The Devil's Coffee Mill
DOI link for The Devil's Coffee Mill
The Devil's Coffee Mill book
Abraham Lincoln was a hard-nosed lawyer and a skeptical Midwesterner. He was not easily impressed, but when Wilson Agar demonstrated his new invention, Lincoln was astonished. Using a hand crank that looked somewhat like a coffee mill, Agar’s gun could fire an amazing 120 rounds of ammunition per minute. At the start of the Civil War, the most common gun was a muzzle-loaded rifle musket. A well-trained soldier could reload his gun every 15-30 seconds. The most he could shoot in one minute was four rounds of ammunition. Lincoln was so impressed that he ordered 10 of the guns for the union and paid an astonishing $1,300 for each gun. The rapid shooting that so amazed President Lincoln and the soldiers was also the greatest problem with the gun. The rapid fire caused the barrel of the gun to overheat. Innovations and modifications during the next several years led to the invention of the modern rapid fire machine gun.