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Re: Night Assaults

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  • carlw4514
    Very informative, Pete, thanks. I would add that one of the reasons it was hard to abandon the old tactics were related to command and control. The men needed
    Message 1 of 87 , Aug 1, 2002
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      Very informative, Pete, thanks. I would add that one of the reasons it
      was hard to abandon the old tactics were related to command and
      control. The men needed to able to hear the commands and the whole
      system was set up partially just to make this effective. This problem
      continued in WWI; you see the tactic of massing the men and [I
      believe] typically a whistle was blown and off they all go to attack
      the opposite trench. We shouldn't accept that everyone was so stupid
      that it couldn't be seen that this was not a good way to confront
      automatic fire; but it if you isolated the men into small groups, how
      were they to communicate and hear commands?
      -Also, in an era without armored vehicles, it is easy to believe that
      trench warfare was just going to develop, as at Petersburg. How were
      those situations to be dealt with?
      --- In civilwarwest@y..., "ltcpataylor" <ltcpataylor@y...> wrote:
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > wounds were related to being bayonetted, and that figure may be
      > 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
      > why their normal way of doing business just didn't work. There were
      > some notable exceptions, and they were in the West. Gen. Forrest
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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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        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.

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