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Technology and the Civil War

This technology and the civil war research paper topic attempts to give a brief assessment of the impact that industrial age technologies had upon the American Civil War. In your research try to show that impact of technology during the Civil War was profound and influenced the course and outcome of the war in many ways, both on and off the battlefield.

Technological Differential Between North and South


In the first place, the technological differential between North and South, a differential that was quantitative rather than qualitative, was probably a major cause of the North’s victory. This was a war which pitted the following two lifestyles against each other:

  1. The urbanized, manufacturing power-the North
  2. Against a rural, agrarian power—the South

The advantage possessed by the North in being able to manufacture and distribute the sinews of war constituted an overwhelming advantage.

Key Technology

The key technology that dominated both troop movement and troop supply was transportation, specifically, the railroads.  The vastly superior railroad system of the North, in terms of trackage, enabled it to move troops where and when needed and greatly enhanced its operational flexibility. Moreover, the North possessed vastly greater numbers of locomotives and, unlike the South, had the capacity to build, repair, and maintain as many locomotives (and other rolling stock) as it needed. The North’s enormous advantage in railroad carrying capacity meant far more than just being able to rapidly transfer forces. It influenced virtually every aspect of the war. For example, while both North and South could produce small arms ammunition in sufficient quantities, the soldiers of the South were reduced to scavenging battlefields for lead.  They did this because the transportation system of the South could not guarantee delivery of the supplies on hand.

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