Military Technology of the 1860ís


During the first half of the Civil War, battles and fighting seemed to be dragging on. The way of war needed to be changed if the war were to ever end.


One of the first changes to military technology in the 1860ís was the type of gun and bullet used. The rifle replaced the musket, which had been widely popular during the Revolutionary War. The difference between rifles and muskets is the barrel inside a musket is smooth and polished while the barrel of a rifle has spiraling grooves. With rifles, when a bullet is shot it goes through the barrel and begins to spin through the air. Once soldiers switched from muskets to rifles they were able to shoot farther and more accurately.


The rifled musket had a dramatic affect on the battlefield. Because rifled muskets had such excellent accuracy armies could no longer march shoulder to shoulder to within a very short distance of their enemy. Battle tactics were met with change.


Another change in military technology was the type of bullets used. Soldiers both on the Union and Confederacy began to use the minie ball. Prior to the invention of the minie balls it was very time consuming to load a rifle. Previous bullets had been the same diameter as the barrel. This meant that in order to load the rifle you had to force the bullet into the barrel of the gun, which took quite a lot of time. Since the newly invented minie ball were slightly smaller then the actual barrel of the rifle, all you had to do to load a rifle with a minie ball was drop the bullet down the barrel.


The invention of minie balls had a great affect on fighting during the Civil War. Since it only took a matter of seconds to load a minie ball, as opposed to five minutes soldiers were able to load their gun faster. This resulted in more soldiers being killed. The small arms projectile known as the Minie Ball caused some 90% of all battle wounds. Of those wounded by small arms projectiles, 15% or 234,400 men died as a result of its use.


The advancement of weapons used during the Civil War had a serious influence on the Civil War. When rifles and minie balls were mixed, they were quicker to prepare, had greater accuracy, and traveled farther distances. More people died because of these new inventions. As opposed to previous war tactics, soldiers from opposite sides b egan to spread out and began to hide behind trees to shoot. Guns on each side were larger, stronger, faster, than anything previously known. War was even more serious as ever.


Pictures of Weapons Used During the Civil War:



Minie Ball

ďDictatorĒ gun used at Petersburg, VA


A Wiard Gun at the Arsenal in D.C.


Rodman Columbiad





Parrot Gun at Fort Brady, VA



An arsenal yard Charleston, SC