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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gatling Gun Mystery

The Tuckerton Beacon hosted a column called "Out Of The Past" in the 1930's and 1940s. It was a reprint of news from early Beacons and is a valuable source of information. 

Out Of The Past Mast Head
The Beacon started publication in the late 1880's; however, complete copies of the Beacon are only available from 1916 to the present. It seems that the Beacon Office threw out their copies of the older editions, making the "Out of The Past" columns the only source of pre 1916 area news.

I am in the process of collecting, scanning, and compiling as many "Out Of The Past" columns as I can locate. I have currently collected 411 columns dating from 1890 through 1915. Most are from 1885 through 1909. WhiIe these columns only represent a tiny fraction of the news printed in the original Beacon editions, they are an interesting and valuable resource.  

As I was scanning a June 1, 1898 "Out Of The Past" column, a particular item caught my attention.

Gatling guns were an early form of machine gun. I remember reading that they created great carnage in the Civil War. 

Civil War era Gatling gun

I got to thinking "Why in the world would the Beach Haven Yacht Club place a Gatling gun on catboats out of Beach Haven?" and "Why would it be necessary to defend the harbor which such a deadly weapon?" 

We were involved in the Spanish American War at this time, but what interest would Spain have in the waters around Beach Haven? Were the Gatling guns an overreaction to war time hysteria or is there another explanation? What say you out in the Blog-O-Sphere?

Pete S

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