Jack Lawrence jlawrence at
Thu Jan 19 15:30:26 CST 2012

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Barrett" <tbarrett21 at>
To: "'GDG'" <gettysburg at>
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 2:55 PM
Subject: Re: GDG- Custer (and Gettysburg) On the Tube Again

> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> Maybe, if he'd tried to bring the Gatlings along, they would have gotten
> stuck in the mud, and the Native Americans would have been long gone by 
> the
> time he reached the big camp.  That would have him being saved by the
> Gatlings!

Possible. Not plausible, but possible.

> The Gatling guns of that time weren't much like a modern Squad Automatic
> Weapon.  They bore more resemblance, in use, to muzzle loading field
> artillery. They were bulky and not very mobile, required a crew, and in 
> use,
> contrary to the movies, had to be sighted and re-sighted, not used to 
> spray
> the Indians like a fire hose. Since the Indians were swarming all around
> Custer's gang, again it would have been like trying to take care of a 
> swarm
> of mosquitoes with a rifle.  You might get one or two of 'em, but the rest
> of 'em are going to get you!
> Not the right tool for this job.  Better left behind.

> Regards,
> TB

My impression was they were abiout as bulky as a WWI heavy, with a crew to 
I qualified expert on the M-60, and you don't use that like a fire hose 
either. (nor, as you imply, do you use a SAW like that either).
What you DO do is constantly sight the weapon, using short bursts so there 
is no difference there (unless the target is so massed it doesn't make a 
The difference between the gatling amnd a modern heavy (except for the 
multiple barrels) would lie in the tripod mount, as opposed to the wheeled 
I cannot see much difference in deployment here of either weapon.
They were designed as a force multiplier and the only failure with this 
technology is the failure to employ.



They used to teach something called fire discipline back in my day. Train 
your weapon and squezze off short, accurate bursts. You can only keep three 
rounds on target with no mount, no matter how many you fire, from shoulder 
or hip positions, 3-5 rounds . I remember runnung a 50 cal range once, right 
after dawn. One of those misty mornings where is is dark as it is light. You 
could see all the way down range. I think we were running 1 tracer every 5 
rounds. Anyway, any time one of the guys let go full boogaloo, the tracers 
were all over the place, bouncing down range, 50 60 or more feet in the air, 
right and left.
There is no fire hose firearm.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: gettysburg-bounces at [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at]
> On Behalf Of John Lawrence
> Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:16 PM
> To: GDG
> Subject: Re: GDG- Custer (and Gettysburg) On the Tube Again
> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> Easy for you you say.
> There is no way to prove or disprove that statement.
> It would have been a quite different disposition had they been available.
> And they would have made it a different battle.
> Saving Custer?
> Hard to say.
> Regards,
> Jack
> Tom Barrett <tbarrett21 at> wrote:
>>Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
>>(I know...Custer was dead by the time of the Zulu war...)
>>The British used their Gatlings quite effectively during the Battle of
>>Ulundi, the final battle of the Zulu War, but the situation was very
>>different from LBH. They marched in a battle square almost into the Zulu
>>Capitol, Ulundi, with several pieces of artillery and several Gatlings on
>>the corners of the formation.  They dared the Zulus to attack and the 
>>complied.  The British infantry mowed them down with fire from their
> (single
>>shot) Martini-Henrys, but after action reports showed the most bodies in
>>front of the Gatlings!
>>Custer couldn't have done that, and I believe his decision to leave the
>>Gatlings behind was the right decision.  They wouldn't have saved him.
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: gettysburg-bounces at [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at]
>>On Behalf Of Batrinque at
>>Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 2:46 PM
>>To: gettysburg at
>>Subject: Re: GDG- Custer (and Gettysburg) On the Tube Again
>>Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
>>In a message dated 1/19/2012 2:30:18 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
>>jgrim1941 at writes:
>>If I  remember the books and movie I saw about Isandlawana they had plenty
>>of  ammo but the quartermaster wouldn't allow the distribution without
>>written  requisitions and the implements to open the closed crates were
> not
>>present.  Ahhh...British military custom.  You gotta love it  unless you
> are
>>being attacked by thousands of screaming  savages.
>>There has been some debate as to exactly what happened with ammo
>>distribution at Isandlwana, including the possibility that there were
>>screwdrivers to open up the new-fangled ammo cases, but in the end  it
> seems
>>to come down to just too many disciplined foes with very sharp  spears.
>>Bruce  Trinque
>>Amston, CT
> m
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