Technological Advances

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The Civil War gave rise to a spurt of intense creativity in a wide variety of areas.  The original Gatling Gun mounted on a reproduction Army carriage, which greets all our tour groups, is a fine example of this type of innovation.

Around the room are depictions of others such as the use of railroads to move soldiers and supplies over long distances, getting them where they needed to be as quickly as possible. The destruction of railways and bridges, followed by their immediate reconstruction, was a continuing occupation throughout the war for thousands of soldiers on both Union and Confederate sides.

Ironclad ships introduced a whole new world to the navies.  When the USS Monitor met the CSS Virginia (or Merrimack, as it was earlier named during its service as a Union ship), war on the seas changed forever. Although neither ship was declared the winner, sailors no longer wanted to set out on wooden ships when it was obvious that the ironclads held such a clear advantage.

The use of balloons for surveillance of enemy troops and movements was another major advantage.   Thaddeus Lowe headed the US Balloon Corps and provided excellent intelligence information to Union commanders.

Highlights:

  •  A Confederate submarine, the CSS Hunley, was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle. 
  • The use of mines and torpedoes in waterways was another innovation.  Remember that famous quote by Admiral David Farragut: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” as his ships forced their way into Mobile Bay?
  • The invention of improved ammunition and the repeating rifle made life much more dangerous for the brave soldiers on both sides of the conflict.
  • The telegraph changed communication up and down the lines of command in the armies and from the political scenes in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia to commanders in the field.