Civil War (detail of painting 'First Battle of Bull Run' by Kurz & Allison)

Bloody Battles

Federal troops—and later Confederates—used advanced weapons: rifled muskets that fired spinning, cone-shaped minié balls; rapid-fire, breech-loading rifles; and rifled artillery. But both sides employed these weapons in traditional short-range fire between massed lines of soldiers, with deadly results.

The Minié Ball

Named for a French Army officer, minié balls were conical-shaped bullets with hollow bases. Exploding powder expanded the lead into the barrel’s rifling, giving the balls spin and making them fly farther and straighter.

Dead Confederate soldiers at Antietam, Maryland
Cannons on Smoketown Road after the battle at Antietam, Maryland

Related Artifacts