Innovations of War
The Civil War is renowned for the introduction and employment of many new weapons, including rifled artillery, machine guns, and submarines. To this list should also be added railroads. The three most important, game changing technologies of the American Civil War were the railroad, the use of the telegraph, and the development of the mini-bullet and the rifled musket.
Nothing could have been more fortuitous than the timing of the Civil War's coming. At least so far as the makers of weapons were concerned. For the men who had to use and suffer by those arms, of course, it was a different story. Because only now was the nation technologically ready for a civil war.
Although fleet or squadron operations continued an historic role, the daring of the individual still possessed the potential to destroy a Goliath. Stealth, deception, and hoax were employed alongside conventional military confrontation. On occasion, the Army's prerogatives became interchangeable with the Navy's. Soldiers attacked ships, sailors raided shore targets.
On the night of September 6th, 1776, a small group of men on the shore of New York Harbor silently lowered a most peculiar-looking craft named the American Turtle into the water. It carried an underwater bomb. The Turtle was not the first submarine craft, but it was the first used in war. A new age in warfare was about to be ushered in.
The machine gun was to be a major killer, but, at first, did not revolutionize the battlefield. Indeed, early use of the machine gun was limited. Some of the earliest firearms and attempts at higher rates of fire and some machine gun like traits existed as early as the 16th century. However, it would not be until the mid 19th century that successful machine gun designs came into existence.
The longbow was the machine gun of the Middle Ages. Accurate, deadly, possessing a long range and rapid rate of fire. By the 16th century, firearms replaced bows as their potential was grasped. Edward Gibbon was to claim that gunpowder effected a new revolution in the art of war and the history of mankind, a bold but not overly fantastic claim. Gunpowder weaponry first developed in China.
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