The Affects of Guns in the Civil War Essay

Durning the Civil War Era guns played a big part in the amount of casualties in war; without the use of guns war would not be possible. Many of the guns that were used in the Civil War included a variety of early century muskets, rifles, hand guns, and heavy artillery. Many of the bullets left serious wounds and sometimes life-threatening injuries, leaving the victim on the battlefield to die. Diseases also had a major role in the death toll, leading to thousands of deaths from lack of hygiene to having a short supply of well educated doctors.

Experts account for over 204, 070 deaths alone from battles throughout the Civil War, and an astonishing 414,152 deaths by diseases (Davis). Many of the early rifles in the Civil War were not accurate and most of them were single shot rifles. There was a short supply of rifles that were available in Civil War, “Their were two types of long guns used by both sides during the beginning of the war. The first was the Civil War musket which was the main long gun used by both the Rebels and the Yanks at the very beginning of the war…

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Civil War rifles were simply modified rifled muskets. Examples of Civil War rifles include the Sharps rifle, Spencer rifle, Springfield Model 1861, and the Henry Rifle and out of all of the Civil War weapons the rifled musket was the most widely used weapon of the entire war, in fact more than 90% of the casualties during the war were caused by gunfire” (Civil). Durning the Civil War the transportation of guns, soldiers and supplies were a big priority in the war and not only changed the course of the Civil War, but also the face of warfare to this day.

The Civil War was the first war to use railroads, encouraged by President Lincoln… who understood how vital they were for moving men and supplies. The North had a distinct advantage, with superior infrastructure (20,000 miles of track), better equipment and their own locomotive factory. Whereas the South had just 9,000 miles of track and had converted its locomotive works into an armaments factory. The trains allowed generals to move their soldiers, supplies and armaments to where they were most needed.

Rail centers and railroad infrastructure soon became targets for attack. Not only was the railroad a major success throughout out the war but the invention of the telegraph revolutionized the how we communicate with our troops, telegraph wires soon sprang up all along the East Coast. During the war, 15,000 miles of telegraph cable was laid purely for military purposes. Mobile telegraph wagons reported and received communications from just behind the frontline. President Lincoln would regularly visit the Telegraph Office to get the latest news.

The telegraph also enabled news sources to report on the war in a timely fashion, leading to an entirely new headache for the government: how to handle the media (CWI). Throughout the Civil War the use of artillery was very important to the Confederate Army and the Union Army, it played a big part throughout the war even turning the tide in many battles with the use of heavy artillery. With the exception of the rifle and a muzzle loader gun, heavy artillery needed several men to properly crew each gun.

Durning the Civil War groups of men were assigned to their own heavy artillery, each squad was designed to keep their equipment operating and properly working. Civil War cannons were highly valuable and expensive many armies had strict discipline and rules for both sides of the war to maintain their equipment in working shape. Durning the Civil War the Union Artillery saw no shortage and did not match different guns into a single battery, the union used one type of gun per battery. “There were also many different types of artillery rounds to go with these types of artillery pieces.

Smoothbore Guns such as the Napoleon used round cannon balls. While rifled artillery pieces such as the 10-pounder Parrott and the 3-inch Ordnance rifle used conical shaped shells” (Civil). “Naval mines were developed by the Confederates in the hopes of counteracting the Union’s blockades of Southern ports. Mines and later, torpedoes, were very effective sinking 40 Union ships. The success of these mines led to the creation of land mines and grenades that would be used in later wars” (CWI). The four most common types of Civil War cannon ammunition that was used durning the Civil War were solid, shell, case and canister shots.

Solid cannon shots were typically used against soldiers and enemy artillery. Shell shots were a hollow shell filled with black powder which is ignited by a fuse. Case shell shots are similar to shell shots filled with black powder but instead of the black powder there was iron balls inside, causing damage to the enemy infantry and sometimes friendly. Canister shell shots were tin cans filled with small iron balls mainly used in close distances against infantry and even cavalry, with the cannon loaded and canister shells in the chamber, it turned the artillery piece into one big shotgun.

Durning the Civil War a revolutionary new muzzle-loading bullet called the Minie Ball named after its co-developer, Claude-Etienne Minie. “The Minie Ball was designed with two or three grooves and a cone shaped cavity, it was made to expand under the pressure to increase muzzle velocity. When fired, the expanding gas deformed the bullet and engaged the barrel’s rifling, providing spin for better accuracy and longer range” (Cotner). The minie bullet changed the face of warfare forever, for the first time soldiers could aim their weapon at a fair distance and actually come close to hitting their target.

This bullet had a devastating effect on troops, when it hit a soldier it often shattered bones in the process. Since the bone could not recover, a surgeon had no choice but to remove the wounded limp. If the limb was not removed the patient would automatically suffer a infection and die anyway. When a solider would get shot in the battlefield there would be a wait for treatment of up to a whole day and even two, in the post 185 by Joseph Lister a surgeon recalls “We operated in old blood-stained and often pus-stained coats, we used undisinfected instruments from undisinfected plush lined cases.

If a sponge (if they had sponges) or instrument fell on the floor it was washed and squeezed in a basin of water and used as if it was clean” (Rinehard). The injuries were dreadful and many deaths occurred because of the Minie Ball. With such high casualties doctors were in high demand, medical school was just 2 years of study. Surgeons reacted to these conditions by adapting and trying to over come, while many had to learn to do surgery on the battle field in the most hellish conditions that can be imagined.

Many soldiers durning the Civil War experienced gruesome events that will never be forgotten, soldiers who were injured in the Civil War felt pain no other solider in any war has experienced due to the lack of qualified doctors and the dreaded invention of Minie Ball causing the death of thousands of soldiers and a moment in history in which we will never forget. In the end of the war not only did the union beat the confederate and eliminate the southern and northern state restrictions but it took the Nation forward by eliminating the use of slavery in all the United States.

Works Cited

“Civil War Innovations | History Detectives | PBS. ” PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Oregon Public Broadcasting, n. d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. ” Civil War Weapons, American Civil War weaponry, Civil War ammunition, Civil War rifles . ” Civil War, American Civil War, Reconstruction . N. p. , n. d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. . Cotner, James R.. “Civil War Cannon | Artillery. ” History Net: Where History Comes Alive – World & US History Online. N. p. , n. d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. . Davis, Burke. “Casualties In The Civil War. ” The American Civil War Home Page. N. p. , 1 Nov. 004. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. . Goellnitz, Jenny. “Stonewall’s Surgeon : The life of Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire, MD. ” Stonewall’s Surgeon : The life of Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire, MD. N. p. , n. d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. . Rinehart, Mike . “Rossford Exempted Village Schools – Effects of the Minie Ball on Civil War combat. ” Rossford Exempted Village Schools. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. . “Technology and Casualties in the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg – www. civilwar. org. ” Civil War Trust: Saving America’s Civil War Battlefields. N. p. , n. d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. .