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Civil War Cannons

There were several cannons used in the civil war, all of which were very effective. These cannons include the 6 pounder Gun, 12 and 24 pound Howitzer, 10  and 20 pound Parrott rifle, 3 inch Ordnance rifle and the infamous 12 pounder Napoleon cannon.

civilwarcannonsAt the time of the civil war, there was a very important technological advance which was deemed in advance for the time period. The ability to produce rifled barrel field artillery which increased accuracy, distance and range. There were two categories the smooth-bore cannons used which were guns and howitzers. This was used for firing at higher trajectories and shorter ranges.


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Civil War Artillery

How the weaponry of the Civil War changed the way that battles are won forever.


Historians have long recognized that the artillery that was introduced and used during the American Civil War changed the game when it came to how wars were fought at the time. In fact, there were advancements made to artillery at the time of the Civil War that have had a major impact on the guns that are produced and used in war even today.


So-called rapid fire guns were one of the most pronounced developments of Civil War artillery. Ammunition was able to be fired at a faster pace than ever before, without having to reload between rounds. This ancestor of the machine gun was capable of posting a much higher body count than simple muskets, which had been used up until then.

That isn’t to say that the rifle-musket, a better developed version of its more primitive predecessor, didn’t come in handy to soldiers on Civil War battlefields, however. Coupled with the minié ball, a conical, soft-lead bullet that was designed to travel further, the rifle-musket allowed shooters reliably good aim at longer distances. These improvements in speed and accuracy made for one of the deadliest wars in American history.


With the Civil War came the ability to move cannons around the battle area with more ease than ever before. This mobility was an important feature for soldiers, who needed to be able to advance and retreat as situations on the battlefield changed. Most cannons of the era fell into one of two categories, either howitzers or guns, and each would have been used at different times dependent on battle conditions and proximity to enemy troops.

civilwarartillery-cannonsGuns were heavy and featured a longer barrel that could fire a shot low and far. These weapons used a large charge of powder and were most often fired at the enemy’s first advance, in order to stop them as early as possible. Howitzers, on the other hand, were short-barreled and would shoot their ammunition higher, but with less linear distance covered. They used a small powder charge and could be moved much more readily than the heavier guns, so they were usually fired as the opposing troops moved in, wheeling and turning as needed for the best aim.

It may seem hard to imagine, but some of the biggest innovations to weapons in general came during the time of the Civil War. In fact, the artillery of this era represents advancements that have undoubtedly gone on to change the course of world history.

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The Many Different Weapons of the Civil War

weaponsofthecivilwarEven though the American Civil War by the Union and Confederate was fought during the years of 1861–1865, the weapons are still available today. You can find authentic weapons or replicas of the firearms used during the civil war.

They used the normal weapons of the day and some unusual ones to fight their battle. Plus, many were from medieval times adapted for use during the civil war.

They used ingenious ways to fight with the weapons that were modern at the time and used some that had to be converted, but just as effective in fighting.

The weapons of choice for fighting:

  1. Rifled-muskets – the Springfield rifle, the Lorenz rifle, the Colt revolving rifle.
  2. Breech loaders were the first type of cannons.
  3. Repeating weapons with metallic cartridges.
  4. Field guns such as artillery cannons, including the 12 pound Howitzer and the 10 pound Parrot rifle
  5. The Minie ball The Minié Ball (aka Minie Ball) was bullet that expanded while traveling along the rifle barrel. This increased the muzzle velocity as well as providing spin to the bullet, making it more accuracy and a longer range.
  6. Knives such as the Bowie knife
  7. Swords such as Foot Artillery Sword, Dragoon Saber, Light Artillery Saber, and the Army Non-commissioned Officers’ Sword.
  8. Pistols such as Colt, the Colt Dragoon Revolver, the Remington 1858, the Smith & Wesson Model 1, the Starr revolver, and the Elgin Cutlass pistol.

These were the “modern” weapons of the civil war. They also used ironclad warships, the telegraph, and the railroads. The civil war encourages innovated ideas on how to kill more efficiently, except they thought of it as taking out the enemy. They also used weapons from medieval times adjusted to work in modern times.

weaponsofthecivilwar-1Some of the more unusual weapons were:

  • Early grenades, which were modified artillery shells
  • Machine gun such as the Gatling gun. It could fire up to 350 rounds a minute. Other “automatic” weapons were the Confederate breechloader and the Billinghurst-Requa battery gun
  • “Rush’s Lancers” were a 10-foot-long Austrian-style lances
  • Steel pikes as an alternative to muskets
  • Winans steam gun sat on an armored train and used steam to fire at a rate of 200 rounds a minute. This is a guess most experts in the civil war state
  • The calcium light used a chemical to heat balls of lime, so they could see the soldiers at night and create a blinding light
  • Rockets were experimental such as the Congreve rocket, which was a British designed explosive that looked like bottle rockets. They weren’t used long because they were not very accurate
  • Landmines or torpedoes as they were known were used in iron containers with gunpowder, a fuse, and a detonating cap. They were used as booby traps for enemy soldiers. One of the last landmines was found in 1960 in Alabama
  • Underwater mines were mined in harbors and rivers to take down the supply ships
  • Hot air balloons were mainly used for reconnaissance since they were too easily shot down to be used in fighting

As you can see the “modern” weapon technology of the civil war has a vast array of weapons to use in the fight. Both sides, the Union and Confederates, had many ways to engage the enemy. You can find these weapons of the civil war in museums and there are dealer who sells them. You can also find do-it-yourself kits to recreate any weapon of the civil war.

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Battles Of The Civil War

The American Civil War consisted of extreme conflict and battles of the Civil War were very costly on both fighting sides. There is also the fact that it was a defining time in America’s history and helped to shape the country’s modern identity. It is for that reason it is important to appreciate the battles of the Civil War and to take note of places, events and people. The Civil War is what helped to abolish slavery and laid huge stepping-stones for the United States to get to a point where Obama, an African American male, is now president.

5 Interesting Facts About The Battles of The Civil War

1. From 1861 – 1865 the American Civil War occurred over the hot-topic of slavery in America. Most of the Northern states were completely anti-slavery, while most southern states were pro-slavery. Thus, the American Civil War is also commonly known as the “War Between the States!”

2. “Secede” means to withdraw or separate from an organization or in this case an alliance. Essentially, this is what the states in the south did during the battles of The Civil War, they succeeded or withdrew from the Union and these were labeled as secessionists. The very first state to secede in December of 1860 was South Carolina.

3. Many other states followed in the steps of South Carolina. During 1861, ten more states followed suite leaving the union and seceded. The order of which they seceded is as follows: first Mississippi, second was Florida, Alabama followed third, then Georgia, quickly followed by Louisiana, next was Texas, then Virginia, shortly after came Arkansas, followed by North Carolina and finally Tennessee. These states then became the Confederate States of America or for short they became The Confederacy or CSA.

4. The first of the battles of the Civil War was an bombardment of artillery and siege. It occurred at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, this is where the Confederates attacked the Union fort with cannons and mortars until the Union forces were forced to surrender.

5. Many of the battles of the Civil War have two different names. This is because there was a different identification process between the Confederates forces and Union forces. The Confederates would name the battle for the closest city or town while the Union forces would name after landmarks and things like rivers, creeks, as well as other geographical features. That is why the Battle of Bull Run is also known as the Battle Manassas. There are many other battles of the Civil War with two different names.


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Civil War Cannon Balls

They are not bowling balls

civlwarcannonballs Cannon Balls were used in the American Civil War as field artillery. These cast iron balls full of explosive powder were used by the Union and Confederate side, both by infantry and Calvary soldiers. Somehow, they still keep showing up in the yards and properties of people who live in the former war zone. Some of those yards bear the remnants of the battle, with the earth being blemished by the long-ago conflict. Back yard digging expeditions and other common homesteader experiences often result in people finding these curious devices on their property. Some of these same people find buttons from Confederate or Union soldier uniforms, others find other non-hazardous remnants of that era. Perhaps there should be a rule book for how to handle a cannon ball when you discover one in your yard, because the average person doesn’t know. This lack of knowledge has produced an array of outcomes. It’s also unlikely that real estate professionals can verify that a property was not a former battle ground, so these projectile devices could unearth for a long time to come.

He Almost Didn’t Make It

If you come across a cannonball, it’s best not to tamper it. Calling the police so they can send a bomb squad capable to handling it will be the best bet. However, a man in Durham didn’t know this when he found one in the backyard of his Main Street home. If sheriff’s deputies had to have specialized knowledge to detonate the device, he sure was not equipped to take their place because he was not a Hazardous Devices Unit member. Apparently that’s what it takes to detonate such a device. In fact, he later discovered that if he’d kept hammering it, pounding it a few more times than he did; it could have done what it was designed to do during the American Civil War. It seems like the main weight of these cannon balls comes from the deadly powder inside. More information can be read at http://www.heraldsun.com/news/x177807855/Man-finds-Civil-War-cannonball-in-yard.

A Tragic Outcome

Another man was not so lucky. Described as a Civil War raconteur and amateur history buff, Sam White was killed in his Chester, Virginia driveway when a cannonball that he was restoring exploded. This is a man who was often geared up with metal detectors, and if necessary water gear; so he could go treasure hunting, looking for devices like this.



Sometimes these devices are misshapen and battered. In some cases they are a dud. Workers often come upon them when doing construction work. Places like Atlanta, Virginia and other southern states may continue to unearth cannonballs, considering that an estimated 100,000 of them were fired by Union soldiers in the summer of 1964 alone, per an Atlanta area article. Still, the conflict actually raged from 1861-1864. Others speculate that the one found by construction workers in Atlanta could have been a Confederate cannonball that was being transported by railroad and left behind. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/20/civil-war-cannonball-found_n_3628521.html.

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Civil War History

civilwarcannons-1The American Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. Seven Southern slave nations individually affirmed their withdrawal from the United States and established the Confederate states of America. They developed to include eleven states, and even though they claimed thirteen states and extra western regions, the Confederacy was never acknowledged by a foreign nation. The states that did not declare breakaway were known as the “Union” or the “North”. The war had its establishment in the irritable subject of servitude, particularly the extension of servitude into the western territories. After four years of bloody combat that left over 600,000 Union and Confederate fighters dead and demolished abundant of the South’s organization, the Confederacy warped, slavery was stopped, and the difficult rebuilding process of bringing back national unity and promising civil rights to the freed slaves began.

Conflicts began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate militaries fired upon Fort Sumter, a crucial fort held by Union troops in South Carolina. Lincoln called for each state to make available troops to recapture the fort; subsequently, four more slave federations fused with the Confederacy, bringing their aggregate to eleven. The Union quickly controlled the border federations and established a maritime barrier that crippled the southern economy. The Eastern Theater was indecisive in 1861–62. The autumn 1862 Confederate campaign into Maryland ended with Confederate withdrawal at the Battle of Antietam, deterring British involvement. Lincoln disseminated the Liberation Declaration, which made ending slavery a war goal. To the west, by summer 1862 the Union demolished the Confederate river navy, then much of their western soldiers, and the Union siege of Vicksburg divided the Confederacy in two at the Mississippi River.

In 1863, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate intrusion north ended at the Battle of Gettysburg. Western triumphs led to Ulysses S. Grant’s command of all Union armies in 1864. In the Western Theater, William T. Sherman drove east to seizure Atlanta and trooped to the sea, ending Confederate infrastructure beside the way. The Union organized the resources and manpower to attack the Confederacy from all directions, and could afford to fight battles of attrition through the Overland Campaign towards Richmond, the Confederate capital. The defending Confederate army failed, leading to Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. All Confederate generals submitted by that summer.

The American Civil War was one of the initial real industrial wars which lasted from 1861 to 1865 with about 620,000 soldiers losing their lives, railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively used.

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