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    Civil War Topic 14 Essay (1698 words)

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    The Civil War generated a tremendous leap of progress in the area of weaponry and medicineIn the brief but eventful 95 years between the forging of the UnitedStates and the civil strife that temporarily wrenched it apart, there weremuch advancement in the areas of both weaponry and medicine. One undid theatrocities of the other and both contributed to the bloodiest war yet to beseen. War is a time for countries to show off their latest advancements intechnology in an all out deadly game. Weaponry and war go hand in hand forwithout weaponry, there would obviously be no war.

    Weaponry can rangeanywhere from a small knife that attaches to the end of a musket known as abayonet, to a 12 pound cannon mounted on the side of a gunship. Eachserves a purpose and is deadly in its own way. During the AmericanRevolution a standard infantrymen’s weapons consisted of “a musket andbayonet of some sort, a tomahawk (usually hand crafted by the soldierhimself), and many different types of knifes ranging from a penknife to ahunting knife. “(Wilbur, Keith C. The Revolutionary Soldier p. 30) Therewasn’t just one type of musket, however, Infantrymen had the choice of 3different types of muskets.

    A “Militiaman’s Fowler which was a musket ownedby all men who served in the state militia was better for hunting thenfighting and usually made from the scraps of other weapons, a Brown BessMusket was the standard British musket and was favored by the Continentalsearly in the war and a French Musket which were the standard musket of theFrench army. “(Wilbur p. 20) All the muskets save the Militiaman’s Fowlerwere able to be fitted with a bayonet, making it outdated and inefficientvery early in the war. There were two different types of bayonets as well,the British Bayonet and the French Bayonet. “Early in the warRevolutionaries patterned their bayonets after the British model but soonchanged to model the French (their new allies). “(Wilbur) The models hadvery little differences and bayonets were used very often as a means ofattack.

    Tomahawks were a standard thing seen among infantrymen as well. “Most of these were handcrafted by the user and used almost as much as themusket for there was much close quarters combat in the war. “(Wilbur p. 35)A soldier carried many knives with him for a variety of different uses.

    Among these was the “Rifle Knife used for cutting grease patches, thedagger which was rarely seen and usually custom made, the hunting, fightingor scalping knife which was a very long knife carried in a leather belt anda trademark of frontiersman and lastly many forms of the pocket knife usedfor carving and making pens. “(Wilbur p. 39) Although rifles had beeninvented, they were rarely used for a variety of reasons. “First thecartridge hadn’t been invented yet so it took a very long time to reloadthe rifle after it had been shot. Second there were no bayonet fittings sowhile a sharpshooter was reloading he was completely vulnerable.

    Becauseof these disadvantages sharpshooters were rare and had to be supported bymusket-bearing troops. “(Wilbur p. 31)The standard soldier during the Civil War was much better equippedthen that of the Revolution. Since the cartridge had been inventedreloading weapons was a relatively faster and easier process.

    This allowedfor the rifle to be used rather then the older and extremely inaccuratemusket. The difference between a musket and a rifle is the inside of thebarrel of a musket was completely smooth which meant the bullet never wentthe same way, the inside of a rifle however had “many small grooves called’rifling’ (hence rifle) the made the ball spin as it came out of the barrelmaking it highly accurate at a long range. “(Coggins p. 25) The use of therifle during the war made bayonet charges a thing of the past because “witha keen eye behind the sights, a target at 250 to 300 yards was in danger ofbeing perforated. “(Coggins, Jack Arms and Equipment of the Civil War p.

    30). The cartridge was basically a shot. “It had the powder, ball and patchpacked together and all a soldier had to do was stick the whole thing downthe barrel. This eliminated the disadvantage of not having a bayonetfitting because charges were a thing of the past since troops could beginaccurately firing when the enemy was 300 yards or more away rather then themuskets 50 to 100. “(Coggins p.

    29) Most soldiers no longer carried thebayonet because hardly any of them had a musket, so instead “they carried astandard issue knife and occasionally a tomahawk (though those were fastlybecoming outdated as well)”(Coggins p. 40). With the rifle the previous useof flint, steel and powder was replaced with a brass cap. “The cap wasplaced on the ‘nipple’ and the hammer would strike the cap causing a sparkinside the barrel which would ignite the shot. “(Coggins p.

    30) This methodcaused many less misfires and was relatively faster and easier to use. Soldiers “no longer carried powder horns because of this, but rather a cappouch filled with caps, and instead of being given all the ingredients fora shot, they were given a cartridge box which contained 40 shots. “(Cogginsp. 32)The sidearm was greatly improved during the Civil War as well.

    During the civil war the handgun was basically a smaller version of themusket. It was “single shot and loaded in the same fashion as amusket. “(Miller, Francis Trevelyan The Cavalry p. 50) It was highlyinaccurate and “usually used when fighting close quarters” (Miller p.

    50)During the Civil War however, handguns were revolutionized with theinvention of the revolver. The “Colt Model 1860 army was probably thelargest produced and most widely used of all handguns in the civil war byboth sides. “(Miller p. 80) A standard Colt revolver held six shots and shotevery time one pulled the trigger until it ran out of bullets.

    This waslight years better then the previous single shot muzzle loader handguns ofthe past. These guns “were only issued to officers but with the amount ofdead troops many standard soldiers picked them up and used them incombat. “(Miller p. 90)Artillery was another technology improved upon. During theRevolution artillery was “huge and bulky and very hard to manage. “(Miller,Francis Trevelyan Forts and Artillery p.

    60) There were four types ofcannon, the “Field Cannon which fired a solid ball in a flat trajectory todestroy forts and enemy cannon, the Garrison Cannon which fired a solidball on fire to burn ships or chain shot to take down ship rigging, theHowitzer which fired a solid ball with a high trajectory and the Mortarwhich fired a hollow ball filled with gunpowder and fused along a hightrajectory that exploded once the fuse ran out (virtually it fired abomb). “(Miller2 p. 90) These cannons were all “highly inaccurate andsubject to explosions. “(Miller2 p. 91) In the Civil War these same types ofcannons were used but they were greatly improved.

    They were built “like ahorse drawn carriage so instead of a team of men moving the cannon withropes, the cannon could be attached to a team of horses and moved muchfaster and more efficient”(Miller2 p. 91). The barrels of the cannons wereengraved with rifling and made much longer and out of better material whichgave “it more velocity and accuracy and were less subject to explosionsinside the barrel. ” (Miller2 p. 93) A major change in artillery was thechange from a ball to a rifle. The new shot was “in the shape of modernbullets with a pointed tip instead of a round ball.

    “(Miller2 p. 97) Thischange in shot gave the shells much more accuracy and they could “go muchmuch farther then before. “(Miller2 p. 98)The Gatling gun was invented during the Civil War as well. This wasa mounted cannon that had 8 barrels going around in a circle.

    It lookedmuch like a cannon but was much deadlier. The barrels would spin in acircle and spray the enemy with bullets. It “rotated the barrels so thatthey wouldn’t get too hot and melt. “(Miller2 p. 155) It was capable of”shooting 600 bullets in a minute and was devastating toInfantrymen.

    “(Miller2 p. 160) “Surprisingly this weapon saw very littleaction in the War and wasn’t improved upon until much later. “(Miller2p. 170)Naval battles were greatly upgraded as well with the entrance ofironclad warships.

    “Truthfully these weren’t the first Ironclads (thefirst ironclad dating back to 1592 with Yi-sun’s ‘tortoise-ship’), butthese were the best that had ever been made with hulls thick enough forcannon to bounce right off. “(Davis, William C. Duel Between The FirstIronclads p. 4) “Called a ‘tin can on a shingle’ or a ‘half-submergedcrocodile’ these ships may not have been the first of their kind but theywere the first ‘modern armored warships’ and they changed the course ofnaval warfare forever.

    “(Davis p. 10)Medicine didn’t experience a leap of progress as big as the weaponrybut it was there all the same. “During the Revolution doctors didn’t haveto have a college degree or training of any kind. Most of them were selftrained and used old remedies everyone knew.

    “(Wilbur, Keith C. Revolutionary Medicine p. 16) Methods of amputation were “brutal andunsanitary” and only crude forms of morphine existed. (Wilbur2 p. 10)During the Civil War to be a surgeon or doctor one had to “complete atleast 3 semesters of 13 weeks of medical school.

    “(Wilbur2 p. 5) They had adecent knowledge of medicine and human anatomy and saved many lives thatotherwise would have been lost. Amputation methods weren’t much betterbut they “did save many more lives then they killed. “(Wilbur2 p.

    12)Doctors used chloroform and “somehow knew to periodically remove the rag”which kept the soldier from dying from chloroform poisoning. (Wilbur2 p. 30) One naivety of the doctors was when they amputated and pus formed theythought it was “good ‘laudable pus’ and did nothing for it when in realityit was a huge bacterial infection that soon killed the soldier. “(Wilbur2p. 34) Embalming was a huge discovery as well. “Many families wanted theirdead family members body brought back for burial so the surgeons had itembalmed.

    There was a whole new profession built around embalming duringthe war. Families could hire an ’embalming surgeon’ to embalm the body ofthe dead soldier and bring it back for burial. “(Wilbur2 p. 60)Weaponry and Medicine made huge advancements in many areas in theshort time interval between the American Revolution and the Civil War.

    They go hand in hand and the war wouldn’t have been what it was without thearduous efforts of the individuals responsible for these breakthroughs.

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