The First Modern War

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Samuel Santiuste
Ms. Engelken
US History I Honors
May 13, 2011
The First Modern War
While reading history, we typically see that wars were typically fought with soldiers in close- order formations with a musket that would be fired in unison on command. Everything changed after the American Civil War, a conflict to determine the fate of slaves in the Union, erupted. Today many historians consider the Civil War as the first modern war because it depended on: heavy industry, fast communication and transportation. But this time all of these new technologies were used to its full potential. As a result new weapon technology was mass produced which inflicted heavy losses on both the Union and the Confederate sides and resulted in improved battlefield medicine. Years before the Civil War, soldiers would normally carry muskets that had a fire range of about 250 yards. But although this weapon had an amazing range, the musket only held and fired one bullet at a time and it hit random targets. The accuracy of the musket was from about 80 yards and this caused many of the battles to be fought at a close range. Then, in 1848 the French officer named Claude-Etienne Minié took the design of a bullet that expanded upon fired and “simplified and improved on earlier designs--including those developed by Britain's Captain John Norton (1818) and William Greener (1836)” to make the bullet that bears its name: the Minié ball (Minié Ball). This new bullet combined with the rifle made a terrific duo because the range of the weapon was from 200-250 yards with a terrific accuracy. To show the bullet’s power alone, during the Crimean War of 1853-56 “the bullet so improved the effectiveness of infantry troops that 150 soldiers using the Minié ball could equal the firing power of more than 500 with a traditional musket and ammunition” (Minié Ball). When this weapon was introduced to the Civil War, the old model of warfare became obsolete right away because the infantry along with the cavalry could not charge against the enemy as they used to. Other weapons that came into action in the Civil War were not as deadly as the Minié ball but had a big impact on surviving. Despite the fact that the Minie ball was easy to load, soldiers still had to pause in the middle of the action to reload their guns, and this made them easy targets. By 1863, there was a new weapon that solved this problem called repeating rifle because it could fired more than one bullet before the needing of a reload. The most famous type was the Spencer carbine. But like many other technology, this weapon was only available to the Northerners. Many Southerners thought that this weapon was unfair and one Union soldier once wrote: “they say we are not fair, that we have guns that we load up on Sunday and shoot all the rest of the week” (Civil War Technology). At the end of the war, the statistics showed that the Minié ball combined with the rifle did the most damage because “with more than 200,000 soldiers killed and more than 400,000 wounded, 90 percent of these causalities were caused by these weapons” (Minié Ball). On the same year that the Civil War started, President Lincoln ordered a blockade on the Confederates to stop their cotton trade and split the confederacy. So to counter attack the Union, many advances in naval warfare were flourishing which led to the built of the H.L. Hunley, which was the first ever effective submarine developed by the Confederates. This Confederate submarine was created to destroy the Union blockade wooden ships with the use of torpedoes that were attached along a long steak that exploded upon contact or by a timer. But before the submarine was ready to attack, it sank three times and on the fourth tried “it was sent out to attack the U.S.S. Housatonic, and detonated its torpedo, sinking the Housatonic and thereby becoming the first submarine to ever sink an enemy vessel” (Dutch). Despite the best efforts the submarine sank with...
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