The Civil War

Brother vs. Brother

The Gatling Gun


"A hand-driven machine gun, the Gatling gun was the first firearm to solve the problems of loading, reliability, and the firing of sustained bursts. It was invented by Richard J. Gatling during the American Civil War, and later used in the Spanish-American War, but was supplanted by advanced weaponry soon after. Years later, the technology behind the gun was re-introduced by the U.S. military, and new versions of the gun are still in use today.The Gatling gun is a machine gun that consists of multiple barrels revolving around a central axis and is capable of being fired at a rapid rate. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler of the Union army first used the gun at the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864-1865.

Did You Know?

Richard Gatling had actually hoped that the tremendous power of his new weapon would discourage large scale battles and show the folly of war.

The gun is named for its inventor, Richard Jordan Gatling, a physician. Gatling neatly divided his sympathies during the Civil War. While trying to sell machine guns to the Union, he was an active member of the Order of American Knights, a secret group of Confederate sympathizers and saboteurs.

The conservatism of the Union army chief of ordinance and the unreliability of early models of the gun frustrated efforts to sell it to the U.S. Army. But Gatling soon improved on the original six-barrel, .58 caliber version of the gun, which fired 350 rounds a minute, by designing a ten-barrel, .30 caliber model, which fired 400 rounds a minute. The U.S. Army adopted the Gatling gun in 1866, and it remained standard until it was replaced in the early twentieth century by the Maxim single-barrel machine gun.

The Gatling gun played an important role after the Civil War, giving small numbers of U.S. troops enormous advantages in firepower over the western Indians. In newly colonized portions of Africa and Asia, the Gatling gun provided the Europeans’ margin of victory over local forces.

A modern, helicopter-mounted version of the Gatling gun, the Vulcan minigun, was widely used by the U.S. Army in the Indochina war. The minigun, popularly known as ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ for the flames and smoke emitted from its muzzle, fires at the staggering rate of 6,000 rounds per minute, enough to decimate an entire village in one burst. The minigun continues to be used as a counterinsurgency weapon in Central America. A larger version, the 20mm Vulcan is used for antiaircraft defense.The gun is named for its inventor, Richard Jordan Gatling, a physician. Gatling neatly divided his sympathies during the Civil War. While trying to sell machine guns to the Union, he was an active member of the Order of American Knights, a secret group of Confederate sympathizers and saboteurs.

The conservatism of the Union army chief of ordinance and the unreliability of early models of the gun frustrated efforts to sell it to the U.S. Army. But Gatling soon improved on the original six-barrel, .58 caliber version of the gun, which fired 350 rounds a minute, by designing a ten-barrel, .30 caliber model, which fired 400 rounds a minute. The U.S. Army adopted the Gatling gun in 1866, and it remained standard until it was replaced in the early twentieth century by the Maxim single-barrel machine gun.

The Gatling gun played an important role after the Civil War, giving small numbers of U.S. troops enormous advantages in firepower over the western Indians. In newly colonized portions of Africa and Asia, the Gatling gun provided the Europeans’ margin of victory over local forces.

A modern, helicopter-mounted version of the Gatling gun, the Vulcan minigun, was widely used by the U.S. Army in the Indochina war. The minigun, popularly known as ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon’ for the flames and smoke emitted from its muzzle, fires at the staggering rate of 6,000 rounds per minute, enough to decimate an entire village in one burst. The minigun continues to be used as a counterinsurgency weapon in Central America. A larger version, the 20mm Vulcan is used for antiaircraft defense."

Grenades


Ketchum’s patent hand grenades



"These hand grenades were designed and patented by William F. Ketchum of Buffalo, New York. They were designed to be thrown like a dart, and upon impact, an internal plunger would strike a percussion cap that would ignite the powder. Made as one-, three-, and five-pounder grenades, they were used by both the federal army and navy. Ketchum grenades have been recovered at Petersburg, Port Hudson, Vicksburg, and in the USS Cairo, the Union gunboat that was sunk in the Yazoo River in Mississippi."

Lemat Revolver

"This .42 caliber LeMat revolver has a nine-chambered cylinder and weighs about four pounds. What makes this revolver unique is the addition of a second smoothbore barrel, of approximately .63 caliber, underneath the barrel. This larger barrel was designed to fire buckshot. The top of the hammer was fitted with a pivoting striker that could be rotated to fire the .42 caliber rounds or changed to fire the lower, larger barrel.

This percussion revolver was designed by Dr. Jean Alexandre Francois LeMat, of New Orleans. LeMat was assisted in this enterprise by P. G. T. Beauregard, one of the Confederacy’s well known generals. These revolvers were manufactured from 1856 to 1865, with less than 2,900 being produced. They were made in Paris, France, and Birmingham, England. Many were purchased by the Confederacy and used by such famous high-ranking Confederate officers as J. E. B. Stuart."

Henry Rifle


"The Henry rifle was the immediate forerunner of the famous Winchester rifles. About 14,000 Henry’s were made between 1860 and 1866 by the New Haven Arms Company. The Henry rifle was developed from the Volcanic firearms system and was built around the .44 rimfire cartridge. Both the new rifle and the cartridge were designed by B. Tyler Henry. A basic feature of the .44 rimfire cartridge was the use of a metallic casing, rather than the undependable, self-contained powder, ball, and primer of the Volcanic bullet. Loading continued to be from the muzzle end of the magazine. Although a revolutionary weapon in Civil War service, it was made in relative limited quantities. Quite a few company-size Union organizations, especially those from Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, carried Henry rifles, purchased at their own expense.

This gold mounted, engraved Henry rifle was presented to President Abraham Lincoln. This presentation was probably made in an effort to convince the President of the rifle’s worthiness and obtain his influence in the purchase of these weapons for the war effort. Nevertheless, only about 1,731 Henry rifles were purchased by the Ordnance Department between 1862 and 1865. Two organizations, the 1st Maine and 1st District of Columbia cavalry regiments, were known to have been issued Henry rifles."

Rockets


"Rocket launchers might seem like a 20th-century phenomenon, but they made a few appearances on Civil War battlefields. Confederate forces reportedly experimented with Congreve rockets, a British-designed explosive that had previously seen action in the War of 1812. These weapons resembled large bottle rockets and were so inaccurate that they never saw widespread use.Meanwhile, Union forces employed the Hale patent rocket launcher, a metal tube that fired seven- and 10-inch-long spin stabilized rockets up to 2,000 yards. While a vast improvement on the Congreve, these projectiles were still quite unwieldy, and were only generally used by the U.S. Navy."

Land Mines

"Mines—or “torpedoes,” as they were then known—were largely a Confederate weapon. Originally developed by General Gabriel J. Rains, these antipersonnel explosives were typically iron containers rigged with gunpowder, a fuse and a brass detonation cap. Rains first used the subterranean booby traps in 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign, and later buried thousands more around Richmond and in various parts of the Deep South. In fact, some of these still-active landmines were only recovered in Alabama as recently as the 1960s.

While they proved an intimidating method of psychological warfare, landmines were often viewed as an unethical form of combat. Union General George B. McClellan denounced them as “barbarous,” and Confederate General James Longstreet briefly banned their use. Perhaps their most vociferous critic was Union General William T. Sherman, who lost several troops to underground landmines during his famous March to the Sea. Decrying the use of mines as “not warfare, but murder,” Sherman reportedly forced his Confederate prisoners to march at the head of his column so that they might trigger any hidden “land torpedoes.”"

Hot Air Balloons

"Because they allowed generals to get an aerial view of the battlefield, Civil War balloons were primarily used in a reconnaissance capacity. The Union even had an official Balloon Corps headed by “Chief Aeronaut” Thaddeus Lowe. Under his direction, balloons were launched for scouting purposes at several famous engagements, including the First Battle of Bull Run and the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. In a balloon tethered to the ground with a telegraph line, Lowe was able to give real-time updates on troop movements, and once even directed Union artillery fire from the sky.

The Confederacy also tried their hand at military ballooning, although with considerably less success. The South lacked the resources to make good balloons, and their one operational airship—reportedly made from a colorful patchwork of silk—was captured after the tugboat carrying it ran aground on the James River."

Rifles and Musket

"Most soldiers on the battlefield fought with guns. At the start of the war, many soldiers used old style guns called muskets. Muskets had smooth bores (the inside of the barrel) and this made them inaccurate for distances longer than 40 yards or so. These muskets also took a long time to reload and were unreliable (they sometimes didn't fire). However, it wasn't long into the war before many of the soldiers were armed with rifles. Rifles have shallow spiral grooves cut into the barrel to make the bullet spin. This makes them more accurate for a longer range than muskets. Other advancements to the rifle occurred during the war including more reliable firing mechanisms and repeating rifles."

Confederate Bowie Knife

General History

"It is claimed that the Bowie knife was designed by Rezin Bowie,who is the brother of James Bowie, and made by the blacksmith, James Black. The knife, made of steel, was up to 14 inches long. It was made in a shape that enabled the cowboy or mountain man to skin an animal. In general, the bowie knife is usually classified as any large knife with a curve towards the point. The bowie knife was popular from the 1840's through 1865. They were used by U.S troops during the Mexican War and on the frontier during the disturbances in Kansas and Missouri in the 1850's. During the Civil War, they were popular with Confederate soldiers, whose arms generally were lower in rank."

Interesting Facts

  • "More than three million men fought in the Civil War

    about 900,000 for the Confederacy and 2.1 million for the Union.



  • An estimated 300 women disguised themselves as men and fought in the ranks.


  • More than 620,000 people, or two percent of the population, died in the Civil War.


  • Approximately 6,000 battles, skirmishes, and engagements were fought during the

    Civil War

    .





  • There were over 2,000 boys who were 14 years-old or younger in the Union ranks. Three hundred were 13 years or less, while there were 200,000 no older than 16 years.




  • At the Battle of Shiloh, on the banks of the Tennessee River, more Americans fell than in all previous American wars combined. There were 23,700 casualties.


  • At Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1862, the Confederate trenches stretched for a distance of seven miles. The troop density was

    11,000

    per mile, or six men to the yard.





  • 3,530 Native Americans fought for the Union, of which, 1,018 were killed.





  • The greatest cavalry battle ever fought in the Western hemisphere was at Brandy Station,Virginia, on June 9, 1863. Nearly 20,000 cavalrymen were engaged on a relatively confined terrain for more than 12 hours.









  • There were more Northern-born Confederate generals than Southern-born Union generals.




  • The famous



    Confederate



    blockade-runner, the C.S.S. Alabama, never entered a



    Confederate



    port during the length of her service.


  • During the Battle of

    Antietam

    , Clara Barton tended the wounded so close to the fighting that a bullet went through her sleeve and killed a man she was treating.


  • In March 1862, "new” ironclad war ships, the

    Monitor and the Merrimac

    battled off Hampton Roads,

    Virginia

    . From then on, every other wooden navy ship on earth was obsolete.



  • There were 100 men in a Company and 10 Companies in a Regiment.




  • Not fond of ceremonies or military music,

    Ulysses S. Grant

    said he could only recognize two tunes. "One was Yankee Doodle, the other one wasn’t.""














Bibliography

"American Civil War." Civil War: Weapons and Technology. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016.

History.com Staff. "Gatling Gun." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 01 Jan. 2010. Web. 24 May 2016.

"Ketchum's Patent Hand Grenades." Ketchum's Patent Hand Grenades. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016.

"LeMat Revolver." LeMat Revolver. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016

"Henry Rifle." Henry Rifle. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2016.

Andrews, Evan. "8 Unusual Civil War Weapons." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 09 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 May 2016.

N.p., n.d. Web.