Weapons Of The Civil War

.. ing rate of 600 shots per minute! Overheating was also not a factor because in actuality each barrel only shot 50 times per minute. Although this was clearly a gun that couldve won battles for both sides it was never recognized by both governments and saw very limited action. The first machine gun type of gun that was ever used in actual warfare was the Williams breech-loading rapid-fire gun that was crank operated. When it was first used in the Battle of Seven Pines, the Confederate Army was quite impressed with these weapon and ordered 42 more to be made.

This weapon fired a 1.57 caliber projectile and was substantially light in weight. It fired at a rate of 65 rounds per minute. The major problem with this particular gun was overheating, which often caused heat expansion. Ammunition The minie ball was a creation of the French Captain Claude Minie. Although hardly a ball, it was a very lethal bullet with the immense power. The U.S.

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soon realized the potential in such a bullet and adopted it in 1855. The bullet was of .58 caliber and was simple to use. Unlike other bullets, the minie ball contained gunpowder, which eliminated the excess burden of putting the gun powder in a separate place. The enormity of its power was demonstrated in many cases. There are innumerable accounts of unfortunate victims that were shot with the minie ball, to have had their bones frightfully shattered into numerous pieces.

This inflicted immense pain which immediately resulted in death or amputation of the area where it struck. Proof exists that an explosive bullet was used in the Civil War. But it was not a popular type of ammunition. The bullet was produced in .58 caliber and .54 caliber. These bullets contained a compartment in the midsection where a highly explosive powder, known as fulminate, was located. A charge then ignited the fuse which causes the bullet to implode.

Artillery Artillery was the maximum firepower that was used in the Civil War. It was divided into three basic categories; guns, howitzers, and mortars. They were all very similar, but the principle difference was the different trajectories of each weapon. A gun had a very flat trajectory (direction of the fired ammunition) and high muzzle velocity. These were suitable for Naval warfare, and for firing at fortifications, and buildings. Guns had long barrels which allowed the gases to react with the cartridge.

Field guns were 6 and 12 pounds, Garrison guns were 12, 18, and 24 pounds, and sea coast guns were 32 and 42 pounds. The parrot rifle was a popular gun that was invented by Robert Parker Parrot. Howitzers have lower muzzle velocity and fire their shells with more of an arc like trajectory. Howitzers did not have the capability of reaching long distances, but were larger in caliber than some guns. Howitzers were also classified in four categories.

Mountain- 12 pounds Field- 12, 24, 32 pounds Garrison- 24 pounds Sea coast- 8 and 10 pounds All of these could only fire no further than 1500 yards. Mortars also had a low muzzle velocity and fired its shells at an arc much greater than that of howitzer. Mortars were used mostly to fire over a tall obstacle of some sort. Mortars had extremely short barrels and fired a high caliber shell. The arc at which a mortar shot at was around 45 to 50 degrees. They were very inaccurate and there velocity was mainly dependent on the amount propelling powder that was being used.

Mortars were usually difficult to aim. Ammunition used in artillery was a big factor. Artillery fired shells of different caliber. Shells were hollow ammunition filled with gunpowder and contained a fuse. Shells were either set to explode after a certain amount of time or were percussion and would go off upon striking something.

Canister was an ammunition that was a tin can packed with sawdust and musket balls. When fired the canister would spread and cut down rows of men at close range. This was one of the most devastating ammunition pieces ever used in the war. Solid shot was a kinetic energy type of ammunition. This round had to be effective by striking something. It was used to penetrate walls and armor of different sorts.

It was widely used against ironclad ships where shells would have little or no effect. In one test firing of this shot, a 140 pound ball penetrated an iron target backed by 18 in. of wood, 8 inches deep! It was fired from the distance of 240 yards. The hot shot was a projectile that was heated. This was effective against wooden ships because when it penetrate the wood it would also ignite the splinters and caused a fire aboard a ship.

But the hot shot was not effective against wood 12 to 13 inches. Edged Weapons Although the simple sword seemed somewhat primitive in contrast to other weapons, it was used in many cases. The cavalry was the only division that used the sword to its full potential. Col Mosby once declared that the only good use for a sword was to hold his meat over a fire. The cavalry sword was nickel-plated and was about 31 to 37 long.

They were mostly single edged. Some were etched with elaborate designs. The bayonet was probably the most popular edged weapon in the Civil War. Soldiers placed at the end of their rifles and used it in hand to hand combat situations. Bayonets were no longer than a few feet. Unique Weapons The Civil War was an experimental era which bred several wild ideas to take form.

The Requia batteries were a primary example. This exotic weapon, resembling a xylophone, had 25 barrels that were laid out in a straight row. A clip which had 25 bullets were placed at the end of the barrels. Gun powder had to be poured in each barrel every time. This weapon saw little use and proved to be inefficient because of the time consuming loading time. Another invention that was unique was the LeMat revolver.

This revolver had a 9-shot cylinder, which was quite intimidating. It was invented by a French doctor who seeked to make the ultimate handgun. The LeMat he invented consisted of two barrels. It shot .40 caliber bullets from the cylinder in the top barrel. When all rounds were expended the shooter was able to adjust the hammer and fire a .18 gauge shotgun shell from the bottom barrel! The savage was another unique revolver. What made it unique was mainly its second trigger. That trigger cocked the hammer and rotated the cylinder.

The Civil War proved to be the first true modern war. Although we did gain from the incredible advancement of technology, it is a sad fact that mankind could produce weapons of such destruction. So it is fair to say that we did lose many lives because of it , too. The Civil War was somewhat a stepping stone for the production of todays weapons of mass destruction, as was every single other war. But weapons have evolved a great deal since the Civil War and they continue to take away an innumerable amount of lives each year.