For a nation that was not prepared to wage war, in a short time Northerners and Southerners made effective use of the economic and technological advances afforded them by the industrial revolution. They forged these economic weapons with a fighting determination that produced what has often been considered the first modern war. Economic and technological influences directly shaped the conduct of the war, and political leaders came to appreciate the role that the government could play in harnessing these influences. As the industrial revolution generated massive quantities of goods. American manufacturers benefited from the purchase of arms and the wide array of other supplies needed to wage war on an enormous scale.
Such changes also left an indelible mark on the home front. 'On every street and avenue,' commented a Chicago Tribune reporter, 'one sees new buildings going up, immense stone, brick, and iron business blocks, marble palaces and new residences everywhere manifest... where the enterprise of man can gain a foothold.' Shoes fitted for each foot, canned foods, and sewing machines all reflected the arrival of new technologies. Pennsylvania's iron industry increased its output of rails by 50 percent during the war, and Pittsburgh
became the nation's leading iron producer. This increased production made possible the raising, supplying, and resupplying of the large number of troops in the field. In a war that was fought mainly by farmers on both sides, agricultural production actually increased between 1861 and 1865. This increase was due in part to an increase in agricultural machinery, which assisted Northern farmers in producing bumper crops throughout the war.
Throughout the course of the war, the quartermaster struggled to supply 2.3 million Union soldiers and 1 million Confederates who daily desired armaments and basic necessities such as bread, meat, shoes, and clothes. Factory production, North and South, expanded to meet these military demands. Although railroads could be used to transport goods to supply bases, in many cases armies relied on riverboats and animal-
drawn wagons to transport supplies. This presented numerous logistical problems because the further the army marched away from its supply base, the more vulnerable it became to enemy sabotage. In the summer of 1862, Don Carlos Buell required nearly 15 miles (24km) of supply wagons to keep his Army of the Ohio equipped and fed.
What armies lacked in transporting efficiency, they more than compensated for by effectively utilizing the telegraph during the Civil War to assist in coordinating such transport burdens. This communicative device was another new technological feature of the industrial revolution. From
Thanks to the telegraph, armies were able to set up communications anywhere in the field. The poles they used varied in height, but were placed 5ft (1,5m) into the ground to resist high winds. (Ann Ronan Picture Library)
1861 to 1865 the United States Military Telegraph constructed some 15,000 miles (24,000km) of military lines. Due to a lack of operators and wire, Confederates managed to construct only about 500 miles (800km) in lines. In some cases, telegraph officers in the South were employed by companies in the North. Telegraphic communications were particularly vital to the scattered armies in the Western Theater. From St Louis, Missouri, Henry Halleck was able to communicate with Buell in Kentucky and Grant in Tennessee, and ordered them to concentrate their armies during the spring of 1862.
More than any other advance in early modern warfare, the rifled firearms of the Civil War proved the most destructive. The devastation inflicted by this new firepower reduced artillery to the defense, rendered the open frontal assault suicidal, and made entrenching a battlefield a necessity. Although both sides embraced this tactical consideration, some generals still ordered frontal assaults throughout the war, Braxton Bragg ordered a dozen such assaults at the Battle of Shiloh against the Hornet's Nest. The result was mass slaughter. By the war's end, it could be said that the rifled musket had caused some 60 Union regiments, and a higher number of Confederate ones, the loss of more than 50 percent of their men in a single engagement.
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