America as Third Republic

The original mitrailleuse

(The German Emperor William is declared…in the great palace of the Kings of France)

ADDED:Nous sommes dans un pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdes.” Gen. Ducrot, Sedan, France, Aug. 31, 1870.

As we come to the close of the year I’d like to again thank Meister Bloom for the opportunity to write here, and recognize the wealth of talent and intelligence gathered on this most excellent blog.

I hope that reader either knows, or has taken the time to learn, what a mitrailleuse is:

Montigny_Mitrailleuse

One of the earliest successful “machine guns”, this excellent and ingenious weapon was developed by the French in the 1860s, just in time to be deployed in the so-called “Franco-Prussian” War of 1870-1; the result of which, for the French, was one of the greatest military defeats in history (eerily repeated in 1940, but let’s take it one war at a time).

I’ve been rereading Michael Howard’s superb The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France 1870-1871 and was struck by this passage:

The Emperor [Napoleon III]…also had the mitrailleuse. With this he had been experimenting since 1860, and production had begun under conditions of great secrecy in 1866. In appearance it resembled the fasces of the Roman Lictors: a bundle of twenty-five barrels, each detonated in turn by turning a handle. It had a range of nearly 2,000 yards and a rate of fire of nearly 150 rounds per minute…but such secrecy surrounded its manufacture that training in its use was almost out of the question, and no useful discussion was possible about how it should be employed.

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