Essay on Advantages of the North in the Civil War

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Tarrell Carter Jr.

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January 7, 2020

Before the start of the Civil War, there were many differences between the North and South. The North’s dependence on Industrial factories helps play a major in the future during the Civil War. The South was most dependent on the booming industry of cotton, which will, later on, put them behind during the war. As in every conflict, technology-assisted change in strategy and important circumstances define how new technology was used. Northern advantages of the Civil War, some believed that the success of the war was determined by the side with the most guns and more people, but America’s success needed much more. The war was a stage in our way of fighting to more of a modern way of fighting, these recent technological advancements, and president Lincoln utilize them to his advantage throughout the war as the Civil war is the time where technology played a major role in fighting in this war.

The Antebellum period was a time when the country’s economy began to shift in the north and south: the north to manufacturing as the Industrial Revolution began, while in the south, a cotton boom made plantations the center of the economy.[footnoteRef:0] The rise of manufacturing in the north and early industrialization were the beginning of many opportunities for people that needed jobs and created a booming economy. The creation of the factory system one such as the Lowell system where it was designed so that every step of the manufacturing process was done under one roof and worked by young women instead of children or young man.[footnoteRef:1] Lowell System was faster and more efficient and completely revolutionized the textile industry. It eventually became the model for other manufacturing industries in the country.[footnoteRef:2] Factories were able to create parts so that they were to replace parts instead of creating a whole new part this was a very efficient process to keep with the war. Eli Whitney known for his invention of the cotton gin was also known for his creation of interchangeable parts. The North’s advantage of factories help coaside with the manufacturing of interchangeable parts for weapons and ships. Factories were able to create parts so that if weapons were ever damaged on the battlefield all they had to do was replace the part instead of starting all the way over. This was a crucial part in the war because many new weapons were being created back to back and this helped the union catch up with the war. [0:

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In the antebellum era, advances in technology and improvements in machinery and sharing of information were closely aligned with the growth of railroads in the United States. When the Civil War started in 1861, the U.S. had about 31,500 miles of track, 22,000 miles in the North and the South had 9,500.[footnoteRef:3] Wars were always fought to control supply centers and road junctions, but it was slow for the Confederate government to recognize the value of railroads in the conflict. The Southern rails were in bad shape by September 1863. They had started to decline quite shortly after the war started when many of the workers of the railroad moved north to join the war efforts of the Union. Few of the 100 railroads that operated in the South until 1861 had a range of over 100 miles. The South had always been less passionate about the railway industry than the North; its citizens preferred an agricultural life and left the technical jobs to Northern states men.[footnoteRef:4]Although normal trains were frequently used, they greatly enhanced the chances of survival of casualties when hospital trains were available to Northern forces. Later improvements with passenger cars rather than box cars and better equipped surgical cars also increased care for the wounded. At Chattanooga, Dr. Ferdinand Barnium of United States(US) Army[footnoteRef:5], supervised the transport of 20,472 patients by rail on hospital trains and lost only one man on the way. After Gettysburg from 1 July to 1 August 1863, 15,580 badly injured were transported by rail to Baltimore, New York, Harrisburg or Philadelphia. In total, from 1862 to 1865, Northern hospital trains removed some 225,000 wounded or sick from both sides directly from 1862 to 1865 rails were able to remove around 225,000 injured or sick of the North and South directly from the battlefield.[footnoteRef:6] [3: ] [4:

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As the factory created weapons new idea were now taking part of the war. Many people came up with ways to make weapons more effective. “The oldest long arms carried by the combatants in the first few years of the war were the ‘smoothbore’ musket. The term musket originally referred to a gun with a long barrel whose bore had a smooth surface(from which the word smoothbore derived)”[footnoteRef:7].The musket were quite ineffective they were inaccurate and took forever to reload. Muskets were all were all smoothbore and this made the bullet very inaccurate because as the bullet would bounce around the barrell and not come out on the intended path. The reload time for guns were very time consuming and were a disadvantage on the battlefield. A major step towards modern ammunition and modern warfare was the development and actual use of the center-fire cartridge in the American Civil War. The main reason for this interest in perfecting cartridge ammunition in American small arms manufacturers can be traced back to the breech-loading flintlock. This weapon instilled the desire to create ammunition for the new generations of percussion breech loader designs to evolve in the pre-Civil War two decades before.The breech-loading cartridge firing trigger was the muzzle-loading bullets made for the 1850s muskets or rifle muskets. The arrangement of rifle-musket and minie ball. [7: ]

“The Minie Ball was a type of bullet that was used throughout the Civil War. Designed to expand while traveling along the rifle barrel, it increased muzzle velocity as well as providing spin to the bullet, expanding its accuracy and range. This advance in weaponry, along with outdated military tactics devised in an era of older firearms, are often cited as a reason for the large numbers of casualties of the Civil War .”[footnoteRef:8] [8:


Muzzle-loaded cartridge innovations have resulted in the creation of rounds developed for breechloaders. Those include untraditional designs like the Williams Bullet, the Shaler Sectional Bullet, the Gardiner Explosive Shell, and the Bullet 0.44 Colt. The repeating Henry rifle[footnoteRef:9] had some design features which would prove useful to later weapons. It used a lever-action to feed constantly into the chamber, bullets which were housed in a magazine pipe installed under the barrel. The weapon was highly popular with those who would use it, although it was quite weak in design Some recognize the technical achievement of the Henry repeating rifle to be the pinnacle of small weapons structure in Civil War.[footnoteRef:10] It was built on the prior concept and war success achieved by the repeating rifle of the Spencer seven-shot. The lever action and self-contained ammunition have been used by Union soldiers and were both prototypes. One Confederate soldier said, “It’s a rifle you could load on Sunday and shoot all week long.”[footnoteRef:11] [9:

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Aeronautics ' growth as a legitimate tool of warfare owes a great deal to the use of the Civil War balloons. The development of aerial warfare has been supported as an outward sign that the Civil War was different to previous wars, defining the link between the war and the period of modern warfare. Even before the Civil War, balloon technology has been well developed. The evolution of the military need for balloons in the war was the same as other technological developments. The question of how military technological advancement has affected use of balloons in the civil war can only be fully answered after an analysis of how balloons were being used in the war and how technical alterations aided their greater use. It is hard to say that the Civil War marked a revolutionary beginning to the technological knowledge obtained through the use of balloons in war. Only four months when the Montgolfier brothers in France created the balloon on 5 June 1783, Jean François Pilâtre de Rozier journeyed in a balloon (on 15 October 1783) and promptly proposed its introduction as a tool of war. At the outset of the war, these pioneers tried to bring air technology to the military service in Northern states. The War Department had conducted to evaluate its offers. Uncertain of the practical military uses of balloon technology, Joseph Henry was engaged as a technical consultant in the War Department. Not only did his recommendations support the use of balloons in war, but also gave full support to Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe's work. It was evident from the very beginning of the war that balls could be used as a supplement to the ground forces. However, during the war it was largely restricted to non-aggressive action in both the Northern and Southern Forces.

The American Civil War was the first war in which the field telegraph was widely used. The military telegraph quickly gained wide recognition in both major armies due mainly to the size of the involved armies, the large distances over which the war was dispersed, and the flexibility of the fronts. Nevertheless, the advent and heavy reliance on the telegraph was achieved by simplicity rather than design performance. Using pre-existing civilian lines encouraged military control of the operation by their civilian operators Eventually, in October 1861, President Lincoln officially recognized the inclusion of railway telegraph operators into serving in the military. Throughout the North telegraphic communications were rapidly improved. Between 1861 and 1865 some 15,386 miles of telegraph line were laid.[footnoteRef:12] In the South, the military value of the telegraph was inhibited by the lack of material to widely implement field telegraphs. Furthermore, the unavailability of insulated wire severely inhibited the deployment of telegraph lines, further preventing military exploitation of any potential lines may be held. An important advancement brought on by both the North and the South's reliance on extensive telegraphic links, was the development of codes and ciphers. The encoding of messages and attempts to intercept and decode them, added a new aspect to military. Technological innovations in telegraphy were of inestimable value to the forces of the North, allowing them to sustain communication links where the means generally available had failed or were too slow. In the south, the communication liability had to be carried by the pre-war telegraph lines as the war continued. As they lacked the necessary resources to repair or improve these lines, the system ultimately decayed and had become inefficient. In favor of ground battles, naval conflict is ignored when people seek out why the South was defeated. Yet it was the ability and willingness of the Federal Navy to help preserve the Anaconda policy of General Winfield Scott, effectively blocking the Confederate States, to strangle the supply of materials needed to wage war on the South. Extending the blockade through the Civil War resulted in attacks on coastal forts, combining operations to gain strategic positions, blocking harbors, controlling inland river systems, and finally attacking Confederate trade raiders and blockade runners. These strategic naval operations promoted an innovative environment in which both sides sought to reinforce their efforts. In the development of naval technological knowledge, the Civil War is most often cited as contributing most to military technological change. The construction and use of ironclad vessels propelled by steam, and the development of sea mines with their various delivery vehicles, was seen to be elevating the war to the forefront of innovative efforts. [12: ]

IRONCLADS: On March 8, 1862, a strange-looking vessel steamed into Hampton Roads, Virginia, on a mission of destruction. The ship was a Confederate ironclad, the CSS Virginia. Previously the Union ship USS Merrimac, it had been captured and equipped with iron plating and other modifications. Armed with muzzle-loaded rifles and smoothbore guns, the Virginia opened fire on the Union ships blockading the harbor. In five hours, the ironclad sank two wooden warships and damaged another. Virginia returned the next day to finish the job, but it was met by the Union ironclad USS Monitor. For four hours, the two ships fired at each other at point-blank range. The shots dented the ships’ iron hulls, but neither could sink the other. Although the duel ended in a stalemate, the historic first battle between ironclad ships had ushered in a new era of naval warfare.[footnoteRef:13] [13: ]

By armoring an existing wooden ship, the Confederacy built the Virginia. This way they continued making ironclads, and they also made them from scratch. For both the Union and the Confederacy, the regulation of the waterways in the West was essential. Critical transportation and shipping routes were the large and small rivers. In mid-1861, to regulate the rivers, the South built many forts in the West. The Union began building seven new ironclad gunboats the same year to attack the Confederate forts and gain control of the waterways. In the growth of ironclad technology, it is evident that the South had an advantage, which was to be matched by the Monitor and finally outperformed in 1863 when the superior metal-working factories of the North swung into production. With the production of ironclad technology by the South and its ability for producing a radical innovative breakthrough, the North feared that the wooden ships blockading across the was going to overrun one day On July 4, 1861, Gideon Welles (a Union Navy Secretary) implemented a Naval Board to evaluate the viability of ironclad production. It was not surprising that somehow the Board recommended the immediate construction on 3 August 3rd of 1861. As the fight of Metal ships continued the North was able to produce more ships due to their factory system. The South needed to be able to defend against this by coming up with new ideas.

The innovation of the torpedo during Civil War is among the most important examples of how wartime advancement took a technical entity with a limited scope of useful use and modified it into a recognized warfare element. The advances in torpedoes and their related weapons have been without question one of the most overlooked areas of technological improvement to develop in the Civil War. “One solution was to deploy ‘torpedoes’ – submerged explosives (which would be called sea mines today) that could detonate under enemy ships. Torpedoes therefore had the advantage of being able to attack an ironclad below the waterline, where its hull was most vulnerable.”[footnoteRef:14] This idea became more technical as the South found more ways to defend themselves against Union war ships. The South started to build torpedo boats which were made to transport torpedoes (sea mines) on long poles in front of the boat which were used to ram into the boat under the waterline.[footnoteRef:15] The vehicles were made to sit very low in the water so that the vessel would be harder to see and provided a defense to cannon fire. The development of torpedo technology by the Confederates also led to variations of their use in land warfare. Technology that had generated torpedoes for an environment based on water changed to apply new torpedo technology to land. An interesting prototype design was the' coal torpedo,' which was a coal-shaped bomb placed in the coal container of a ship. The Confederacy has already been supporting the development of the anti-personnel ground torpedo with its more inventive and creative design vision. The major change in land mines came with the invention of a pressure-activated fuse by General Gabriel J. Raines that could be mounted in projectiles of artillery and then placed just below the earth's surface.[footnoteRef:16] Successive field modifications of artillery projectiles resulted from these technical innovations. These were deployed in defensive enmeshment to enhance defensive positions such as Fort Wagner or used in open positions as' booby traps.'[footnoteRef:17] These torpedoes came in all sizes and were ignited by impact, lanyard, as with their naval counterparts. [14:

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It seems that previous technical knowledge and contemporary design practice paved the way for most advances in the Civil War. In cases such as the production of ironclads, torpedo delivery vehicles, later repeating breech-loading small arms, and ammunition creations cause the motivation to produce better weapons be seen to be encouraged by a perceived military need. It seems that innovators had tried to make technical advances that separated their innovations from other competing designs. Breech innovations— charging mechanisms, ammunition, faster firing weapons, shipbuilding, and torpedoes, have brought important advances to pre-Civil War technology. Other developments in telegraphy, balloons, railways, have all become more widespread, but have been built on pre-war technical knowledge.



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