Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The First Modern War

The Civil War is often referred to as the first modern war.  Prior to the Civil War muskets were extremely inaccurate.  So, officers would order their troops to cluster together and fire at the enemy in the hopes that if they all shot at something at least one of them would hit it. But during the Civil War several new weapons were invented. The first and probably the most influential was the mini ball.  The mini ball was a new bullet to be shot out of a musket that twirled out of the barrel giving the shooter 250 more yards of range and better accuracy.  Being hit in a limb by a mini ball would almost certainly mean amputation.  Unlike a modern bullet, which will only graze the bone, the mini ball would simply shatter your whole arm.  A gut shot was always almost certain death.  Later on the Gatling gun came into existence.  Also known as a repeating gun, it could fire multiple bullets in a very short amount of time.  It was essentially the first machine gun. 

Then somebody in the south decided to cover a steamboat in iron plating it changed navel warfare forever.  This started the production of the Iron Clads. When iron clads were invented they rendered the rest of the worlds navy obsolete.  The south even designed the first submarine.  They called it the Hunley, It was very small and could only hold about 8 people.  It had a long pole with a keg of gunpowder on the end.  They would stab boats in the side with harpoon pole and trigger the gunpowder with a rope trigger.  On one of these errands they triggered the powder to soon and blew themselves up. The Hunley was only recently rediscovered. One of the main reasons that the Civil War was such a blood bath is that they were using old tactics and fighting with these new weapons.  They would cluster together and hope a few bullets hit the opposing regiment, but instead they would wipe the whole thing out with one volley.  The mini ball was so accurate compared to a musket ball that the results were devastating.  Today we would consider 10% casualties a blood bath.  In the majority of Civil War battles there was 30% casualties.  It is due to new weapons and old tactics that the civil war was so costly     

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