Revolutionary and Civil War Weapons


The United States Military has been the focal-point of this country and without the advancement of technology over time, we may not be in the situation we are in today. Technology has changed with the times and we have become the most dominant military in the world, tripling the equipment of some major countries. Every success always has a beginning and the start of the United States Military began with the Revolutionary War. This is the start of hundreds of years of improvements and new inventions that carry us to our current United States Military.

The American Revolution

The starting of the American Revolution all began when British soldiers opened fire on angry American civilians(known as the Boston Massacre) who put the blame of dwindling job security on the British. From this point, Americans knew that they needed to break free from the tight grasp of the British and begin their own dynasty by declaring war. The American Revolution was the first testament to our freedom and the country will truly be changed forever.

Both sides of armies were accustomed to using traditional muskets and attaching bayonets (swords) to the end of the barrel in order for emergency hand-to-hand combat. The most commonly used musket was named Brown Bess, which was a long rifle that required a small ball bearing and gun powder in order to be fired. The Brown Bess was created by the British but was used by both oppositions as it was the only long-distance rifle available at this time. The projection of the “minie ball” or presently known as bullet, was able to reach targets ranging from fifty to one- hundred yards effectively. As for the gun itself, the accuracy that comes with the gun was below average but aiming at a huge target such as, a line of soldiers stretching across hundreds of yards, could be deadly on impact.

Right above you can watch a video of a tutorial on how to load a Brown Bess. This process was done over and over again until one of the generals yelled Charge!! In that case, attaching your bayonet to the end of your gun was the smartest thing to do.

In addition to muskets, there was a variety of fire-power backing up each side. Cannons and mortars allowed support for infantry, giving them an extra push on the opponent. They differed in size and strength but all were a big blow to the opponent if hitting the target.  One of the most popular cannons used in the Revolutionary War was the gun “howitzer” that had range up to 2,000 yards and giving a huge advantage to those using it.      Below, we have a video of how it looked back in the day and how intimidating it would be to advance against a few of those in your opposition.

The Civil War

There were a plethora of new inventions and improvements of previously established weapons that allowed both sides to gain an edge on their opponent. The biggest technological breakthrough during the American Civil War was the creation of the railroad. The railroad was a detrimental part of transporting crops, soldiers and fire-arms and its importance has long-lasted after the war and continues to be a vital part of our society. The north had a big advantage over the South due to hundreds of more miles of track across the Midwest, now known as the Union Pacific Line. Below is a great documentary that describes that disadvantages, benefits and day-to-day difficulties with the new invention of the railroad.

Another way to reach across the other end of the country was the newly invented telegraph. Created by Samuel Morse, this invention used a code that consisted of a combination of sounds, dots and light flashes that can be translated into orders from another general. This new concept is known as the Morse code and was very effective throughout the war and eventually leads to the radio. While researching, I came upon a website that allowed you to translate words into “Morse Code” and see how translators might have a bit of trouble from time-to-time because some of our basic English slogans and words can go on forever!

New Weaponry

The big improvements are seen when the gun “Gatling Gun” was created and allowed continuous shooter as long as there were bullets available. This machine was not used in everyday war but only brought out in certain occasions in order to gain an edge over the opponent. “The Gatling gun is a machine gun that consists of multiple barrels revolving around a central axis and is capable of being fired at a rapid rate.”( There was a lever that that allowed the soldier handling the gun to swing in a circular motion shooting bullets as turning the lever turned and the barrels were turning. This invention was not used in every battle as you might have thought. President Abraham Lincoln only used this weapon in special occasions as a means to surprising the enemy. Therefore, the element of surprise was present at the end of the American Civil War. A video below really shows the damage this gun is capable of and the magnitude of its damage. Plus, how quicker this weapon was than reloading and reloading.

Naval Warfare

Lastly, we see the creation of Iron-Clad ships in the Civil War and really puts in motion the journey to our current Navy.

Naval Warfare became a useful tactic of war during the American Civil War. This new revelation became possible with the creation of Iron Clad Warships, torpedo’s and submarines extending warfare off the coast. With the creation of the railroad and submarines, both sides utilized the ability to travel across the country. Submarines and Iron-Clad ships were created, leading us to our present-day Navy. With the addition of ships began maritime battles against the north and the south with artillery and underwater missiles along with on-board cannons allowing for warfare in the open water.

As seen in the movie, Sahara, this scene shows the shear power and effectiveness of having an Iron-Clad nearby on on your side.


Over Time, there has been a vast improvement in regards to guns, transportation and inventions. These things single-handedly brought us our freedom in this country and will continue to assist us in keeping our freedom. Although, these weapons were at one point used on our own American men during the Civil War, they served purpose after during the Spanish-American war. Technology will always be improved and inventions will always become better and more advanced until the end of time, all because of these old inventions, we were able to create bigger and better creations lasting us until today.






Works Cited

Ferling, John. “Rethinking the Revolution.” American History. 4th ed. Vol. 42. Leesberg, VA: Weider History Group, 1994. 24-31. Print. Staff. “Civil War Technology.” A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.

“UH – Digital History.” UH – Digital History. Bernberg, n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2014.


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