A-Plan of the Investigation
The focus of this investigation will be on the answering of the question “To what extent did the invention and innovation of new weaponry during the 19th century affected the American Civil War?”. The most prevalent weapons of the time will be described, along with the major weapons manufacturers of the period leading to the Civil War. Multiple military innovations will be looked at and their implications on warfare will be discussed, considering how many weapons were improved and how this affected their efficiency in battle. The number of casualties in the American Civil War will also be displayed and it will be explained as to why the amount of fatalities was so high.
B-Summary of Evidence
The years leading up to the Civil War caused a furious race between weapon manufacturers, as they could sense a conflict on the horizon. In the 1840s, Claude Étienne Minié, a Frenchman, perfected the design of a muzzle-loading rifle and ball that fired with more accuracy and 8 times the effective range of older weapons (Boot 127). Other innovators such as Samuel Colt, Oliver Winchester, and Richard Gatling were active as well in designing their own weapons. Many inventors received much attention when the war began. The Spencer repeating rifle, patented in 1861 by Christopher Spencer, was shown to be quite the innovation during the war by Wilder’s “Lightning Brigade”, who used the 7-shot rifle in the West against the Confederates (Boot 128-129). The Spencer repeating rifle was also seen in Sherman’s March, where General Paul Sheridan was given 10,000 troops wielding the rifle (Roberts). Another inventor that came to the forefront of weapons’ manufacturing during the war was Samuel Colt with his model 1860 Colt revolver. This innovative revolver was able to fire 6 shots in place of 1 like the older flintlock pistols. According to Michael Clodfelter, the model 1860 Colt revolver was the “most effective pistol” during the war, with over 100,000 issued (Clodfelter). Richard Gatling, an additional chief inventor of the 19th century, invented the first efficient machine gun in the early stages of the war, although it did not see much combat (Ellis).
Not only were terrestrial weapons advanced, but naval weapons were transformed as well. Cannons were advanced in the 1850s through the innovation of larger, longer-ranged cannons by figures such as John Dahlgren (Bailey). Dahlgren pioneered a research program into naval weapons in the 1850s, creating numerous deadly naval weapons. Dahlgren also invented the “soda-water bottle” shape of cannons, which increased the guns’ reliability and efficiency (Schneller). Further innovation that played parts in the American Civil War were the Ironclad ship and torpedoes. The Ironclad ship was developed in defense against the wide amount of artillery that was used during the war. Extremely difficult to take down, these formidable warships made naval battles more testing and changed the idea of the...