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Civil War

Civil War Civil War During the American Civil War, which lasted from 1861-1865, over 620,000 accounted soldiers were killed. Known as the “the first modern war”, historians generally agree that the reason for this was because this was a time of transition for the military. Armies and Navies were still using tactics where they would gather large forces of firepower to bear on the enemy. At the same time, weapons were being developed which were accurate and lethal well beyond any arms of the earlier conflicts. As a result of these two conditions many more casualties were sustained. Add to that the lack of medical knowledge of disease and infection and the numbers truly began to grow.

This paper is an overview of the types of weaponry that was used during this time. Artillery generally falls into three basic categories; guns, howitzers and mortars. The main difference between them being the trajectory of the round fire. A gun has a high muzzle velocity and a very flat trajectory. Normally a gun is used in a direct fire mode where the target can be seen and penetration is desirable.

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Good targets for a gun would be things like brick or earth forts, ships, buildings, and targets in tree lines. Howitzers have a somewhat lower muzzle velocity and arc their shells onto a target. They are used in both a direct fire and indirect fire mode. Keep in mind with the limited range of the pieces available during the Civil War there was no indirect fire such as we know it today. Targets were generally always within the line of sight of the artillery men.

This is especially useful when an enemy is concealed behind a prepared position or the artillery men desire to have a shell explode over an enemys head. The air-burst does less damage to hardened targets such as masonry walls, and redoubts, but causes many more human casualties due to the shrapnel covering a large area. Mortars have a very pronounced arc of flight. They have a relatively low muzzle velocity and are unsuitable for direct fire. Their principle value comes from being able to lob shells behind an obstacle such as a fort or a hill.

Unlike modern mortars, those used during the Civil War were bulky devises and mounted at a fixed angle usually between 45 and 50 degrees. They were not very accurate and depended solely upon the amount of propelling powder to determine their point of impact. Shells, hollow ammunition filled with gunpowder and equipped with a fuse, were the most common type of explosive artillery round used during the Civil War. Fuses could be either timed so the round would explode after a certain number of seconds had elapsed, or were percussion so the ammunition would explode upon striking an object. Shells were generally used as long range rounds, meant to explode among an advancing enemy or used to blow apart enemy forts.

Solid shot was a kinetic energy round. Its speed and mass were used to penetrate walls, fort and armor. To produce any type of casualty effect, the round would have to actually strike the target. Solid shot was particularly used against ironclad ships where a shell would do little or no damage. During one test an 8 inch Brooke rifle with 16 pounds of powder fired a 140 pound ball 260 yards and penetrated eight inches of iron backed by 18 inches of solid wood.

While there are many accounts of troops charging bravely into a “hail of grape” there is little fact in this. Grape shot was used very little on the land battlefield during the Civil War. The ammunition encountered by the soldiers was called canister, one of the wars most deadliest rounds. Canister was basically a tin packed with sawdust and musket balls which, when fired, spread out and turned the artillery piece into a giant shotgun. At close range against masses infantry this round was devastating, cutting huge swaths through the attacking men. Grape shot was widely used in the 19th century wars, but by the time of the American Civil War, grape was primarily used by navel gun crews.

Similar to canister, grape shot consisted of meat balls, but unlike canister which fired 76 balls, a round of grape shot consisted of nine or so balls and were usually not packed in cans. A standard round consisted of three tiers of three 2 inch diameter balls separated by iron plates and held together by a central rod which connected the bottom plates. Another design consisted of an iron bottom plate with a central pin around which the balls were stacked. A cloth bag, usually of canvas, covered the balls which was in turn lashed around with a cord. The resulting round of ammunition looked like a bunch of grapes, thats where the name “grape shot” came from.

Grape shot, like canister, would spread out with a shotgun effect once leaving the muzzle of the gun, though with a much greater range than canister. During the early 1800s most guns were muzzle loaders. In 1948, Christian Sharps invented a rifle that loaded from the breech, or back end, of the barrel. He was, however, not the first to create rifles that loaded in this manner. In his rifle the breech block moved down when the trigger guard was moved down.

A paper or linen cartridge with powder and bullet was placed into the receiver. The bullets used were .54 caliber. Then the breech block was moved back up it tore off the paper exposing the powder and fired using a percussion cap. During the Civil War about 100,000 of these rifles were supplied to the Union army. Between 1836 and 1873 over 540 patents for breech loading rifles were issued. Many of these were guns manufactured and sold to the U.S.

government during the Civil War. The best known model was the 1863 Sharps Carbine. The rifles first became famous as “Breechers Bibles” in the fighting in Kansas and Missouri. It was replaced, however, by the Spencer carbine rifle, which held seven metallic cartridges. The Confederates used captured Sharps and made 5,000 copies themselves in Richmond.

In 1860 alone fifteen patents were issued for breech loading rifles. Overall, the most standard weapon used by both North and the South was the Springfield rifle. This muzzle-loader was fired by a percussion cap and shot a .58 caliber bullet. Its rifled barrel gave it better accuracy and penetration. It fired a Mini ball, which was a lead bullet with a hollow tail.

When it fired, the pressure caused the lead to expand into the grooves. In addition to keeping the bullet on a straighter course this expansion minimized the escape of gas, which increased its range. The Union could have taken advantage of the machine gun but, again were reluctant to try new weapons. In June of 1861 J.D. Mills showed President Lincoln his machine gun.

It was mounted on wheels and had a tray that held cartridges which dropped into the rotating cylinder as one turned a crank. Lincoln called it “a coffee-mill gun,” while Mills called it “The Union Repeating Gun.” The name of the inventor is not known, but many believe it was Edward Nugent or William Palmer. Again the Union army did not want to issue this gun into the US artillery. In October of 1861 Lincoln bought ten”coffee-mill” guns, without consulting anyone, at a price of $1,300 each. It was the first machine-gun order in history.

Dr. Richard J. Gatling, a North Carolina farm boy, patented a six-barrel machine gun on November 4, 1862. He later adapted it to use steel-jacketed cartridges. The rate of fire for the gun was 250-300 rounds per minute. General Ben Butler ordered twelve Gatling guns for the Union. Gatling, however, was a “copperhead”, a Northerner who sympathized with the Confederacy.

His reputation did not help sell the gun to the Union, especially since he was thought to sell some to the Rebels. The Union had chances to get the Gatling gun but did not take advantage of it. In 1862, Governor Morton of Indiana saw the gun being tested and wrote to the Secretary of War suggesting that the gun be officially used by the North, but nothing was done. Later, the Navy adopted the gun in 1862 and so did the Army but not until 1866. My conclusion is that I would not want to be shot by any of these guns.

They used very heavy ammunition that devastated what ever it hit. I guess that is why the American Civil War was called the bloodiest war of all time. Not only are you trying to kill your opponent, you are trying to kill a fellow American which must of been tougher. Also, if we adopted the Gatling gun, I feel that the war would of been over a lot faster than it was. To be able to fire 250 to 300 rounds in one minute is devastating.

That gun was very mobile because it could be moved around by the horses because it was on wheels. I give these men lots of credit for going out there and fighting like they did. Many really did not know why they were fighting and they still fought with courage. And with a total of 620,000 casualties, a lot of men did not come home. Bibliography 1.

“The Civil War”, Ken Burns, 1994, tape 5, “Weapons of the Civil War” 2. “The Civil War”, CD-ROM, by Mathew Brady, Rom-Man technologies,1995.

Civil War

Writing about recorded
history should be a relatively easy task to accomplish.

Recorded history is based on facts. Regardless of what time
period one may write about, one will find enough information
about that time of period. The key is to put everything in a
logical and understandable manner. This paper will be about
the Civil War. I will try, to the best of my knowledge, to
discuss the Norths and Souths positions and Arguments for
going to war, their initial military strategies and their strength
and weaknesses. The paper will actually be a summary from
chapter 10 of the book Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil
War Era By: James McPherson, Amateurs Go To War.

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Before discussing the war itself, one must understand the
Unions and the Confederates arguments and reasons for
going to war. Lets start at the beginning, when the South
was first showing animosity for the North, which eventually
led to sessionist ideas by the South. The Compromise of
1850 was drafted in response to the threat of a Southern
Convention, because of Zachary Taylors decision to carve
out two huge territories in the Far West and to admit them in
the union as free states. Henry Clay drafted the compromise,
which includes eight parts. The first pair would admit
California as a State and organize the remainder of the
Mexican cession without any restriction or condition on the
subject of slavery. The second pair of resolutions settled the
boundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico in favor
of the latter and compensated Texas by federal assumption
of debts contracted during its existence as an Independent
Republic. Clays third pair of resolutions called for abolition
of the slave trade in the District of Columbia but a guarantee
of slavery itself in the District. As if these six proposals
yielded more to the North then to the South, Clays final pair
of resolutions tipped the balance Southward by denying
congressional power over the interstate slave trade and
calling for a stronger law to enable slave holders to recover
their property when they fled to free states Battle Cry of
freedom: The Civil War Era, McPherson James, (p.70-71).

The Northerners hated the fugitive slave law, because in the
past it was never enforced and it never gave a trial by jury to
any runaway slaves. The only testimony heard was that of
the slaveholder and he usually recovered his slave. Not only
that, but the slaveholder was compensated $10 for winning
the trial because of all the trouble he had to go through in
recovering his property. Because of the passage of the
compromise, the North had to enforce the law which it
hated. As the United States expanded westward, two new
territories were carved out and the issue of slavery arose
again. The U.S. government let the two new territories
decide themselves whether or not to permit slavery. Since it
was up to the people to decide the slavery issue, Northern
abolitionists enticed anti-slavery supporters to move into the
new regions and vote to make Kansas and Nebraska free
states. Southern pro-slavery supporters did exactly as the
North did to make Kansas and Nebraska slave states. The
two sides clashed with one another over this issue and there
was literally a Civil War in Kansas. One particular situation
that occurred in Kansas was the sacking of the city of
Lawrence. Pro slavery advocates of the city of LeCompton,
Kansas set up a group or a posse that went to the
anti-slavery city of Lawrence, Kansas, ransacked, burned
and literally destroyed the city. In response to this attack by
the Southerners the Northerners took revenge. John Brown,
a radical abolitionist, decided to do a similar thing to the
Southerners. He planned an attack on LeCompton, Kansas.

Enroute to LeCompton he encountered about five pro
slavery supporters, and without remorse, hacked them to
death at Potawattamie Creek in Kansas. The entire country
was slowly being divided into two parts and even congress
could not do anything to resolve the problems. Political
parties were splitting along North/South lines and even
violence was a common occurrence in congress. The last
straw, which eventually split the Union, was the election of
1860. On the eve of the election, Southerners had already
agreed that if a republican wins the election, they would
leave the Union. Well, history shows that Lincoln, a
republican, was elected and the south truly did leave the
Union. During the four months, prior to President Lincolns
inauguration, President James Buchanan did nothing to
discourage secession. It may be even concluded that he was
sympathetic to the Southern cause. South Carolina was the
first state to secede from the Union, and by February 1861
seven more southern states followed South Carolinas
example. Finally, when Lincoln took the office, all of the
federal arsenals in the south have been overrun by
Confederate forces. In Fort Sumter, South Carolina, federal
troops were literally surrounded and their supplies eventually
ran out. Lincoln made a decision to send an unarmed supply
ship to the harbor of Fort Sumter. Lincolns reasoning was
that if the South fires on an unarmed supply ship, it would be
an act of war. If it doesnt it would mean that the South is
bluffing and it really does not want to secede. Well, on April
12, 1861 Confederate troops fired on the unarmed supply
ship at Fort Sumter and the Civil War began. The Norths
primary reasons for going to war was to keep the country
together. The South was fighting for state sovereignty, the
right of secession and interpreting the constitution the way
they wanted to, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,
James McPherson, (p. 310). Slavery was not the reason the
Civil War began. Lincoln had argued that it was
unconstitutional for any state or states to secede from the
Union, which is why keeping the Union together, as one
country, was the Norths most important cause for war. The
South was fighting for the sacred right of self government,
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James
McPherson, (p. 310). The South felt that it was fighting for
the same reasons that the founding fathers had fought for in
the war for Independence. According to southerners
seceding from the Union, all they wanted was to be left
alone, and not to be bothered by the North. After Davis
speech to the Confederate Congress he included the phrase
All we ask is to be let alone, which inturn specified the
most immediate, tangible Confederate war aim: defense from
invasion. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James
McPherson, (p. 310). Slavery was not the major issue or
cause for going to war. Slavery handicapped Confederate
foreign policy. The first Southern commissioners to Britain
reported in May 1861 that The public mind here is entirely
opposed to the government of the Confederate States of
America on the question of slavery.The sincerity and
universality of this feeling embarrass the government in
dealing with the question of our recognition. The North
initially stated that the war was not about slavery. Lincoln
even mentioned that he had no purpose, directly or
indirectly, to interfere with slavery in the states where it
exists, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James
McPherson, (p. 312). The Constitution protected and will
continue to protect slavery where it existed. As was stated
earlier, the North fought the war to keep the Union together,
because of the fact that secession was unconstitutional.

Militarily, both the North and the South were not prepared
for this war. Although the North was the manufacturing part
of the country, it had to somehow change its peacetime
economy to a wartime economy. Most of the arms that
belonged to the North were very old and outdated. It had
old muskets and cannons that dated back to the war of
1812. Northern leadership was crippled as well. Most of the
pristine military academies were in the South, and most of
the graduates of those military academies served in the
confederate armies. Many of the Norths military leaders
were veterans of the war of 1812. Many of the Norths
leaders were in there 60s and beyond. The army had
nothing resembling a general staff, no strategic plans, no
program for mobilization, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil
War Era, James McPherson, (p. 312). The Northern navy
was in better shape then the army. Although 373 of the
Navys 1,554 officers and a few of its 7600 seamen left to
go with the south, the large merchant marine from which an
expanded navy would draw experienced officers and sailors
was overwhelmingly northern. Battle Cry of Freedom: The
Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 313). The
Northerners military strategy was to basically cut the
Southerners lines of communications, to slowly choke the
Confederate army to surrender. The navy did a good job
following this strategy. The North set up blockades, which
the navy carried out to the best of its ability. The
Confederates had quite possibly the best leadership in the
war. Although to win, it needed more then best leadership.

The South had primarily an agrarian economy. This fact
alone was a major obstacle for the South during the war.

The South had the men, leadership, and even some
ammunition when the war began. The South had to find the
resources, employ those resources, and finally put those
resources together. The confederacy had only one-ninth the
industrial capacity of the Union. Northern states had
manufactured 97% of the countrys firearms in 1860, 94%
of its cloth, 93% of its pig iron, and more then 90% of its
boots and shoes. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,
James McPherson, (p. 318). When it came to the Navy, the
Confederates had no navy. Although lacking material
resources, they used tugboats, revenue cutters, and river
steamboats to be converted into gunboats for harbor patrol.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James
McPherson, (p. 314). The Confederates also came up with
the idea of the first submarine. The Confederacy sent into
action the worlds first combat submarine, the C.S.S.

Hunley, which sank three times in trials, drowning the crew
each time, before sinking a blockade ship off Charleston in
1864, while going down itself for the fourth and last time.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James
McPherson, (p. 314). The Confederacy was also the first to
introduce torpedoes/land mines. Even though these
innovations were developed during the war, they did not
prove substantial enough to win the war. Jefferson Davis
strategy was to take a defensive position rather then an
offensive one. The basic war aim of the confederacy, like
that of the United States in the revolution was to defend a
new nation from conquest. . Battle Cry of Freedom: The
Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 314). Davis reasoned
just as Washington did during the revolution, that retreating
against a stronger enemy is not bad all the time. It gave time
to regroup your forces and build a counterattack against the
enemy. Although the south did try this tactic at the beginning
of the war, they didnt follow this strategy at the end of the
war. The south had the temperament that they could easily
whip the Yankees and that they should take the war to
them. The idea of waiting for blows, instead of inflicting
them, is altogether unsuited to the genius of our people,
declared the Richmond Examiner. Battle Cry of Freedom:
The Civil War Era, James McPherson, (p. 337). In
conclusion, the lack of adequate resources proved to be the
devastating factor for the Confederacy. Although the
Confederacy had the excellent leadership at the beginning of
the war, later, southern public opinion showed that the
people in the South were sick of taking the defensive
position and wanted to attack the North. Because of this
strategy, the Confederacy lost many soldiers in battles while
trying to fight in the North. The Souths last ditch effort at the
end of the war was a promise of freedom for any slave that
fights against the Union. Even though the North had inferior
leadership, its manufacturing capabilities surpassed that of
the South. At first the North did not have many men enlisted
in an army. However, later on the North had voluntary
regiments of men fighting for the Union. The Norths major
lines of communication were never destroyed and the Union
army was always well supplied. In conclusion the North won
because it had superior resources and industry to sustain the
war effort to its conclusion. William L. Yancey and A.

Dudley Mann to Robert Toombs, May 21, 1861, in James
D. Richardson, comp., A Compilation of the Messages and
Papers of the Confederacy, 2 vols. (Nashville, 1906), II, 37.

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