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astralis
09 Apr 12,, 19:25
No machine guns.


from an older post and unrelated to the actual content of this thread...but i've always wondered how the war would have went had the union adopted the gatling gun (i know, not a real machine gun, but still...) in 1862. or, horrors, the confederacy.

Tarek Morgen
10 Apr 12,, 01:08
Are you sure that it would have had much of an impact? The Mitrailleuse did not do much good for the French in 1870. Of course the situations are not really the same, but is there not always a considerable delay between the invention of a new weapon system, its introdruction and lastly its effective use on the battlefield?

zraver
10 Apr 12,, 03:17
Are you sure that it would have had much of an impact? The Mitrailleuse did not do much good for the French in 1870. Of course the situations are not really the same, but is there not always a considerable delay between the invention of a new weapon system, its introdruction and lastly its effective use on the battlefield?

If the CSA had the gatling gun in good numbers backing the ANV in 1863 and 64 Grant's tactics of mass would have faired no better than French or British on the Western Front. Gatling Guns at Cold Harbor where poor troop handling combined with massed troops resulted in horrific losses in real history might well have ended Grant's career if those losses had been doubled.

Shek
10 Apr 12,, 17:09
If the CSA had the gatling gun in good numbers backing the ANV in 1863 and 64 Grant's tactics of mass would have faired no better than French or British on the Western Front. Gatling Guns at Cold Harbor where poor troop handling combined with massed troops resulted in horrific losses in real history might well have ended Grant's career if those losses had been doubled.

While not a drop in a bucket, the AoP suffered far fewer casualties from the 3 June assault than history previously assigned. There were on order of 3500-4000 total casaulties from the assault.

Had Gatling Guns been part of the ANV's arsenal, then Grant's tactics surely would have changed at Cold Harbor and elsewhere. Rather than looking upon general assaults to settle things prior to the 1864 election, then Grant, the pre-eminent strategist who understood the role of the people in the trinity, would have crafted the execution of the campaign differently.

As a note on the Gatlin Gun, the follow-up question to CSA possession of the technology would be the long pole in the tent, so to speak, on their ability to sustain it with ammunition. Possession is only part of the question in its impact on the battlefield . . .

Shek
10 Apr 12,, 17:11
What about artillery pieces and trains? that numbers quoted seems to me that the Army of Potomac didn't really have the edge in numbers as if you need to go on the offensive, you need to have a 3-1 ratio of attackers vs defenders in order to have a successful chance. Perhaps AOP made up the difference in terms of artillery and machine guns?

In considering the ratio of numbers in the Overland Campaign, one should also consider the role of ancilliary but supporting operations that fixed CSA forces in place elsewhere (south of Petersburg, Shenandoah Valley, etc.), preventing Lee from initially reinforcing the ANV.

astralis
10 Apr 12,, 17:54
tarek,


The Mitrailleuse did not do much good for the French in 1870

that is true. OTOH the germans also had another bit of new fancy technology: Krupp steel breech-loading cannon. this was more familiar to soldiers as this represented a big increase in an existing capability, rather than something new altogether. IIRC the french tried to use the mitrailleuse as a "mini-cannon", which was not very effective.

in the context of the civil war, though, after juggling around with the gatling for a year or so either side should have been able to use it appropriately.

one of the reasons why the US was fairly fortunate was that the war was by and large fought with weapons from the 1850s. only a few units had breechloaders, mainly cavalry or a few units which purchased them privately (and put them to shockingly deadly use).

if the war had been delayed by one presidency or so, both sides would have been armed with breechloaders, perhaps with steel cannon too. civil war casuaties would have gone up significantly.

Albany Rifles
10 Apr 12,, 19:10
If the ANV had Gatling guns in 1864 my response is "So What?"

The range of the Gatlings was about 600 yards, at the very best....the same range as a Springfield and Enfield rifle. A rifle company under cover could bring a lot of fire on an exposed battery.

And when it comes down to it, the superb artillery of the AOP would have easily countered it. There were over 150 10 pound and 3 inch ordnance rifles in the batteries of the AOP. Concentrated fire was deadly to Confederate gunners....and there were almots 100 each 20 poiund Parrots just sitting in Artillery Reserve which could have been brought forward as needed to counter them. Those Heavy Artillery regiments would have been used in their intended roles instead of as Infantry if it came to that.

It was a weapon, not a game changer.

zraver
10 Apr 12,, 20:04
If the ANV had Gatling guns in 1864 my response is "So What?"

The range of the Gatlings was about 600 yards, at the very best....the same range as a Springfield and Enfield rifle. A rifle company under cover could bring a lot of fire on an exposed battery.

And when it comes down to it, the superb artillery of the AOP would have easily countered it. There were over 150 10 pound and 3 inch ordnance rifles in the batteries of the AOP. Concentrated fire was deadly to Confederate gunners....and there were almots 100 each 20 poiund Parrots just sitting in Artillery Reserve which could have been brought forward as needed to counter them. Those Heavy Artillery regiments would have been used in their intended roles instead of as Infantry if it came to that.

It was a weapon, not a game changer.

The very same arguments were made against the Maxim. Alot of mrn died as a result. Grant had no peer in his age, but many of his corps and division commanders were of lesser material as Cold Harbor shows. Lee and especially Longstreet could have made good use of the Gatling assuming they had been able to feed them with bullets. On the defensive and fighting from trenches, gun sheikds and defiladed posistions are compketely possible adaptaions of nessecity.

Those heavy artillery units would have been needed,but at the cost of sone of the AoPs infatry strength. The of course could Grant survive lincolns wrath if he served up an American first day of the Somme during an election year?

Albany Rifles
11 Apr 12,, 14:53
The very same arguments were made against the Maxim. A lot of men died as a result.


Not a good comparison. Weapons of different calibers and capabilities. The Gatling was an artillery weapon not an Infantry Weapon like the Maxims. Different tactics, techniques and procedures required for both.

Grant had no peer in his age, but many of his corps and division commanders were of lesser material as Cold Harbor shows.

I am intrigued by that comment. On what is that based? I agree Warren left a lot to be desired, but Hancock and Wright were excellent corps commanders and Burnside must be given his due as well. The division and brigade commanders were also quite good; some were excellent. And has Shek has pointed out the old fables of the debacle at Cold Harbor have been debunked pretty thoroughly by the scholarship over the past 15 years. And the foremost historian on the Overland Campaign, Gordon Rhea, concludes that the leadership of the AOP was pretty good.

Lee and especially Longstreet could have made good use of the Gatling assuming they had been able to feed them with bullets. On the defensive and fighting from trenches, gun sheikds and defiladed posistions are compketely possible adaptaions of nessecity.Longstreet was gone 6 hours after he showed up on the Wilderness battlefield. The tactics you speak of for the Gatlings belie their failings. They sat about a foot higher on the carriage than a field piece, exposing the gun crews. The fighting from behind defensive positions precluded the ability to traverse much beyond the aperture which could be cut….and their range was insufficient to offset their vulnerability against directed artillery fire. The Army realized the gun crews were vulnerable to rifle since the crew had to operate it while standing and the height of the gun. Also its short range made it vulnerable to cannon fire…exactly as I posited. The counter tactics are exactly what I proposed in my initial comments.


Those heavy artillery units would have been needed,but at the cost of sone of the AoPs infatry strength. The of course couldGrant survive lincolns wrath if he served up an American first day of the Somme during an election year?

I am talking about one regiment in this role. Most of the service of these regiments was solid but not impressive. True, they did well in a standup fight at the Battle of Harris’ Farm but they were assisted by Birney’s excellent division. The exception to this was the 2d CT Volunteer Heavies who fought very well with the VIth Corps from Fort Stevens, through the Shenandoah 64 campaigns up to the Breakthrough on to Appomattox.

As for Lincoln firing Grant….and replace him with whom? Lincoln wasn’t going to replace Grant. Grant’s forces suffered almost 55,000 casualties in 40 days and Lincoln didn’t fire him. And the Gatling gun….even if the Confederacy could have built and sustained them…would have been an addition to the battlefield. If the rifle musket and artillery and the “elan” of the ANV could not stop Grant the Gatling wasn’t going to help.

That said, I moving this to the What If section.

astralis
11 Apr 12,, 16:26
sounds like the ANV would have needed to have quite a few gatlings (with the requisite logistics to sustain them) for the gatling to have much of an effect.

OTOH, fast firing weapons -did- make a big splash when they showed up, oh-so-rarely, on the battlefield. mostly it was the AoP which enjoyed it; brigades or regiments which privately equipped themselves with henry/spencer rifles had an impact all out of proportion to their numbers.

Albany Rifles
11 Apr 12,, 17:09
sounds like the ANV would have needed to have quite a few gatlings (with the requisite logistics to sustain them) for the gatling to have much of an effect.

OTOH, fast firing weapons -did- make a big splash when they showed up, oh-so-rarely, on the battlefield. mostly it was the AoP which enjoyed it; brigades or regiments which privately equipped themselves with henry/spencer rifles had an impact all out of proportion to their numbers.

The repeater and/or breech loading weapons were most notable in their use by the Union Cavalry forces. This enabled Union Cavalry to often times hold off superior numbers of Confederate Infantry, Gettysburg being the most notable but not the only example.

While some Infantry was equipped with repeaters/breech loaders it was not too prevalent. More examples were seen in the Western Theater than in the East.

zraver
12 Apr 12,, 02:57
[B][I]

Not a good comparison. Weapons of different calibers and capabilities. The Gatling was an artillery weapon not an Infantry Weapon like the Maxims. Different tactics, techniques and procedures required for both.

Uhm, the Gatling was employed by the USAR as an artillery weapon, that does not mean it was an artillery weapon any more than the Maxim was. A different carriage or mount and its a machine gun.


I am intrigued by that comment. On what is that based? I agree Warren left a lot to be desired, but Hancock and Wright were excellent corps commanders and Burnside must be given his due as well. The division and brigade commanders were also quite good; some were excellent. And has Shek has pointed out the old fables of the debacle at Cold Harbor have been debunked pretty thoroughly by the scholarship over the past 15 years. And the foremost historian on the Overland Campaign, Gordon Rhea, concludes that the leadership of the AOP was pretty good.

The leadership at CH was not pretty good. Wright's delay on June 1. Wright, Smith and Hancock all failed to do a recon on June 2 and on the same day Burnside failed to attack an exposed Confederate flank. This set up the slaughter of June 3rd when 3 Union corps advanced through a confederate defense in depth. Burnside halted his corps in the north before carrying the actual confederate lines and paused until afternoon.

Even the historian you picked by name admits the loss of 3-4000 union troops on a single day. Overall union losses on the low end 12700 with at least 1800 dead against a possible low end CSA dead of just 83 per Bonekemper.


Longstreet was gone 6 hours after he showed up on the Wilderness battlefield.

I was talking his ability to perceive the use of the weapon.


The tactics you speak of for the Gatlings belie their failings. They sat about a foot higher on the carriage than a field piece, exposing the gun crews.

They did, but they didn't have to.


The fighting from behind defensive positions precluded the ability to traverse much beyond the aperture which could be cutand their range was insufficient to offset their vulnerability against directed artillery fire.

Ditto for the Maxim yet we see how well that weapon worked in 1914.


The Army realized the gun crews were vulnerable to rifle since the crew had to operate it while standing and the height of the gun. Also its short range made it vulnerable to cannon fire exactly as I posited. The counter tactics are exactly what I proposed in my initial comments.

Again, see the Maxim on the Western front.


As for Lincoln firing Grant and replace him with whom? Lincoln wasn't going to replace Grant. Grant's forces suffered almost 55,000 casualties in 40 days and Lincoln did't fire him.

If he suffered that many in 4 days? Lincoln fired generals, and Grant was replaceable, all generals are for good or for ill.


And the Gatling gun even if the Confederacy could have built and sustained them;would have been an addition to the battlefield. If the rifle musket and artillery and the elan; of the ANV could not stop Grant the Gatling wasn't going to help.

That simply does not follow... The Gatling properly employed in the defensive from behind defensive works and properly supplied (an admitted problem) could indeed stop the AoP with a wall of dead blue soldiers.


That said, I moving this to the What If section.

Agreed, as its a good debate to have on the power of technology that existed and might have changed history.

zraver
12 Apr 12,, 03:06
sounds like the ANV would have needed to have quite a few gatlings (with the requisite logistics to sustain them) for the gatling to have much of an effect.

In certain battles like Cold harbor the poor handling on the Union side would be ideal for a few Gatlins gathered into flying batteries to be rushed about which both reduces the number needed and the ammuntion drain as well. The US and the CSA were both well versed in the concept of flying batteries.


OTOH, fast firing weapons -did- make a big splash when they showed up, oh-so-rarely, on the battlefield. mostly it was the AoP which enjoyed it; brigades or regiments which privately equipped themselves with henry/spencer rifles had an impact all out of proportion to their numbers.

The Gatling's single biggest advantage to the CSA would be its initial employment as a political weapon such as Cold Harbor where the shock of massive losses assaulting prepared positions might influence the election. its next biggest advantage to the CSA would to be to force the Union to change its tactics which against in the election year is not just an operation/strategic/tactical issue but political as well.

Conversely the Gatling would be far less effective against Sherman where there was room to move and shift to avoid going heads up against defensive works, at least until the coast where the Sea both hemmed the CAS in but finally anchored their flank.

zraver
12 Apr 12,, 12:43
A search reveasl that post ACW the Gatling was used to break up infantry and cavalry attacks across the globe- Canada, Egypt, Sudan, Chile, South Africa... This included use against both firearm and traditionally equipped forces. Had the Gatling been present at Cold Harbor on the side of the CSA in sufficient numbers and with sufficient stores of ammunition the result could have changed the course of American and world history. Harry Turtledove uses time travellign racist to give the South automatic weapons. But a few well handled batteries of Gatlings could have done the job as well. The weapon itself was well within the means of the South to construct, its not complex requring no technology the South did not already have.

The ammunition problem is more difficult to over come but not impossible. Each 6lb and 12lb napoleon the guns replaced freed up 1.25 and 2.5lbs of powder per shell respectively, as well as providing the crews, limbers, brass and iron for the guns. Given the South's shortage of men one must assume the Gatling batteries would in fact come from the artillery crews. All I have suggested is a more sensible employment defensively, tactics adopted by the major combatants in WWI. First by Germany when it went on to the defensive much like the South.

Of note, the Union response would have been somewhat handicapped by the technology of the day which prevented most artillery fire from behind cover and made mortars heavy and slow of fire.

Shek
12 Apr 12,, 14:29
A search reveasl that post ACW the Gatling was used to break up infantry and cavalry attacks across the globe- Canada, Egypt, Sudan, Chile, South Africa... This included use against both firearm and traditionally equipped forces. Had the Gatling been present at Cold Harbor on the side of the CSA in sufficient numbers and with sufficient stores of ammunition the result could have changed the course of American and world history. Harry Turtledove uses time travellign racist to give the South automatic weapons. But a few well handled batteries of Gatlings could have done the job as well. The weapon itself was well within the means of the South to construct, its not complex requring no technology the South did not already have.

The ammunition problem is more difficult to over come but not impossible. Each 6lb and 12lb napoleon the guns replaced freed up 1.25 and 2.5lbs of powder per shell respectively, as well as providing the crews, limbers, brass and iron for the guns. Given the South's shortage of men one must assume the Gatling batteries would in fact come from the artillery crews. All I have suggested is a more sensible employment defensively, tactics adopted by the major combatants in WWI. First by Germany when it went on to the defensive much like the South.

Of note, the Union response would have been somewhat handicapped by the technology of the day which prevented most artillery fire from behind cover and made mortars heavy and slow of fire.

1. Keep in mind the terrain, which provided numerous IV lines to provide cover from the effects for the Gatlings. The general assault proceeded generally until the last covered position and served in the end to close the gap between the two lines.

2. The general assault was ordered because it was going to be the last opportunity for an assault prior to the seige of Richmond. More importantly, it was made upon the assumption by Grant that the ANV was spent.

The latter half #2 is the most important factor for ordering the general assault. Add in Gatlings, and Grant proceeds more cautiously in his tactics. Add in #1, and any effective fire will spontaneously halt assaulting lines just as effective rifle fire halted them on 3 June 1864.

The end result is not a substantial # of casualties. Instead, Grant initiates the sidle around the ANV's right flank earlier. In fact, maybe this earlier movement results in Grant smashing through the Petersburg defenses during the second week of June and owning Richmond that same week. Virginia is lost and with it goes the supplies from the Shenandoah and from Tregedar. While the ANV exists to fight another day, it takes substantial losses in the counterattack against the Union held Richmond. Southern morale collapses and the war is won by Election Day in 1864.

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/coldharbor/cold-harbor-maps/civil-war-trust-maps/cold-harbor-june-3-1864-2.jpg

Albany Rifles
12 Apr 12,, 14:42
Those infantry assaults stopped by Gatlings were not against first line industrial society military formations....they were used against tribal and peasant armies...not the same as the Union Army.

But if the Confederates had Gatlings available to them I seriously doubt Grant would have aven attacked at Cold Harbor. He would have used what was his best operational strategy....continuously move against Lee's right flank and pin him against Richmond.

The main failure of Cold Harbor was not the corps commanders....it was a poor plan on bad terrain attempted to be executed by a worn out Army. The staff planning on the part of the AOP and Grant's staff was atrocious. The VIth Corps had to march 14 miles overnight from the extreme right along Totopotomy Creek to just to get into position. Soldiers wer eliterally walking into trees asleep on the march. The 3 days it took get the AOP across the James afforded those men the first rest they had had since the night of 2 May. The same was true of II Corps. As at the leadup to the Bloody Angle fight a few weeks before staffwork did not take into account the poor road network which did not support the type of troop movements needed to succesfully shift forces for the attack.

The failure at Cold Harbor was Grant's decision to conduct the attack once he couldn't get his Army into place in time to be effective and then his refusal to accept the cost of asking for a truce which resulted in more men dying needlessly.

That said, the Gatling would have made it difficult but not impossible.

NOTE: What Shek said!

Albany Rifles
12 Apr 12,, 14:48
Hey Shek...love those new maps on teh Civil War Trust website too!

astralis
12 Apr 12,, 17:17
of course, in any scenario where the ANV has gatlings in any number, you can bet your bottom dollar that the AoP will have them...and in greater numbers, too.

Albany Rifles
12 Apr 12,, 17:24
of course, in any scenario where the ANV has gatlings in any number, you can bet your bottom dollar that the AoP will have them...and in greater numbers, too.


But that would be unfair!


God, I hate Harry Turtledove!

zraver
12 Apr 12,, 20:51
1. Keep in mind the terrain, which provided numerous IV lines to provide cover from the effects for the Gatlings. The general assault proceeded generally until the last covered position and served in the end to close the gap between the two lines.

Granted you won't have regiments wiped out in the communication trenches before they even reach the jump off point but you will still have men mowed down.


2. The general assault was ordered because it was going to be the last opportunity for an assault prior to the seige of Richmond. More importantly, it was made upon the assumption by Grant that the ANV was spent.

If the ANV had unveiled gatlings here that assumption would still hold. I've made mention in this thread that the best way the ANV could have used a few batteries of the weapon was in a surprise unleashing against a massed attack in an election year. I freely concede once the shock wears off the utility of the weapon decreases. Thus the goal is to maximize the shock and thus the political damage to Lincoln.


The latter half #2 is the most important factor for ordering the general assault. Add in Gatlings, and Grant proceeds more cautiously in his tactics.[/qutoe]

If he knows, he already has one intelligence failure, the ANV is not spent

[quote] Add in #1, and any effective fire will spontaneously halt assaulting lines just as effective rifle fire halted them on 3 June 1864.

Dissagree, highly disciplined troops would not break on contact and would be slow to react to the nature of the new threat. Militia would break and suffer fewer losses but regulars and veterans would be mowed down. Adaptation takes time and the unit that develops the counter is rarely the unit to first encounter the new threat- that unit tends to die.


The end result is not a substantial # of casualties. Instead, Grant initiates the sidle around the ANV's right flank earlier. In fact, maybe this earlier movement results in Grant smashing through the Petersburg defenses during the second week of June and owning Richmond that same week. Virginia is lost and with it goes the supplies from the Shenandoah and from Tregedar. While the ANV exists to fight another day, it takes substantial losses in the counterattack against the Union held Richmond. Southern morale collapses and the war is won by Election Day in 1864.

maybe, but I am 100% in the opposite of that statement. I think losses would have been much higher and the physical shock of the loss would have paralyzed the AoP and set off a storm in Washington. McClellan would have used the situation to roast Lincoln over an open fire.

AR,

Those peasant armies managed to defeat several European armies. In the field, and in siege. Not every non-European was a Boxer. They often had levels of infantry firepower on the assault comparable to the Union armies as well. Heck what a feudal peasant army did at the battle of Adwa should speak volumes. Adwa, Impal, Rorke's Drift, Kandahar, Kabul, Jellabad... the natives proved they knew how to press an attack at least as vigorously as any European or American.

The Gatling properly employed in its initial outing against massed union troops would look like 1915.

zraver
12 Apr 12,, 20:54
of course, in any scenario where the ANV has gatlings in any number, you can bet your bottom dollar that the AoP will have them...and in greater numbers, too.

But until the ANV unveils them effectively why would they have them, the USAR didn't want them.

astralis
12 Apr 12,, 21:13
can't imagine it would be unveiled in mass. more likely the ANV would give it a trial run, and see if it was worth getting.

of course if the gatling proved to be a smashing success that would give the AoP a heads-up too...

zraver
12 Apr 12,, 21:23
can't imagine it would be unveiled in mass. more likely the ANV would give it a trial run, and see if it was worth getting.

of course if the gatling proved to be a smashing success that would give the AoP a heads-up too...

Disagree, the CSA didn't have the luxury of testing in small batches. If an idea worked on the drawing board and could be translated to a field (not operational) demonstration it was employed aka the petticoat balloon and the CSS Hunley. The defensive minded generals would see how to employ the weapon instinctively. Something that eluded the US because the AoP had an offensive mindset to which the Gatling was less suited.

Shek
12 Apr 12,, 23:56
Disagree, the CSA didn't have the luxury of testing in small batches. If an idea worked on the drawing board and could be translated to a field (not operational) demonstration it was employed aka the petticoat balloon and the CSS Hunley. The defensive minded generals would see how to employ the weapon instinctively. Something that eluded the US because the AoP had an offensive mindset to which the Gatling was less suited.

How do you figure that the AoP had an offensive mindset? It was anything but and was bred and born this way by McClellan. This is why Grant had to micromanage Meade and the AoP following the Wilderness. That isn't to say that you had some portions that possessed an offensive spirit, but by and large, it was a cautious formation.

zraver
13 Apr 12,, 00:13
How do you figure that the AoP had an offensive mindset? It was anything but and was bred and born this way by McClellan. This is why Grant had to micromanage Meade and the AoP following the Wilderness. That isn't to say that you had some portions that possessed an offensive spirit, but by and large, it was a cautious formation.

Operationally and strategically the AoP had to be on the offensive to win. It had to find a way to defeat the ANV and the Southern Will to resist. This was the only way it could win. The ANV had a defensive mindset, especially after Gettysburg when all Lee wanted to do was outlast the North's will to battle. The fact the AoP had to attack must have and did influence how it approached battle and tactical employment of assets.

Shek
13 Apr 12,, 01:27
Operationally and strategically the AoP had to be on the offensive to win. It had to find a way to defeat the ANV and the Southern Will to resist. This was the only way it could win. The ANV had a defensive mindset, especially after Gettysburg when all Lee wanted to do was outlast the North's will to battle. The fact the AoP had to attack must have and did influence how it approached battle and tactical employment of assets.

The AoP had a defensive mindset. McClellan instilled this in the AoP and it lasted through the war. Grant brought the offensive mindset to the East, and the mismatch between Grant's mindset of always looking for a seam / opportunity vs. the mindset of most of his subordinate commanders that looked for set piece actions resulted in numerous missed opportunities. A wonderful anecdote from a minor collapse of Sedgwick's northern flank in the Wilderness perfectly illustrates the tension between Grant's offensive mindset, of always looking for an opportunity, versus the mindset prevalent in the AoP follows:


"General Grant, this is a crisis that cannot be looked upon too seriously. I know Lee's methods well by past experience; he will throw his whole army between us and the Rapidan, and cut us off completely from our communications." Grant seemed to be waiting for such an opportunity and snapped, "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do."

The anecdote also illustrates the offensive mindset of Lee and the ANV, something that he had instilled in his commanders. As you look at the Overland Campaign and the Petersburg Campaign, you always see rapid and vigorous counterattacks in reaction to any Union offensive, a testament to its offensive spirit.

Just because the North had to fight a total war to win and the South didn't doesn't mean that their primary armies came with the requisite mindset. You cannot conflate the necessary strategy and corresponding mindset with the actual mindset as you have done here.

Shek
13 Apr 12,, 01:36
Granted you won't have regiments wiped out in the communication trenches before they even reach the jump off point but you will still have men mowed down.

If the ANV had unveiled gatlings here that assumption would still hold. I've made mention in this thread that the best way the ANV could have used a few batteries of the weapon was in a surprise unleashing against a massed attack in an election year. I freely concede once the shock wears off the utility of the weapon decreases. Thus the goal is to maximize the shock and thus the political damage to Lincoln.

If he knows, he already has one intelligence failure, the ANV is not spent

Dissagree, highly disciplined troops would not break on contact and would be slow to react to the nature of the new threat. Militia would break and suffer fewer losses but regulars and veterans would be mowed down. Adaptation takes time and the unit that develops the counter is rarely the unit to first encounter the new threat- that unit tends to die.

maybe, but I am 100% in the opposite of that statement. I think losses would have been much higher and the physical shock of the loss would have paralyzed the AoP and set off a storm in Washington. McClellan would have used the situation to roast Lincoln over an open fire.

You're not tracking on what happened. The general assault by and large simply advanced the lines to the last covered position, meaning that the exposure wasn't that great. Thus, your scenario about breaking and running isn't what happened at all. Units by and large advanced and then spontaneously ended their assaults prior to getting to any potential killing fields.

Hancock's Corps suffered the most casualties, but that was due to having the misfortune of a local breakthrough that meant feeding more soldiers into the furnace as well as having the misfortune of having to assault through terrain that canalized them and then forced them to attack uphill - terrain that was well suited for rifle fire from behind entrenchments and breastworks, but not terrain well suited to the Gatling. Thus, where the killing really happened, the Gatling wouldn't have been able to really get into the fight.

Next, you have to account for how well suited TTPs would have been for the design of fighting positions for Gatlings. You're assuming here that it's something that they'd get right the first time, which is a tall bet IMO.

Sorry, but still no sale.

zraver
13 Apr 12,, 05:15
You're not tracking on what happened. The general assault by and large simply advanced the lines to the last covered position, meaning that the exposure wasn't that great. Thus, your scenario about breaking and running isn't what happened at all. Units by and large advanced and then spontaneously ended their assaults prior to getting to any potential killing fields.

over 1800 dead and 4000+ wounded in a single day, most with in the space of 2 hours requires killing fields. You don't have one of the deadliest days in American history by stopping at ye old wood line.


Hancock's Corps suffered the most casualties, but that was due to having the misfortune of a local breakthrough that meant feeding more soldiers into the furnace as well as having the misfortune of having to assault through terrain that canalized them and then forced them to attack uphill - terrain that was well suited for rifle fire from behind entrenchments and breastworks, but not terrain well suited to the Gatling. Thus, where the killing really happened, the Gatling wouldn't have been able to really get into the fight.

Wave's 1 and 2 from Smith's XVIII Corps wrecked two brigades when they were engaged from the front at close range by Oates and by galling fire from both flanks. AP Hill reported that type of destruction all along his front in his report to . The 25th Mass went into battle with 300 men and left the battle with 80 men fit and 139 wounded. 53 men were dead and 28 captured. The regiment was wrecked in minutes.

And why couldn't the Gatling be used there unless you've wedded yourself to the USAR carriage mount. A Gatling mounted to be a defensive vs an artillery weapon might have a completely different profile.


Next, you have to account for how well suited TTPs would have been for the design of fighting positions for Gatlings. You're assuming here that it's something that they'd get right the first time, which is a tall bet IMO.

Tall bet sure, but one that has been made repeatedly through military history.

Sorry, but still no sale.[/QUOTE]

Shek
17 Apr 12,, 15:26
1. AoP casualties for the 3 June assault are 3500. Total casualties for the day are 4500. Both of these figures are lower than your cited 5800+, which inflates the numbers by 30-70%.

2. You cited examples of “killing fields” are the exception that proves the rule. In fact, only 3 of 5 corps participated in the assault. In these 3 corps, only 11 of 27 brigades actually attempted a significant advance (so, 11 of 48 brigades available to the Union participated with any significant attempt at an advance).

Hancock saw 7 brigades advance – as I cited earlier, Hancock saw some initial success, and it was the counterattack that caused the lion’s share of casualties. The terrain here didn’t provide clear fields of fire to where a Gatling would provide any significant advantage over the weaponry the ANV employed here. In fact, if you add in the assumption that the Gatlings did have the fields of fire, then you stop the assault before it becomes ensnarled on the lines, and then the casualties are at worst the same, but more likely than not, they become less.

Wright only had one brigade advance, so you aren’t adding many casualties there, if any at all.

Smith saw three brigades advance and suffered the worst percentage of casualties, and this is the example that you cite. However, the attack formation was divisions in column through a ravine – not terrain well suited to high casualty producing grazing fire. Instead, you’re left with restricted plunging fires that I’d be hard pressed to believe that they would be more effective than double shotted canister, which will cut a larger swath and compensate for any high firing that machine gun firing is prone to.

Additionally, the units most heavily hit are the converted heavies that still had not learned to better use concealment and cover like the veteran regiments – add in any effective machine gun fire, and you’re likely to stop their advance more quickly, reducing their exposure time and limiting potential casualties.

In the end, your scenario still continues to fail. I understand that were doing a what-if drill, but you’re adding so many conditions to it even after assuming away the challenges of logistics, that it’s unrealistic. You want it to be unveiled on the field of battle, you have chosen terrain that doesn’t play to the strengths of machine guns (i.e., why would you choose to employ them at ravines), you’re assuming that they get the tactics, techniques, and procedures for employing them as part of a defense from the get go (i.e., no trial and error to get there in terms of employment), and are assuming that they create carriage technology to match the TTPs that they just pull out of their a$$ and get it right the first time.

In the end, even if you do assume everything in that scenario, casualties are the same or less, and Grant still sidles right.

I think it’s appropriate now to quote from the Book or Rhea, 4th book, 10th chapter, “Stories of fields littered with blue-clad corpses convey distorted pictures of what really happened. A few sectors saw tremendous slaughter, but along much of the battle line Union loses were minor, and many Confederates had no idea that an offensive had even been attempted. The popular image of a massive Union onslaught at Cold Harbor belongs more to the dustbin of Civil War mythology than to real history.” Your scenario tries to play off of that mythology.

astralis
17 Apr 12,, 17:58
that last description makes me curious. assuming the final assault had succeeded, what would have happened?

Albany Rifles
17 Apr 12,, 18:45
In the end, your scenario still continues to fail. I understand that were doing a what-if drill, but you’re adding so many conditions to it even after assuming away the challenges of logistics, that it’s unrealistic. You want it to be unveiled on the field of battle, you have chosen terrain that doesn’t play to the strengths of machine guns (i.e., why would you choose to employ them at ravines), you’re assuming that they get the tactics, techniques, and procedures for employing them as part of a defense from the get go (i.e., no trial and error to get there in terms of employment), and are assuming that they create carriage technology to match the TTPs that they just pull out of their a$$ and get it right the first time.


And I will add also you fail to allow at all for the effect Union artillery would have had in a counterbatery role if brought into play against such a weapon. As Shek has said double cannister was effective from the tube artillery of the ANV fired in dug in positions through narrow appertures. To be effective the Gatlings would have to fire through open gun ports in order to traverse to be effective. In that case the gunners and gun were vulnerable to artillery fire from artillery whoch outranged it considereably....a very real issue which also precluded their adoption by the Union.

Finally, given the blackpowder of the day and how much smoke a Gatling produced, how soon on a hot humid day would the smoke build up to the point the gunners couldn't see anyway? Much quicker than from rifle fire and the artillery which was used.

Albany Rifles
17 Apr 12,, 18:55
that last description makes me curious. assuming the final assault had succeeded, what would have happened?

Have to ask a question? Is it a local success as at Petersburg in June 64 or is it a total breakthrough as at Petersburg in April 65? If it is a local and Lee can stabilize his lines by pulling back westward over Boatswain's Creek (a la Beauregard an Harrison's Creek at Petersburg) he can save his army and pull back to Richmond defenses. However, if it is a full breakthrough followed up with Sheridan's Cavalry and the ANV gets pinned against the Chickahominy River? Well, lets just say that Sherman is going to get some help from a couple of AOP corps in his attack on Atlanta because the ANV would have to surrender if pinned against the Chickahominy. Lee may have bee able to save some of his infantry but he would not be able to get his guns out and the ANV would be in a shambles.

zraver
17 Apr 12,, 21:10
1. AoP casualties for the 3 June assault are 3500. Total casualties for the day are 4500. Both of these figures are lower than your cited 5800+, which inflates the numbers by 30-70%.

Rhea lists AOP casualties at 3500-4000, others cite higher numbers, Rhea also claims ANV losses of around 1500 which is 5500 if I wrote 5800 it was a typo but still with in earlier estimates.


2. You cited examples of “killing fields” are the exception that proves the rule. In fact, only 3 of 5 corps participated in the assault. In these 3 corps, only 11 of 27 brigades actually attempted a significant advance (so, 11 of 48 brigades available to the Union participated with any significant attempt at an advance).

Hancock saw 7 brigades advance – as I cited earlier, Hancock saw some initial success, and it was the counterattack that caused the lion’s share of casualties. The terrain here didn’t provide clear fields of fire to where a Gatling would provide any significant advantage over the weaponry the ANV employed here. In fact, if you add in the assumption that the Gatlings did have the fields of fire, then you stop the assault before it becomes ensnarled on the lines, and then the casualties are at worst the same, but more likely than not, they become less.

Wright only had one brigade advance, so you aren’t adding many casualties there, if any at all.

Smith saw three brigades advance and suffered the worst percentage of casualties, and this is the example that you cite. However, the attack formation was divisions in column through a ravine – not terrain well suited to high casualty producing grazing fire. Instead, you’re left with restricted plunging fires that I’d be hard pressed to believe that they would be more effective than double shotted canister, which will cut a larger swath and compensate for any high firing that machine gun firing is prone to.

Additionally, the units most heavily hit are the converted heavies that still had not learned to better use concealment and cover like the veteran regiments – add in any effective machine gun fire, and you’re likely to stop their advance more quickly, reducing their exposure time and limiting potential casualties.

if not Cold Harbor becuase of terrain the basic premise of unveiling the weapon where it could achieve maximum effect remains valid. That beign said the Gatlings would have been more effective than canister due to range and rate of fire which translates into sustained fire


In the end, your scenario still continues to fail. I understand that were doing a what-if drill, but you’re adding so many conditions to it even after assuming away the challenges of logistics, that it’s unrealistic. You want it to be unveiled on the field of battle, you have chosen terrain that doesn’t play to the strengths of machine guns (i.e., why would you choose to employ them at ravines), you’re assuming that they get the tactics, techniques, and procedures for employing them as part of a defense from the get go (i.e., no trial and error to get there in terms of employment), and are assuming that they create carriage technology to match the TTPs that they just pull out of their a$$ and get it right the first time.

JFC Fuller and other earlier British tankers were calling for an armored fist used enmasse well before Cambrai in WWI. Getting it right the first time is as often as not a matter of senior leadership being willing to listen and make the correct call, Lee wasn't infallible but neither was he a dummy and he had numerous good officers under him. its not much of a stretch at all to think the ANV would have gotten it right enough


In the end, even if you do assume everything in that scenario, casualties are the same or less, and Grant still sidles right.

I just don't buy it, that type of thinking didn't defeat the machine gun in WWI


I think it’s appropriate now to quote from the Book or Rhea, 4th book, 10th chapter, “Stories of fields littered with blue-clad corpses convey distorted pictures of what really happened. A few sectors saw tremendous slaughter, but along much of the battle line Union loses were minor, and many Confederates had no idea that an offensive had even been attempted. The popular image of a massive Union onslaught at Cold Harbor belongs more to the dustbin of Civil War mythology than to real history.” Your scenario tries to play off of that mythology.

No, Rhea tries to down play the historical impact, even Grant regretted the assaults. It wasn't the bloodiest day of the war but it was the bloodiest predicted day of the war. The heat and bad troop handling left the AoP with a temporary 25% deficit in combat power as wrecked brigades and regiments recovered and a permanent loss of combat power on a lesser scale until the wrecked brigades got replacements.

AR,

Generally I bow to your much superior knowledge of the ACW, but here I think you might want to take a look at the battle of the Somme where the British tried the self same tactics your talking about to no avail. As for the smoke, blackpowder is smoky and is a condition of battle well understood by the commanders of the time. A fixed fire box that is swept by a gatling will not be much impeded by smoke. But the smoke will make accruate counter-battery fire difficult. The ANV only has to sweep an area while the Union artillery has to hit an obscured target.

Albany Rifles
17 Apr 12,, 21:35
Z,

I am also well versed blackpowder since I have shot a Remington New Army for about 30 years.

But how long can the Gatlings keep up fire until they jam...a very large problem when they heated up in the early days. This was not remedied for about a decade after their introduction.

But you still under estimate the ability to counterbattery fropm 20 pound Parrotts.

If the Gatlings had shown themselves on the 1st the 20 pounders would have been there on the 3rd.

They Gatling would have helped but in and of itself was not a game changer.

And as Shek points out and having personnaly walked the ground many times myself I could show you ample approach routes which could have been taken which would have minimized casualties.

I think the problem of Cold Harbor was less the weapons and the ANV as much as it was the AOP was exhausted and its best tactical leaders lay dead and wounded after a month of hard fighting. And as the calendar entered June some of those units realized their 3 year enlistments were up soon. This had more to do with the morale and combat effectiveness of the AOP than anything in late spring and summer 1864.

Shek
17 Apr 12,, 21:45
that last description makes me curious. assuming the final assault had succeeded, what would have happened?

Once again quoting from the book of Rhea, fourth book, final chapter:


Grant has been roundly criticized for assailing Lee’s line the morning of June 3. Viewed in the campaign’s larger context, the decision made sense. Recently reinforced by the 18th Corps, the Army of the Potomac was stronger than ever. Grant believed that the Confederates were on their last legs, and everything that had happened since crossing the Pamunkey, from Early’s botched assault at Bethesda Church to Wright’s and Smith’s breakthrough on June 1, supported him in that conclusion. Lee now stood a mere seven miles from Richmond, his back to a river. Delay, Grant determined, would serve no purpose, and further maneuvering would be difficult and uncertain in outcome. A successful assault at this juncture stood to wreck the Confederate army, capture Richmond, and bring the war to a speedy conclusion. What better gift could Grant offer President Lincoln on the eve of the Republican convention? Aggressive by nature and accustomed to taking risks, Grant seized the moment. If the offensive worked, the rewards would be tremendous. If it failed, he would simply treat the reverse as he had his earlier disappointments at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and North Anna River and try another tack. In short, the consequences of not assaulting, thereby forfeiting the chance for quick victory and extending the war, seemed worse than those of attacking and failing. “Could we succeed by a general assault in breaking [Lee’s] lines, the annihilation of his army was certain, as he would be driven back into the Chickahominy, whence escape was impossible,” was how a Union engineer put the case for attacking. “The hazard was great but General Grant concluded to take the chance.”

zraver
17 Apr 12,, 23:38
Z,

I am also well versed blackpowder since I have shot a Remington New Army for about 30 years.

But how long can the Gatlings keep up fire until they jam...a very large problem when they heated up in the early days. This was not remedied for about a decade after their introduction.

Don't know, we never discussed how the South got them either through a raid, copy or independent invention.


But you still under estimate the ability to counterbattery fropm 20 pound Parrotts.

If the Gatlings had shown themselves on the 1st the 20 pounders would have been there on the 3rd.

They Gatling would have helped but in and of itself was not a game changer.

Slight correction, the parrots would have been where the Gatlings where thought to be 2 days earlier.

[quote]And as Shek points out and having personnaly walked the ground many times myself I could show you ample approach routes which could have been taken which would have minimized casualties.[/quoe]

I freely concede that Cold Harbor might not be the ideal introduction of the weapon, where would you have unveiled it?

Shek
18 Apr 12,, 15:53
I freely concede that Cold Harbor might not be the ideal introduction of the weapon, where would you have unveiled it?

Z,
My point was that at Cold Harbor, the terrain that created the casualties was suboptimal for Gatling employment. AR's point is broader in that where you have terrain that is better suited for the Gatlings, with open fields of fire suitable to grazing fire, is also better suited for artillery employment and specifically counterbattery fire. Given that the artillery would have stand-off from the Gatlings, this terrain then becomes unsuitable. This wouldn't preclude the occasional local advantage where reverse slope and the right intervisibility lines could tip the scales to the Gatlins, but given the central employment of artillery by Henry Hunt, reacting to such a local advantage to negate it would mean that the Confederates wouldn't be able to turn a tactical advantage into an event that would have a strategic impact. It could constrain operational choices, but not choke them. It took improvements to rates of fire and range to exploit the potential advantages of machine gun fire, something not available to the Gatling.

Albany Rifles
18 Apr 12,, 20:56
Shek has walked FPF lines and done range cards a lot more recently than I have an he fairly nailed.

My point all along has been that teh Gatling would not win the war for the Confederates regardless....it was an immature technology with lengthy logistics requirements and many countering technologies superior to it. Cold Harbor may have been the only place where it could have a big impact but it would not mattered that greatly. And what finally beat Lee was Grant's ability to continuously extend the his left and overstretch Lee's right. Gatlings were not going to stop that.

zraver
18 Apr 12,, 21:59
Z,
My point was that at Cold Harbor, the terrain that created the casualties was suboptimal for Gatling employment. AR's point is broader in that where you have terrain that is better suited for the Gatlings, with open fields of fire suitable to grazing fire, is also better suited for artillery employment and specifically counterbattery fire. Given that the artillery would have stand-off from the Gatlings, this terrain then becomes unsuitable. This wouldn't preclude the occasional local advantage where reverse slope and the right intervisibility lines could tip the scales to the Gatlins, but given the central employment of artillery by Henry Hunt, reacting to such a local advantage to negate it would mean that the Confederates wouldn't be able to turn a tactical advantage into an event that would have a strategic impact. It could constrain operational choices, but not choke them. It took improvements to rates of fire and range to exploit the potential advantages of machine gun fire, something not available to the Gatling.


Z,
My point was that at Cold Harbor, the terrain that created the casualties was suboptimal for Gatling employment. AR's point is broader in that where you have terrain that is better suited for the Gatlings, with open fields of fire suitable to grazing fire, is also better suited for artillery employment and specifically counterbattery fire. Given that the artillery would have stand-off from the Gatlings, this terrain then becomes unsuitable. This wouldn't preclude the occasional local advantage where reverse slope and the right intervisibility lines could tip the scales to the Gatlins, but given the central employment of artillery by Henry Hunt, reacting to such a local advantage to negate it would mean that the Confederates wouldn't be able to turn a tactical advantage into an event that would have a strategic impact. It could constrain operational choices, but not choke them. It took improvements to rates of fire and range to exploit the potential advantages of machine gun fire, something not available to the Gatling.

First I reject the idea that the artillery out-ranges the Gatling and is an effective counter-battery weapon against it. It might be where the Union forces are up slope with fields of fire to allow such, but not all battlefields will be so nicely configured for the Union artillery. If the artillery is having to fire over the heads of advancing troops accuracy will suffer, likewise a battlefield with terrain sight lines 500 yards or less removes the artillery range advantage. Its a question of employment based on terrain. Hunt's super batteries depends on terrain to achieve massed fire. Plus every gun he devotes for suppressing the Gatlings is one less used to suppress ANV artillery lessening the union advantage there.

Then things like mist or fog and eventually smoke will play roles as well in masking the gatlings from CBF. While it did indeed take smokeless powder to make full use of high rates of fire, that is against industrial armies. The AoP is at best semi-industrial and still relies on tactics and principles developed over the previous 200 years. Even the armies of 1914-15 still suffered from the failure of tactical and operational thinking to keep pace with technology.

AR


And what finally beat Lee was Grant's ability to continuously extend the his left and overstretch Lee's right. Gatlings were not going to stop that.

I disagree, while the Gatling's could not physically stop the slide, a large slaughter in an election year could have stopped Grant in two ways. First, if Lincoln felt enough pressure, he would be out. Second if Lincoln lost the war would be over. The potential impact of the gatling in this discussion is not the number of troops it could kill, but the political impact it could have.

zraver
19 Apr 12,, 09:22
Doing some research leaves me distinctly unimpressed with the 20lb parrot rifle. With a maximum direct fire range of 2000 yards it surely out ranged the gatling, it even had near rifle like accuracy able to hit a sheet of plywood more times than not at range. But direct fire suppression to cover assaulting Union troops is a rather tricky problem to solve. Max range with elevation id 4400 yards but accuracy suffers.

Both suffer from the curse of black powder and its rapid loss of energy so engaging at range has a huge bearing on defeating defensive works. Direct fire or indirect the guns also had serious recoil issues and a slow rate of fire. The 20lb parrot rifle firing with a 2lb black powder charge recoiled 10' For accurate suppression the gun has to be re-laid after every firing.

Moving the guns closer increases their effectiveness against defensive works, but increases the risk to the gun crews and decreases the number of guns that can be brought to bear

Albany Rifles
20 Apr 12,, 02:46
Okay, Z.....you win. You aren't impressed with the artillery of the AOP in general and the 20 pound Parrott in particular.

FYI, they scared the hell out of the soldiers and leaders of the ANV.

zraver
20 Apr 12,, 05:18
Okay, Z.....you win. You aren't impressed with the artillery of the AOP in general and the 20 pound Parrott in particular.

FYI, they scared the hell out of the soldiers and leaders of the ANV.

My apologies, AR my only frame of reference is smokeless powder in WWI. Guns like the British 18lb QF guns (20lb) and 13lb QF (10 pd).

Albany Rifles
20 Apr 12,, 14:55
My apologies, AR my only frame of reference is smokeless powder in WWI. Guns like the British 18lb QF guns (20lb) and 13lb QF (10 pd).

Z,

No worries. No need for apologies.

The analogy you were making was starting to sound like well the Germans had MG-42s and Tigers and FW-190s so they should have beaten the Soviets because the had better gear.

As for the casualties...the real 55,000 casualties of the Overland Campaign coupled with the 35,000 for the Atlanta Campaign did not preclude Lincoln winning. It was because those casualties were starting to show results.

And the vote came from soldiers and veterans, the very ones doing the bleeding.

zraver
21 Apr 12,, 01:30
Z,

No worries. No need for apologies.

The analogy you were making was starting to sound like well the Germans had MG-42s and Tigers and FW-190s so they should have beaten the Soviets because the had better gear.

As for the casualties...the real 55,000 casualties of the Overland Campaign coupled with the 35,000 for the Atlanta Campaign did not preclude Lincoln winning. It was because those casualties were starting to show results.

And the vote came from soldiers and veterans, the very ones doing the bleeding.

AR, heres my thinking and like I said its based in large part on either WWI or on Lincoln's prior actions.


The 20lb parrot rifle had a maximum range of 4400 yards with a flight time of 17.7 seconds. It out-ranged the Gatling by 4-5x, but if the Gatling was dug in into a defiladed position the shells black powder explosive charge might not be enough to do the job. Black powder cannon high high muzzle velocities but this dropped off rapidly. Against infantry this isn't really a problem, troops can only advance so fast so the slow speed doesn't matter. However that speed is also an expression of kinetic energy, at at the far end of its range the shell doesn't have any. Kinetic energy is a big part of busting up defensive works. In 1916 the British used a huge number of fragmentation shells that did not penetrate deeply into the earth and as a result we got the Battle of the Somme slaughter.
To bring the kinetic energy up the weapon has to be closer. While it will still out range the Gatling, I am guessing it will now be under the guns of Confederate Napoleons.

The parrot rifle was fairly flat firing with a maximum elevation of 15 degrees. This meant there was a substantial dead-spot directly in front any assault troops the weapon was supporting unless it was firing from enfilade. This also meant the parrots one big advantage- accuracy was wasted. One obvious solution is to fire downhill, this greatly reduces the dead-spot. It also allows the guns to shoot flatter and make use of the guns accuracy- at least until the battlefield is washed out in smoke.

This accuracy was the compensation for the weapons slow rate of fire. Parrot rifles were much heavier than its contemporaries due to that wrought iron band. They also had significant recoil travel. The result was a very slow rate of fire. If the terrain did not permit the guns an extended firing window the number of rounds the gun could effectively fire might well be incredibly low.

Finally, I know that if possible the Union will try to bring battle on ground that is favorable to it. However as we both know, lacking the favorable terrain did not stop AoP from attacking. In fact depending on how intuitive the ANV commanders are in using the Gatling, the ANV might well seek out areas to fight in that remove the range advantage.

How the South employs the weapon is a critical part of the debate. Without using handwavium, ie restricting the discussion to only what was feasible at the time there remains a number of options/ The weapon in Federal service used an artillery carriage for a couple of reasons- artillery carriages were available and the carriages provided good mobility. But they left the crews exposed. The South does not have to use artillery carriages, the Gatling can be dismounted and emplaced (it was emplaced on ships). They can also use a modified carriage such as the carriage/sled used for the Maxim machine gun. Although the Maxim is forward in time the technology isn't. Again ships used low mounts, although a ship carriage is not at all suitable the idea of a low carriage is not a new one.

The real key for the South is who is given command of using the Gatlings, how politically astute they are, and the influence they have on Lee. IIRC the Southern strategy late war was to inflict as many losses upon the Union as possible for as little loss as possible in order to influence the 1864 election in such a way as to get McClellan elected. I think in principle this is sound. It failed because Grant and Sherman denied the South its designs through the defeat of Southern arms.

Also of note is what type of Gatling the South has. If its pre-1861 with the paper cartridges the rate of fire on paper will not match the field due to jams. If they are post-1861 brass cartridge fed models the jamming wont be much of an issue. Ammunition might be, but at least for a single battle the South can likely find the shells.

If the South can get the Gatling in to action and protect them from Union artillery through handling (either side) and terrain and catch the Federal infantry on the assault to create an American Somme- lets say 8000 dead ad 11,000 wounded over a two day period before the Union commanders figure it out- what happens. AR as you point out Lincoln won the veteran vote beating a former General to do it despite 85,000 casualties. However, this is becuase the Union was winning, the troops knew they were winning etc. However if you reduce the AoP by a a couple of divisions and put the survivors into a state of shock due to enemy fire with no gain to show for it this Veteran vote is a lot less solid.

Even more importantly is how the news of the loss will affect the North and Lincoln. Despite everything, if Grant stopped producing victories his postilion is not secure. Lincoln fired a lot of generals during the course of the war. A severe defeat in an election year and even if Lincoln was personally disposed to keep him, political pressure may force his hand. At the end of the day, (dis)Honest Abe was only loyal to 2 things- Mary and the Union (but strangely not the constitution).

This is a lot of speculation, but we know the way it really happened so the debate is about what else the South might have done, or what they might have done with a few new toys.

Albany Rifles
21 Apr 12,, 15:18
In counter battery missions rifled cannon used bolts....and at 2000 yards could and did hit gun carriages. Still outside range....not to mention you could protect the gun crews with sap rollers.

So here is how I defeat the Gatlings.

I keep reinforcing my line and extend Lee's flank so he has to spread out his forces over many miles. I then form a corps into a dense assault column and commence an attack at 0400 when you can not see the assault forces in enough time to stop them. And you turn and assault along the trenches in both directions.

See VIth Corps on 2 April 1865.

As Shek pointed out there are TTPs commanders learn to overmatch weapons.

Shek
21 Apr 12,, 18:16
Finally, I know that if possible the Union will try to bring battle on ground that is favorable to it. However as we both know, lacking the favorable terrain did not stop AoP from attacking. In fact depending on how intuitive the ANV commanders are in using the Gatling, the ANV might well seek out areas to fight in that remove the range advantage.

The problem with this statement is that Grant made Lee play to his tune once the Overland Campaign started. The only time that Lee wrested the initiative was for a brief moment at North Anna, and even then it was for only a day as Grant realized that his position gave him interior lines that couldn't be overcome through maneuver. Even in that position, which he had moved into overnight and therefore couldn't have prepared solid positions to defend against artillery fire, he didn't have nice grazing fields of fire to maximize the impact of Gatlings prior to "counterbattery" fire. As it was, it was not a tempting target to attack, and so your "killing fields" scenario doesn't play.

The bottomline is that Grant had the array of forces to be able to flank Lee, and Lee didn't have the space to simply fall back and try to bait Grant into an assault. The impact of Lee giving up ground that he didn't have to give would have had an adverse impact on the Confederacy, especially in the context of his previous operations.

zraver
21 Apr 12,, 18:53
The problem with this statement is that Grant made Lee play to his tune once the Overland Campaign started. The only time that Lee wrested the initiative was for a brief moment at North Anna, and even then it was for only a day as Grant realized that his position gave him interior lines that couldn't be overcome through maneuver. Even in that position, which he had moved into overnight and therefore couldn't have prepared solid positions to defend against artillery fire, he didn't have nice grazing fields of fire to maximize the impact of Gatlings prior to "counterbattery" fire. As it was, it was not a tempting target to attack, and so your "killing fields" scenario doesn't play.

Spotslvania Court House may 9 had an opportunistic chance for the Gatling looking at the admittedly simple maps I can find. What if the Gatling's had been lying in wait when Upton led his attack? Densely packed infantry, good fields of fire and almost ideal set up. Likewise, when Burnside kept feeding men in to the Crater a flying battery of Gatlings could have increased the butchers bill.

In no way am I say the Gatling would, only that if properly employed it could becuase the opportunities were there.


The bottomline is that Grant had the array of forces to be able to flank Lee, and Lee didn't have the space to simply fall back and try to bait Grant into an assault. The impact of Lee giving up ground that he didn't have to give would have had an adverse impact on the Confederacy, especially in the context of his previous operations.

But Grant did launch a number of assaults instead of simply extending his flank. It is these assaults where the opportunities exist.

Shek
21 Apr 12,, 19:09
Spotslvania Court House may 9 had an opportunistic chance for the Gatling looking at the admittedly simple maps I can find. What if the Gatling's had been lying in wait when Upton led his attack? Densely packed infantry, good fields of fire and almost ideal set up. Likewise, when Burnside kept feeding men in to the Crater a flying battery of Gatlings could have increased the butchers bill.

In no way am I say the Gatling would, only that if properly employed it could becuase the opportunities were there.

But Grant did launch a number of assaults instead of simply extending his flank. It is these assaults where the opportunities exist.

1. Upton's assault. It's about 200m from the assault position to the earthworks. When I walk the ground again this summer, I'll check out how pronounced the IV lines are, but in general there is grazing fire available, albeit for only a very short distance. Also, the setting sun was directly in the eyes of Doles' brigade (something I figured out as we walked Upton's assault axis just shy of sunset). With a T&E and range card, not a problem, but is that a TTP that was available (I suspect that traversing wasn't a huge issue - getting the elevation not so much)? While you wouldn't have counterbattery available, the short distance forces the Confederates to reveal their hand ASAP and thus end the assault, or simply get overwhelmed as the initial lines did.

Colonel Upton's Assault (http://www.civilwarbattlefields.us/spotsylvania/upton.html)

2. Grant's assaults. He certainly did attempt numerous assaults instead of flanking. However, all of these are in response to dispositions and movement's that Lee made, resulting in deducing where he had weakened his lines. In most cases, he was correct, but Union elements weren't nimble enough to take advantage, and the ANV was able to react. Given that theme, Lee wouldn't have had Gatlings awaiting.

Albany Rifles
21 Apr 12,, 22:35
Shek, regarding Upton's assault it was 211 yards from point of the monument to the trench wall. And that sun absolutley blinds you in early May around 1800.

Against a fully allerted enemny it would be a problem. But Dole's troops were not at stand to and, as you know, where caught off guard. Lack of support doomed that attack.

So here is a variation to this thread.....

If the Confederates had this weapon so did the Union. To be remotely reasonable and think otherwise is totally unreasonable.

So what if Grant and Meade had Gatlings to use to support those attacks?

Think about Saunders Field on 5 May, Getty at Brock Road later that day, Sheridan has them at Todd's Tavern, Wright pushes in a battery against the flank of the Bloody Angle, and on and on and on.

I can come up with a wide range of other uses.

zraver
22 Apr 12,, 01:05
1. Upton's assault. It's about 200m from the assault position to the earthworks. When I walk the ground again this summer, I'll check out how pronounced the IV lines are, but in general there is grazing fire available, albeit for only a very short distance. Also, the setting sun was directly in the eyes of Doles' brigade (something I figured out as we walked Upton's assault axis just shy of sunset). With a T&E and range card, not a problem, but is that a TTP that was available (I suspect that traversing wasn't a huge issue - getting the elevation not so much)? While you wouldn't have counterbattery available, the short distance forces the Confederates to reveal their hand ASAP and thus end the assault, or simply get overwhelmed as the initial lines did.

Yes, range cards and markers were available, white painted boards or boulders paced out going back to ancient times. Assuming an ambush situation Upton's troops needed a minute and a half to cross the field at double time, 2 minutes at the quick march assuming everything went right. Not much time, but enough. One reason Upton's type of attack wasn't made very often is there is no way to stop if the front ranks fail and break. Its not much different in effect that the barbarian armies blocking each other- the front blocked from retreating away from the gladius wielding terror, and the rear unable to get to forward. The other reason is over penetrating weapons get a chance to kill to birds with one stone.

Upton used for battle lines totaling 12 regiments. I don't know how many files each line was long or deep. I assume they were formed up after exiting the ravine and did not attack from the ravine. It it had been a trap, his men would have gotten butchered.



2. Grant's assaults. He certainly did attempt numerous assaults instead of flanking. However, all of these are in response to dispositions and movement's that Lee made, resulting in deducing where he had weakened his lines. In most cases, he was correct, but Union elements weren't nimble enough to take advantage, and the ANV was able to react. Given that theme, Lee wouldn't have had Gatlings awaiting.

What I was trying to imply is that having Gatlings, Lee might make a move to lure Grant in to catch the Federals with their pants down and inflict the type of losses Southern strategy kept calling for- but kept falling short of delivering...

AR, the Union did have Gatlings, and rejected them. Granted, if the South acquired/made some and used them to good effect the AoP would take another look at them and if deciding they were in fact a good investment rapidly swamp what ever numbers the south has. But I've never argued the Gatling would let the South win a battle of attrition. The South's only hope was to inflict a fast paced unsuspected loss of life so grave on the Union it affected the 1864 Election.

Shek
22 Apr 12,, 12:44
Yes, range cards and markers were available, white painted boards or boulders paced out going back to ancient times. Assuming an ambush situation Upton's troops needed a minute and a half to cross the field at double time, 2 minutes at the quick march assuming everything went right. Not much time, but enough. One reason Upton's type of attack wasn't made very often is there is no way to stop if the front ranks fail and break. Its not much different in effect that the barbarian armies blocking each other- the front blocked from retreating away from the gladius wielding terror, and the rear unable to get to forward. The other reason is over penetrating weapons get a chance to kill to birds with one stone.

211 yards with adrenaline is a minute or less. The Gatling of the time had a max rate of fire of 150 rounds, and given the way the terrain sloped, every reason to fire high.


Upton used for battle lines totaling 12 regiments. I don't know how many files each line was long or deep. I assume they were formed up after exiting the ravine and did not attack from the ravine. It it had been a trap, his men would have gotten butchered.

Actually, it's not a ravine, but a very gentle draw that's covered and concealed until the assault position.


What I was trying to imply is that having Gatlings, Lee might make a move to lure Grant in to catch the Federals with their pants down and inflict the type of losses Southern strategy kept calling for- but kept falling short of delivering...

Can you provide the quotes that this is what Southern strategy "kept calling for"? Lee sought decisive victory, not attrition.

Chogy
22 Apr 12,, 14:06
I'm way out of my league with this discussion, but I have a basic objection... the Gatlings of that era were mounted similarly to light field cannon, correct? And the operators were quite exposed, yet forced to operate well inside the envelope of shoulder arms like the .58's that both sides used.

If I had a Gatling killing my men, I'd assign every swinging dick with a Springfield to start shooting at those SOB's.

Now, if the Gatling was dismounted from its carriage or used in a WW1 fashion with a bit of protection, then I cannot object.

Carry on! :)

Oh yes, this thread reminds me of a favorite British Ditty from their African experiences vs hostile tribes:

Remember, whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim gun, and they have not.

Albany Rifles
22 Apr 12,, 15:34
Chogy,


You win a cigar. I made that point several pages ago and it seems have been rejected out of hand.

Not bad for a zoomie!!!!

S2
22 Apr 12,, 15:51
Were the Confederate breastworks laid along the crest or did Union troops have to cross over the top of the crest to see the rebel defenses. If Shek is correct then the draw provided a covered approach to within a couple hundred yards of the Confederate lines. Could Union forces emerge from the wood and still be sheltered from fire as they formed ranks before ascending the slope?

zraver
22 Apr 12,, 16:37
Chogy,


You win a cigar. I made that point several pages ago and it seems have been rejected out of hand.

Not bad for a zoomie!!!!

No it was not rejected, I pointed out that the gun and carriage are not the same and did not have to be used on an artillery carriage when used in a defensive role.

S2, the pictures from the park show good fields of fire once you leave the woods. In May the grass would not yet be tall enough to significantly reduce the sight lines.

Shek,

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2536601361.html

By the end of 1863 Confederate officials hoped to defeat the Union at the ballot box. They implemented a defensive strategy, hoping to prolong the war and break the Northerners’ will to continue fighting. If this strategy worked, Southern leaders were convinced that in the November 1864 elections the North would elect a Democrat who would enter into immediate peace negotiations to end the war and leave the Confederate nation intact.

Sources

Bruce Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox (Garden City, N.Y.: Double-day, 1953);

William S. McFeely, Grant: A Biography (New York: Norton, 1981).

Genosaurer
22 Apr 12,, 17:03
No it was not rejected, I pointed out that the gun and carriage are not the same and did not have to be used on an artillery carriage when used in a defensive role.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've suggested employing the Gatling guns in a role similar to the flying artillery of the period. How are you going to do that without a carriage mount?

zraver
22 Apr 12,, 17:27
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've suggested employing the Gatling guns in a role similar to the flying artillery of the period. How are you going to do that without a carriage mount?

I've suggested a number of options. Unlike cannon the Gatling was light. 594lbs vs 1880lbs for a 10 pounder parrot rifle. This gives the weapon a bit of flexibility in the discussion. My argument isn't how to use the Gatling, but the impact it might have had if properly used.

Albany Rifles
22 Apr 12,, 18:00
Virtual Tour Stop, Upton's Road - Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park (http://www.nps.gov/frsp/photosmultimedia/upton.htm)

From the NPS website.

It took the assault column, 3 regiments across by 4 deep, each regiment in column of companies, less than one minute to go from the monument to hit Dole's trench. You actually do not come into sight of the trench line until you are about 150 yards out. The Confederates had no pickets out...they had been forced back by the Federals.

That is not enough time to react and it was not enough time to react. The way the Confederate defenses were built with laterals actually helped Upton's troops hold the lines open and hindered the Confedete counterattacks. They also would have hindered effective fire from any Gatlings.

Z, the light mount may work in fixed defenses like Petersburg.

During the Overland Campaign they would have had to be kept on the artillery mount since it was a mobile campaign. Lee had to be able reposition his artillery...think the same for the Gatlings. So they are on a larger and higher mount making them more vulbnerable.

Shek
22 Apr 12,, 18:52
Shek,

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2536601361.html

By the end of 1863 Confederate officials hoped to defeat the Union at the ballot box. They implemented a defensive strategy, hoping to prolong the war and break the Northerners’ will to continue fighting. If this strategy worked, Southern leaders were convinced that in the November 1864 elections the North would elect a Democrat who would enter into immediate peace negotiations to end the war and leave the Confederate nation intact.

Sources

Bruce Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox (Garden City, N.Y.: Double-day, 1953);

William S. McFeely, Grant: A Biography (New York: Norton, 1981).

Z,

You've quoted a tertiary source at best here - I'm looking for primary sources that support a casualty producing strategy hypothesis as opposed to an ex-post facto "this was their best strategy," which is a common ex-post facto strategy and one that should not be conflated as an ex ante strategy.

Southern strategy is typically described as offensive-defensive, with Lee still searching for that decisive victory during the Overland Campaign. Hood's employment of the Army of Tennessee doesn't point to a produce casualties strategy given his aggressive offensive maneuverings prior to the election. Lee's employment of the Army of Northern Virginia doesn't point to a produce casualties strategy given his aggressive counterattacks throughout the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns.

Furthermore, any defeat of Lincoln means that Lincoln implements Plan B, Abraham Lincoln's White House - Post-Election Cabinet Meeting, November 11, 1864 (http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/inside.asp?ID=223&subjectID=3). While the role in Southern will/actions in the wake of a Lincoln defeat is a counterfactual that we cannot measure, we can measure that absent the defeat, it only took the Union one month beyond the inauguration to break the ANV and only another two weeks to break the AoT. If Grant didn't have the luxury of waiting until the spring thaw, I don't find it hard to imagine that timeline slipping far enough left to accelerate the Confederacy defeat prior to McClellan's inauguration.

S2
22 Apr 12,, 19:03
"...You actually do not come into sight of the trench line until you are about 150 yards out...."

Out from the woods?

The marker in the photo is maybe five yards removed from the edge of the tree line. That means the Union forces could re-assemble on the cleared slope evident from the photos and begin their uphill advance before cresting the top and entering the line-of-sight of the Confederate breastworks, correct?

Shek
22 Apr 12,, 19:06
One reason Upton's type of attack wasn't made very often is there is no way to stop if the front ranks fail and break.

Upton's attack was an innovation, designed to achieve penetration beyond just the first line, allowing subsequent waves to reduce the lines where the penetration was made. While this is an ex-post facto linkage in tracing WWI tactics designed to break the stalemate of the trenches (http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/resources/csi/Lupfer/lupfer.asp#C2) back to Civil War adaptations to break the stalemate of earthworks, I see Upton's attack as one of those precursors. Unfortunately for the European armies, it was a lesson not learned (http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/public/etd-5946112339731121/THESIS.PDF), and one that they paid for dearly.

Albany Rifles
22 Apr 12,, 20:40
"...You actually do not come into sight of the trench line until you are about 150 yards out...."

Out from the woods?

The marker in the photo is maybe five yards removed from the edge of the tree line. That means the Union forces could re-assemble on the cleared slope evident from the photos and begin their uphill advance before cresting the top and entering the line-of-sight of the Confederate breastworks, correct?


Absolutely. The curve of the ground is such that as you emerge from the wood line the ground rises in front of you for another 50 yards. When I lead trips through here I have my guests inside Doles trenches and crouch down a bit as if they were behind a defensive work. I then rumble my fat ass out of the wood line and have them shout when they see the top of my head. In almost every case it is between 150 and 145 yards. I am 6 foot so I am about 5 inches taller than your average ACW soldier.

So before the Confederates could effectively react the column is 100 yards away and running.....no shouting and no shooting. The front rank does not even have their rifles capped. Before many shots ring out the Federals are up and over the parapet.

Albany Rifles
22 Apr 12,, 20:42
Shek

How did you find that!?!? I had read an extract and never found it.

Thanks!

Shek
22 Apr 12,, 21:17
Shek

How did you find that!?!? I had read an extract and never found it.

Thanks!

My GoogleFu is strong ;)

kato
22 Apr 12,, 21:35
Unfortunately for the European armies, it was a lesson not learned (http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/public/etd-5946112339731121/THESIS.PDF), and one that they paid for dearly.
That thesis in my opinion lays it on a bit thick for Petersburg. Many of the issues he raises were done in Europe a full two centuries earlier.

Edit: Now, a "what if the Palatinate had gatling guns at Philippsburg in 1688?" would be interesting ;)

zraver
22 Apr 12,, 21:38
Z,

You've quoted a tertiary source at best here -

Not an ACW historian, like I have said repeatedly, WWI is more my thing.

Albany Rifles
22 Apr 12,, 21:52
My GoogleFu is strong ;)


I am not worthy!

Albany Rifles
22 Apr 12,, 21:53
Not an ACW historian, like I have said repeatedly, WWI is more my thing.


To quote Axel Rose welcome to the jungle!:biggrin:

S2
22 Apr 12,, 22:00
Where had the rebel pickets originally been positioned? I'd assume clear on the far side of the woods. Would that be correct? If so, as they were pushed back did the pickets not have a clear view of the forces advancing into the woods and were they not able to alert the breastworks of the Union advance through the woods?

Or were they all...dead?:eek:

If so, counter-recon in extremis.

zraver
22 Apr 12,, 22:20
To quote Axel Rose welcome to the jungle!:biggrin:

That works both ways because I do know what rapid firing weapons could do to poorly handled troops and how ineffective artillery could be. Imagine if you will that Upton assault into a trap where 4 Gatling's cleverly concealed lay in wake. The site limited the fields of fire, but also eliminated the artillery support. By the time any Union artillery knew there was a problem there is a sea of blue between the muzzles and the confederates. If the front rank of 3 regiments broke under the fire the result would be the rear three lines crashing into them and causing a deadly stalled mass of doomed men.

Albany Rifles
23 Apr 12,, 02:34
OK Zraver, you win.

I am just trying to tell you based on my experience as both an Infantry officer and ACW historian all of your "what if's" collapse in the face of historical reality.

You are trying to conflate WW 1 realities with ACW realities.

I don't have enough Harry Turtledove in me to keep going.

Albany Rifles
23 Apr 12,, 02:39
They had originally been in the woodline but were driven back.

zraver
23 Apr 12,, 03:32
OK Zraver, you win.

I am just trying to tell you based on my experience as both an Infantry officer and ACW historian all of your "what if's" collapse in the face of historical reality.

You are trying to conflate WW 1 realities with ACW realities.

I don't have enough Harry Turtledove in me to keep going.

Boo... Every time you shoot me down I learn.

S2
23 Apr 12,, 03:36
"They had originally been in the woodline but were driven back."

Then their purpose as early warning was served. Surely the confederates recognized this covered route to their breastworks as a primary avenue of advance and that their pickets driven from the field as an indicator of an impending attack?

Were the confederate lines at "stand to" and fully-manned? If not, I'd be interested in Shek or you explaining why.

Might not the confederate lines been bent back at this point to diminish some of its vulnerability stemming from a close proximity to a covered assembly area?

Albany Rifles
23 Apr 12,, 13:50
"They had originally been in the woodline but were driven back."

Then their purpose as early warning was served. Surely the confederates recognized this covered route to their breastworks as a primary avenue of advance and that their pickets driven from the field as an indicator of an impending attack?

Were the confederate lines at "stand to" and fully-manned? If not, I'd be interested in Shek or you explaining why.

Might not the confederate lines been bent back at this point to diminish some of its vulnerability stemming from a close proximity to a covered assembly area?

Steve,

Should have been more specific.

The pickets were driven in several hours before. It was not something which would have alarmed the Confederates since this was normal behavior throughout the war. You would always try to push in the opposing pickets if you could. The VIth Corps pushed out almost a full brigade on picket duty against a smaller Confederate force. While it was something that would not unduly alarm Dole and Rodes it did preclude them any early warning. Also the loss of Longstreet and Hill falling ill again caused a lot of movement within the Confederate corps leadership.

These all allowed Upton to move into his attack position in a covered and concealed manner...which is part of the overall plan.

If the Confederate had realized that they were facing the VIth Corps they may have been a little more attentive. The VIth Corps specialized in breaking through defended lines. They did it at 2d Fredericksburg and at Mine Run the previous year using the exact same tactics. And they would use it on a grand scale in April 65 with an entire corps.

Albany Rifles
23 Apr 12,, 14:00
Boo... Every time you shoot me down I learn.

Sometimes I wonder if the lessons stick.

You keep try to have ACW error units and leaders react in a way that militaries did in WW 1. You can't do it. The weapons were just too different. The tactics were sufficiently different due to the weapons that differed so much....muzzle loading blackpowder weapons vs magazine fed bolt action rifles with cordite.

If you want to make some comparisons with the a latter war I would go with the Franco Prussian War. While the ACW was revolutionary in it being an industrial war fought with Napoleonic tactics, the Franco Prussian War was transitional.

The Gatlings proved to be an impractical weapon in the setting of the ACW from early on. In its early configuration it did not provide sufficient reliability and mobility that exceeded the capability which already existed...i.e., the 3 inch Ordnance rifle and M1857 Gun/Howitzer (12 Pound Napoleon). Both of these weapons were versatile and filled the full range of mission requirements for the doctrine of the day.

The Gatling was considered and rejected because it still had a lot of teething issues to work through. Did it finally become an effective weapon? Yes but not against modern industrial national armies because there were sufficient countermeasures to them (I have noted several) to make them not a good weapon in the ACW battlefield.

S2
23 Apr 12,, 14:08
Thank you. Excellent explanation.

Still don't understand why it was critical that the Confederate line be laid so closely to a covered/concealed assembly, especially when the rebels were aware that such an assembly area existed right at, literally, their feet.

Had Adolf or Joe Stalin issued a "not one step back" order in Turtledove's account I might understand.:biggrin:

Albany Rifles
23 Apr 12,, 14:42
Thank you. Excellent explanation.

Still don't understand why it was critical that the Confederate line be laid so closely to a covered/concealed assembly, especially when the rebels were aware that such an assembly area existed right at, literally, their feet.

Had Adolf or Joe Stalin issued a "not one step back" order in Turtledove's account I might understand.:biggrin:

As with most ACW entrenchments it follows the natural ridgelines.

But a better question is why did Lee even allow the entire Mule Shoe Salient to exist. Lee should have had his line about 2000 yards to the SSE along modern day Gordon Drive and tied in on his left at Laurel Hill.

The Mule Shoe (http://www.civilwarbattlefields.us/spotsylvania/mule_shoe.html)

I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.

In retrospect it would cost him a big chunk of his 2d Corps along with Dick Ewell.

Shek
23 Apr 12,, 17:01
Thank you. Excellent explanation.

Still don't understand why it was critical that the Confederate line be laid so closely to a covered/concealed assembly, especially when the rebels were aware that such an assembly area existed right at, literally, their feet.

Had Adolf or Joe Stalin issued a "not one step back" order in Turtledove's account I might understand.:biggrin:

Steve,
Here are some maps and narrative to match Buck's response.

http://www.dean.usma.edu/departments/history/Atlases/AmericanCivilWar/ACWGIF/ACW46c.gif

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/spotsylvaniacourthouse/spotsylvania-courthouse-maps/spotsylvania-hotchkiss-color.jpg

http://www.nps.gov/frsp/planyourvisit/upload/web-GreggMaps-spotsytrail.pdf
Bloody Angle Trail - Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park (http://www.nps.gov/frsp/bloody.htm)

Albany Rifles
23 Apr 12,, 19:40
Strong Google Fu, strong!

zraver
24 Apr 12,, 00:47
Sometimes I wonder if the lessons stick.

They stick.


You keep try to have ACW error units and leaders react in a way that militaries did in WW 1. You can't do it. The weapons were just too different. The tactics were sufficiently different due to the weapons that differed so much....muzzle loading blackpowder weapons vs magazine fed bolt action rifles with cordite.

If you want to make some comparisons with the a latter war I would go with the Franco Prussian War. While the ACW was revolutionary in it being an industrial war fought with Napoleonic tactics, the Franco Prussian War was transitional.

See I feel the ACW was transitional as well, especially the latter 2 years when about all that was left of the earlier era was the black powder. Rifles replaced muskets as the infantry weapon of choice, rapid fire and multi-shot weapons began to appear, wars began to exceed the length it took to win a battle or capture a city, mobility began to be measured in 10's of miles per day along interior lines thanks to the railroad.


The Gatlings proved to be an impractical weapon in the setting of the ACW from early on. In its early configuration it did not provide sufficient reliability and mobility that exceeded the capability which already existed...i.e., the 3 inch Ordnance rifle and M1857 Gun/Howitzer (12 Pound Napoleon). Both of these weapons were versatile and filled the full range of mission requirements for the doctrine of the day.

The Gatling was considered and rejected because it still had a lot of teething issues to work through. Did it finally become an effective weapon? Yes but not against modern industrial national armies because there were sufficient countermeasures to them (I have noted several) to make them not a good weapon in the ACW battlefield.

What I've been wondering though is there a way the gatlin if properly employed could have had an impact.

Albany Rifles
24 Apr 12,, 02:47
Z,

I am afraid you are misinterpreting some things.

1. The rifle musket was THE standard Infantry weapon from the very start of the war. The US Army adopted the .58 caliber rifle musket as early as 1855. In 1861 they adopted the updated version of the M1855 rifle musket, the M1861 rifle musket in .58 caliber. That some units still used the .69 caliber M1842 smooth ore musket for the first few years was a matter of shortage not by choice. Both sides imported rifled weapons over smooth bores whenever possible, most notably the .577 caliber British Enfield rifle or the .54 caliber Austrian Lorenz rifle (see Albany Rifles!). But right from the start both war departments outfitted their soldiers with Springfields and Enfields as soon as they could. There was no conscious shift midway...it was a production issue. To your frame of reference it was the P14/M1917 replacing the Krags while the 03 was the Army standard at the start of the war. The repeaters so limited service outside the cavalry. Lest you forget the first STANDARD Infantry rifle which was more than a single shot was .30/40 Krag.

2. Railroads as a Way to move troops seen at 1st Manassas in 1861. There were other uses as well but that was done throughout the war, not a new development. The Union used river transportation to get to the combat zone, but then it was pure LPCs. Most soldiers walked in and out of battle, and that includes half of every artillery battery. Railroads were used for strategic purposes but they were used in the logistics role almost exclusively.

So the real Ah Ha! moments of the war were the successful use of assault columns (see the Upton story) and cavalry transforming into mobile infantry....and that has its formation in the dragoons of the Mexican War.

So what did change on the battlefield was the rapid entrenching by armies....but that was a
relearning of old tactics (see the Roman Legions)

zraver
24 Apr 12,, 04:02
Z,

I am afraid you are misinterpreting some things.

1. The rifle musket was THE standard Infantry weapon from the very start of the war. The US Army adopted the .58 caliber rifle musket as early as 1855. In 1861 they adopted the updated version of the M1855 rifle musket, the M1861 rifle musket in .58 caliber. That some units still used the .69 caliber M1842 smooth ore musket for the first few years was a matter of shortage not by choice. Both sides imported rifled weapons over smooth bores whenever possible, most notably the .577 caliber British Enfield rifle or the .54 caliber Austrian Lorenz rifle (see Albany Rifles!). But right from the start both war departments outfitted their soldiers with Springfields and Enfields as soon as they could. There was no conscious shift midway...it was a production issue. To your frame of reference it was the P14/M1917 replacing the Krags while the 03 was the Army standard at the start of the war. The repeaters so limited service outside the cavalry. Lest you forget the first STANDARD Infantry rifle which was more than a single shot was .30/40 Krag.

2. Railroads as a Way to move troops seen at 1st Manassas in 1861. There were other uses as well but that was done throughout the war, not a new development. The Union used river transportation to get to the combat zone, but then it was pure LPCs. Most soldiers walked in and out of battle, and that includes half of every artillery battery. Railroads were used for strategic purposes but they were used in the logistics role almost exclusively.

So the real Ah Ha! moments of the war were the successful use of assault columns (see the Upton story) and cavalry transforming into mobile infantry....and that has its formation in the dragoons of the Mexican War.

So what did change on the battlefield was the rapid entrenching by armies....but that was a
relearning of old tactics (see the Roman Legions)

In the context of Napoleonic tactics the rail roads and (admittedly now that you bring it up) steamboat gave armies strategic movement never before seen.

Mea Culpa on the rifles v muskets.

I know repeating arms were not common, but the revolver (pre-dates the war) and then the lever action combined to create the first war in which some units had an honest to goodness ability to surpass the rate of fire of the bow and arrow for the first time ever with similar ranged fire capability unlike the Texas Rangers vs the Cheyenne.

Cavalry fighting as infantry, or horse mounted infantry ie dragoons goes way back several hundred years in fact to the early 1600's. In the US the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Dragoons pre-dates the Mexican war by over a decade.

Albany Rifles
24 Apr 12,, 14:08
One thing I want to make clear is do not mix the strategic, operational and tactical levels of combat.

The tactical level was on the battlefield itself. In that regard very little differed between what you saw at Waterloo and what you saw at Gettysburg. Basically both sides liones up and panked away at each other. Flanking movements are nothing new. Engagement ranges may have increased and the former depended more on the bayonet than the latter but they were pretty much the same.

The operational level of combat was what we would consider a theater or a campaign. This is when all of the elements used to effect the outcome of a campaign. So in the context of the ACW the use of the railroad to move his troops east of the Blue Ridge by Joe Johnston was a rare instance. More notable would be the Overland Campaign with Grant shifting his base of suppply from watercourse to watercourse and Lee shifting to rail junctions. He did bring Breckenridge in through Hanover Junction but this was more of repositioning of forces within the Eastern Theater. Grant's shifting of the VIth Corps away from Petersburg towards Washington in mid-July in response to Early's Raid is another example...but this was executed by water.

The strategic level is the national level of war....what was the entire nation doing toward a unified goal...something Grant and Lincoln were excellent at and Davis and his generals not so much. There was one excellent use of the railroads at this level by the Confederates in shifting Longstreet's Corps in SEP 1863 to Chickamauga. This showed an excellent use of the railroad as a strategic weapon but it was few and far between. Most other movements of troops were intratheater and were movements, not maneuvers.

So the railroads and rivers had a large logistics impact but had only very limited impact impact on the maneuver of forces effecting battles.

Repeating pistols, etc, did not have a large impact. The arming of the Union cavalry with repeaters did have an impact...and I did not imply the Dragoons were raised for the Mexican War...but that is the first war where they were used in their intended role enmasse.

zraver
24 Apr 12,, 14:52
Was not implying that the pistols had an impact. Although they did vs the Cheyenne and were the first gun powder weapons to equal the rate of fire achieved with the bow and arrow. Repeating rifles equaled that rate of fire and had the ranged combat ability as well which was a first for gunpowder weapons.

Oh here is a bit of Civil war trivia for you. Arkansas used to have a town called Napoleon. It was an important river prt and one of largest towns in the state. In fact Arkansas Militia men fired the first shots fire din anger in the civil war from this location. it was located on a spit of land where the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers met. During the war rebels would fire at boats on the river on one side of the spit, race across to the other side and resume firing.

The Union got tired of this and decided to dig a canal across the spit to block this movement. Well water being what it is the course of the rivers changed to follow this easier course and slowly Napoleon which was now an Island began to be washed away. Now nothing remains of the town itself, just a small island named 72. And its not even clear if the Island is in Arkansas since the State of Mississippi claim to the navigable channel which is West of where the Island is.