The Civil War: Technology & Revolution

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By The student

When thinking of the war in the history, people may remember the sword fight or giant army on elephants and horses where people on a battlefield for over months, shortage of food and medications, and long-distance communication make things worse. “America is other which is understood as “exceptionalism” now, and it has become the subject of academic study, the United States, except in wealth and military power, is less exceptional than it was in the years when it was to be reached only by selling ship across the Atlantic or fighting wars. Then, before American educate had been generalizing by Transport bind, the technology, and International Industry, American no kidding was another position and connection from the Old World.” In the Civil war, there were plenty of examples available for technology in which gun factories and textile mills were disgorging out firearms and uniforms at a high volume of production.  It was a slightly invisible change but most important for both sides.” Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials,”[1] American Inventors and scientists played a very crucial role during the Civil War. They understand the value of true nationalists, and they also understand the need of the War, so they invent a product which just not change the condition of war, but also change the condition of how people live. An American civil war had a very important role in Technology for the main three reasons; Innovation of weapons, Long-distance Communication, and Transportation.  

First, Battlefield is a crucial place for soldiers to fight. Therefore, Soldier’s need long-range rifles and guns which can aim enemy on long-distance. “Soldiers carried one bullet gun and two bullet rifle which was typically unhelpful for war and heavy to carry a number of armories”.[1] Muskets could shoot about the range of Two hundred sixty-five Yards. Although, accuracy was close to his target instead of his targets. According to Army General in 50’s record, “the weapon’s effective range was only about Eighty-nine yards”. So, armies were stayed closer in the battlefield to fight. Soldiers used rifles with Minnie bullets which were rapid to loads and easy to carry, but still, it was inconvenient for soldiers because after every shot they must stop and refill bullets which were dangerous sometimes. “In 1863, Inventors find the new way to build weapons, so that can help weapons to fire more than one bullet before it is needing a reload. Later this weapon widely used by whole US armed force”.[2] “Spencer carbine” was very famous rifle during these time, and it could fire six shots in Twenty-Nine seconds. Muskets had a shorter range than rifles, and the range for a bullet is up to Nine hundred yards and more accurate in riffles[3]. Because the Gatling gun could fire continuously, many view it as the first machine gun. the weapon did not reload on its own power, however; it depended instead on a hand crank, improvements were made. The technology once became an issue for Union soldier, so they write a letter to US armed force that, “this is not fair, that we have guns that load up on Friday and shoot all the rest of the week”. Northern troops have weapons and armories, but southern troops neither have weapons nor they know how to produce them.[4] Which gave heavy advantages to US troops. In the current situation, this all weapons are known as “Legendary weapons”, not because it can fire and load faster, but because that rifles and machine guns innovation allowed the Civil War a new height of win.

Second, battlefield reports are important during the war to collect data on food supply, number of soldiers, and inventory of Armory. American inventors developed the new kind of technology “Telegraph” which helps to solve those problems. President Abraham Lincoln was the first leader who can communicate to battlefield over Fifty miles thru the telegraph. Later, this telegraph connection compatibility increased by 500% and approximately Four Thousand miles.[1] At first, “Telegraph was helpful for the white house office to monitor battlefield reports, hold real-time meetings for battle strategy and men receive an order through telegraphs”.[2] Technology totally overlaps the war and the Confederate army had disadvantages because of lack of technology and unable to communicate on a large scale.[3] “In the west, George McClellan was an early adopter of the telegraph for military purposes. In April 1861 Ohio’s governor William Dennison agreed with McClellan that military supervision of the state’s telegraph lines was necessary “to stop all messages of a disloyal character,” especially “orders for munitions and provisions for the south. “McClellan tapped Western Union super authority from the governors of Illinois and Indiana, explaining to Governor Yates of Illinois that since “the Telegraph is not a military organization,” Stager needed the governor’s consent to assume this control.[4] “Telegraph” played a very important role in the Civil War, but it also a crisis for leakage of information thru telecommunication. In a very critical situation once, US army stopped total communication thru telegraph to stop allowing the Confederate army to spying. In today’s era, Telecommunication is a huge market for consumer and government for communicating domestically and overseas which never become a success without an idea of the telegraph.

Finally, the American civil war had a huge influence on today’s technology, especially on transportation. “Wars have been always depending on food and armory supplies and which were not easy to transport from one place to another”. Rai-roads, submarine, and balloons were the technologies which changed the definition of war. Railroads were a large-scale technological innovation which gave advantages to the Union to move thousands of soldiers and inventories in a short period of time in the battlefield. During a war, Union had taken some major decisions and built over Twenty Thousand miles of railroad track in the North and over Seven thousand miles in the south.[1] “ There were the most important two the great rail centers in the south, one in Chattanooga, Atlanta, and another is in Richmond, Atlanta, but in North, there is only Mississippi had very little track”. Secondly, in 1864, Sea wars on their peak, so the US Navy and sailors need a safer place to spy and attack the Confederate army. “Iron-clad” warships were placed up and down the shore, and it is also maintaining a Union barrier of Confederate harbors.

At first, “Confederate sailors tried to sink warship with submarines. That submarine was made up of a metal tube that was Forty-five foot-long, and Five feet across, and held only Seven men crew. It was wrecked itself in the process of the block the warship of a union”.[2] That incident helps union inventors to build a strong submarine which can sail under deep water and spy the Confederate army. At the outset of the war, McClintock and Hunley began to develop plans to construct a submarine. Hunley had financial resources, and McClintock had the engineering knowledge. He wanted to see the south win the war and was determined to aid the war effort. During the war, Hunley spent thousands of his own dollars in his quest to develop a military submarine capable of breaking the blockade. Finally, the Balloon was made to observe the competences of a hitched and to help the Union Army which can allow them to make maps, weaponry spotting, and find the location of Confederates Army. The balloon can help to watch activities of Confederates up to about fifteen miles away. It was hydrogen-filled passenger balloons which can spy for a Union in the air. It also can float above the Confederate camps and battle lines and send scouting information back to their leader commanders via telegraph-and to the sea.[3] “John LaMountain was a first balloonist who was appointed in 1861, and in-mid 1861, the US government first gave John the title of “Chief Aeronaut”.” President Abraham Lincoln created a special corps for the Union. Balloonists were responsible for monitoring enemy camps and movement at great distances by counting campfires and measuring dust clouds. Above, Lowe observes a battle from the basket of one of his hot- air balloons. “There were over three thousand balloon ascensions under Lowe the aeronauts and supported several campaigns in the Balloon Corps. When the war ended, the Balloon Corps was disbanded, and the Union army returned to Washington DC.”[4] The Battle of Chancellorsville had leftward enormous character in the Civil contend, and even now, it has left its evidence as “Nation’s first Air Force”.

In conclusion, “the civil war had a disturbance of social and political agenda”,[1] and it was also a time for technological changes which change the way people fought in the war. Inventors helped the military to be stronger, and they provide new types of weapons, such as the repeating rifles, explosives, and submarines.[2] There are some more technologies invented which were not only used for war, but it changes the way people live, such as the Railroad, the telegraph, and balloons.[3] In 1865, at war’s end, factories shifted to peacetime production, turning out products for civilians, steel production grew during the war. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s steel company provided the steel to the nation needed for increased manufacturing. The United States was changing, and the Civil War was the instrument that set much of the change into motion. A year after the war ended, the first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid across the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. America now enjoyed direct and almost immediate communication with Europe and other countries. Four years after, rail-road was completed. It is open for the public to travel across the country.[4]


[1] Furgurson, Ernest B. Chancellorsville, 1863: The Souls of The Brave. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.

[2] Ross, Charles D. Trial by Fire: Science, Technology and The Civil War. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Books, 2000.

[4] Mountjoy, Shane. Technology and the Civil War. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2009.

[3] Wells, Herbert G. The War in The Air and Particularly How Mr. Bert Small Ways Fared While It Lasted. Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1909.

[1] Colby, C. B. Civil War Weapons: Small Arms and Artillery of The Blue and Gray. New York: Coward-McCann, 1963.

[1] GRANT, ULYSSES S. N.D. The Complete Personal Memoirs Of Ulysses S. Grant, “Civil War Period (1850-1877)”. Createspace independent publishing platform,2012.

[1] GRANT, ULYSSES S. N.D. The Complete Personal Memoirs Of Ulysses S. Grant, “Civil War Period (1850-1877)”. Createspace independent publishing platform,2012.