Technological Innovations During the Civil War

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A Rifle could shoot a bullet up to 1,000 yards–and were more accurate. However, until the 1850s it was nearly impossible to use these guns in battle because, since a rifle’s bullet had roughly the same diameter as its barrel, they took too long to load. (Soldiers sometimes had to pound the bullet into the barrel with a mallet.) In 1848, a French army officer named Claude Minié invented a cone-shaped lead bullet with a diameter smaller than that of the rifle barrel. Soldiers could load these “Minié balls” quickly, without the aid of ramrods or mallets. Rifles with Minié bullets were more accurate, and therefore deadlier, than muskets were, which forced infantries to change the way they fought: Even troops who were far from the line of fire had to protect themselves by building elaborate trenches and other fortifications. “REPEATERS” Rifles with Minié bullets were easy and quick to load, but soldiers still had to pause and reload after each shot. This was inefficient and dangerous. By 1863, however, there was another option: so-called repeating rifles, or weapons that could fire more than one bullet before needing a reload. The most famous of these guns, the Spencer carbine, could fire seven shots in 30 seconds. Like many other Civil War technologies, these weapons were available to Northern troops but not Southern ones: Southern factories had neither the equipment nor the know-how to produce them. “I think the Johnnys [Confederate soldiers] are getting rattled; they
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