The Civil War Weapons Quiz

By: Nathan Chandler

The Civil War Weapons Quiz
Image: Chris Hackett/Getty

About This Quiz

The American Civil War is often called the first "modern war," pitting high-powered weapons versus archaic battlefield tactics. How much do you know about weapons of the Civil War?
At the outset of the war, the arsenals of both armies were stocked mostly with which weapon?
Longswords
Colt revolvers
smooth-bore muskets
The muskets were far outdated, featuring technology that was a century old.

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How were some Civil War gun barrels innovative?
They were replaceable.
They were rifled.
The rifling helped to spin the projectiles, making them more stable and accurate.
They were made of a lighter metal alloy.

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What was the mostly commonly used firearm in the Civil War?
Sharps rifle
Springfield 1861 rifle
The rifled barrel gave it an effective firing range of up to 400 yards.
Colt Army Model 1860

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About how many rounds per minute could trained troops fire using the Springfield rifle?
two
three
Prior to the Springfield rifle, many troops were stuck using smooth-bored muskets that were wildly inaccurate.
six

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How did the Union army deploy hot air balloons?
as surveillance tools
The balloons offered good vantage points for battlefield commanders trying to make sense of enemy movements.
as early bombers
as machine gun nests

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What was the weight of the Parrott Rifle?
18 pounds
180 pounds
1,800 pounds
It was a cannon that fired mostly 20-pound projectiles and had a range of around 2,000 yards.

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How were the first Civil War ironclad ships powered?
diesel engine
steam engine
The newfangled ironclad ships immediately revolutionized shipbuilding.
sail

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Due to an insufficient number of firearms, in 1862 Georgia's governor ordered the creation of what weapon?
pikes
Thousands of the spear-like weapons were manufactured but there's no record of them actually being used in battle.
grenades
broadswords

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What was the maximum range of the Napoleon cannon?
1 mile
It was more commonly known as a "12-pounder" for the weight of the projectile it fired.
2 miles
3 miles

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Which weapon caused only about 5% of Civil War casualties?
land mines
pistol
artillery
They were used in many, many battles but caused mostly psychological harm to the opposing side.

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Which gun was the most widely used weapon in the Confederate army?
Lorenz rifle
Enfield rifle
It had an effective range of about 500 yards.
Springfield rifle

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How were wounds caused by the conical Minie ball different than those inflicted by round musket balls?
They were less destructive.
They tended to cut a path straight through the body.
And when they impacted bones, they caused them to shatter; as a result many soldiers were subjected to amputations.
They mushroomed when they struck flesh.

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Why were casualty rates so high during Civil War battles?
poor battlefield medicine
The weapons were incredibly powerful but medicine in general wasn't advanced enough to save wounded soldiers.
many land mines
machine guns

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The 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry was first armed with what weapon?
Lances
Nicknamed "Rush's Lancers," they were eventually rearmed with rifles.
Colt root
Volcanic pistol

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How were calcium lights used during some attacks during the Civil War?
used to set fire to enemy fortifications
used to illuminate targets
The bright lights were used during the Union attack on Fort Wagner to help gunners find their marks; they also blinded the Confederate soldiers.
used to coordinate signals from afar

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What special feature was included on the Sharps military carbine?
a grain grinder
The hand-cranked grinder was probably used for wheat or corn.
a compartment made to hold tobacco
a fishing hook

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Which weapon was responsible for about 90% of all Civil War casualties?
artillery
rifles
To ensure a hit, soldiers often held their fire until the enemy was in very close proximity.
bayonet

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For the siege of Petersburg, Union commanders personally purchased what kind of new weapon?
Gatling guns
The U.S. government actually never officially adopted the weapon, which was essentially a machine gun.
land mines
grenades

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Why were government officials reluctant to invest in new arms technology at the beginning of the war?
The war was supposed to be over in six months.
No one thought the South would be able to draw out the conflict.
They were confident in their stockpile of older weapons.
They were sure that there would be a political resolution.

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At which battle did the Spencer rifle make a powerful impression?
Battle of Shiloh
Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Chickamauga
Union forces used the repeating rifle to cut down masses of Confederates.

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Why were Ketchum grenades hard to use?
They had to land on the nose in order to detonate.
They actually featured stabilizing fins, like darts, but they were still of dubious value.
The timing of the fuses was too long, giving foes a chance to lob the grenades back at attackers.
They were too heavy.

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Which weapon did Confederate soldiers commonly use to kill Union artillery crews?
volcanic carbine
Whitworth rifle
It had an effective range of 1,000 yards, making it useful for snipers.
Joslyn rifle

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How many side-by-side barrels did the Billinghurst Requa Battery feature?
25
They could be fired in a single volley, making it a very lethal weapon, but other weapons made this one obsolete.
13
eight

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During the Civil War, land mines were commonly called what?
dirt bombs
torpedoes
They were used more by Confederates forces; many people thought they were inhumane.
foot traps

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Why did Civil War cavalry men carry multiple pistols?
It was easier than reloading a weapon that had been fired.
As with rifles, pistol technology advanced during the war, making it less necessary to lug around multiple weapons.
Their missions tended to be longer because they were on horseback.
You can never have enough guns.

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What was the range of the Hale rocket launcher?
2,000 yards
It was more accurate than previous rocket systems but didn't see widespread action.
200 yards
about 100 yards

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How many shots could the Henry rifle fire before it had to be reloaded?
seven
12
Repeating rifles offered soldiers a tremendous advantage over foes who had only single-shot muzzleloaders.
17

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Union Gen. William Sherman called which weapon, "not warfare, but murder?"
land mines
To protect his soldiers, he forced Confederate POWs to march at the head of Union formations.
machine guns
bayonets

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How many rounds per minute could a Gatling gun fire?
about 150 rounds
about 350 rounds
In an era of slow muzzleloaders, the Gatling gun was a technological marvel.
about 750 rounds

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How many miles of telegraph line were installed only for the purpose of military communications?
more than 1,000 miles
more than 1,600 miles
more than 15,000 miles
The telegraph system was one of the most important weapons in the war, helping armies coordinate their movements.

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You Got:
/30
Chris Hackett/Getty

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