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This is an interesting question. I will focus on guns. Other inventions were made around this time, but the South was outgunned by the superior weapons available to the Northern soldiers, industry, and sheer numbers of soldiers.
Eli Whitney invented the rifle which could use interchangeable parts, but this invention occurred long before the Civil War. The rifle that Eli Whitney invented was a rifled musket which was a muzzle loader.
I will say that the breech loading carbine rifle was probably an invention that changed the Civil War from 19th Century to modern warfare.
The Colt Repeating Rifle was invented in 1855 but proved unreliable in combat. The Maynard Carbine (manufactured in Massassachusetts) was patented in 1856 proved to be reliable and easily reloaded. The Spencer Carbine rifle patented in 1860 and a tube fed version patented in 1861 proved to be the most advanced weapon on the battlefields of the Civil War. The cartridges were made weather proof by being encased in brass. The first Spencers were used by Union soldiers after field tests that included burying, immersing in salt water and continuously firing without cleaning for up to 250 rounds. The Spencer passed the test. Some 200,000 of the guns were manufactured and of those, more than 3/4's saw action in the Civil War. Finally, the Sharps Carbine was a sophisticated, accurate and reliable weapon. Due to the use of linen cartridges rather than brass, this weapon was prey to the elements. The black powder spilled into the breech-block and at times caused a secondary explosion burning the fingers of the shooter.
Finally, the most horrible of all weapons invented during this time, the Gatling Gun was invented by Richard J. Gatling. His purpose was to create a weapon that was so horrible that war would be unthinkable. The Gatling gun did not see much use as it had problems. It was heavy and tended to jam under heavy use. It has made a comeback on the A10 fighter plane however.
Some of the inventions during the Civil War were The Cotton Gin invented by Eli Whitney and it was faster and better - thats the good side- but yet it cause more slavery in the south more labor. If it was not for Eli we would still be wearing wool undies!!!!lol:)
Submarines were first used during the Civil War. They were egg-shaped devices that could only carry a single person. Condensed canned milk was developed and was relied on heavily by Union soldiers. The first successful machine gun was invented during the Civil War.
I believe the first ever battle of iron clad ships also took place during the American Civil War. This battle took place on March 9, 1862 at Hampton Roads, between Confederates ship Virginia and Union ship Monitor.
Observation balloons and mines were also used during this war. Other firsts of Civil War include fighting from trenches and waging a major cordon offensive.
In response to #3 and #4 - The cotton gin ("ginning" being the process of seperating the seed from the fibre) was developed by Eli Whitney in 1792. It's invention did not increase slavery; cotton production increased, but this was due to more efficient agricultural methods. The advent of mechanizing cotton production in the US actually began to weaken the institution of slavery, as the machine was more efficent, and required less maintenance than forced human labor.
The first submarine used in the course of warfare was the "Turtle," designed by David Bushnell, which attempted to sink a Royal Navy ship in New York harbor during the American Revolution.
I believe the civil war was the first to use railroads to transport troops and supplies. They also began using the telegraph for communication. As someone else stated the biggest inventions were in the weaponry.
While this is not quite an invention, it is an interesteing tidbit that relates to the Civil War and the economy of the time. As the south began to lose power and resources, their economy began to crumble as well. It is said that toward the end of the war their currency had very little value. In fact, if one was to try and purchace somehting like a hunk of bread, the confederate dollar would be placed on top of the loaf, and the clerk would cut a piece of bread that size.
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