Keith /Civil War Projects/8-2/5-4-00/Sci. Report

Science Civil War Report

These guns and weapons were used during the civil war. Guns can save a life or take a life, but weapons are often the deciding factor in a war. These are the guns that aided both the North and South.

The Colt Army Model 1860 was an improved version of the 1848 Dragoon (used in the Mexican War). It became the most popular handgun to the Union army because of its interchangeable of parts. Where as the Colt Navy Model 1861 .36 caliber was preferred in the South. The Colt Model 1860 was a two pound eleven ounce .44 caliber gun that shot six bullets. This gun would cost a person $13.75 back then. This price was somewhat more expensive than those maid by Remington or Starr. This higher price ceased government orders in November 1863.

The Starr Revolver was a .44 caliber, double action, six-shot that weighed close to three pounds. It could be fired with loose powder and ball or a combustible cartridge. This revolver was used initially by the union soldiers in the western theater of the Civil War, but in 1863 the US ordinance department asked the Starr Arms Company to replace the double action revolver with a cheaper, single action model. The company agreed and sold the Union 25,000 weapons at $12 each.

The Le Mat Revolver was the most well-known foreign pistol in service during the Civil War. The "cap and ball" weapon is unique in itís two barrels. A cylinder which held nine .40 caliber rounds shot through the upper barrel. This revolved around the lower .63 caliber barrel which held a charge of buck shot. With the flick of a mans thumb, he could re-align the hammer to fall on the lower barrel which acted as a small shotgun, deadly at close range. These guns were soon manufactured and 3,000 of them found their way to the South.

The most widely used shoulder arm of the Civil War was the model 1861 Springfield Musket. It was made in the North for $15 to $20 for the federal government at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts. as well as 32 other private manufacturers. This gun weighed 9.25 lb., was 58.5 inches overall, had a 21 inch socket bayonet, and fired .58 caliber conical mini ball at a velocity of 950 ft/sec.

Rifled muskets, generally referred to as Enfieldís, got their name from the British governmentís Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield, England. An Enfield had a bore diameter of .577 inches and weighed 9 lbs. 3 ounces with bayonet. Itís bullet, similar to the mini ball, was accurate at 800 yards and fairly accurate at 1,100 yards. Each side imported about 400,000 of these weapons during the course of the war-making them second only to the Springfield in popularity.

The Whitworth rifle was of British manufacture and was used primarily by the Confederate army. It was a muzzle-loading weapon with a 33 inch barrel and .451 inch bore. This gunís remarkable accuracy is what made this gun so popular. With a telescopic sight on it, it had an effective range of about 1,800 yards.


The Austrian Model 1854 rifle-musket was imported in large numbers. The south received about 100,000 in .54 caliber, mostly with fixed sights. This gun was mainly used by the Army of Tennessee and by other units in Central and Trans-Mississippi theaters.


As the development of more modern weapons came along, the sharpshooter or sniper was born. Having a rifle that could fire up to 1,800 yards, long range riflemen became a real threat. The sniper rifle of the Civil War, Benchrest rifles, got their name because they were so heavy that they were easiest to fire on a bench or other type of support. Averaging a length of 50 inches, this rifle weighed up to 40 lbs.


Morgan James of New York invented the long-tube telescopic site in 1848 that we be used by Civil War marksmen. At no more than four power, these sights cost about $20.

The Spencer rifle contributed substantially to the ultimate success of the Union. The Spencer rifle used a metallic cartridge with a built in primer. It also had a rapid fire magazine by means of moving a lever and cocking the trigger. This allowed the northern troops to fire around 14 shots per minute as opposed to 3 shots by a muzzle loader.



The Colt repeating rifle was a large version of the

Colt revolver. It was originally made in 1855 and

came in caliberís ranging from .40 to .64. The War

Dept. purchased only 4,712 weapons which was a

relatively small number. Even though this gun

could fire rapidly it hand the tendency

to fire all of its rounds at once, often removing

fingers from the riflemanís forward hand.



The Starr Carbine rifle, equipped with a .54 caliber, 21 inch barrel was the fourth most popular rifle used by the Union soldiers. It had many features incorporated from the Sharps, Smith and Bumside rifles. Itís most remarkable features were it zero misfire rate and high degree of accuracy.


Although the American Civil War saw the development of modern weapons like breech loaders, repeating rifles, and machine guns, primitive weapons were still used with a deadly effect on the battlefield. The most widely used was the sword, which was present in many different styles. Only in the cavalry, and generally at the beginning of the war, swords were used regularly.



The first machine gun type weapon was built for the Confederate War Department in September 1861. The Williamís breech-loading rapid firing gun worked so well that the War Department ordered 42 more of them. The gun was crank-operated and was a light artillery piece that fired a one-pound projectile with a range of 2000 yards. It could fire 65 round per minute and was run by a crew of three. The main problem with this gun was overheating, which made the breech jam due to heat expansion.


This device is more of a fortification than a weapon, still these devices took their toll of life on the battlefield. This Cheyaux-de-frise consisted of 10 to 12 foot logs to which were attached sharpened wooden stakes. These were used like a normal defense as was barb wire in the World Wars. Occasionally these took the lives of the unlucky and unwary.


These guns help aid the war and U.S. They finally brought back the Union. Restoring the U.S. back to normal. But this war took itís toll. Leaving the land red and families alone. And will forever have an impact on America now and in the future.