Top 15 Civil War Weapons To Know in 2022

civil war weapons

The war between the Federal Union and the Confederate, known as the civil war, which began on April 12, 1861, lasted till May 9, 1865. Civil War Weapons are part and parcel of a battlefield. The world has known deadly weapons throughout the years. With advancements in guns, rifles and cannons, civil war weapons were modern and highly advanced for that time period. 

During the civil war, the Federal Union states were the top producers of weapons, accounting for over 90% of production. But what were the civil war weapons that influenced the war? What were the new weapons in civil war that were just introduced? Let’s find out the Top 15 weapons used in civil war and the new civil war weapons that greatly influenced the course of the civil war

Minié ball:

The Minié ball bullets were an alternative to the conventional smooth shots. Comparatively, the efficiency of Minié ball bullets was high, with a range of 300 yards to 0.5 miles. These new weapons in civil war were made up of soft lead, which caused intense damage to the victim. Named after the co-developer Claude E’tienne Minié., the Minié ball bullets were smaller and easy to load in the barrel. The hollow base with the iron cup design reduced the workload and improved mass production. The impact of Minié balls was evident among the casualties who had to undergo amputations and further complications. 

The Spencer – repeating rifle

Designed by Christopher Spencer in the year 1860, the Spencer rifles were well utilized as a civil war weapons. Among the weapons used in civil war, the Spencer rifles were the most used civil war weapons. The initial problem related to Spencer rifles was loading the bullets. But it was resolved by the introduction of cartridges. The cartridges were waterproof as well, which made the rifle efficient. The Northern Union were the primary manufacturers of the Rifle as well the cartridges. The Southern Confederates were unable to replicate the cartridges making the guns futile.

The Henry – Repeating rifle

A higher power was the main reason for the success of Henry rifles. Initially designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry, though the usage of Henry rifles wasn’t much used as a civil war weapons in the infantry, often it was used by raiding parties. It was pretty expensive, and therefore, soldiers had to save some money to buy the rifles. The fragility tolerance of Henry repeating rifle was better than Spencer repeating rifle.

The Sniper Rifle

Sniper rifles were created for excellent range and accuracy. The accuracy of sniper rifles was far much better than other weapons used in civil war. The sniper rifle included a fake muzzle in the top. The fake muzzle hid the sniper to ensure proper removal of the fake muzzle before firing the shots. Some other sniper rifles also included telescopic viewers. Whitworth rifles were the most popular Sniper rifles of the civil war weapons.

Colt Revolver

The Colt revolver was the best handgun to be used as a civil war weapons. It could be loaded with a cartridge or just the shots and starter powder separately. The loading mechanism was simple as well. Initially, the hammer of the gun was pulled back to open the bullet chamber. The chamber is then loaded with either a cartridge or some powder and balls. Now the hammer is released back to the original position to seal.

Machine guns

Machine guns were bulky and sturdy equipment used in the war. Some types of machine guns used include Agar Machine Gun, Vandenberg Volley Gun, Williams Machine Gun. The Agar Machine Gun was extensively used, while Vandenberg Volley Gun wasn’t extensively used. The Williams Machine Gun was considered a secret civil war weapons used in civil war belonging to the Confederate Army of the South. 

Percussion carbines

Carbines are generally long, but they are short of one barrel. This significantly affects the accuracy of the gun. But the main advantage with carbines is the fact that they can be used by soldiers on a horse-back. An average length of a carbine is around 36 inches which makes it easier to handle. Burnside percussion carbine, Smith percussion carbine, Maynard percussion carbine, Starr Percussion Carbine, Gallager Percussion Carbine, Joslyn Cartridge Carbine, and Sharp & Hankins Cartridge Carbine are some widely used civil war weapons.

The Napoleon

Napoleon Guns are the best smoothbore guns and were widely utilized by the Northern Union Army as a civil war weapon. It was named after Napoleon III, the then French President. The overall weight of the Napoleon gun was around 12 pounds. The Napoleon guns were 12 pounder artilleries that were developed in the year 1857. Napoleon guns come under the category of Gun-Howitzer. The material was either wrought iron or bronze. Some models also included circular handles. 

Six Pounder Guns

Both the federal Union army and the Confederate army had Six Pounder guns, but the significant difference was the rifle dimensions and bore diameters. The Union rifles were 3.67 inches, while the Confederate rifles were 3.00 inches. In the same way, the bore diameter of the Union was 3.8 inches, while that of the Confederate was 3.3 inches. The Six Pounder GUns were generally placed on a carriage called Caisson and Limber.

12 pounder artillery

The 12-pounder, which is a mountain howitzer, was a lightweight civil war weapons intended to be handily dismantled and shipped on muleback. It very well may be reassembled and one round shop terminated in one minute. The cylinder was just 32.9 inches in length and 220 pounds in weight. The carriage was 61 inches in length and 157 pounds in weight. The wheels were of a diameter of 38 inches and 65 pounds in weight each. At a 5° rise, a half-pound could charge tossed a shell to a distance of 900 yards.

12-Pounder Breechloader

Breechloading was an advanced concept during the civil war weapons era. Most guns were loaded from the front side, that is, through the muzzle of the weapon, which often resulted in various accidents. The shells compatible are the common shell, shrapnel shell and segment shell. It was one of the new weapons in civil war. The prominent and successful breechloaders were Armstrong Breechloaders and Whitworth Breechloaders. The accuracy was high, but the main problem with breechloaders is the tendency to fire slowly compared to muzzle loading types.

24-Pounder Smoothbore Gun

The 24-Pounder Smoothbore Gun is one of the heaviest civil war weapons The 24-Pounder Guns were also placed on either a Siege carriage or a Barbette carriage. The range capacity of the 24-Ponder Smoothbore Gun was almost 2000 yards. It was initially made in the year 1839. 24-Pounder Smoothbore Gun had the ability to toss hot shots as well. The heating was performed by individual furnaces. 24-Pounder Smoothbore Gun was primarily used in the Navy ships.

150-Pounder Armstrong Muzzle Loading Rifle

The 150-Pounder Armstrong Rifle is a muzzle type loading rifle is made of steel and iron. The accuracy of the gun was very high due to the presence of a shunt. They are mostly mounted on castle walls. The primary purpose of such rifles was to handle foreign invasions in castle walls. It comprises of a series of concentric tubes made of iron. Parrott Rifles’ most significant disadvantage was the occasional burstings which was a potential danger.

Parrott Rifles

civil war weapons

Parrot rifles were one of the failure models of weapons used in civil war. Parrott Rifles were developed by Robert Parker Parrott with an aim to reduce the operating costs of the rifles. 3 inch Parrot rifles were used by both the Federal Union Army and the Confederate Army. The variations had different bore diameters like 2.9 inches, 3 inches, 3.3 inches, and 3.67 inches.

Ordnance Rifles

Ordnance rifles with 3 inches bore diameters were a muzzle type of rifles used as an artillery civil war weapon. They were comparatively better than Parrott rifles, and they were also shorter than the Parrott rifles. The Confederate army tried to replicate the Ordnance rifles, but they eventually failed to do the same. 

In conclusion, the above 15 weapons were known for their extensive damage and a high degree of casualties during the American Civil war. The American Civil war weapons were not just deadly but also complicated to handle and transport. Horse carriages were the only means of transportation during that period. The end of the war in the year 1865 saw the fall of the overall Confederates army of the south. The victory of the Union army was seen as the victory of democracy.

By Emma Bargende

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