Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Civil War Guns: Weaponry in the 1800s

Civil War guns have intrigued people for years. Infantry tactics during the period of the Civil War were based on the use of the smoothbore musket, a weapon of limited range and accuracy. Firing lines that were much more than a hundred yards apart could not inflict very much damage on each other, so troops which were to make an attack would be massed together, elbow to elbow, and would make a run for it. Fighting techniques impacted the types of Civil War guns that ended up being utilized during that time period.

If they ran fast enough, the defensive line could not hurt them seriously, and when they got to close quarters, the advantage of numbers and the use of the bayonet would settle things. Although the Civil War musket was rifled, which made an enormous difference, it was still a muzzle-loader. It did, however, have much more accuracy and a far longer range than the old smoothbore, and it completely changed the conditions under which soldiers fought. An advancing line could be brought under killing fire at a distance of half a mile, now, and the massed charge of Napoleonic tradition was miserably out of date. In short, Civil War weapons required an alteration of overall fighting techniques.

Soldiers facing a defensive line now learned to dig trenches quite early in the battle to eliminate the threat of direct frontal assaults. Much of the same proved true later with the improvements made to cannons. Indeed, with the developments of Civil War weapons, fighting techniques began to be altered in ways that would carry forth through the First World War.

More information on Civil War weapons can be found on the Net at sites dedicated to the Civil War and that time period. Additionally, there are helpful books available in the brick and mortar world on the subject of Civil War Weapons available at major booksellers.