Development of technology and weapons during the American Civil War

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In addition to the tens of thousands of fallen soldiers, the American Civil War also brought a great leap in the development of technology. Weapons development itself saw advances, primarily due to the invention of the Minnie bullet and the mass use of rifled barrels in both infantry weapons and artillery. The percussion revolver was no longer the preserve of high-ranking officers, and the Sharps rifle adorned not only sharpshooter units.

Minnié subcaliber missile


The original Minnie projectile had a higher muzzle velocity and, thanks to its rifled bore, allowed for more accurate shooting at longer ranges. Another advantage was the cavity at the bottom of the bullet. This cavity allowed the Minnie subcaliber bullet to cut into the grooved bore and gain the necessary spin. The smaller diameter of the barrel also made it faster to reload.

1861 Springfield

The rifle model 1861 Springfield was the most common infantry weapon of both belligerents. With this rifle in combination with the Minné rifle, it can be said that technology was ahead of tactics. A trained marksman could fire the 1861 Springfield rifle up to three times per minute, with the rifle being capable of hitting at distances up to 500 yards (about 450m). When firing into a line of standing soldiers, a lethal combination.

Sharps Rifle

Sharps rifle of the early snipers. Yes, it could be called that too. This weapon excelled not only in accuracy, but also in rapid fire. The Sharps rifle was loaded from the rear with a paper cartridge, the rest of which was cut off by the breech of the rifle. But this rifle also had one drawback. That was the price. The Sharps rifle was so expensive that by the end of the war, only the best Union soldiers were equipped with it. Eventually, it appeared as a prize in Confederate ranks. The weapon also allowed for the installation of the first optical sights.


Percussion revolver

The Colt percussion revolver and the Remington percussion revolver were the most reliable percussion revolvers produced in their day. The common soldier did not have a percussion revolver, rather these were the weapons of the senior officers. By the end of the war, even Union cavalry units were armed with them.


Percussion revolver reload

Although uniform ammunition already existed at the time of this war, neither side's military could afford such weapons. Therefore, percussion weapons dominated the arsenal. Loading such a revolver is not difficult. We can either sprinkle powder from a powder magazine into the cylinder chambers, then squeeze a bullet in and put on a percussion match. Or we can wrap the powder and bullet in a paper cartridge and load it in one piece.

Packing Rifles

Repeating rifles are definitely worth mentioning. Again, these are very expensive weapons to acquire. The sale of repeating rifles was not common in Civil War era America. Therefore, these were again weapons of high ranking officers who purchased them out of their own pocket. For example, the Spencer repeating rifle, with a 7-round magazine, or the Winchester model 1860. These guns used uniform ammunition with rimfire. Virtually unavailable today. Today's replicas of these weapons use centerfire ammunition and can be purchased in a variety of calibers.

Gatling machine gun

The inventor of this weapon, Richard Jordan Gatling, was a great opponent of war, which is why he developed such a deadly weapon that could end the woes of war. It is most commonly encountered in the 45-70 Gov caliber, as well as in the modernized single shot Sharps. The Gatling machine gun is classified as a repeating rifle because its reloading is not due to a previous shot, but due to the manual operation of its mechanism.


Early in the war, guns similar to those used by Napoleon were used on both sides. However, as the war progressed, the rifled bore and rear-loading also appeared in the guns. The heaviest guns of this war had a range of 8 km. American Civil War cannons were capable of firing both steel and brush or explosive projectiles. These could be timed, for example, to bounce off the ground.


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