Pate Revolving Cannon

  • American Civil War
  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

Designed around the beginning of The American Civil War for Confederate forces, this innovation in artillery was developed by Henry Pate. Built at The Petersburg Iron Works in Virginia, The Pate was deployed - but saw no major action during the war. Henry Pate (who also formed irregular cavalry units called "Rangers"), made his new gun available for their use. The cannon was designed to produce a sustained rate of fire (similar to an automatic gun of the 20th Century). Often described as a "giant revolver", the operation of the Pate was very similar. The cylinder contained 6 rounds of lead shot in the 10-pound range (and located at the breech).


When activated, the cylinder would spin to the next unfired round. Giant fulminated percussion caps (again just like a revolver), were installed at the rear of the cylinder. A large striking hammer-like lever would hit the cap to activate and deploy the round. Another innovation of The Pate, that was when it cycled it's rounds, the cylinder would move forward to "seat" against the chamber. This would create a seal which would lessen the escaping gases (critical in maintaining an automatic cycle). Additionally unusual, The Pate was fitted onto an all iron carriage. Captured by Federal Forces in 1865, The Pate Gun is currently on display at The US Military Academy Museum, at West Point, New York.