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56 BILLINGHURST REQUA VOLLEY GUN

The Billinghurst-Requa battery gun predates the Gatling Gun and for this reason it is considered to be the first practical machine gun used in the American Civil War. Dr. Josephus Requa, a dentist from New York who from 1849 to 1853 served an apprenticeship in the gunmaking trade under William Billinghurst of Rochester, N.Y patented the multi-barrel volly gun along with Billinghurst In 1862.  This “machine gun” featured several barrels mounted on a frame and arranged to allow the gunners to set the dispersion of shot as required.

As with many military inventions through the ages, there is a big difference between inventing and actually selling to the Army. In this case, the Billinghurst-Requa Battery Gun did not meet the expectations of Brigadier-General James Ripley of the Ordnance Department. Although demonstrated successfully, even once in front of President Abraham Lincoln, the gun failed to receive orders. Failure to secure a government order, Requa and Billinghurst turned to private investors. The firm of Smith and Bradley fronted the effort and following a successful demonstration, funding was secured for a small production batch of around fifty. The barrels were made by Remington with Billinghurst manufacturing twenty guns in-house with another thirty by the firm of Parmenter & Bramwell.