Weapons of the Civil War The Civil War has been the worst tragedy that this country has experienced throughout our nations fairly young existence. It will forever be a permanent scar that will blemish the history of the United States of America. The Civil War amassed more American casualties than all other wars combined. This fact is partially due to the amazing advancement of firearms during the era of the Civil War. Both the C.S.A.
and USA were fractionally responsible for creating this sudden surge of technological development in weapon design. The other factor was that the military was currently experiencing a time of transition which contributed to a remarkable increase of modern weapon production. The following is a complete evaluation of the prominent firearms that were used in action during the Civil War. Handguns played an essential role on the battlefield during the Civil War. The progression in technology spurred a new experimental era for gun manufacturers all over the world. A race had begun to produce a more efficient handgun.
As a result many manufacturers made handguns that included numerous experimental innovations. The revolver was the most widely produced and used handgun. Many types were developed, but the Colt was the most popular by a sizable margin. The Colt was used by both the Army and the Navy and was a six-shot revolver. It was invented by Samuel Colt, who introduced his revolver in the 1830s.
It was the first revolver that incorporated the percussion system in its design. Colt later developed an improved version known as the .44 3D Model Army Colt. It dominated all other revolvers in function and design at the current time and even down to present day. All colts were single-action and over 150,000 of them were used. Remington, Starr, Smith and Wesson, were only a few of the other manufacturers that produced revolvers for the Federal armies. Confederates revolvers were either revolvers taken from dead or imprisoned federal soldiers.
The South did have company produced revolvers, but because of the lack of raw materials, production was extremely limited. The basic Civil War revolver had a rather simple design. Revolvers have a cylinder which usually contains six chambers to store bullets. A nipple sits at the back of each chamber which requires percussion cap. A percussion cap is a touch explosive.
When the trigger is pulled the hammer slams down on the cap. The cap ignites the gunpowder which launches the bullet to its unfortunate human target who will have his flesh ripped apart if the bullet connects. This design proved to be rather efficient. Soldiers also sometimes had problems reloading their cylinders. So they found it quicker to just carry fully loaded spare cylinders.
The process to replace cylinders took approximately 30 seconds. Shoulder Arms Prior to the Civil War, flintlock rifles dating back to the Revolutionary War, were used. These rifles required a time consuming loading process to be performed before you shot. As a result you could only shoot about once every several minutes if you were a skilled soldier. But when the percussion system was introduced it began a revolution in the design of all rifles.
With these new rifles a soldier could easily shoot several shots per minute. Rifles were clearly the basic weapons that were used by the infantry on both sides. Rifles of the Civil War era fell into two main categories, carbines and muskets. Carbines were lightweight and smaller than most rifles. These type of rifles were mainly used by the cavalry.
Muskets were the most popular type of rifle used. Springfields, Enfields, etc. all fell into the musket category. Muskets were well suited for the infantry because of the longer distance that a musket could achieve compared to a carbine. Springfield muskets were clearly the main rifles used in the Civil War. It would be fair to say that the Springfield was the colt of shoulder arms.
The most prominent model of all the Springfield rifles was the 1861 Springfield musket. This musket was mass produced in the Springfield Armory and at 32 other private manufacturers. It was sold to the federal government at a cost of $15-$20. It was 55.75 inches long, 8.88 lbs., and incorporated a .58 minie bullet. The Springfield was a breech-loading rifle, with interchangeable parts, and a percussion cap system.
This musket soon established a favorable reputation as being a very dependable rife. Among other muskets, there were the Enfields. Enfields were a British musket that were made in the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield, England, hence its name. These rifles were respectively second in popularity, only behind the Springfields. Enfields were known for their exceptional accuracy, which contributed to their popularity in the Civil War.
400,000 saw action during the years of the Civil War. With the great advancement of firearms, a new lethal form of warfare emerged. The idea of snipers became a reality with the improved accuracy that a rifle could achieve. Skilled marksmen were valued on both sides. There was a standard test that was to be passed to be considered a potential sniper.
A soldier was to fire several shots from a few hundred yards at a target. All shots had to be in proximity with the bulls eye to pass the test. To equip these sharpshooters, rifles with great accuracy were in desperate need. Telescopic sights were incorporated in many of these rifles. The long tube telescopic sight was invented by a New Yorker named Morgan James.
Although these sights were only magnified by four power, a shooter with a keen eye and exceptional skill was extremely deadly with a rifle that was equipped with this sight. Rifles used by snipers were often called benchrest rifles because of their heavy weight. A standard rifle was about 40 lbs. and so it received that name because a benchrest was often needed to support the barrel. Automatic Weapons Both the North and South attempted in developing a gun that would be able to fire a continuous amount of bullets.
The idea had great potential and a few guns managed to be produced that made that idea a reality. The Agar Machine Gun was among the few that were developed during the Civil war period. It had a single barrel and was capable of firing about 120 rounds per minute. It used the .58 caliber minie bullet. The most popular and well-known machine gun is probably the Gatling gun. The Gatling gun was invented by Dr.
Richard Gatling of North Carolina. It was clearly an ingenious invention that had the firepower to be a sizable factor in any battle in the Civil War. His gun had 6 barrels that were in a round formation. When they were fired they would rotate continuously. Each time a barrel reached the top a cartridge was automatically inserted in a rapid fashion and when it reached the bottom it would then fire the cartridge. This gun had an amaz …