Few realize the world’s first widespread deployment of landmines took place during the American Civil War (1860–1865). At the start of the war, the disparity in military manpower, materiel, and weaponry between the North and South was significant. The gap widened in the Union’s favor as the war progressed, forcing the Confederate war industry to innovate and improvise. As the conflict progressed, landmine warfare advanced commensurately, and both tactics and technology evolved to include innovative types of design and deployment. During the war’s later years, Confederate soldiers used both command-detonated and victim-activated landmines more frequently to defend and to protect static positions, including cities. Landmines and their antecedents, especially those with origins in the American Civil War, have been widely used through both world wars and in many modern conflicts. After the American Civil War ended in 1865, Americans would not deploy landmines on a widespread basis for seventy-six years until World War II. However, their prolific use continues to kill and maim thousands of innocent victims every year.



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