The American Civil War or quite simply the Civil War as it is known to many Americans, is regarded as America’s bloodiest war, claiming more lives than any other war in American history. It is a war that shook the constitutions of America by its roots and helped shape America into the nation it is today. Many people have questions they would like answered about the war, for instance, why was it considered as the first modern war? The Civil War could be considered as the first modern war because it was the first war in history to have all the necessary elements that constitute to a modern war. To start off, the technologies used in the war, were by a large comparison very similar to the technologies we implement in our modern day wars. Furthermore, the general public was given a more prominent role in the war, as the government learned the importance it’s citizens played in the war effort. Lastly, the military strategies used in the war evolved from primitive tactics, to tactics modern day generals and governments implement in war. A modern war in the fullest sense the civil war was and it is right to even go so far as calling it the first modern war.
The technologies used in the war, were by a large comparison very similar to the technologies we implement in our modern day wars. The rifle musket or Springfield musket as it is also known as, is an excellent example of this so called modern technology. “As the weapon fired and gases expanded from the explosion inside the weapon, the skirt was blown out to grab the lands and grooves of a rifled barrel. The projectile could be fired with great accuracy, while being no more complicated to load than the old musket.”1 It’s accuracy was indeed far more superior than the traditional smoothbore rifle used, as was it’s extended range. “In the Crimean War of 1854-56, the British Light Division, armed with 0.70-caliber rifles using the Minie ball sighted to 900 yards (822 m), fired into enemy troops posted along the Alma River, doing great damage at 400 yards (365 m), while the Russians, armed with smoothbores, inflicted few if any casualties in return.”2 This combination of accuracy and range of a gun is a modern feature of a gun as most guns today can be fared over tremendous ranges with brilliant accuracy, our modern day sniper rifle is an extreme example of this. On the battlefield, this combination proved deadly and because of this, traditional close combat confrontation on the battlefield had to be modified. This lead to the implementation of the trench warfare system, which was used on a larger scale in the First World War, as we all know. For the first time, this gave one side an advantage over the other. The defending side, which in most cases was the Confederates, had the advantage now. This form of newly constructed battlefield is quite similar to our modern battlefields today, where the conflict is not head on confrontation, and defensive and offensive strategies are used. The transportation system of troops and supplies during the Civil War can also be said to be one of the modern features of this war. The Union made significant usage of its vast miles of railway tracks, to transport its troops and supplies all over the country. This gave the Union a military advantage over the Confederates who were lacking in this field and were using walking as the main means of transportation. “In addition to having an advantage in transportation infrastructure, the North also held an advantage in the area of communications. In 1861, rapid communications over long distances was accomplished by means of the telegraph.”3 The use of the telegraph in the war by the Union was a modern feature of the war as communication between different units in modern wars today is key. Before the telegraph, units in war were isolated from one another and they lacked unified military objectives from the higher ups. During