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BattleVonWar
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Combat Tactics

Fri May 05, 2017 10:15 am

Read on these forums that the smoke created by powder weapons made the ranges on a lot of these era firearms worthless. So after a few volleys you got in pretty close to shoot or you probably wouldn't see or hit anything. Is that actually true?

Also since I read Badge of Courage(untrained men, run) and have read here I believe grouping men up into the tight easy to Canister groupings they did to keep discipline, to issue orders, to keep pretty much what is in game cohesion is why they were sitting ducks. Our modern training allows incredibly independent fighting formations, very flexible. Why didn't anyone ever practice this is large quantity in the Civil War?

khbynum
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Re: Combat Tactics

Sat May 06, 2017 12:08 am

The fog of war could indeed descend on Civil War battlefields rapidly, under the right conditions. If you've been to a reenactment involving more than a few hundred, you've seen it. Such studies as I have read put the average range of infantry combat at 100-120 yards, not much more than the Napoleonic Wars. In wooded terrain it could be much less. Thus the superiority of the rifle musket was largely negated except under unusual circumstances, and even then depended on soldiers trained to estimate range and adjust their sights.

As for open order combat, it began to be practiced on a large scale toward the end of the war. Read some accounts of the siege of Petersburg, where skirmishing combats sometimes escalated into mini-battles. The problem was volume of fire. The rifle musket could sustain about 2 rounds a minute, so you had to get a lot of guys close together to achieve a high enough volume of fire to break the enemy line (achieve fire superiority, in modern terms). Open order worked for skirmishing and "special ops", but to break a line of battle or an entrenched position you had to use that shoulder-to-shoulder formation.

The advent of breech loaders and magazine rifles began to change all this, but not until toward the end of the war.

hanny1
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Re: Combat Tactics

Sat May 06, 2017 10:19 am

BattleVonWar wrote:Read on these forums that the smoke created by powder weapons made the ranges on a lot of these era firearms worthless. So after a few volleys you got in pretty close to shoot or you probably wouldn't see or hit anything. Is that actually true?

Also since I read Badge of Courage(untrained men, run) and have read here I believe grouping men up into the tight easy to Canister groupings they did to keep discipline, to issue orders, to keep pretty much what is in game cohesion is why they were sitting ducks. Our modern training allows incredibly independent fighting formations, very flexible. Why didn't anyone ever practice this is large quantity in the Civil War?
. Try Brent noteworthy or earl hess books on the effects of smoke on tactics, consider attacking inf, the enemy opens fire and creates smoke, this obscures them, so attacking forces closes to contact, the defender instead retreats out of the smoke which is the ground the attacker now occupies, and he now now has the sight obstruction benefit. Csa had skirmishes battns to each div, their operated in 2 man teams, one covering firing, while the other manoeuvred, this evolved during the war as a means of getting in range and taking out command and control elements, officers, bugles, colour escort, or to engage crew served weapons, ahead of the main body of assault which still went in densely packed, unlike European tactics of the same time that put less men per feet frontage and less depth of files into assault formations. Also unit size impacted control, veteran formations were down to 2/300 men and were more tactically responsive as the voice commands could transfer quickly to all cosy, one reason why us heavy formations suffered so much was they were Huge in number and could not react to commands in a timely manner, at a time in the conflict when both sides had become rather good at putting men in the ground rather than just shooting in the general direction. Early morning mist was also an issue, in 64 a reg was alerted to react to a cav attack, by their picket line, so opened up along its frontage when hoofs were heard, 15 mins of firing later, they had devastated a herd of cattle that had wandered onto their front.

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