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Thread: Gettysburg

  1. #51
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    Default Re: Gettysburg

    Quote Originally Posted by JenniferG View Post
    A full frontal assault after a massive artillery barrage was a standard military tactic of the day and it worked for military geniuses like Napoleon and Sir Arthur Wellesley so Lee and Longstreet believed the tactic could work for them which today seems very unreasonable to us. In fact many of the cannons used in the artillery barrage were 12lb Napoleon cannons.
    It was a case of tactics not keeping up with technology. Massed infantry assaults were the standard offensive tactic for centuries, even after the advent of firearms. Smoothbore muskets were not very accurate, limited to minute-of-torso to about 100 yards, so the only way to deliver deadly fire was to mass troops and get close to the enemy. This worked ok with smoothbores, because the defenders could shoot no more accurately than the attackers. An attacker/defender ratio of about 2:1 could be effective in overrunning a defensive position.

    All of that changed with the mass adoption of rifled muskets and the minie ball. This combination increased accurate shooting out to beyond 400 yards for the average infantryman, and along with a faster loading system of powder charges and ball in a pack, and percussion caps, the individual rate of fire could be 3 or 4 rounds per minute. Calculated against the amount of time it takes to march in line across 400 yards, the result was, the ratio of attackers to defenders to have a chance of success increased sharply during the course of the war, to somewhere around 4 or 5 to 1.

    This wasn't reacted to very quickly by either side, and led to the idea of simply massing more troops to meet the needed ratio and account for attrition. By the end of the war though, (even the middle, including Gettysburg), defenders began to realize their advantage, and would almost automatically dig in upon taking a position, and preferred to be attacked rather than attack. Attackers also began to understand the situation, with many troops simply refusing to attack entrenched positions. Hence trench warfare, which was the standard tactic in WWI. The idea then became: entrench on both sides, try to identify a weak spot, mass troops there, and attack suddenly with overwhelming numbers from a fairly close distance. Unfortunately for many in WWI, the machine gun was another technological advance that outmoded that tactic.
    Power always thinks...that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws.

  2. #52
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    Default Re: Gettysburg

    One of my takeaways from the tour today was the lethality of cannon grapeshot charges fired directly at advancing lines of troops out to 400 yards, with devastating effect.

    Edit: highly recommend the buffalo wings at the Blue & Gray Tavern in town... they were on point!

  3. #53
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    Default Re: Gettysburg

    Quote Originally Posted by JAKIII View Post
    One of my takeaways from the tour today was the lethality of cannon grapeshot charges fired directly at advancing lines of troops out to 400 yards, with devastating effect.
    There are stories of 10-yard wide swaths of men being cut down by every shot, and men closing up and advancing into the fire with their heads down, as if walking into a heavy downpour blowing in their faces. Unreal.
    Power always thinks...that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws.

  4. #54
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    Default Re: Gettysburg

    If the Confederate Cavalry had been able to swing around the flank, & hit the Union lines from the rear, at the angle, it would most likely have been a Confederate victory.
    The Union Cavalry, however, stopped them. The "other George".

    Very few people tour the Cavalry battlefield, east of the town.
    NEVER TRUST A PRIVATE WITH A LOADED WEAPON OR AN OFFICER WITH A MAP

  5. #55
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    Default Re: Gettysburg

    Quote Originally Posted by JAKIII View Post
    One of my takeaways from the tour today was the lethality of cannon grapeshot charges fired directly at advancing lines of troops out to 400 yards, with devastating effect.

    Edit: highly recommend the buffalo wings at the Blue & Gray Tavern in town... they were on point!
    If you want to know just how lethal the Union artillery was, and how futile Pickett's Charge was, here is a diagram of the US artillery fields of fire on the 3rd day. Gen. Henry Hunt certainly merits an MVP nomination for that day. Gibbs' and Rittenhouse's batteries on Little Round Top were said to be particularly effective.


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