The American civil war was the worst war ever seen in the history of the United States. Many people died as a result of the war. During the American civil war, there were many technologies that were introduced and used. Notably, the technology used defined the impact of the civil war. Previously, many people used weapons such as bayonets, swords and knives, which was an old-fashioned method of fighting. However, the advent of civil war gave rise to the use of advanced weapons such as Gatling gun, which was very effective in the war. After the introduction of new technologies, many aspects of the civil war considerably changed. The use of advanced weapons such as grenades, machine guns, explosives, metal cartridges and the Gatling gun increased the number of casualties in the war. It is worthwhile to note that technology helped the United States win the war. During the American civil war, technology had a significant effect on the economy, politics, gender and racial roles.
How Technology Helped The United States Win The War?
Technology helped the United States win the civil war. There were several advanced weapons that were introduced during the American civil war. One of such weapons was the spencer-repeating carbine. The introduction of this weapon had a great impact on the warfare. The United States ensured that all members of its vast army were equipped with this riffle. Its ability to fire seven bullets consecutively gave the United States’ army an upper hand in the war. However, it was extremely expensive to purchase this weapon. It was imperative for the soldiers to use their saving to get this key weapon. Unlike other weapons that took time to reload bullets, a soldier could fire at an enemy consecutively while providing cover to a fellow soldier. Undoubtedly, due to the use of this repeating carbine, the United States army was able to win the war. This is primarily because they were able to continue shooting while their adversaries were reloading the guns.
Railroads was another key technology that played a key role in the United States winning the war. Previously, the railroad was used by a majority of the Americans to supply raw materials to factories in the south, and supplying different types of agricultural products in the southern part of the United States. However, when the civil war broke out, the railroads got a new use. For example, it was used to transfer troops between different war zones (Bacon 32). This helped the United States’ army position itself in order to counter the threat posed by the adversaries. Furthermore, the railroads were used to supply food to the army men. Therefore, they were able to focus on the war without thinking about their transportation means.
Another important technology that played a key part in winning the civil war was the ironclad. Essentially, it was a ship that was made from wooden and supported with plates of steel. This made the ship very robust, and able to survive massive waves in the ocean. Due their robustness, the ironclads were used to repel enemy fire. For example, when the United States’ army was under heavy gunfire, they were able to hide inside the ship and avoid being wounded by the enemy fire. Additionally, these special ships were used to break down enemy ships. Primarily, nearly all the enemy’s ships were inferior; thus, the robust ironclads could easily dismantle them. Even though, the ironclad moved at a slow pace, its capability could not be underestimated. Before manufacturing numerous ironclads, the United States’ army first tested its capability by creating one ironclad, which was labelled ‘Virginia’. This particular ironclad was extremely effective in destroying the enemy’s ships. According to McFreely, the Virginia attacked five union ships, and destroyed them completely when it was first used in the civil war (17). Evidently, this ironclad was very instrumental in destabilizing the enemy.
The Effect of Technology on the Economy
The use of advanced technology during the American civil war had a significant impact on the economy. Primarily, a significant amount of money was spent in developing and purchasing of advanced weapons to be used in the civil war. For example, the United States purchased over 100,000 Gatlin rifles for its army. Even though, these weapons were effective in destroying the enemy, they left a huge negative impact on the economy. Essentially, a considerable amount of money was drained from the economy; hence, leading to poor economic performance. Besides, development of the railroads cost the United States’ government significant amount of money. The railroads had to be repaired because they had already been in use for several decades. This was essential in ensuring that transportation of troops to war zones was not hampered by ineffective railroads. Undoubtedly, this negatively affected the economy.
On the other hand, advancements in technology in improved the economy of the United States significantly. During the American civil war, the United States experienced increased industrialization. Vitally, the industrialization gave rise to several industries such as iron production, leather goods production, textile sand weapons manufacturing (Mountjoy 23). The United States was able to export products from these key industries, which increased its foreign exchange. For example, it was able to develop various types of weapons, which it sold to different countries. This translated to increased revenues for the government; thus, a boost to the economy. Besides, improved technology in the south enabled the southerners to increase their income. One contributory factor was improved mechanization in the plantations. Minimal human power was required to harvest and process cotton. This was made possible through the use of a threshing machine. Notably, when the southerners were busy fighting in the civil war, women left behind could use the threshing machine to process the cotton harvested. This helped lower the costs incurred in the processing of cotton; thus, it led to increased income. Therefore, the overall economy performed well.
The Effect of Technology on Gender Roles
It has been established that women played a key role during the American civil war. The use of technology in the civil war greatly transformed the role of women. Primarily, women were responsible for managing the plantations when their husbands went to fight. For example, they used the key technology advancement at that time such as thresher to improve efficiency in the plantations. They took over the role of overseeing slaves who used this equipment.
According to Frank, there are several cases whereby women joined their husbands in the war field (41). Even though, a significant number of women were tasked with nursing injured men, there were others who fought side by side with men. This was only made possible after the introduction of the Gatling gun. Previously, women could not be allowed to use archaic weapons such as knives because there was a highly likelihood that they could easily be eliminated by the enemy. However, with the use of the rifle, they were able to position them far from the enemy and target them. Besides, the capability of the rifle to fire seven shots consecutively greatly helped women to muster the courage to engage their enemy in the warzone. Vitally, these encouraged women to take roles previously associated with men.
The Effect of Technology on Racial Roles
During the American civil war, the use of technology considerably influenced racial roles. During the first months of the war, the white people used ancient weapons such as knives to fight their adversaries. They refused to allow the African Americans to join the war. Their point of argument was that the African Americans were not well prepared to handle such weapons. However, after the introduction of advanced weapons, they were allowed to join the army. For example, they were given riffles that were very easy for them to use. The African Americans were only taught how to handle the rifle and fire on the enemy. Within a short period of time, they were experts in using these advanced weapons.
Additionally, the use of railroads in the civil war changed the role of African Americans. They were tasked with transporting the white soldiers to different war zones. Essentially, they were relegated to lesser roles as compared to whites. The introduction of ironclads in the war required risk takers to guide them on the dangerous waters. Primarily, it required only daring people to guide the ironclads in the waters where there was a significant presence of the enemy’s ships. The white people saw it fit to instruct the African Americans to guide their ships. Essentially, the United States’ white people did not want to take the risk of guiding the ironclads. The impact of technology on racial roles is well depicted by the case of Robert Smalls. He was an African American who had vast experience as a sailor. He was tasked with guiding the main ironclad because the white soldiers were not ready to take that crucial risk (Ennis 19). It is quite evident that technology played a key part in changing roles of the African Americans.
The Effect of Technology on Politics
During the American civil war, President Abraham Lincoln was the center of the country’s politics. All political aspects of the civil war were closely associated with President Lincoln and his allies. Primarily, he was accused of taking a tough stance on the southerners; thus, leading to an increase in the magnitude of the war. Besides, his remarks that African Americans were inferior to the whites worsened the situation. It is worthwhile to note that technology made it possible for President Lincoln to communicate with his people who were waging war against the enemy. Essentially, he used telegraph to be updated on the progress of the war. He used to receive daily updates on how his men were fairing in the war. The telegraph was located in its own room, in the department of war building (Wheeler 15). This room provided conducive environment for the president to communicate with his men on the battleground.
As a political tool, the telegraph was very instrumental in calming down the political temperatures in the United States. For example, political leaders who opposed President Lincoln move to engage his enemies in the war would communicate with him on a regular basis. Through these conversations, he managed to convince them to calm down, and give him ample time to decide on the best course of action. The other political leaders only relaxed when they realized that President Lincoln was already in contact with his men by using the telegraph. Essentially, this assurance helped in cooling down the political temperatures in the country. In addition, the president was promptly informed about the existence of an opposing political group in the United States. If such a group opposed President Lincoln’s action, he could receive a message about its existence via the telegraph. After reading the message, he could respond with exact instruction on how to deal with his political adversaries.
The American civil war had a great impact on several aspects of the United States. It has been established that the American civil war had both positive and negative impacts on the economy. As a result of the civil war, the country increased its income after exporting various products to countries in Europe. Technology had a considerable effect on both gender and racial roles. As a result of the introduction of ironclads, African Americans were charged with the responsibility of guiding them in the murky waters. On the other hand, the introduction of cotton thresher enhanced the responsibility of women to oversee the processing of cotton. The use of the Gatling riffle was extremely instrumental in conquering the enemy. It made it possible to kill more than five people at once by firing consecutively. Besides the effect of technology on gender roles, racial roles, politics and the economy, it significantly helped the United States win the war.
Bacon, Benjamin. Sinews of War: How Technology, Industry, and Transportation Won the Civil War. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1997. Print.
Ennis, Elizabeth. The American Civil War. Monterey, CA: Evan-Moor Corp, 2008. Print.
Frank, Lisa T. Women in the American Civil War. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2008. Print.
McFreely, Mary Drake. The Civil War Telecourse Study Guide. Virginia: EPM Publications, 1990. Print.
Mountjoy, Shane. Technology and the Civil War. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2009. Print.
Wheeler, Tom. Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War. New York: Collins, 2006. Print.