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The american civilwar line battles - sheer stupidity?

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posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 04:42 AM
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I have always wondered this.

Why in the american civil war era line battles, did people just literally stand there whilst getting shot.

I can understand zulu wars where they stand there singing kumbaya and thinking their `great god will heal them`. But surely the soldiers were intelligent enough to know that they would get killed.

Its just ridiculous, its like standing against a firing squad.

Anyone?




posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 04:51 AM
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reply to post by mlifeoutthere
 


It seems that in the US war of Independence your fore fathers took cover and shot the British to hell and back. Somewhere between that war and the civil war it seems that all the officers got dropped on their heads when they were little so they forgot the winning strategy. It does seem waayyyyy strange to me.

P



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 05:07 AM
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reply to post by mlifeoutthere
 


Did they actually do this or is the image of the doing it the result of movies and television, in which it looks more dramatic. Any Civil War reinactors in the house? (I personally reinact the War of Words, fought in 1948 between Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and one of the guys from Abbott and Costello).



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 05:35 AM
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Well it is a matter of tatics and bringing massed fire power to break an enemy. During the revolution you had no choice just because the weapontry was so poor, hard to hit anything and slow to load. By the Civil war weapons had improved but, a tightly packed line could bring massive fire power on a single location followed by a massed bayonette charge. Now skirmishers were also used as a screen but, men spread out and under cover with weapons of the era would quiclly find their lines broken through by massed charges thus that type of fighting was not used once a large battle began. The only way to stop a massed unit in line, not to mention calvary, was with another massed unit in line. It would not be until the days of the machine gun and better rifles a new way to concentrate fire power had to be found.
edit on 13-11-2013 by MrSpad because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 06:10 AM
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mlifeoutthere
I have always wondered this.

Why in the american civil war era line battles, did people just literally stand there whilst getting shot.

I can understand zulu wars where they stand there singing kumbaya and thinking their `great god will heal them`. But surely the soldiers were intelligent enough to know that they would get killed.

Its just ridiculous, its like standing against a firing squad.

Anyone?


If you study military history at all, you would see that the tactics of the era had not evolved to catch up with the battlefield technology. Warfare had been pretty much unchanged since the Napoleanic wars in Europe. muskets were highly inaccurate and unreliable so concentrated firepower was needed to inflict harm on the enemy, or a bayonet rush.

In fact, it was standard procedure for soldiers to carry little ammo on them at the time, do you know why? Because military school of thought at that time was the more rounds you give to the soldier the quicker he will run out of ammo, LOL.

If you notice however, the American Civil war brought many new technologies to the battlefield. Just 40 years later in WWI there were Tanks, Subs, Mortars, rifled Artillery, airplanes, bio weapons, etc. And if you notice WWI was pretty much the same thing also, the tactics had not caught up to the technology available. Waves of infantry attacking a fixed fortified position brought huge numbers of casualties that made the civil war battlefields pale in comparison.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 06:34 AM
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Historical ignorance overload!!!!!!

No they did that cause at the start of the civil war gun were so inaccurate you could miss a target standing 50 yards away. Plus the black powder blinded almost everyone. So standing in mass lines and volly fireing was the only was you could hit anything. Plus the rate of fire was so slow a bayonet charge would very easy have finnished a battalion if it was spread out rather than massed.By the end of the was more rifles and moden fire arms were used hense why the later battles normaly ended up in trenches.

As for 1776? No it was the same. Most big battles were fought on mass. It was only in rare skirmishes the american sharpe shooter really played a part ( the film the patriot is bs) the execptions being concord and lexington as the british army didnt know if they were allowed to fully fight u guys or try to make piece rember no telephone or radio, and the officer there didnt know if they were allowed to start a war and had no one to check with. Anyway a year later britain adopted its own sharpe shooter which it kept right into the napoleonic wars.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 06:45 AM
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reply to post by mlifeoutthere
 

They did not "just stand there".
if you look into the detailed battle histories, you will discover they they were already developing trench warfare in "set-piece" situations like Grant's campaign against Lee..
While for much of the time it was still a war of movement. Sometimes they were advancing through woods rather than open areas.
Their tactics would depend on the situation.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 06:53 AM
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edit on 11/13/2013 by gemineye because: (no reason given)


I just went in to edit and deleted my whole post.... *sigh*

Anyway, I'm a Civil War reenactor (I play a belle, not a soldier. My son and my boyfriend portray soldiers) and I've often asked this question. Basically, what you've been told already seems to be the correct answers. With the weapons they had, they had to really put themselves out there in order to be the most effective. Battle tactics hadn't really evolved at the time, but neither had most of their weapons so soldiers on both sides basically were sitting ducks. They were there to kill and in order to kill they had to put themselves where they had the biggest chance of shooting somebody. Unfortunately, that's where they had the biggest chance of being shot, themselves. You really have to think that every person standing in the front line had to think he was going to die during each battle and especially during the charges. Sometimes, while I'm watching reenactments... especially at Gettysburg this year, I wonder how ANYBODY survived or at least didn't get severely wounded.

I heard that Civil War reenacting got started because a bunch of the surviving soldiers got together and tried to figure out just exactly how so many people were killed. Granted, many of them died from disease, but considering that there were single battles where thousands and thousands of people died, you'd think it wouldn't have been hard to figure out that when you line up two opposing sides and have them shoot at each other, the casualties are going to be high.

I know I haven't added much to the discussion, but just wanted to throw in that this is something I used to be curious about, as well. I'm glad battle tactics have evolved since then. Only because we've invented new and better ways to kill each other, though. It's all so sad. Still not sure why I feel the need to reenact something that depresses me, but that's a whole other thread, lol.
edit on 11/13/2013 by gemineye because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 08:13 AM
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Those may have been the tactics at the beginning of the war but during the last year of the war the Confederates on the defensive turned to trench warfare. Hiding behind earthworks and logs gave a decided advantage and even strong lines from the Union found it difficult to break through such defenses. Read about Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and the Crater for more on trench warfare.

Another reason not mentioned for the line was unit cohesion - it's easier to stand there knowing there's a man standing next to you. These were tactics left over from the Napoleonic era where the smoothbore musket had accuracy out to about 100 yards. Rifling in the barrel and the invention of the Minie ball increased accuracy by the time of the Civil War to 400 yards.

It was considered un-manly to fight any other way than clearly out in the open. That later changed as the war of attrition showed it's value and those left fighting no longer needed to prove their bravery and personal survival became more important.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 08:14 AM
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That is the way they lowered population and controlled society, ridding the world of men who could challenge the ones in charge. Even if it was their own men.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 08:32 AM
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Another thing to keep in mind, is that the average life span back then was early 40s. We consider 40s middle aged. Back then upper teens and 20s were middle aged and that was what primarily fought. We all know that particular age group is filled with passion for what they believe in, also easily manipulated as most were not educated. All they knew was what the other side had to be stopped and how someone told them to stop them. Most also had very strong religious beliefs. Throwing yourself in front of a firing squad was an honorable, respected thing to do. They were protecting others and being brave.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 12:29 PM
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reply to post by mlifeoutthere
 


It wasn't all like that. Warfare sure changed during those four years. Much of it was fought with troops lining up for slaughter, such as Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, but there was also guerrilla warfare in the streets of Gettysburg. The last few months brought us the advent of trench warfare with the siege of Petersburg. Many of the generals on both sides came from West Point where they were taught Napoleonic tactics and that was what they knew, so they used them, but the technology advanced so rapidly during the war that they were unprepared for the carnage caused by the Minet ball, large cannons with shrapnel and advanced guns such as the Gatling.

Also of note is that just because one was a general didn't mean they were all that bright. CSA General Braxton Bragg was CSA President Davis' friend and fought as much with his subordinates as with the Federals and Davis was not very smart in keeping him in charge of the Army of Tennessee, though there weren't many options to replace him. Davis was stubborn and kept him on, despite all the problems he caused, as he told Davis what he wanted to hear instead of what he needed to hear.

Some didn't change their tactics to keep up with the technology but those that did had great success, like Grant and Lee.

The whole war is somewhat incomprehensible, from soldiers lining up and marching to be slaughtered to the reasons why it happened, which can cause much debate. James McPhersons book For Cause and Comrades shows there were many reasons that soldiers on either side were fighting for.

Heck, how is this for bizarre: The first major battle was in Wilmer McLean's back yard, ended in his parlor at Appomattox, and he moved after Bull Run to get away from it.

Check out the History channels' Civil War Journal. There are 90 some episodes covering a multitude of topics. Very few books can cover that much ground unless they wanted to write immense tomes. Ranging from battlefield medicine to wartime photography(Alexander Gardener, not Matthew Brady, did most of the famous photos) to the invention of ironclad warships, not to mention all the usual topics are covered pretty well in the series.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 02:17 PM
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The US civil War was at he end of the "horse and musket" era of warfare.

Lines of infantry armed with (almost exclusively) muzzle loading firearms of short range and little accuracy evolved in Europe for a couple of reasons:

1/ control - having men massed made controlling them easier in an era where an officer's command reached as far as his voice.
2/ firepower - as has been mentioned, to get an acceptable number of hits you needed to fire a LOT of shots with those weapons, and so they had to be concentrated to achieve anything
3/ Protection - conversely the massed firepower also protected the soldiers against close combat - ie hand to hand, especially from cavalry

These tactics evolved through the European wars of the 16th and 17th centuries - the great Dutch Rebellion against the Spanish, the French Wars of Religion, the English Civil Wars, 30 years war, and all the others - there were LOTS of wars!!

They pretty much reached their peak in the Napoleonic Wars.

then came the rifled musket - rifles were well known before this - famously the Kentucky rifle of the AWI, and also various Jaegers and Schutzen and Riflemen in the armies of Europe & the UK.

however these were hard to use - to engage the rifling the ball was normally forced into it all eth way from the muzzle, or, in some cases, the ball was wrapped and the wrapping engaged the rifling - but this was not as efficient. In either case the rate of fire was abysmally slow - often only 1/3rd that of a smoothbore musket.

But Msr Minie solved this problem - by making a conical bullet with a hollow base. this bullet could be just dropped down eth muzzle, and the explosion of the propellant would expand the hollow base of the bullet, thus engatging the rifling.

now rifles could fire as fast as smoothbore muskets - and be accurate and lethal to much longer ranges.

This was state of the art at the start of the ACW for most armies (not quite, but more on that later) - the armies in the US civil war started with some (CSA) or mostly (USA) rifled muskets using minie system. By the end of the war only a few CSA units still had smoothbores.

But no-one had seriously used these in massed battles - hence the tactics were still Napoleonic.

However the officers and troops were NOT stupid - by the end of the war fighting was mostly done by relatively dense lines of "skirmishers" out front of large formed bodies that were kept back to feed reinforcements forward. the lack of efficient cavalry (in a battlefield sense) in the Americas made this a bit easier to do too.

come forward 1 year to the Austro-Prusian war and the battle of Konnigratz - the Prusians have breach loading rifles - the Dreyse "Needle gun". the Austrians have muzzle loading minie-style rifles, and are handily defeated - one of the factors often quoted is that the breach loader can be fired lysing down - which wasn't THAT important....but it presages things to come.


Another 54years to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. Now the armies are larger again - 100,000+ men on each side on a single "battlefield" - but now both sides are armed with early bolt-action rifles - the French with the Chassepot, the Prussians/Germans still with the Dreyse.

Drill is still close order - troops still attack in dense columns and use lines for defence - but under even longer range and faster fire they often spontaneously disintegrate into mobs of skirmishers.

Fast forward to the early days of WW1 - German infantry in Belgium and northern France are noted as advancing in columns - but again these spontaneously disintegrate into looser formations under rapid fire from machineguns, QF artillery and magazine fed bolt action rifles.

so the ACW was the start of the end of "black powder" linear tactics - and the change took until 1915 to fully permeate the world's military.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 02:28 PM
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For the Revolution, Washington was something of an unconventional general who would use British tactics against them when he could. He learned a thing or two from the French and Indian wars about how effective the Native American guerilla tactics could be, and he didn't hesitate to use them where he could against the British. Still line tactics were used a lot.

As for the Civil War, it was the end of one era of weaponry and the beginning of a new era of weaponry. Tactics had not shifted to reflect the change. It is still one of the bloodiest conflicts when reflected against the size of the US population. And, it is pretty controversial. It is grossly oversimplifying it to say that is was simply fought over slavery which happens all too often.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 02:29 PM
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Pickett's Charge - Gettysburg:

Not a lot of trees in that field.





posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 02:30 PM
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eh if i had a choice id rather charge into massed musket vollyes then what the guys in ww1 had to put up with with trench warfare and them basiclly doing the same thing but charging machine guns nests and trenches instead of lines of troops .all tactics eventualy become obsolete but for a time even the craziest plan is the standard of the day



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 03:01 PM
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reply to post by RalagaNarHallas
 


I'm not sure which would be worse - charging into concentrated musket and artillery or having to put up with the endless stink and filth of the trenches with the knowledge that your enemies could use heavier than air chemical weapons and constant bombardment/machine guns to attempt to keep you in those trenches.



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 03:08 PM
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mlifeoutthere


I can understand zulu wars where they stand there singing kumbaya and thinking their `great god will heal them`. But surely the soldiers were intelligent enough to know that they would get killed.



So you're really showing your cultural bias and ignorance by implying that the Zulu were not intelligent enough.

Shaka



posted on Nov, 13 2013 @ 07:30 PM
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BABYBULL24
Pickett's Charge - Gettysburg:

Not a lot of trees in that field.




I walked that a decade or more ago - long way, no cover.....bugger!!





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