Maxim’s Machine Gun Slaughtered Hundreds of Thousands of People

War Is Boring
By Jonathan Cardy - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19063330

War Is Boring

Technology, Europe

New weapon arrived just in time for World War I’s bloodbath.

Maxim’s Machine Gun Slaughtered Hundreds of Thousands of People

During the early morning of Oct. 25, 1893, a column of 700 soldiers from the British South African Police camped in a defensive position next to the Shangani River.

While they slept, the Matabele king Lobengula ordered an attack on the column, sending a force of up to 6,000 men—some armed with spears, but many with Martini-Henry rifles.

Among its weapons, the column possessed several Maxim machine guns. Once a bugler sounded the alert, the Maxims spun into action—and the results were horrific.

The Maxim gunners mowed down more than 1,600 of the attacking Matabele tribesman. As for the British column, it suffered four casualties.

The British military not only measured the Maxim gun’s success by the number of Matabele killed in action. They could gauge the Maxim’s potential as a weapon of psychological warfare.

In the aftermath, several Matabele war leaders committed suicide either by hanging themselves or throwing themselves on their spears. That is how Earth-shattering a weapon the Maxim gun was.

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