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Weapons of the Civil War
The Civil War has been the worst tragedy that this country has experienced throughout our nation’s fairly young existence. It will forever be a permanent scar that will blemish the history of the United States of America. The Civil War amassed more American casualties than all other wars combined. This fact is partially due to the amazing advancement of firearms during the era of the Civil War. Both the C.S.A. and USA were fractionally responsible for creating this sudden surge of technological development in weapon design. The other factor was that the military was currently experiencing a time of transition which contributed to a remarkable increase of modern weapon production. The following is a complete evaluation of the prominent firearms that were used in action during the Civil War.
Handguns played an essential role on the battlefield during the Civil War. The progression in technology spurred a new experimental era for gun manufacturers all over the world. A race had begun to produce a more efficient handgun. As a result many manufacturers made handguns that included numerous experimental innovations.
The revolver was the most widely produced and used handgun. Many types were developed, but the Colt was the most popular by a sizable margin. The Colt was used by both the Army and the Navy and was a six-shot revolver. It was invented by Samuel Colt, who introduced his revolver in the 1830s. It was the first revolver that incorporated the percussion system in its design. Colt later developed an improved version known as the .44 3D Model Army Colt. It dominated all other revolvers in function and design at the current time and even down to present day. All colts were single-action and over 150,000 of them were used. Remington, Starr, Smith and Wesson, were only a few of the other manufacturers that produced revolvers for the Federal armies. Confederates’ revolvers were either revolvers taken from dead or imprisoned federal soldiers. The South did have company produced revolvers, but because of the lack of raw materials, production was extremely limited.
The basic Civil War revolver had a rather simple design. Revolvers have a cylinder which usually contains six chambers to store bullets. A nipple sits at the back of each chamber which requires percussion cap. A percussion cap is a “touch explosive”. When the trigger is pulled the hammer slams down on the cap. The cap ignites the gunpowder which launches the bullet to its unfortunate human target who will have his flesh ripped apart if the bullet connects. This design proved to be rather efficient. Soldiers also sometimes had problems reloading their cylinders. So they found it quicker to just carry fully loaded spare cylinders. The process to replace cylinders took approximately 30 seconds.
Prior to the Civil War, flintlock rifles dating back to the Revolutionary War, were used. These rifles required a time consuming loading process to be performed before you shot. As a result you could only shoot about once every several minutes if you were a skilled soldier. But when the percussion system was introduced it began a revolution in the design of all rifles. With these new rifles a soldier could easily shoot several shots per minute.
Rifles were clearly the basic weapons that were used by the infantry on both sides. Rifles of the Civil War era fell into two main categories, carbines and muskets. Carbines were lightweight and smaller than most rifles. These type of rifles were mainly used by the cavalry. Muskets were the most popular type of rifle used. Springfields, Enfields, etc. all fell into the musket category. Muskets were well suited for the infantry because of the longer distance that a musket could achieve compared to a carbine.
Springfield muskets were clearly the main rifles used in the Civil War. It would be fair to say that the Springfield was the “colt” of shoulder arms. The most prominent model of all the Springfield rifles was the 1861 Springfield musket. This musket was mass produced in the Springfield Armory and at 32 other private manufacturers. It was sold to the federal government at a cost of $15-$20. It was 55.75 inches long, 8.88 lbs., and incorporated a .58 minie bullet. The Springfield was a breech-loading rifle,
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Firearm actions, Rifled muskets, Rifle, Springfield Model, Revolver, Firearm, Springfield musket, Musket, Flintlock, Breech-loading weapon, Cylinder, Carbine
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