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What Impact Did the Industrial Revolution Have on World War I?

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What Impact Did the Industrial Revolution have on World War I?

How did the Industrial Revolution impact World War I? This is an old chestnut of a question. If not for the technological advances that occurred during this time period we would still be in the so-called dark ages. However, it also comes with some drawbacks. Wars could no longer be fought and won quickly or cheaply. Due to the new killing power, industrialization allowed destruction to occur on an unprecedented scale. The politicians and generals who directed World War I never wanted or anticipated the kind of war brought about by industrialization.

The age of iron and steam led to many new inventions. Railways and steamships transported large armies with their supplies and ammunition. They were able to move long distances in days instead of weeks. New forms of explosives and propellants for improved firearms and artillery were created through developments in metallurgy, chemicals and electricity. New styles of warfare, like the use of gas and heavy artillery, led to unprecedented suffering and deaths.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the military uniforms were brightly colored so soldiers could tell the difference between friends and enemies through all of the smoke on the battlefield. With the invention of long-range rifles, smokeless powder, and machine guns, the French were slaughtered when they wore the bright colored uniforms of the past. The machine gun and long-range rifle also made movement in the area between the trenches nearly unachievable.

Armies of millions became possible. They could be clothed, fed, and free from lethal epidemic disease all year round. The ability to overwhelm the enemy by rapid movement no longer ensured victory. This meant more weapons, ammunition, and general supplies would be needed, causing the cost of war to skyrocket. Massive casualties and unfathomable destruction would be seen.

The Industrial Revolution created a stalemate. Military plans were not based on a lengthy war, but rather a quick success. Everything became deadlocked. This led to WWI becoming one of the bloodiest and most destructive wars ever. Casualties were astronomical; nine million people lost their lives on the battlefield.

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