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This essay analyzes that the American Civil War is considered to be one of the bloodiest and gruesome wars ever fought throughout the history of warfare. Several factors based on historical changes that were occurring during the war have attributed to this fact…
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The American Civil War: A Bloody Battle
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The American Civil War: A Bloody Battle Many historians and military theorists believe that the American Civil War is considered to be one of the bloodiest and gruesome wars ever fought throughout the history of warfare. Several factors based on historical changes that were occurring during the war have attributed to this fact. The first factor is the technological advances that were made in the industrial and military fields. The second factor is the change in the way war was being waged with the new advances in military doctrines, as against old ones. These factors made the American Civil War a bloody mark in American and world history.
The Industrial Age and Revolution of the 1900’s developed better methods in producing equipment with efficiency and effectiveness. This led to the beginning of factory centers that massively produced finished material needed for various activities. In the case of warfare, the advent of mass production enabled weapons to be manufactured at such a quickened pace without suffering decrease in quality. Huge stockpiles of infantry weapons and artillery could be made quicker to hastily equip armies for war mobilization. In this sense, this decreases the problem, and increases the advantages of military logistics in keeping armies supplied and equipped. The Industrial Age also introduced the heavy use of the rail system as vital for military logistics and deployment. The use of trains also quickened the movement and deployment of large contingent of armies and supplies to different battle fronts. A massive number of troops could be deployed from opposite battlefronts to engage in an all out war on a large-scale basis compared to 17th to 19th century warfare.
In the matter of military technology, new weapons were developed. These new artilleries could kill more effectively and efficiently. A research made by Engelking (2009) noted the impact of the rifle on Civil War wherein the rifling in the barrel meant that the projectile was much more accurate at a farther range. The rifle replaced the highly inaccurate smoothbore musket as the primary weapon of the line infantry of both Union and Confederate armies. It was not only more accurate, but it was also very lethal and could inflict mortal wounds. The introduction and production of breech-loaded weapons also increased the rate of fire of different weapons, such as the cannons and howitzers. Repeating rifles and pistols were also introduced, and the use of the Gatling gun would decimate the tight mass assault formations of opposing armies on the offensive. These weapons had a devastating effect. They turned large-scale battles between armies into a corpse field.
The next factor that contributed to the bloody nature of the American Civil War was the change in military doctrine. New war ideologies came about. Some military commanders from both sides of the Civil War, although mostly from the Union, veered away from the static, rigid marches and formations that characterized 18th and 19th century. Taking advantage of the new technologies in weapons and telegraph communications, commanders like Union general William Tecumseh Sherman would maneuver his forces to flank Confederate units to either route or destroy them. The doctrine of total war had one of its objectives set on destroying enemy armies totally so that such forces would not regroup to fight again or commit guerilla operations. This meant that armies would fight to ensure that one force is either completely annihilated or wiped out. Since most of the commanders from both the Union and Confederacy were more acquainted with 18th century military doctrine, their armies would take horrific casualties as the new weapons and new military tactics cut down mass assaults by the infantries. This contributed to the ghastly number of casualties that both sides endured during the American Civil War.
Reference
Engelking, Kyle. (2009). “War is hell!” A look at modern total warfare. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Read More
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