Machine Gun Elephant

Elephant with Machine Gun.


Above we have a picture that is more of an oddity, an elephant that has a machine gun mounted on its back. This is extremely peculiar considering that the United States’ military never officially used elephants for any combat, especially not in 1914 when the photograph was taken.

The soldier was a corporal at the time and the weapon is a Colt M1895 machine gun. This gun was surprisingly light at only seventeen pounds, so it is not necessary to have a hulking pachyderm lug it around, a jeep or truck could do it much better. Also, with machine guns of this caliber, the sound of the bullets firing would be far too intense for it to be so close to the elephants’ ears, meaning there probably were never any battles in which elephants truly carried machine guns on their backs. It is most likely that the photograph was simply taken for publicity’s sake, or perhaps even just as some sort of joke.

Despite this, elephants have been utilized in warfare since Hannibal of Carthage used them as a behemoth cavalry to pierce enemy lines. Many roman and Eastern leaders utilized them as carriers of heavy goods and some commanders even made elephants take on the role of living shields. However, while warfare continuously changed, elephants became less and less useful against the increasingly destructive weapons being developed. While they could survive arrows and spears, they could not survive many shots from a musket and were decimated by cannon fire. Because of this, elephants were given up quickly and horses were used to fill in the gaps this caused due to their smaller stature and greater speed.