From one of the training briefings given by Nicola Tesla:
There are several effects that will occur when this weapon is fired, and it's best you be prepared. Well, I suppose that is why I am here to show you, yes?
Because the Electron Emitter will be firing over 27,000 volt/amperes, you will not see the 'split' lightning until the beam is well over 30 meters. This splitting will cause small and larger sonic 'booms' where the parts of the stream break the sound barrier.
I have seen some of the effects of electricity on animals through Mr Edisons' awful demonstrations he filmed. I am loathe to release such inventions myself, but I have been assured that the faster this conflict is over, the more lives saved.
The metal of the barbed wire barricades, will heat up and throw sparks around the 20,000 volt mark, but when the metal begins to melt, the sparks will stick and burn through most anything not metal itself.
If a soldier wearing the usual complement of metallic objects were to be struck directly, the force could, conceivably burn straight through, if a strong enough ground point were close. Or perhaps even thrown bodily, carried along with the stream, dead seconds after being lifted.
Any pockets of groundwater, would be instantly turned to steam, and would quite literally explode, causing more 'Booms' and spraying hot earth and scalding steam in every direction. This dirty water will also increase the grounding effect, so that in turn the electrical effects would increase.
Whats that? O, well I suppose if any of the opposing soldiers lacked sufficient grounding, perhaps standing on wooden planking from one of the barricades....
Most of my uniform was intact and sections of it were smoking. I took stock of what I had and looked around to see what I could use as a weapon, as I could see no rifles about. The small bits of metal here and there from the bits of barb wire and the various buckles and other adornments on the bodies that surrounded me were trailing gray trails upward, like all of the metal spirits had been defeated.
We were, all of us anxious to get going. Our orders and our objectives were fairly simple; gain as much ground as possible so that the infantry could follow in relative safety. If possible get to the village of Flers. I began running through my mental checklist getting ready; we had charges for the weapon ready, The Mark 1, with its forward tilted profile, seemed ready to go, like a beast trembling to be released.