Secession and Civil War

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During the Civil War, what were the technology strengths and weaknesses of the Confederacy?

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In general, the Confederacy was technologically weaker than the Union forces. The Union possessed more than twice the length of railroad trackage that the South had, and while the northern railroads were of standard gauge (meaning that railroad cars could travel seamlessly from one track to another), the southern railroads were not of standard gauge, which complicated railroad travel.

The Union used telegraphs to enable President Lincoln to communicate with troops and leaders in the battlefield, but the Confederacy did not have this capacity. In addition, the Union had repeating rifles, which could fire more than once before they had to be filled again with ammunition. The Confederacy did not have these rifles. However, both the Union and Confederacy had submarines, which the Confederacy used to try to break the Union blockade of southern ports.

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From a technological standpoint, the Confederacy had more disadvantages than advantages. A major disadvantage, particularly relevant in warfare, was the lack of industrial capacity. The South had only 20% of the manufacturing capacity of the entire United States. This was important because it was more difficult for the Confederacy to equip and arm its military. Because the South lacked vital industries, it was difficult to produce cannons, rifles, and other weapons. The South also lacked a viable transportation infrastructure and only had a fraction of the rail lines of the North. These major disadvantages with regards to manufacturing and transportation would eventually turn the tide of the war in favor of the Union.

As for innovation in weaponry, the Union had a remarkable advantage. During the course of the war, the Union utilized repeating rifles, ironclad warships, and balloons for reconnaissance. The one technological innovation that the Confederacy used was the submarine. The South used the submarine in an attempt to break the suffocating blockade of the ports in the South.  That was one of the few technological advantages of the Confederate States of America.  

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