Weapons used during the Civil War
Union Artillery had a great advantage over Confederate artillery. They had well trained officers in charge, and factories that manufactured their weapons. The start of the Civil War sent both sides into high gear as they devised and plotted with metal and iron to make cannons of every imaginable variety.
The North was highly industrialized, and therefore had factories that could manufacture these weapons. The South was more agricultural, and did not have the capacities the North had for great artillery, because they lacked the necessary factories to produce them. The North had massive industrial capabilities that would rival the larger older nations of Europe.
The Union Army primary set up their artillery in batteries. A battery consisted of 6 guns all lined up in a row. Eight men operated each gun in a battery. A lieutenant was in charge of two guns per battery, and a captain was in charge of the battery.
The Union Army also used brigades, which consisted of five batteries in control by a colonel. Each infantry corps had the support of at least one infantry brigade.
The Union Army also used Parrott rifles. Parrott rifles were composed of a combination of cast iron and wrought iron. Robert Parker Parrott invented the Parrott rifle, and they ranged in size from 10 to 300 pounders. Both armies used the 10 to 20 pounders. Many men did not like the Parrott rifle because it wasn’t very safe.
The Spencer Rifle was the customary firearm for the Union cavalry trooper. The carbine version was used because it was shorter, lighter, and easier to reload quickly. This weapon was like because it was easy to load and relatively accurate when shot from any position, prone or horseback.
The Union army was at first reluctant to buy the firearm because it would require a drastic change in supply in order to provide the much needed ammunition. This rifle was a repeater so it was able to hold 7 rounds in its magazine tube. A soldier could fire roughly 20 rounds per minute. It therefore required a lot of ammunition.
The Spencer was the most advanced firearm of the day. The action of the rifle and the firepower was devastating. There were some drawbacks though, firstly, the cloud of smoke that was to be released could be a strong hindrance for aiming. It is difficult to see through a dense cloud of smoke and coupled with the issue was that the number of men firing at the same time made it very hard to see.
The second major issue that confronted the troops that used the Spencer rifle was once again, the ammunition supply problem.
There were just not enough of the necessary cartridges to adequately support a division let alone an army. The usual course of the men who used the Spencer during a battle would be relegation to the sidelines. Popping off the occasional shot as the armies fought in the interior of the foray. The problem most affected the Confederates who were lucky enough to capture one of these rifles.
Once they ran out of whatever ammunition they also captured they would no longer be able to use the weapon. The south could never supply the needed copper in order to create the cartridge casings needed for the ammunition.
The Spencer was a high quality rifle that could easily turn the tide of any battle where the opponent was still using outdated single shot muzzle loading rifles.
The Union railroad train system was far superior to Confederate railroads during the Civil War. The Union had many industrial centers, and therefore could produce more railroads. The Union also had more manpower to maintain the trains. By 1861, two-thirds of all railroads in America were located in northern states.
Another advantage the Union railroads had was that the Union rails were all one gauge. The Confederate railroads were mostly different gauges. The Union armies could transport their men better than the South could, because they could ride from state to state without having to change trains. With the Confederate railways having different gauges, there was a lot of changing trains. Confederate soldiers could not ride from state to state as easily as the Union soldiers could.
The Pacific Railway Act was established in 1862. Lincoln signed this law because it allowed help in construction of railroad and telegraph lines from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. This act also secured the ability for the government to use these same lines for postal, military, and other purposes. This act placed all employees and officers under military authority. Daniel McCallum was placed as superintendent of the U.S railroads.
By the fall of 1864, most southern railways were taken over by Union armies. Sherman’s March to Sea also proved to be disastrous for the Confederates rail network. Sherman’s soldiers destroyed whatever they could of the Confederates railways as they marched along the way. From Georgia all the way through South Carolina, Sherman’s men placed rails upon ripped up ties and set fire to them. The rails were wrapped around trees and nicknamed “Sherman’s neckties.”
By the spring of 1864 the Union had demolished most of the Southern railways.