This section is from "The American Cyclopaedia", by George Ripley And Charles A. Dana. Also available from Amazon: The New American Cyclopędia. 16 volumes complete..
Richard Jordan Gatling, an American inventor, born in Hertford co., N. C, Sept. 12, 1818. While yet a boy he assisted his father in perfecting a machine for sowing cotton seed, and another machine for thinning cotton plants. Subsequently he invented and patented a seed-sowing machine for sowing rice. Removing to St. Louis in 184-4, he adapted his invention to sowing wheat in drills. For several winters he attended medical lectures at Laporte, Ind., and at the Ohio medical college in Cincinnati; and in 1849 he removed to Indianapolis, where he engaged in real estate speculations and railroad enterprises. In 1850 he invented a double-acting hemp brake, and in 1857 a steam plough, which however he did not bring to practical results. In 1861 he conceived the idea of the revolving battery gun which bears his name. (See Artillery, vol. i., p. 797, and Cannon, vol. iii., p. 713.) He made his first gun at Indianapolis in 1862, and in the fall of that year he made six of the guns at Cincinnati, which were destroyed by the burning of the factory. He subsequently had 12 manufactured,- which were used by Gen. Butler on James river. In 1865 he further improved his invention, and in the year following, after satisfactory trials at Washington and at Fortress Monroe, the arm was adopted into the United States service.
It is also made in Austria and England, and has been adopted by several governments of Europe. During the past ten years Dr. Gatling has devoted himself to the perfection of this invention, spending much time abroad in testing his gun in public; and he now (1874) resides in Hartford, Conn.