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The Canadian "Emma Gees"
A History of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps
Lt.-Col. C.S. Grafton

Transcribed by Dwight G. Mercer

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When gunpowder became a propellant of missiles, the machine gun principle followed right on its heels.

Thus, you have the earliest of machine guns appearing in the 15th century. They were known as "Ribaudequins" or "orgues" - or more plainly organ guns. There were a lot of "stops" in their shattering recitals. It is to be gathered that it was almost as dangerous being the organist as it was the target.

They are mentioned in the histories of sieges in the 15th and 16th centuries and were groups of musket barrels attached to a frame and, ingeniously enough, set off by a match-lock arrangement so that each barrel was fired in succession rather than in one loud bang.

The first recorded appearance of the "revolver" principle came in this same 15th century. A revolving butt, however, did not, owing to the lack of precision in boring chambers, fit closely enough to the end of the barrel and the resulting escape of gas quickly wore away the barrel and made them tricky, nasty and dangerous weapons to handle.

However, progress, you may note, was slowly grinding on.

In the 10th century the arrows, you will recall, took flight simultaneously. Five centuries later, groups of muskets were being fired in succession.

There seems to have been a prolonged "stoppage" in the evolution of the machine gun from the 16th century until well on into the 18th.

On May 15th, 1718, there was patented by one James Puckle, in London, a revolving gun. As described in the patent application, this was "a portable Gun or Machine called a Defence, that discharges soe often and soe many Bullets and can be soe Quickly Loaden as renders it next to Impossible to Carry any Ship by Boarding."

It was also mentioned as another quaint feature of the gun that it was adapted for "shooting square Bulletts against the Turks and round Bulletts against Christians."

The Puckle revolving gun, mounted on a tripod of surprisingly advanced design, in appearance is said to have strongly resembled the Gatling.

Before the American Civil War broke out in 1861, there had been a "Requa battery" added to the national armament. It was used in one of the forts at Charleston. It was a multiple barrel weapon with a swinging breech to which was attached a strip of special cartridges, containing both bullet and powder. A hole in the end of each cartridge coincided with a vent in the breech block and these successive vents were connected by a channel filled with black powder. A single percussion cap was used to detonate the priming charge and the barrels were thus discharged in succession and with fair rapidity.

It earned little official notice, but it may have had something to ...

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