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Re: Night Assaults

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  • ltcpataylor
    Madelon, Sorry for such a late response, but, been out of town! The difference was and is linear tactics. During the 17th through the 19th century (some will
    Message 1 of 87 , Aug 1, 2002
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      Madelon,

      Sorry for such a late response, but, been out of town!

      The difference was and is linear tactics. During the 17th through
      the 19th century (some will argue even from the times of antiquity)
      that the battlefield has been ruled by linear tactics. Basically,
      you line your guys up on one side, I line mine up on the other side
      and we try to make the other guy quit first. Now, there was a lot of
      evolution in these tactics, flanking assaluts, envelopments, cavalry
      charges, and the use of artillery, but the tactics remained unchanged
      eventhrough the Civil War period.

      Prior to the rifled musket, these lines would often come as close as
      40 yards and fire at each other. Needless to say the preeminent
      weapon was not the musket, it was the bayonette. While the other guy
      was reloading your men would charge with fixed bayonette and drive
      the opponent from the field. This worked pretty well whenthe max.
      effective range of a smoothbore musked was 185 yards and the
      effective military range was about 80 yards. It takes a man (or a
      woman) with a smoothbore musket about 15-20 seconds to fire and
      reload. If you could successfully charge before the enemy could
      reload, you generally won the battle.

      However 1855 changed all of that, with the introduction of the .58
      cal. (etal) rifled musket. This weapon had an effective range of
      about 1000-1200 yards and an effective military range of about 250
      yards. So the defender could stand there and blast away for several
      minutes before the opponents line could close within bayonette
      range. I've been told that a Civil War regiment at full strength
      with one battery (6 guns) of Napoleon cannons could unload over 2 1/2
      tons of metal in the air at an opponent from the time they started
      forming for their assault at about 1,000 yards until they got close
      enough to use the bayonette. During the CW less than 1% of all batle
      wounds were related to being bayonetted, and that figure may be high.

      The problem is that most of the CW generals didn't figure this out
      until late in the war. Most were trained in linear tactics at West
      Point and most had gained their combat experience using the
      smoothbore muskets of the Mexican War. They just couldn't figure out
      why their normal way of doing business just didn't work. There were
      some notable exceptions, and they were in the West. Gen. Forrest and
      Gen. Smith were at the forfront in developing what today we would
      refer to as fire-and-maneuver tactics, and both used this tactical
      inovation fairly effectively.

      The idea in fire and maneuver is that one element lays down a base of
      fire upon the enemy. This keeps the enemy's "head down" and at the
      same time draws attention to where all the noise is coming form.
      Meanwhile other forces move forward as rapidly as possible to another
      protected position where they take up the firing, and the unit that
      was firing first moves forward to its next protected position. (For
      you military guys or former military guys-trying to keep this
      simple). This way you leap-frog forward until you can either force
      the enemy to surrender, or get close enough to make that famous
      bayonette charge without losing all your men in the process

      So why keep quiet? Using the old linear techniques there was little
      need for silence. As far as silence among cavalry units, I've not
      stumbled upon anything in my research as of yet regarding cavalry
      commanders purposely trying to silence their movements, but I'm sure
      that that must have occured especially on long distance raids, or by
      small scouting parties. The cavalry usually didn't move very
      stealthfully from what I can find. Their stealth seems to come from
      the fact that they could maneuver out of harms-way quickly and could
      avoid the enemy by maneuverig around his positions quickly. In fact
      in most major cavalry engagement you find the cavalry basically being
      used as mobile-infantry. There were few of the Hollywood-style
      cavalry charges with sabres flashing and horses smashinginto each
      other. In most cavalry actions the cavalry would move forward as
      infantry with their horses held behind the lines. If the action got
      to hot they would retreat and remount and "ride off into the sunset",
      which goes witht he old infantryman's quip that they "never saw a
      dead cavalryman - unless he was dead-drunk!"

      Pete Taylor
      Clarksburg, WV
    • fishx111@cs.com
      CARL: Yes they did use a whistle in WWI.Radios were not invented or practcal until the late 20s.One possible commo solution could be hand signals , but this
      Message 87 of 87 , Aug 1, 2002
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        CARL:

        Yes they did use a whistle in WWI.Radios were not invented or practcal until
        the late 20s.One possible commo solution could be hand signals , but this
        would limit to line of sight.They did have land lines in WWI. The tank was
        the answer to auto weapon amd trench.I am surprised no one tried to use an
        armored wagon or an attemot at one for a charge in the ACW..Especially the
        North. After the horses get killed you advance from that point.Of course
        maybe a horse was more valuable than a man on the field of battle.I enjoyed
        Petes and your analysis.


        James
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