How Technology Shaped the Civil War; Civil War Innovations; Special Editions; by James Marten; 3 Page(s)
ANY CIVIL WAR BUFF IS FAMILIAR with the technological advances of that era: the carnage caused when tactics failed to accommodate breech-loading rifled muskets and artillery pieces, the truly revolutionary introduction of armored ships and railroad networks, and the merely tantalizing deployment of submerged warships and reconnaissance balloons. Historians still argue about the extent to which the Civil War was the first "modern" war, but it is impossible to deny that the technology with which it was fought foretold the ways in which future wars would become bigger, bloodier and more devastating. Fewer people realize, however, that a similar explosion in technological creativity occurred away from the battlefield.
Newspapers became tools of mass communication in the 1830s with the invention of the rotary press and the application of steam power to printing. These and other innovations brought down the price of newspapers; by the 1830s and 1840s newspapers such as the trio of New York papers founded during this time—the Tribune, the Sun and the Herald—were sold for a penny and reached massive audiences. The development of the telegraph in the late 1840s sped the gathering and distribution of news; the Associated Press was founded in 1849 to take advantage of the new technology. The gradual knitting together of the nation by railroads—especially in the North and Midwest—further hastened communication.