Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.
Weapons of War
Have you ever pretended to defend your tree fort from invaders or ran around like a knight storming a castle? During the American Civil War, men from the Union (north) and the Confederacy (south) were fighting each other, too ... only they weren't playing!
It's estimated that over 3 million soldiers fought for both the Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. These soldiers used different weapons in battle to defeat their opponents. Not only were traditional weapons like guns and swords used, but new, advanced, and more deadly weapons were tested as well.
What types of weapons were used during the Civil War? Let's find out!
A Soldier's Weapons
Union and Confederate soldiers carried similar weapons during battle. At the start of the war, both sides purchased weapons from Europe to arm their troops, but these weapons were older and not very effective. The Union forces had more money and resources to purchase and make weapons, while the Confederacy struggled to keep their soldiers armed with the most effective weapons.
Most infantry solders fighting on the ground carried a musket, which was a long gun that was loaded by pouring gun powder and the bullet into its barrel. It took very long to load and allowed soldiers to only fire about one shot per minute. It often had a bayonet, or a pointed blade, attached to the gun that could be used to stab the enemy.
As the war continued, the rifle became more popular because it allowed soldiers to load ammunition more easily and also shoot from up to 1,000 yards away. Infantry soldiers also carried smaller handguns and knives.
Calvary soldiers on horseback carried longer swords, called sabers. They also carried a variety of firearms including rifles, shotguns, and pistols.
The Union and Confederacy both invested in artillery, or large guns used on land. Artillery used during battle was designed to be moved quickly and could hit targets far away.
The most popular artillery was the Napoleon cannon. Designed in France, the cannon weighed over 1,000 pounds and shot 12-pound cannon balls and other types of ammunition. Can you imagine having a huge metal ball drop out of the sky right on top of you?
A new artillery weapon, called the Gatling gun, was first used by the Union during battles in Petersburg, Virginia. It was made from a cylinder of six large barrels that were spun around while firing to create a rapid stream of 350 rounds of ammunition per minute. That's almost six shots per second!
Both sides in the Civil War liked to blow things up. In the Union, hand grenades, called Ketchums, were shaped like darts and thrown at Confederate forces, where they would explode on impact. The Confederate forces were sneaky, however, and often used blankets to catch the grenades before they touched the ground. They would then launch them back at Union forces. Talk about extreme hot potato!
The Confederates preferred to use landmines, made of iron containers of gunpowder and a fuse, to inflict damage. When Union forces stepped on them, they would blow up. The Confederates buried so many landmines that some were still found in Alabama almost 100 years later!
Both the Union and Confederacy used underwater mines, but the Confederacy was more successful. Confederate underwater mines made it impossible to pass through many harbors and rivers. After sinking the huge Union ship Cairo in 1862, the Confederates damaged dozens of other Union vessels, while the Union only sank six Confederate ships.
Sounds like the Confederates won that game of ''Battleship''!
Many different types of weapons were used in the Civil War. Soldiers carried muskets with bayonets or rifles, as well as swords, handguns, and knives. A variety of artillery and explosives were also used by both sides.
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