Photo: ‘Lincoln’ official trailer
When we read Krislyn Placide’s piece on Lincoln’s modernization of war technology in Popular Science, we were fascinated.It’s no secret that Lincoln went with General Grant to lead the war because the officer understood the numbers. Grant would flood the battlefield with troops under tragic conditions, knowing that his losses didn’t matter. The President and Grant knew there would be more troops to fill the Union ranks, and the South didn’t have that luxury. Every man counted.
What Placide points out is that the log cabin president was a famous tinkerer who nudged the Union into attaining 16,000 patents during his term, and that many of those were for weapon advancements. The South issued a paltry 266.
Lincoln understood the numbers as well, and the more Confederate troops he could kill per battle, the better chance he stood of saving the nation.
This model, now in the Smithsonian, shows the lift Lincoln received Patent No. 6469 for after a boat taking him home to Illinois from Washington got stuck. The device was never manufactured
In 1861, Lincoln tested breech-loading rifles in the White House lawn. Unlike muzzle-loaders, the breech-loaders didn't require soldiers to stand-up, opening themselves to fire, to re-load
Despite Col. James Wolfe Ripley, the Army Ordnance Chief, telling the president the breech-loaders couldn't be produced in time, Lincoln told him to order them
Lincoln also whittled down the sight on a Spencer carbine, so it was more effective on long-range targets. The weapon helped the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers win at Petersburg, Virginia
The Soldiers' Home, pictured, which Lincoln stayed in while in Washington, and the Smithsonian established a blinking, calcium-light, Morse-code signal
In an early attempt at aerial reconnaissance, Lincoln prodded generals to get seven hot-air balloons. One took off from a boat in the Potomac, a.k.a., the first 'aircraft carrier'
The smaller boats along the bank in this painting are mortar boats, which helped take Island Number 10, off Mississippi, after Lincoln's insistence mortars get made
Ripley also didn't think this rifled-cannon would be a success; its ability to shoot shells straight, instead of hurling wobbly balls, helped take several Southern forts
Including Savannah, part of Gen. Sherman's March to Sea through Georgia, which this scene from 'Lincoln' might depict
Lincoln was a little late to armoured ships, or 'iron-clads.' The South's Merrimac sunk five Federal frigates before the Monitor was armoured and struck back
Lincoln and Ripley again disagreed on the need for incendiary shells, even after the president arranged a demonstration near the White House. The commander-in-chief won, of course, and they later burned Vicksburg and Charleston
Lincoln did have one ally, Admiral John Dahlgren, who helped his boss develop weapons such as the rocket torpedo. They weren't able to produce them for the war, though
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