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  • Mihais
    replied
    Originally posted by Triple C View Post
    Shouldn't the modern rule that combat halves weapon accuracy apply to Civil War?
    Probably even less than half.

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  • Triple C
    replied
    Shouldn't the modern rule that combat halves weapon accuracy apply to Civil War?

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Zraver and Chogy

    You are discounting 2 very important factors which greatly denigrated accuracy of small arms fire.

    1. After 2 volleys, you couldn't see squat because of the smoke from the black powder....and don't tell me about reenactments. they use 3F or 4F which smokes at about 25% of original black powder.

    2. So many of te fights were in woods, not open areas. Very few folks got off long range shots because they weren't there to be had.

    And by late 1862-early 1863, the supposedly vaunted superiority in marksmanship was long gone. Afraid that is another myth. What was not a myth, though, was the Federal arrtillery which greatly outclassed its Confederal counterpart in quality and capability.

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  • Chogy
    replied
    I certainly wasn't arguing about the benefit of walking a battlefield so as to understand the issues the commanders faced, just the effective range of the arms which seemed a bit short to me.

    I think one of the reasons ranges may have been shorter than what the weapons were capable of was due to the slow reloading and the need for fire discipline for raw troops. If your line started blazing away at 300 meters, haphazardly, you will have a significant % of unloaded weapons when the charge does begin. I'm guessing the commanders wanted to wait a bit so the massed fire will have a greater chance of wholesale execution.

    Sniping/marksmanship in the sense of dedicated personnel and specialty rifles was becoming more common, and I wonder why each unit did NOT have a few marksmen capable of 500 meter work... they could have done some serious damage during the "massing" portion of a battle - pushing the formations back, so the amount of ground they would have to cross with little cover would have been even greater than it was.

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  • zraver
    replied
    Originally posted by Chogy View Post
    zraver - For the standard .58 caliber Minie bullet, 100 paces seems a bit short to me. If you assume a pace to be 2.5 feet, that would be 250 feet, less than 100 meters. Those rifles at 100 meters would probably kill two or three men if they are lined up, given the mass of the Minie ball. I had no problems hitting man-sized targets well in excess of 100 meters with a reproduction Springfield. Obviously in the heat of combat, aimed fire of that nature is difficult, but it is somewhat compensated for by the volume of fire, and the congestion of the targets. In other words, you might not hit the guy you're aiming at 150 meters away, but you might easily hit his buddy.

    The Southerners especially were more likely to compensate for drop, and as a whole would be superior riflemen to their Northern counterparts.

    The state of small arms was vastly improved over flintlock, Napoleonic-era musketry. The Sharps breechloading rifles (among others) were carried West and became famous for their excellent long-ranged work on both Buffalo and Native Americans if called for. I have a pair of 45-70 Sharps rifles (post CW metallic cartridge but not vastly differing ballistics) that are quite accurate, and can drop metallic rams at 500 meters without too much trouble.

    I think in trained hands these rifles were capable of terrible execution at respectable ranges.
    was anyone shooting at you? Accuracy much past 100 yards is the exception not the rule unless one side is dug in. One side is advancing and firing on the move or doing a hasty stop and kneel, and the other side has to stand and take it neither is really conducive to accuracy.

    Although I admit I made a pace a full yard instead of the military 30 inch step, my mistake. My mistake aside, figuring out the ranges of ACW weapons and knowing how to range would make a battlefield a lot more interesting. A perosn would be able to see the flow better if they knew the ranges. Often in the Civil War one side or the other would watch the other side forming up in full view but out of effective range. For people like us who live in a world where the battlefield is measured in tens of kilometers it might be hard to translate.

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  • Chogy
    replied
    zraver - For the standard .58 caliber Minie bullet, 100 paces seems a bit short to me. If you assume a pace to be 2.5 feet, that would be 250 feet, less than 100 meters. Those rifles at 100 meters would probably kill two or three men if they are lined up, given the mass of the Minie ball. I had no problems hitting man-sized targets well in excess of 100 meters with a reproduction Springfield. Obviously in the heat of combat, aimed fire of that nature is difficult, but it is somewhat compensated for by the volume of fire, and the congestion of the targets. In other words, you might not hit the guy you're aiming at 150 meters away, but you might easily hit his buddy.

    The Southerners especially were more likely to compensate for drop, and as a whole would be superior riflemen to their Northern counterparts.

    The state of small arms was vastly improved over flintlock, Napoleonic-era musketry. The Sharps breechloading rifles (among others) were carried West and became famous for their excellent long-ranged work on both Buffalo and Native Americans if called for. I have a pair of 45-70 Sharps rifles (post CW metallic cartridge but not vastly differing ballistics) that are quite accurate, and can drop metallic rams at 500 meters without too much trouble.

    I think in trained hands these rifles were capable of terrible execution at respectable ranges.

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  • zraver
    replied
    I've only walked a few battlefields- Antietam and Vicksburg. But I think it would be mindful to point out that walking them alone won't reveal as much as walking them and knowing how to estimate distances. 83 paces or less is canister range, 100 paces is about the limited aimed musketry, 300 paces and musket rounds start hitting the ground, and 600 paces is about the effective max range of a 12 pound Napoleon. At double time march that is 28 seconds under cannister, just over 30 seconds of aimed rifle fire, about 1 and a half minutes of area fire from rifles and just over 3 minutes of long range artillery fire.

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Originally posted by Mihais View Post
    Agreed,nothing beats the walk on the terrain,but sadly it can't be done in many cases,also the features change over time.
    Sir,since you've spoken,I won't let you go until you say what was your position and what made you amend it.
    You mentioned Perryville.What is so particular about the terrain there.As for the battle itself,IIRC it was a series of missed oportunities for the Federals.If Crittenden's corp would have pushed beyond the cav. screen,or if Sheridan would have marched to guns it would have fallen on unsuspecting Confederate left.But of course,it's easy now to pass judgements.Doing the right thing in chaotic situation is a different matter.
    With Perryville I thought much the same until I was there both before and after the crops were in. With the crops in it was easy to understand the terrain and go, "Yeah, the ridges are steep but hey aren't THAT much of an obstacle!" But then look at the terrain with the corn in place and a little fog on the gorund and you can understand the difficulties much better. I highly recommend Ken Noe's book. It cleared up a A LOT for me! And wishing for Crittendon to do something was the bane of the Army of the Cumberland for quite some time!

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  • Johnny W
    replied
    I have walked the terrain of a few of the battlefields, Gettysburg, Fredricksburg, and Fort Fisher. Oh, and Guilford Courthous from the Revolutionary war. And Fredricksburg has changed so much since the battle, that I am not sure it really gives you an idea of what it would be like to attack Longstreet's entrenched corps from the river. Walking Fort Fisher makes me wonder how the fort was able to hold out as long as it did. Gettysburg is of course a magnificiently preserved battlefield, and gives one a far better idea of what the troops went through those three days. Its hard to imagine confederates charging up little roundtop. Just walking up it without anyone shooting at you would be tough enough.

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  • Mihais
    replied
    Originally posted by Triple C View Post
    And THAT, sir, is why I am considering working on a different area of history other than the history of war which I love. Almost no amount of research or study can match the hands-on experience of professionals who fight wars for a living. The terrain might as well be written in Greek for the layman.
    Well it was Eisenhower who said that amateurs beat professionals in two domains:prostitution and war.No need to change to women studies or some other unimportant thing.

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  • Mihais
    replied
    Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    I was guilty of being one of thsoe who wrote my thesis wihtout having walked all of the ground. I did it on Grant at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga and I had only been to the last one. When I finally got to visit the other two battlefields a few years later I came home and amended my thesis. Of course, soem would say I am an idiot because I live in central Virginia but wrote abotu the Western theater.....;)

    Big difference once you have walked the ground.
    Agreed,nothing beats the walk on the terrain,but sadly it can't be done in many cases,also the features change over time.
    Sir,since you've spoken,I won't let you go until you say what was your position and what made you amend it.
    You mentioned Perryville.What is so particular about the terrain there.As for the battle itself,IIRC it was a series of missed oportunities for the Federals.If Crittenden's corp would have pushed beyond the cav. screen,or if Sheridan would have marched to guns it would have fallen on unsuspecting Confederate left.But of course,it's easy now to pass judgements.Doing the right thing in chaotic situation is a different matter.

    Leave a comment:


  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    Triple C

    I was guilty of being one of thsoe who wrote my thesis wihtout having walked all of the ground. I did it on Grant at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga and I had only been to the last one. When I finally got to visit the other two battlefields a few years later I came home and amended my thesis. Of course, soem would say I am an idiot because I live in central Virginia but wrote abotu the Western theater.....;)

    Big difference once you have walked the ground.

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  • Triple C
    replied
    Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    Walking the ground really gives you an appreciation over reading the maps. I have changed my views on many a battle after reading about and then seeing the ground (Perryville comes to mind). The old "Why didn't they just...." goes out th ewindow pretty quickly once you walk the terrain.
    And THAT, sir, is why I am considering working on a different area of history other than the history of war which I love. Almost no amount of research or study can match the hands-on experience of professionals who fight wars for a living. The terrain might as well be written in Greek for the layman.

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  • Albany Rifles
    replied
    B]Sir,you are the expert on ACW.My point is that CW battles tend to follow a different pattern than the classic Napoleonic battle,both in their execution and aftermath.[/B]

    Well, thanks for the kind words.

    And you are absolutely right. It just took me 2 long posts to say what you did in 1 sentence!

    Civil War generals usually can't hope to make a decisive frontal attack that destroy the opposing army as a fighting force because of the defensive power of the rifle as stated before by many posters.

    I actually think 2 other reasons precluded this from happening more often....artillery and terrain. Earl Hess has a new book out on that very subject.

    As for repeated flanking maneuvers,they just seemed obvious when I studied the battles on the map.

    Walking the ground really gives you an appreciation over reading the maps. I have changed my views on many a battle after reading about and then seeing the ground (Perryville comes to mind). The old "Why didn't they just...." goes out th ewindow pretty quickly once you walk the terrain.

    BTW,were southern leaders tried for rebellion?

    No, they weren't. Most were paroled pretty quickly. Jeff Davis was held for 2 years and then paroled. The only Confederate officer tried after the Civil War was CPT Henry Wirz who commanded Camp Sumter at Andersonville, GA, the prison camp. He was tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and war crimes and was executed in summer 1865. No other Confederate leader was tried for war crimes or treason.

    Here is a little bit about Bobby Lee's parole

    General Robert E. Lee's Parole and Citizenship

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  • Mihais
    replied
    Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    I don't know about desperate attempts to attack the flank....recall the difference in the armies at the officer level. Napoleon army were national armies with a modicum of training and a good leavening of expertise. The American armies of the Civil War had at the beginnign almost no experience. Regimental commanders were selected by state governors and company grade officers and NCOs were elected by their men. Most of these men learned their craft in the face of battle....a very stern teacher. And this existed all the way through the war as new units were cycled into the forces.

    I fully realize the difference between the British and French systems...which is why I used the example. And both armies would use massed assault columns with differing degrees of effect....just look at Longstreet at 2d Manassas, Gettysburg, Chickamauga or the Brock Road in the Wilderness, Hancock and Wright at Spotsylvania, Meade at Cold Harbor and finally Wright at Petersburg. And there were many examples of maneuver besides Chancellorsville.....Vicksburg comes to mind right off the bat as well as Rosecrans East Tennessee campaign, Sherman's North Georgia Campaign, Meade's Mine Run Campaign, Bragg's Kentucky and Jackson's Valley Campaign just to name a few.

    As for what was the big deal about an independent CSA....Zraver and Astralis have handled the practical very well. From my perspective an independent CSA would have rendered meaningless the sacred pact of the Constitution and I am not sure hwo well the remainder would have survived politically.
    Sir,you are the expert on ACW.My point is that CW battles tend to follow a different pattern than the classic Napoleonic battle,both in their execution and aftermath.Think of any decisive victory of Napoleon:Austerlitz,Friedland,Wagram and so on.Even after Lutzen and Bautzen in 1813 coalition armies were so shattered that they had to ask for an armistice(and Napoleon made the mistake to grant them one).Civil War generals usually can't hope to make a decisive frontal attack that destroy the opposing army as a fighting force because of the defensive power of the rifle as stated before by many posters.For comparison think what chances has Soult to take Pratzen heights in time at Austerlitz,if both forces are equiped with rifles.As for repeated flanking maneuvers,they just seemed obvious when I studied the battles on the map.

    Re the Constitution I really can't have an opinion becuase I don't posses the knowledge.By what I consider common sense I came to the conclusion that both sides interpretations had a legal support in the document.So the US was both might and right,in this order.BTW,were southern leaders tried for rebellion?

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