One of the stereotypes about military organizations/bureaucracies is that they are always planning for the last war and are reluctant to adopt new, untried weapons or methods. In the Civil War one of the strongest proponents of that attitude, General James W. Ripley, was the Union army’s Chief of Ordnance from the beginning of the war until September 1863. Early in the war he opposed the purchase of additional stocks of muskets because the army had a large supply of smooth bores, which he thought should be used first. He also adamantly opposed the use/purchase of breech-loading rifles and repeater rifles, among other reasons because he believed volunteer soldiers were undisciplined and would waste ammunition.
Would the war have been much shorter if Union soldiers had had repeaters (not to mention other innovations like the Gatling gun) as early as 1863 in large numbers? We can only speculate — but it certainly would not have been longer!
Below are images of the a Repeater Rifle, the Gatling Gun, and General Ripley