Civil War Weapons

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The American Civil War produced a unique period of opportunity for Northern businessmen during the war. The length of the struggle and the 2 million men that the North put into the field created a huge demand for small arms during the war. During this time businessmen scrambled to obtain arms from Europe, acquire domestic supplies of weapons, create factories to produce weapons and develop new small arms. The ability of the federal government to provide these weapons is one of the most important events of the war. Without these weapons the war may have lasted longer ended in Confederate victory. The decades prior to the Civil War was a time of innovation in gun making. The standard military arm the flintlock smoothbore musket had been replaced…show more content…
Ripley had been the commander at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts between 1842 and 1854. He greatly expanded the arsenal and had personally overseen the development of the 1855 Springfield. Ripley faced many challenges at the outbreak of the war. First was securing weapons for federal use. “The number of first class arms, which consisted of the 58 caliber rifles and rifled muskets, was only 28,207 out of 610,598 shoulder arms” (Davis 40). Many of the weapons that were available were smoothbores of the 1842 variety and some that had been converted from the flintlock system. The U.S. government only had the Springfield arsenal in operation after Confederate forces quickly seized Harpers Ferry and removed the gun making tools from there. Ripley and the War Department were not concerned about this prior to Bull Run. The thinking was that the rebellion would be short and at most 250,000 arms would be needed. Following the disaster panic ensued the reality of a long war and a large army would cause a profound shortage of small arms. “By the early summer of 1861, rifled arms of American manufacture virtually had disappeared from Federal arsenals” (Davis…show more content…
He replaced Schuyler with Marcellus Hartley as the purchasing agent in Europe. Hartley undertook his mission ignoring the desires of Ripley for first class arms. He believed that whatever arm he could purchase would be one less weapon that the Confederacy would get. He went to England and tried to purchase Enfield rifles, He then went to Paris, Leige, Vienna and Cologne. It is interesting that the French, Austrian and English governments were willing to sell arms to the North due to their desire to see the Confederacy win. The Europeans were willing to empty their arsenals of undesirable weapons and looked to make a quick profit while they did so. “European governments and businessmen tried to sell the worst of their arms first, depending on the desperation of their American purchasers” (Davis 65). Hartley purchased Potsdam muskets from Prussia, Lorenz form Austria, Vincennes from France and Enfield rifles from
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