The Civil War pitted a country against itself and we were forever changed by this war. Brothers who had been on opposite sides of the war took up arms against each other and on the battlefield were seen as enemies and may not have made it back alive. The Civil War was a unique war for America, because never before or since had territories left the Union. This was also the first modern war fought by America and paved the way for future military innovations.
This war created new innovations for not only weaponry but since our naval force was still growing introduced sturdier battleships. Although these inventions were utilized by both the North and the South, the North's industrial society could quickly switch over to produce for the war. Whereas the South was predominately a farming economy and produced over 60% of the world's cotton.
This war was all about experimentation and one of the biggest innovations was the creation of the ironclad ships; opposed to the wooden ships used earlier. Another step forward was the creation of the first repeater rifles and revolvers. The last one was the improved artillery that could be reloaded faster, pack in more firepower, and even with all that increase range. The book Trial By Fire details the different inventions used during the civil war.
Even with all these innovations the ironclad was arguably the most important; but the idea of the ironclad was very old. Basically, an "ironclad" was a steam-propelled warship fitted with plates of iron armor. The idea of an armored warship was not new; the Vikings used to line the sides of their long ships with their shields, several shipbuilders came up with the idea of a ship encased in lead, and, most famously, the Koreans built a "turtle" ship in the sixteenth century, armored with iron and propelled by oars. None of these really led to further warship designs, so they are only historical curiosities. The steam-propelled ironclads of the 1800s, on the other hand, led directly to the warships of today.
Being the first modern war these pieces of artillery were a huge force to be reckoned with, and were their own unit, like cavalry before the Civil War. The most common artillery was the Howitzers, which led to the modern artillery of today. These were guns that fired a projectile at long distances with a higher arc. This was the ideal weapon if the enemy was behind trees or hills because the shots could be lobbed over.
Although artillery was important for range and devastating multiple targets at once, soldiers did not walk out to the front lines with their bare hands. Guns made a huge leap during the Civil War but were not widely used by either army. Although repeaters were starting to become a better option, the muzzle loading rifle muskets were still the standard weapon during the war.
For the most part I really enjoyed this book