As the U.S. Civil War raged on, Scientific American devoted much space to covering the military news. We also devoted space to our bread-and-butter business back then, inventions, including those designed for use in the war.
War is a lot about attack and defense; it is also about supplying all of the needs of the armies and navies and countries that are attempting to wage war more effectively than the adversary. Weapons, fortifications, care of the wounded, arms production--these aspects of the “grim enginery of war” [Scientific American, April 4, 1863] feature in these images of inventions from our archives in 1863. Some concepts were useful, some were ridiculous, and some bore within them the germ of an idea that was developed much later.