How Machine Guns Invented Modern War
'Whatever happens, we have got / The Maxim gun, and they have not'
None of the world’s great powers were ready for the carnage World War I. The armies of 1914 looked a lot like the armies of 1814, but they didn’t go to war with 19th century weapons. The modern world was born in blood on the battlefields of Europe … to the hammering sound of the machine gun.
Today, soldiers carry machine guns as part of a standard kit. But at the outbreak of the Great War, commanders relegated the new and deadly contraptions to the artillery line. Some felt the guns were ungentlemanly.
The British Empire had no problem deploying machine guns during its colonial conflicts, but some shirked away from unleashing them on the continent. That opinion changed as World War I morphed from just another European conflict to one of the bloodiest wars in human history.
This week on War College, we sit down with Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons as he walks us through the Maxim Gun — one of the earliest machine guns — and how it changed the pace of war forever.