Author Topic: But, but.... why?!  (Read 3473 times)

bob48

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Reply #15 on: December 22, 2019, 04:28:35 PM
There were some instances of breech loaders in service in the ACW, such as the Whitworth, and obviously, a few examples of breech loading rifles and carbines.

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JasonPratt

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Reply #16 on: December 23, 2019, 12:06:38 AM
The ACW did have breech-loading rifles (and shotguns for that matter). They were just expensive to produce and not very numerous; and tended to show up later than earlier of course. OBVIOUSLY there were cartridge breech-loading guns: there were pistols and gatlings. Eventually.

I don't know of any fights where breech-loading rifles (unsure if there were any breech-mustkets) were used for action on the line, or in a major way during siege assaults/defenses. (I wouldn't be too surprised to learn they existed, I've just never heard of any, and I would expect them to be later than sooner of course.) But I bet there were skirmisher fights that had some significant numbers (relative to the time period).



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Reply #17 on: December 23, 2019, 12:10:32 AM
Soooo, yeah, first of the "transitional wars", that sounds right, feels right.

Now, let's see.... first war with industrial level indirect artillery? Not the ACW of course, even 600 cannons (by the Confeds at Gettysburg iirc) were meant more as direct-fire shelling not as indirect fire with spotters and preplanned arcs or whatever shooting for miles.

Eh.... .....I do seem to think that's WW1, but maybe not? WW1 was where the re-emergence of something like Nappy's artillery cities came as a shock beyond all expectations. Anything earlier obviously didn't make enough of an impact to create expectations from experience.



besilarius

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Reply #18 on: December 23, 2019, 07:43:12 AM
Many years back, there was an article in one of the men's magazines (Esquire?  Odyssey?) that indicated Berdan's sharpshooters at Gettysburg  seriously delayed Law's Alabama brigade.  They used Sharp's breechloading rifles.
Can't say if more recent research backs this up.

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ojsdad

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Reply #19 on: December 23, 2019, 08:32:58 AM
Why breech loaders weren't used much in the Civil War. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Wolfe_Ripley

Quote
With the outbreak of the Civil War in early 1861, Ripley was promoted to colonel (April) and brigadier general (August) and appointed as the 5th Chief of Ordnance of the United States Army. As the Federal forces then had no heavy rifled cannon, he immediately ordered the conversion of old smoothbores and the manufacture of Parrott guns. He also ordered the sale of 5,000 old Hall's carbine rifles, which were later resold at a tremendous profit to John C. Frémont, much to Ripley's consternation.[3]

At the same time, Ripley refused to authorize the purchase of additional stocks of rifle-muskets for infantry use. The decision was based on the large existing stocks of smoothbore muskets in U.S. arsenals, which he argued could be re-rifled in the same manner as the Parrott guns (an assertion which proved incorrect). He also adamantly opposed the introduction of breech-loading repeating rifles, on the basis that they would encourage poor fire discipline and waste ammunition.

Many historians have since decried this decision, arguing the lack of modern arms on the Union side, at a time when the Confederates were buying them in large numbers from France and the United Kingdom, lengthened the conflict by as much as two years. Others, however, counter that given the poor logistics of the Union armies at the outbreak of the war, the increased supply train needed to maintain the improved rates of fire would have bogged down the armies and made maneuver impossible (a situation which did indeed later contribute to the development of trench warfare in World War I). It is also argued that fouling due to black powder residue would have made it impossible to maintain such high rates of fire under field conditions with the rifles of the time. Individual units later purchased such weapons privately, and they were used to considerable effect, but did indeed present problems in extended firefights; these units are not known to have had any trouble maintaining their ammunition supplies. Ripley was replaced as head of the Ordnance Department on September 15, 1863 principally because of his continuing opposition to the introduction of breech loading rifles.[1][4]

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panzerde

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Reply #20 on: December 23, 2019, 11:50:07 AM

The Prussians at Sedan in 1870 (indeed throughout the entire first part of the Franco-Prussian War) largely prefigured the use of artillery during WWI. They might not have had as many guns as were eventually on the Western Front by 1916, but their artillery at Sedan looks and acts a lot like early WWI artillery. On the other side the French Chassepot rilfes also demonstrate a level of firepower significant enough that it changed French shock tactics and, under better commanders, would have probably completely offset the Prussian artillery advantage.


Both side also made significant use of railroads for logistics and troop movement. Prussian infantry tactics had changed to small(er) unit advancing in open order and firing prone. The Franco-Prussian War really looks much more like WWI than it does the ACW, despite being only six years later. The French even make use of early machine guns.


The Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 were likewise a "dress rehearsal" for WWI, particularly as it was fought on the Eastern Front. These wars saw some use of automotive transport, machine guns, modern artillery, and even aircraft for scouting.


WWI was undoubtedly the largest and most definite transition from Napoleonic to modern warfare. There are many "firsts" in WWI that never happened in prior wars. Having said that there isn't the sharp discontinuity between the Napoleonic tactics of the ACW and the tactics of WWI that many people suppose. The period from 1965 to 1915 saw a pretty constant evolution of the technology and doctrines employed in European armies that culminated in the massive conflict of WWI.
 

Soooo, yeah, first of the "transitional wars", that sounds right, feels right.

Now, let's see.... first war with industrial level indirect artillery? Not the ACW of course, even 600 cannons (by the Confeds at Gettysburg iirc) were meant more as direct-fire shelling not as indirect fire with spotters and preplanned arcs or whatever shooting for miles.

Eh.... .....I do seem to think that's WW1, but maybe not? WW1 was where the re-emergence of something like Nappy's artillery cities came as a shock beyond all expectations. Anything earlier obviously didn't make enough of an impact to create expectations from experience.

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ojsdad

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Reply #21 on: December 23, 2019, 01:07:23 PM

The period from 1965 to 1915 saw a pretty constant evolution of the technology and doctrines employed in European armies that culminated in the massive conflict of WWI.
 


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panzerde

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Reply #22 on: December 23, 2019, 03:52:49 PM

The period from 1965 to 1915 saw a pretty constant evolution of the technology and doctrines employed in European armies that culminated in the massive conflict of WWI.
 




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JohnPJones1775

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Reply #23 on: December 27, 2019, 08:18:23 PM
i would like to reverse the question here.

why so little love for the spanish american war, at that time frame?

personally i think it's fascinating. i'd say it was a truly modern war, even if tanks and aircraft weren't involved.



JohnPJones1775

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Reply #24 on: December 27, 2019, 08:23:39 PM
Was the ACW the last 'old' war or the first 'modern' war?


https://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/CivilWar/CivilWarModern


Quote
After the Second World War, many American Civil War historians came to argue that the Civil War was the first modern/total war. As summarized by Mark Grimsley, in The American Civil War: a Handbook of Literature and Research this theme includes a number of contentions. Troops armed with breech-loading infantry arms and artillery, primitive machine guns, and ironclad ships, early balloons, and trench warfare in the Civil War are cited as evidence. The use of railroads, steam ships and riverboats, and telegraph are said to have affected strategy. New mass armies of volunteers and emphasis on industrial capacity influenced battles and campaigns. The status of civilians as legitimate targets of armies and strategy may be the most significant aspect making the American Civil War the first modern and total of the new period of war, so the argument goes.[1]
i'd say the last old war. they still fought mostly in linear formations, and balloons in warfare weren't anything new or revolutionary during the ACW.



panzerde

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Reply #25 on: December 27, 2019, 09:06:39 PM
i would like to reverse the question here.

why so little love for the spanish american war, at that time frame?

personally i think it's fascinating. i'd say it was a truly modern war, even if tanks and aircraft weren't involved.


I agree that it was a very modern war, particularly on the naval front. While the geographic scope of the war was huge (another argument for it being modern), I suspect the small size of the land engagements coupled with the general haplessness of the Spanish tend to lead people to dismiss it. Nonetheless it had major geopolitical implications.


The Americans were very lucky, at least in terms of the land war. From what I understand (and that’s not as strong an understanding as I’d like), if the Spanish had been on a level with any other European power in terms of training, I think Cuba would have been ugly.


It’s an interesting little war. I’m not sure what lessons can be drawn from it.

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JohnPJones1775

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Reply #26 on: December 27, 2019, 10:01:22 PM
i would like to reverse the question here.

why so little love for the spanish american war, at that time frame?

personally i think it's fascinating. i'd say it was a truly modern war, even if tanks and aircraft weren't involved.


I agree that it was a very modern war, particularly on the naval front. While the geographic scope of the war was huge (another argument for it being modern), I suspect the small size of the land engagements coupled with the general haplessness of the Spanish tend to lead people to dismiss it. Nonetheless it had major geopolitical implications.


The Americans were very lucky, at least in terms of the land war. From what I understand (and that’s not as strong an understanding as I’d like), if the Spanish had been on a level with any other European power in terms of training, I think Cuba would have been ugly.


It’s an interesting little war. I’m not sure what lessons can be drawn from it.
im not too familiar with the ground war myself, but it Spain had been as good as the rest of the European powers (if they were all that much better) may not have had an insurrection to destabilize them before the war either lol.

But I do think it’s a fascinating time. Not only were hand cranked rotary guns in use but so were actual machine guns if I’m not mistaken.
It is likely overlooked because of how quickly it ended.
It was a precursor of things to come honestly it was about as big of an upset as the Russo-Japanese war. Whether anyone should have been surprised Spain lost or not is another subject all together, but Europe was shocked.

But I’d also include the 1st Boer wariness that as welll.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 10:03:24 PM by JohnPJones1775 »



Staggerwing

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Reply #27 on: December 27, 2019, 10:51:51 PM


But I’d also include the 1st Boer wariness that as welll.

The Boer wars are not to be overlooked as a blend of old and new. They introduced wireless comms during combat (though mostly naval), modern high velocity jacketed bullets and mauser-style rifles, and the Boers' successful use of small-unit cover-fire tactics against traditional close formations of British troopers using volume fire.  Among those impressed by that last innovation were the Imperial German Jagers and shock troops of WW1 and a certain German officer serving on the Italian front who a quarter century later created a wee bit of a stir in North Africa.

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besilarius

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Reply #28 on: December 28, 2019, 07:47:28 AM
JPJ there is a book with excellent discussion of both the Spanish American War and the Boer War.
William McElwee's Art of War, Waterloo to Mons.  He was a lecturer at Sandhurst and this book is based on his course.
He also covers the ACW, the Wars of von Moltke and the Russo-Turkish War in depth and illustrates the mistakes both sides made.  I think you would enjoy it if you're at all interested in the Nineteenth Century.
It's been out of print for a long time, but there are used copies on Amazon for less than $10.

I'm also rather affectionate toward the author because he had actual experience in battle.  Major McElwee, Company B Second  Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, fought a SS panzergrenadier battalion to a bloody draw At the Odon River in Normandy during Operation Epsom.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2019, 07:58:35 AM by besilarius »

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JohnPJones1775

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Reply #29 on: December 28, 2019, 05:16:20 PM
JPJ there is a book with excellent discussion of both the Spanish American War and the Boer War.
William McElwee's Art of War, Waterloo to Mons.  He was a lecturer at Sandhurst and this book is based on his course.
He also covers the ACW, the Wars of von Moltke and the Russo-Turkish War in depth and illustrates the mistakes both sides made.  I think you would enjoy it if you're at all interested in the Nineteenth Century.
It's been out of print for a long time, but there are used copies on Amazon for less than $10.

I'm also rather affectionate toward the author because he had actual experience in battle.  Major McElwee, Company B Second  Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, fought a SS panzergrenadier battalion to a bloody draw At the Odon River in Normandy during Operation Epsom.
cool, thanks for the info.