ciil war tactic

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by otto kudlacek, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. otto kudlacek

    otto kudlacek New Member

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    At what point in a infantry charge such as PICKET`S were the
    attackers supposed to fire?.
    Cant believe they could stop to reload.!!
    Writers claim there were few C.W. bayonet charges!!
  2. wpage

    wpage Active Member

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    When they saw the whites of thier eyes...
  3. jondar

    jondar New Member

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    Quoting from someone, can't remember who, but obviously brilliant, "Fix Bayonets!! is not a plan. It is for when a plan has gone horribly wrong." In the Korean War, I have read that the French troops loved to kill with the bayonet and it wasn't unusual when they were outnumbered they would simply fix bayonets and rush the enemy. The U.S. soldiers loved to have the French on at least one of their flanks instead of the ROKS who would break and rout at the slightest risk.
  4. Millwright

    Millwright Active Member

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    First, as I recall such infantry "charges" weren't the "pell mell affairs" depicted by Hollywood. They were marching advances in ranks. At a distance determined by the leader, (probably around 100 yds.) ranks would fire then kneel to reload, with the succeeding rank advancing to fire....When several such volleys of fire were delivered a 'bayonet charge' would follow....

    Such tactics were modeled upon European standards dating from the Nepolitianic era. Such were needlessly calloused to the enemy's ability to inflict grevious casualities firing from the shelter of even hasty breastworks.

    Calvary charges, OTOH, spanned greater distances, - but followed pretty much the same tactics - as determined by terrain, the condition of the mounts, and the commanders' ability to controll his troop. >MW
  5. RJay

    RJay Active Member

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    It also depends on the type of charge. If it was to be a "surprise" charge, such as a few of the dawn attacks at Vicksburg, the soldiers were not even allowed to cap their guns until ordered to do so or at a certain set distance, to prevent an accidental discharge from alerting the other side. As for bayonet charges, most battles turned onto steel against steel only when the attackers had breached the defences. At that time there was not time to reload so as a result " The Spirit of the Bayonet " prevailed. As far as bayonet charges from the the get-go, I can think of only one, the Union charge at the Little Round Top. That took place because the Union troops were almost out of ammo, the inconsiderate Rebels were charging again and Chamberlain felt something drastic had to be done. He was right, at the unexpected sight of cold Union steel ( Yes, I'm a Yankee by birth ) the Confederates took flight. That charge bought enough time for fresh troops and supplies to arrive. If it had failed, the right flank of the Union Army could have been rolled up and Mr. Lee was on his way to Washington.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2010
  6. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member

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    RJay
    Actually Gen. Lee had a previous chance to visit Washington, as he was Lincolns first choice, and declined to lead the Confederate Army . But that's getting off the topic.
  7. otto kudlacek

    otto kudlacek New Member

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  8. otto kudlacek

    otto kudlacek New Member

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    history channels war of 1812 blames defeat of british at
    new orleans in part for doing this.
    certainly there would be fewer men left for the charge
  9. otto kudlacek

    otto kudlacek New Member

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    tv`s history detectives mentions another in the GENERAL GRAHAM story.

    In spite of LONGSREET`S supposed obljections at GETTYSBURG he seemed to have
    used the same tactic at LOUIVILLE
  10. Millwright

    Millwright Active Member

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    RJay,

    Of course the hated "Yankees" were "charging" downhill.......

    Regardless of how individual commanders employed tactics, the real "reality" was the Civil War was fought with tactics at least two wars outdated by advances in small arms and artillary, hence its bloody toll.....

    FWIW, many years' ago I guested at a Civil War era house in Chambersburg, PA with an exquisite main room parquet floor marred in front of the fireplace reputedly by the rowels of Jeb Stuart's calvary officers.......At a time when he should have been Lee's "eyes and ears" at nearby Gettysburg......Did the 'ladies of the town' and that home deliberately delay him I wonder ? >MW
  11. red14

    red14 New Member

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    I have often wondered how the battle would have gone if Stuart had done his duty, and told Lee where Meade was. I think the battle would have been different.
  12. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I doubt it would have made much difference if Lee had known where the Federals were, since in any case he had to attack them and destroy them to achieve his objectives. He could not just bypass them (had that been possible) and leave them on his flank. Even as un-aggressive a general as Meade could not have passed up that chance to obiterate Lee's army.

    The fact was that Lee, superb on the tactical defense, did poorly on the offense; with others, it was the reverse. That is so well known in leaders that pro football teams have offensive and defensive coordinators. Lee needed an offensive coordinator, and didn't have one.

    But there is no doubt that Lee was ill-served by his highly praised cavalry general.

    Jim
  13. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Guest

    "J. E. B. Stuart. The General who used his initials because he couldn't even remember his own names."

    I heard that one first from a lad named Hancock of Richmond, VA.

    Pops
  14. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    To get back to the original question, they didn't. In any case, only the front rank could have fired; those behind would have shot their own men, and stopping to aim and fire would only have given the defense more time to fire into them. And, since taking even more time to reload was out of the question (assuming the attackers had rifle muskets), firing would have meant they would reach the defensive line with empty rifles, not a great idea. So the attackers almost always would hold fire until they were right at the defensive line or actually among the defenders.

    That was one of the most galling parts of the Picket attack where the Confederates attacked almost straight acoss the Union front, where they were shot down like ducks in a shooting gallery. They couldn't return fire even had they been allowed to do so because only the right file could fire and they would have had to turn 90 degrees to do so. It must have been a real horror.

    Jim
  15. wpage

    wpage Active Member

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  16. otto kudlacek

    otto kudlacek New Member

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  17. otto kudlacek

    otto kudlacek New Member

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    1 am sure they followed what was taught at west point
    and other military schools. LEE probably underestimated
    the effect of his artillery!
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