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dalem
28 Jan 08,, 08:45
I'm re-watching Ken Burns' "Civil War".

We all know the fact that at the time of the Civil War, the weapons had outpaced the tactics, and the rifled musket had invalidated the old horse & musket "close, line up and fire" tactics but that "the generals" didn't know it yet.

My question is this: What if someone had figured it out? What could they do with the men and weapons of the time? How much change, and of what kinds, was necessary, or possible, or plausible, given the rest of the facts of the era?

So, assuming you were shot back in time and had the ear of Grant, or Lee, or Sherman, or Longstreet, or Hill or Burnside, what would you teach them to change the way they fought, tactically?

I'm just plain curious.

-dale

Albany Rifles
28 Jan 08,, 21:15
Some actually did.

At the attack on Petersburg, VA, on 15 June 1864, William "Baldy" Smith's XVIII Corps attacked and broke through teh outer defenses of the Petersburg Dimmock Line near Batteries 3 - 7. After a careful recon, the conducted tehir attack in open order and at the double quick.

Now this was succesful because the Confederat trenches were undermanned.

Additionally, communication technology was usch that tactical battle was managed by eye sight...i.e., at division and below, a commander had to be able to see his troops. And the low rate of fire also required a massing of weapons.

There was a real problem of finding a middle gorund.

the best way is what finally worked...fight a war of maneuver and cut off your opponent from his base of supply. Hit him in flank and rear.

But a stand up fight became just a slugfest.

Trooth
29 Jan 08,, 00:09
Oh, you mean the American civil war? Sorry, as you were.

BudW
29 Jan 08,, 00:39
Didnt Lee in most battles take advantage of the line up and attack method? by the North by hunkering down and letting the North attack him first then he would counter attack after the North spent itself on the Reb defense.

dalem
29 Jan 08,, 01:20
Some actually did.

At the attack on Petersburg, VA, on 15 June 1864, William "Baldy" Smith's XVIII Corps attacked and broke through teh outer defenses of the Petersburg Dimmock Line near Batteries 3 - 7. After a careful recon, the conducted tehir attack in open order and at the double quick.

Now this was succesful because the Confederat trenches were undermanned.

Additionally, communication technology was usch that tactical battle was managed by eye sight...i.e., at division and below, a commander had to be able to see his troops. And the low rate of fire also required a massing of weapons.

There was a real problem of finding a middle gorund.

the best way is what finally worked...fight a war of maneuver and cut off your opponent from his base of supply. Hit him in flank and rear.

But a stand up fight became just a slugfest.

Yeah, in my opinion they had strategies and operations that were suitable, but lacked appropriate tactics.

-dale

astralis
29 Jan 08,, 04:16
dalem,

it was really tricky to do much more in the way of tactics in that time period. rifles simply didn't fire fast enough and weren't accurate enough to do good fire suppression or the stormtrooper tactics which the germans would use in 1918. you simply had to mass if you wanted enough firepower or shock laid down in an area.

as albany rifles mentioned, manuevering to hit the enemy flank would probably be the best bet during this time period- because of the slow rate of fire, the enemy would react poorly to being outflanked.

Shek
29 Jan 08,, 04:31
Correct if I'm wrong (not that I need to say that, since you can count on being corrected if you're wrong, but I guess I'm just hedging my bets :P), but since smokeless powder wasn't in use yet, you would have had to have had tight formations to help maintain control over movement once an engagement started. This would have been another limitation on tactical innovation.

Bluesman
29 Jan 08,, 04:46
Oh, you mean the American civil war? Sorry, as you were.

Well, DUH. Has there ever been ANOTHER civil war?

Seriously, Dr. Thin-Skin, we all knowed what wuz the question.

No, MORE seriously, unless you're actually in the same room as an Englishman IN ENGLAND, any mention of 'the' Civil War around an American it is going to be asumed that you meant OUR civil war.

Albany Rifles
29 Jan 08,, 14:55
Didnt Lee in most battles take advantage of the line up and attack method? by the North by hunkering down and letting the North attack him first then he would counter attack after the North spent itself on the Reb defense.

Doesn't really make sense...everyone kind of did this.

omon
29 Jan 08,, 17:35
Correct if I'm wrong (not that I need to say that, since you can count on being corrected if you're wrong, but I guess I'm just hedging my bets :P), but since smokeless powder wasn't in use yet, you would have had to have had tight formations to help maintain control over movement once an engagement started. This would have been another limitation on tactical innovation.

i think you right, last time i fired black powder gun i had to wait till smoke airs away before i could see the target, i bet if another guy was shooting next to me, he would never be able to aim, or i wouldn,t be able to aim, if he fired first.

Albany Rifles
29 Jan 08,, 21:44
Correct if I'm wrong (not that I need to say that, since you can count on being corrected if you're wrong, but I guess I'm just hedging my bets :P), but since smokeless powder wasn't in use yet, you would have had to have had tight formations to help maintain control over movement once an engagement started. This would have been another limitation on tactical innovation.

Hence my badly typed answer about battle management by eye sight.

clackers
31 Jan 08,, 11:31
So, assuming you were shot back in time and had the ear of Grant, or Lee, or Sherman, or Longstreet, or Hill or Burnside, what would you teach them to change the way they fought, tactically?


We can get some clues from the Franco-Prussian war and WWI, Dale, where this problem of massed firepower against massed targets was to predominate ... defenders should set up a defence in depth, with the second line being the 'real' one ... if the attackers can't turn the opposition line, any assaults need the element of surprise (no Pickett's Charge) ... and a big use of artillery, especially any howitzers onto dug in troops ...

When on the defensive, there would have been a lot of pressure on the Confederates' manpower reserves to keep up with the numbers needed to fill lines of trenches. They certainly couldn't have done it in the West.

T_igger_cs_30
31 Jan 08,, 14:07
Well, DUH. Has there ever been ANOTHER civil war?

Seriously, Dr. Thin-Skin, we all knowed what wuz the question.

No, MORE seriously, unless you're actually in the same room as an Englishman IN ENGLAND, any mention of 'the' Civil War around an American it is going to be asumed that you meant OUR civil war.

Ya but ours was first :P

Kansas Bear
31 Jan 08,, 15:47
Ya but ours was first :P

But we didn't chop anyone's head off! :P

T_igger_cs_30
31 Jan 08,, 15:54
But we didn't chop anyone's head off! :P

Fair point :(

Albany Rifles
31 Jan 08,, 16:06
But we didn't chop anyone's head off! :P

Tell THAT to Leonidas Polk!!!

T_igger_cs_30
31 Jan 08,, 16:30
Tell THAT to Leonidas Polk!!!

AH AH !!! were you telling me "porky pies" Kansas B?