25. The Civil War: Military and technological developments

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    Industrial Revolution

    The American Civil War is considered the first modern war because of all of the new technologies that were employed during the war complements of the Industrial revolution. Deadly weapons produced in mass quantities shaped the outcome and events of the Civil War.
  • Observation Balloons

    Observation Balloons
    Union spies floated above Confederate encampments and battle lines in hydrogen-filled passenger balloons, sending scouting information back to their commanders via telegraph and to the sea.
  • Cotton Gin

    Cotton Gin
    The cotton gin made slavery profitable and made cotton the nation's number one export before the Civil War. The success of the cotton gin, by fostering slavery, helped to separate the two sides of the country and bring about the Civil War. Developed by Eli Whitney in 1793, this separated cotton fibers from seeds. The machine's success led to both massive growth in American cotton production and a substantial increase in the importation of slave labor.
  • Interchangeable Parts

    Interchangeable Parts
    The use of standard, interchangeable parts, especially important in the manufacture of guns, clocks, and sewing machines, allowed the nation to advance technologically by using unskilled workers.
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    Clara Barton

    This northern woman traveled alongside the Army of Northern Virginia. She would organize supply lines and help tend to wounded soldiers. She was not part of the Department of Female Nurses and never received any payment from the government.
  • McCormick Reapers

    McCormick Reapers
    These made it possible to harvest large areas of grain much faster than before. Aiding economic expansion in the North and Midwest was the mechanization of farming. The economic expansion was especially key to the North and their manufacturing of supplies, clothes, and weapons for the war.
  • The Telegraph

    The Telegraph
    This was used for military communication; Abraham Lincoln was the first president who was able to communicate on the spot with his officers on the battlefield. He could monitor battlefield reports, lead real-time strategy meetings and deliver orders to his men. The Confederates lacked the technological and industrial ability to conduct such a large-scale communication campaign.
  • Minié Bullets

    Minié Bullets
    The French army officer, Claude Minié invented a cone-shaped lead bullet with a diameter smaller than that of the rifle barrel. Soldiers could load these “Minié balls” quickly, without the aid of ramrods or mallets. Rifles with Minié bullets were more accurate, and therefore deadlier, than muskets were, which forced infantries to change the way they fought; even troops who were far from the line of fire had to protect themselves by building elaborate trenches and other fortifications.
  • Rifles

    The arms manufacturing revolution enabled the rifle to come about and trump the traditional musket which was only accurate at short ranges. The rifle had a grooved barrel and a much greater range and accuracy than muskets did. Along with these new weapons came the need for fortifications and trenches; it also gave the defensive side an advantage. A rifle’s bullet had about the same diameter as its barrel, so they took long to load.
  • The Railroad

    The Railroad
    When the war began, there were 22,000 miles of railroad track in the North and just 9,000 in the South. Northern tracks were “standard gauge,” so any train car could ride on any track. Southern tracks were not standardized, so people and goods had to switch cars as they traveled (expensive and inefficient). Union officials used railroads to move troops and supplies from one place to another. They also used many soldiers to keep trains and tracks safe from Confederate attack.
  • Ironclads

    These warships had superiority over the wooden ships, and therefore revolutionized naval warfare. They maintained a Union blockade of Confederate ports. Confederate sailors tried to sink these ironclads with submarines.
  • U.S. Military Telegraph Corps

    The Union Army established the U.S. Military Telegraph Corps, led by a young railroad man named Andrew Carnegie. The next year alone, the U.S.M.T.C. trained 1,200 operators, strung 4,000 miles of telegraph wire and sent more than a million messages to and from the battlefield.
  • Propaganda

    This was used in the form of souvenirs, lithographs, and even pamphlets by both sides in order to assemble the public opinion in support of their own side. The level that these pamphlets took it to included slander and accusations towards the enemy.
  • War Correspondents and Newspapers

    War Correspondents and Newspapers
    The results of battle along with a list of casualties appeared in record timing that was never seen before, a next day publication in the paper. Families and friends at home were notified of these hard facing facts immediately.
  • Blacks in the Navy

    Blacks in the Navy
    Blacks could enlist in the Union navy from the beginning of the war; they served mainly as maintenance men on the ship with the exception of some who fought in combat. Northern leaders were encouraged to consider enlisting blacks to fight on land due to black sailors’ superb role on the ships.
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    Military Prisons

    This was the first war where many Americans were captured by the enemy and kept in these military prisons in horrible conditions. Many men became subject to starvation and disease here and perished.
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    Confederate Strategy

    The Confederates took on a defensive plan; sometimes they would try to make attacks on the North. General Lee realized that it would be easier to repel attacks rather than to make attacks on the North who had far more men. This would also, hopefully, lower the North’s esteem.
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    Union Strategy

    The strategy for the Union forces shifted from the initial mission to occupy southern ground and to take Richmond, the capital for the Confederates, to the mission of defeating the South’s armies as well as making slavery a military target as noted by Lincoln.
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    Trench Warfare

    The increasing firepower of small arms and cannons obliged both sides to make use of trenches in the American Civil War. Elaborate trenches were employed due to the introduction of the rifle which has more accuracy and a longer range than the musket. This changed the nature of combat.
  • Anaconda Plan

    Anaconda Plan
    This plan aimed to strangle the South’s economy. A big part of this plan that became important later on in the war was the naval blockade of the South which was proposed by Lincoln.
  • The United States Sanitary Commission

    The United States Sanitary Commission
    This was one of the many organizations that gathered money and medical supplies for the troops and sent books, clothes, and food to freedmen. This was a centralized national relief agency that coordinates donations on the northern home front.
  • Civil War Photography

    Civil War Photography
    The Civil War was the first war to be documented through the lens of a camera. Mathew Brady organized a group of photographers to cover the war. From now on, Americans would be able to see images of the war from their homes. The images of the Civil War are not action snapshots; they are portraits and landscapes.
  • Blacks in the Army

    Blacks in the Army
    Blacks were not allowed to enroll in state militias or in the regular army before the Civil War. In 1862, Congress allowed the President to enlist blacks for any military service. They were ordered into all-black regiments. Blacks were treated inferior to whites with reduced pay and lower quality supplies, but they were very helpful and effective in the war.
  • Repeaters

    Rifles with Minié bullets were easy and quick to load, but soldiers still had to pause and reload after each shot. This was inefficient and dangerous. By 1863, there was another option: repeating rifles, or weapons that could fire more than one bullet before needing a reload. These weapons were only available to Northern troops as Southern factories had neither the equipment nor the knowledge.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    Lincoln declared all slaves present in territory in rebellion against the federal government free, but this document did not free many slaves; it did not apply to slaves in border states fighting on the Union side. It did not affect slaves in southern areas already under Union control either. This showed people that this war was now in part being fought to end slavery. This was revolutionary because for the first time, the government was steadfast to enlist black soldiers in the Union army.