The Civil War Connections Blog

Who Actually Gains From This War?

Who gains from war? This is certainly a timeless question. A light approach to answering this question, as it relates to the Civil War era, would be INVENTORS! In a previous post, I suggested that many argue that the Civil War was the first modern war. Below is an excerpt from an article entitled “Inventors the Prosperous Class,” taken from the July 1861 edition of Scientific American.

“There is no class of persons in these war times who seem to be more prosperous than the inventors and patentees.

We have heard of a number of sales of patents latterly at remunerative prices, and a few that are doing extraordinarily well in manufacturing articles protected by their patents, even in these dull times. The patentees of articles used in camps and by the army, are reaping a rich harvest. There is an enormous demand for improved firearms, cannon, shells, projectiles, explosive grenades, and military accouterments of all kinds. More than half our entire patent department force is kept constantly employed on this class of inventions, and a great proportion of the applications for patents which have passed through this office within the last two months are on the following inventions, which, in the aggregate, pertaining directly and indirectly to the war, amounts to more than one hundred Improved breech and muzzle-loading cannon; mode of mounting and operating heavy ordnance; improvement in guns, pistols and locks ; improvement in projectiles and shot, the number of the two latter being very large ; improvement in bits for cavalry horses; improvement in stirrups; improvement in drinking cups and drinking tubes for soldiers; tents, camp beds and tables combined; epaulets and mode of fastening; modern portable huts for soldiers military caps, combining lightness and peculiar shapes for protecting the wearer from the sun, & c. Some of these inventions have been already adopted, and the manufacturers are making money out of their contracts, while others are patiently waiting the action of the officials before whom their inventions have been submitted for examination…”