Civil War Accuracy

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During the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, people would gather for a family day at the local battlefield, after all, it was a spectacle. Unfortunately, those people didn’t know of the advancements that were being made in the field of warfare, and they paid a deadly price. The Civil War is best summed up by Christian Wolmar: By making use of innovations in communications, weaponry and transport, principally the railroads, the belligerents, especially the North, developed a new type of war that was fought with much wider use of technology and in a way that relied on mobility and flexibility far more than its predecessors. The Civil War was more than just a war between two opposing sides fighting for what they believed in. It was a war that set…show more content…
“The term "couldn 't hit the broadside of the barn" was literally true when applied to the accuracy of smoothbore muskets. At 300 yards, only 1 shot in 20 would hit a target of 18 square feet. The guns didn 't even have an aiming device ” (West). The modern version was called the rifled musket due to its grooves or “rifling” in the barrel, which propelled the bullet much farther and more accurately because it spun the bullet. The issue with the smoothbore was that it was a muzzleloader, which meant you needed to push the bullet down the barrel in the front, which was extremely cumbersome and especially dangerous on the battlefield (Brooks 15). By the start if the Civil war, a number of inventors had developed a better weapon, a breechloader, which could fire much faster and load quicker than its predecessors (16). One especially prominent inventor who shaped the breechloader was Christopher Miner Spencer who created one of the most important weapons of the Civil War, the Spencer Repeating Rifle. At 22 he created the first mechanism for the Spencer rifle, an extremely reliable rotating/ rolling block lever-action that picked up a rim fire cartridge from its magazine (Silva 18). All seven shots could be fired in about 10 seconds, which enabled soldiers with the Spencer to fire 7…show more content…
Wilson wrote about the Spencers: There is no doubt that the Spencer carbine is the best firearm yet put into the hands of the soldier, both for economy of ammunition and maximum effect, physical and moral. Our best officers estimate one man armed with it [is] equivalent to three with any other arm. I have never seen anything else like the confidence inspired by it in the regiments or brigades, which have it. A common belief amongst them is if their flanks are covered they can go anywhere. I have seen a large number of dismounted charges made with them against cavalry, infantry and breast-works, and never knew one to fail
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