By Paisley Kirkpatrick
With all the re-enactments over the past couple of days I thought it would be fun to check out these facts:
The first aircraft carrier was a boat designed especially for hauling balloons.
The first flares for marksmen shooting at night were calcium lights developed by a Major Edge, of Berdan’s Sharpshooters, a famous Federal regiment.
The first economic warfare was used by the North in massive counterfeiting of Confederate currency. Union printers flooded the South with this bogus money, its only defect being its superiority to the genuine article; printers went so far as to duplicate five-cent notes of Confederate towns and business enterprises, as a spur to inflation.
Despite the modern developments spawned by the war, thousands of men went into the early fighting in body armor, assured by newspaper advertisements that iron breastplates would shield them from death. Heavy casualties attested to the tragic inefficiency of the gear.
Many of the inventions pouring into the warring capitals bordered on lunacy, but some forecast the future.
A federal balloonist went aloft with grenades and bombs, with the bottom of his wicker carriage shielded against ground fire by an iron plate. And one inventor tried in vain to interest the US in a rocket-driven torpedo which behaved like a guided missile in its tests.
Both Union and Confederate inventors turned out weird forked-barrel cannon, designed to fire two shots simultaneously, joined by chains, so that enemy troops would be mowed down if they stood in a convenient place.
Confederates built a steam-powered cannon of mammoth size which flung balls from a hopper without benefit of gunpowder, but too many shots merely trickled from the barrel.
The Federal armies were offered a miraculous water-walking device which would make military bridges a thing of the past–each soldier would wear tiny canoes on his feet, and drive himself over the water with a small paddle.
The Civil War, Strange & Fascinating Facts, by Burke Davis author of Gray Fox