American Civil War for Kids - Weapons Illustration

American Civil War for Kids - Weapons

Weapons of all types were in short supply at the beginning of the war. Many early volunteers were issued poor weapons, nearly antique ones. As the war continued, both sides were able to obtain large numbers of muskets, and the basic weapon of an infantry soldier became the single-shot, muzzle-loading percussion musket.

A Confederate general, General Rains, had used both water mines and land mines during the Seminole Indian Wars. He felt pressure sensitive land mines, called torpedos, would work well for the Confederate army. When a Union horse stepped on a land mine, the mine would blow up. Rains used his land mines effectively in 1862. The outcry was immediate. Generals on both sides of the war were loudly against the use of land mines. Oddly, they had no trouble with gatling guns, machine guns, repeaters, mortars, howitzers, pistols, rifles, and muskets, but land mines they believed were too impersonal and should not be used. The War Department in The Confederate States of America (the South) told Rains he was forbidden to use his "infernal machines". After some thought, the War Department issued a policy that it was admissible to bury pressure sensitive bombs on roadways to slow pursuit, but it was not admissible to use land mines simply to kill a few Union soldiers. This did not stop General Rains entirely. He used land mines in the defensive of Atlanta and buried over a thousand land mines to help defend Richmond. In these battles, many Union casualties were caused by Rains and his land mines.

Hand grenades were used during the war, along with a clever bomb created by General Rains that looked like a lump of coal. Generals even tried attacking the enemy with bombs attached to balloons. Unfortunately, once the wind caught a balloon, there was no way to control where the wind would send the balloon or where it would land.  

Small arms and muskets

Infantry Weapons - Line of Fire (video, Civil War Trust, 4 minutes)

Civil War Canons (video, Gettysburg National Park)


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