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Take a Virtual Tour

Before you visit, enjoy a preview of the various rooms in the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum.

Technological Advances Room

The Civil War was a time period rich in innovation and experimentation.  In this area we highlight some of those activities.


Weaponry
Rifling of barrels in guns and cannon combined with the development of a new kind of bullet, the Minié ball, resulted in greater accuracy and longer range or distance of fire. Rifling is cutting spiral groves into a gun barrel to make the bullet spin, improving its stability, accuracy and range. The Minié ball was a conical-shaped round with three grooves in the base of the round which allowed the round to grip the rifling in the barrel. When the weapon was fired the gases from the burning powder forced the hollow back of the round to expand and further grip the rifling, giving the rifle increased accuracy.

Repeating rifles which could fire seven shots without reloading included Spencers, Henrys,and Sharps.
Rapid fire guns included the Gatling Gun which could fire more than 350 rounds per minute.

On the Sea
Mines and torpedoes were used to make the transport of men and supplies more difficult in the rivers which were so often used for these essential movements.

Ironclads: The use of iron to protect ships led to the famous Battle of the Ironclads between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (converted from the former USS Merrimack).  After that naval clash, which resulted in a draw, sailors no longer wanted to set out to fight in a wooden ship.

Submarines: Types included the Davids, the CS Hunley, and the USS Alligator.


Communications
Use of the new telegraph system allowed improved communications. The Signal Corps benefitted from the development of a method called the Wig Wag System.

Aerial surveillance and reconnaissance: Thaddeus Lowe and the U.S. Balloon Corps brought a whole new viewpoint to the field, sailing high above the fields and camps and reporting back current and crucial information on troop movements and strength.


Speed of Movement
The railway system in both the North and the South was used for the rapid movement of troops and supplies, and to carry the largest artillery guns.  Rail transportation became increasingly important as the war waged on and on.

The Monitor and the Merrimack

 

It was really the CSS Virginia that battled the USS Monitor just off Hampton Roads, Virginia on March 9, 1862. Confederate forces had raised the USS Merrimack, a powerful steam frigate that had been scuttled by Union Naval forces after the fall of the Norfolk Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Virginia. They converted her into an ironclad ship renamed the CSS Virginia.

The two iron clad ships fought a four hour duel, resulting in a draw. That day marked a major change in naval warfare however, as the iron ships were seen to be the way of the future.

The Museum features a set of ten images of the famous battle; some are steel engravings, others are lithographs or chrome lithographs (color), and there is a pen and ink drawing and a schematic of the Monitor.

When the Confederates were forced to abandon Norfolk, they were not able to lighten the Virginia sufficiently for passage up the James River and destroyed her in May of 1862. The Monitor foundered and sank in heavy seas off Cape Hatteras in December, 1862.

In 1973 scientists discovered the intact wreck of the Monitor, and the site was subsequently protected by the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. The steam engine and turret of the Monitor were recovered in 2002 for display with other artifacts at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

Von Wooster Historical Figurines

 

Clive Von Wooster and Earl Von Wooster have donated a spectacular collection of seventeen handmade and hand painted Los Angeles Civil War figures to the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington. 

Each individual figure is unique, cast in molds made by hand by the Von Woosters. They created their own blend of materials to make the figures, cast them in dozens of handmade molds, and then destroyed the molds.  Each was painted in painstaking detail by Clive Von Wooster, whose drawings of Civil War artifacts and figures are on the walls of the Museum. Earl Von Wooster did the research required to ensure every item of information used to create the figures was historically accurate. These are truly one of a kind works of art.

"The detail of these figures has to be seen to be believed," says Museum Director Susan Ogle. "The tiny lines on a map, the intricate details of the medals worn by General R. C. Drum, the intricate design of the camel blanket, all are correctly depicted with the smallest of brush strokes."

The impressive collection includes figures of prominent Los Angeles Civil War residents such as Lt. Col. Richard Coulter Drum, Phineas Banning, Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, and Colonel James H. Carleton, leader of the famous California Column. The figures range from 12 to 22 inches high.

There are five figures of camels including a Bactrian, or two humped camel.  Shown riding on camelback are Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a Union Soldier and Hadji Ali, an Egyptian camel driver better known as "Hi Jolly".  In another, a camel kneels to be loaded with tents and "Goober beans", the Army name for peanuts.

One multi-figure display includes two Apache scouts and a grazing horse in the desert landscape of eastern California and Arizona.  Apache Indian Chiefs Cochise and Mangas Colorado are depicted as well.  "Billy Yank", the common name for any Union soldier and “Johnny Reb,” the common name for any Confederate soldier are included.

Other figures are a U.S. Army dispatch rider and a Mexican Volunteer soldier, both on horseback, and a U.S. Army drummer along with Phineas Banning, "Father of the Harbor" at Wilmington, Lt. Colonel Richard Coulter Drum for whom the military post was named, and Colonel James H. Carleton.  Maria de Jesus Yorba Wilson, the oldest daughter of Benjamin Wilson who with Phineas Banning donated the land for the military post of Drum Barracks, is depicted.

In order to display these in the best possible manner, David and Bettie Bean donated substantial funds for the building of three custom designed wood, glass and mirrored cases.  Donations from Mitchell Taylor and the architectural firm of SMI Architectural Millwork, Inc. in Santa Ana, the firm which designed and produced the custom cases, completed the project.