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 rev...
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...ence to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500-2000. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002. Print.
Downey, Fairfax. The Guns at Gettysburg. New York: D. McKay, 1958. Print.
Ellis, John. The Social History of the Machine Gun. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1986. Print.
Gugliotta, Guy. "New Estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll." The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Apr. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Roberts, William L. "U.S. Spencer Lever Action Repeating Carbine." The National Firearms Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
Schneller, Robert J., Jr. "Rear Admiral Dahlgren." Rear Admiral Dahlgren. Dahlgren Museum, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
Singer, Peter W. "War Made New: The History and Future of Technology and Warfare." The Brookings Institution. N.p., 26 Oct. 2006. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Williamson, Harold F. Winchester, the Gun That Won the West. Washington: Combat Forces, 1952. Print.
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