Civil War Inventions

Civil War inventions? Oh no! That means I have to memorize dates and inventor names. Right?


In keeping with the friendly, non-threatening delivery of history that I aspire to, I promise not to give a quiz about these inventions.

Whew! Take a deep breath and relax. No pressure, you've got this!

Instead, I will tell you about some interesting Civil War inventions. Show you some cool pictures. Tell you why it was useful and how it was used, and I will do my best to mix in all the interesting and entertaining STORIES I can find. For example, did you know that Abraham Lincoln is the only US President to secure a patent for an invention? Its true, check out the story here...

There may have even been some weapons related inventions with good back-stories that we can check out... 

Sound good? Great, lets get started!

Civil War Invention Quick Links:

Ironclad Warships

Double Barrel Cannon

Gatling Gun

Civil War Submarines

American Civil War: The First Modern War

First Aircraft Carrier

The American Civil War is often called the first "modern" war. Why? Well it is really quite simple. There were many new inventions that helped in both the fighting and recording of the war.

It is important to note that not all "Civil War inventions" were invented during the civil war. What? Well, there were things that had been invented prior to the war but were first used extensively during the Civil War.

Maybe a better title for this page would be "Civil War Innovations"...

Anyway, the inventions and technological development during the time of the Civil War changed the way war was fought from then on.

There were many "firsts" brought about by the advances made during this time period, for example:

  • The first battle between ironclad warships (above right). This battle immediately made all naval forces around the world obsolete.
  • The first mass transport of land forces by railroad.
  • The first use of aircraft -balloons- in war.
  • The first naval aircraft carrier (above left).
  • The first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship.
  • The first widespread, effective use of rifles in battle.
  • The first use of machine guns in battle.

The list could go on and on...

Because all this stuff was so new it actually caused a lot of problems. Why? Good question!

No one had ever used many of these new technologies in battle. This meant that no one knew for sure how to best use all this new technology at their disposal.

Many interesting plans and proposals never saw the light of day because no one knew how they would be used if they were ever made. Some others were made but never widely used -some for good reason! (See double barreled cannon below!)

Double Barreled Cannon

Inventions of the Civil War

There were many inventions and developments throughout the civil war. Some were widely used and some were not. Some were entirely new, some were just more practical applications of older technology.

Not everything I will talk about was strictly for military use, for example, photography. But many new ideas played a big role in this era even if they weren't used to fight.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. As I add more pages the list will grow. Feel free to contact me with Civil War inventions you would like me to write about.

  • Submarine - Stories of submarine development during the Civil War.
  • Balloons - Innovations in the use of aerial surveillance in war time.
  • Gatling Gun - The first reliable, usable machine gun. Could have had an impact on the Civil War but didn't.

American Civil War Story-Home

Civil War Quick Links:

Civil War Heroes

Civil War Battles

Civil War Women

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