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"Creeping Artillery Barrage" save the day at Gettysburg..?

Discussion in '"What if..." Discussions' started by 5fish, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. Elennsar

    Elennsar Colonel

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    All the more reason to take more care and more trouble so as to hit within the desired area (no need to land within ten feet of the particular spot, the Union line is long enough and wide enough for a greater margin of error).
     

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  3. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 2nd Lieutenant

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    Take a look at the Union line at GBURG in comparison to the CS Arty implacements, then take a look at not the range but the effective range of a cannon that has been in service for two plus years, shooting ammo that is burning slower than usual.

    The length and depth of the line.

    Number of CS Batteries

    Ammunition Available to cover the advance.

    Distance from the batteries to the objective.

    Length of pre-advance bombardment vs ammo available

    It was a fail before the first grunt stepped off and an obscured target was the least of the problems.
     
  4. Elennsar

    Elennsar Colonel

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    See my comment on the artillery pummeling the area its shots did land. Was that not sufficient to have, if the shots had landed on the Union line, for major problems (for Meade)?
     
  5. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

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    The problem comes into play of consistancy... civil war era field artillery was inconsistant because of the recoil system.... when a gun recoils out of position, it has to be rolled back up on the line, which may or may not be in the same position. Accurate fire support comes from the ability for the same lay data on the adjusting piece, or on the battery in a Fire For Effect. a Suveyed Lay, often done with GPS or PADS, will determine the guns exact position, and once the target is designated, by Eyes on target, or by laser designator or radar plot, establishes the gun-target line. With this data can be calculated the range, Deflection, and Elevation, as well as the proper charge, shell and fuse combo. (the observer may also call for a specific shell fuse combo. In short, common sense is one thing, but accurate fires depend not on guesstimate and common sense, but the Science of artillery, and the triagle of FIST, FDC, & Firing battery.

    Its one thing to stand on line with your guns, figure out that its 1500 yds (thats YARDS) and how long a fuze should be.. yes they had a firing table, but nothing like the TFTs, GFTs, GSTs, RDPs Battery Computer Systems (BCS) Back Up Computer Systems (BUCS), and TacFire and LTACFIRE systems that can put a round with in ten feet of a target from point blank out to 30,000 meters (155mm, Rocket Assisted Projectcile.) thats 32,808 yards or 18.64 miles
     
  6. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    The purpose of the bombardment was to take out the Union artillery before the Reb grunts got in range.

    Try this. In the largest room in your home, tape a black cord on the far wall. (Was going to say draw a line with a Sharpie, but the distaff member of the household is sure to object.) Go to the other end of the room. Any point on that line is your target.

    You're shooting substandard ammunition and your view is often obscured by smoke. There are 99 other guns shooting. Which shell burst is yours?

    On the other side, the Confederate line is about the same but it was wider and much more visible. Open field and all that. Consider also that the Union artillery was on the military crest and well dug in. Fire the gun and it bounces back out of sight. Load it and roll it back up to where the tube peeks over the edge. Fire. Repeat.

    I'm convincing myself that Longstreet severiously over-estimated the ability of his artillery to erase that line on the far wall.
     
  7. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 2nd Lieutenant

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    And there it is a battery masked on the military crest requires engagement by accurate high angle fire, the CS was unable due to technology, to accurately engage.
     
  8. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    Thanks Border. You said it better and in fewer words.
     
  9. Elennsar

    Elennsar Colonel

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    And once again trying to deal with the problem of smoke is regarded as fanciful.

    The person over-estimating the ability of the artillery was the one whose plan depended on the artillery being able to do it. Lee.
     
  10. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 2nd Lieutenant

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    With the Union batteries in defilade on the military crest, the smoke is down the list. The CS would have to engage with high angle fire, a capability they didn't have.
     
  11. Elennsar

    Elennsar Colonel

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    Well, why did they think they had any chance at all?

    Lee presumably felt the artillery bombardment was within the capacity of his artillery. Which means either a) Lee was imagining things, or b) it was possible, however difficult.

    I'm starting to really despise Pendleton being so useless. This is where a good artillery chief would be able to tell the general whether or not the artillery really can do what is being hoped for.

    Alexander, even as a general's pet (for good reason, but nonetheless) is way too junior, but Pendleton is supposed to be able to do this.
     
  12. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 2nd Lieutenant

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    In reality Pendelton did not have the bonafides to be Chief of Artillery, he had 3 yrs service after he graduated from West Point part of that in the 2nd Artillery but most at on Arsenal duty. His bonafides seem to rely haevily on being a West Point Graduate and Classmate of Lee, and being branched to Artillery. Given that he probably was not about to argue Lee's plan, in that even then Lee had a cult that thought him infalible.
     
  13. Elennsar

    Elennsar Colonel

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    We do see Longstreet arguing with him, but as I recall from my reading, that was based on the work the grunts would have to do. No specific mention of artillery.
     
  14. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 2nd Lieutenant

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    G'Burg, Lee and Longstreet are not my chosen area of study, however I seem to recall that Longstreets argument was the ground over which the advance had to pass against an emplaced enemy doing that he disagreed with the attack plan in total.

    I've often wondered if Lee having made the decision felt that changing his mind would embarrass him or if he got a case of the "I'm commanding" bug.
     
  15. Whobutme

    Whobutme Cadet

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    I dont think creeping barrage would work

    Well fact or fiction the problem with the south using that kind of attack would also have meant the north who was more advanced then the south would have had it first or at the same time remember nothing was really kept a secret in the civil war too many spies. one it would not have worked because with an arty barrage you must be able to keep up the heat that means at least 3 shots per minute per battery no and i repeat no one at that time in history could accomplish that. Plus the north was entrenched on high ground they would have spotted the batteries and responded to an atry creep in enough time to focus and destroy them and the walking barrage could not be effective with any type of cannon.
     
  16. Elennsar

    Elennsar Colonel

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    Why would you need to fire three shots a minute to keep the heat up?
     
  17. Whobutme

    Whobutme Cadet

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    at that time it would have been at least 3 shots a minute if you have ever seen a real barrage it never lets up at all the enemy see's a wall of destruction coming towards them that is why they are effective it must be a wall of moving explosions so at that time with the tech at least 3 shots per gun every minute, that is why its called a walking barrage it screens the foot soldiers from the enemy but it also is used to demoralize troops on the receiving end. I for one have seen them and I would not be scared of anything that was under 3 shots a minute. In today world a barrage would be say in the space of 10 minutes hundreds of shells falling on a area around 300-500 shells. thats playing it safe depends on how much arty you have in play.
     
  18. Whobutme

    Whobutme Cadet

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    I do think that Lee could not change his mind one he figured god was on his side a mistake. He was an attacker because of a nickname he earned "granny" he used to be just like Longstreet he was an engineer for sakes he built forts he didn't lead men he had a natural knack for leadership tho and only got better with time during the war. They had to attack but if he would have listened to Longstreet i think that they had a better chance of winning but like they say no 15k men could have won that battle without backup Pickett had no reserves its a lose no matter how you look at it too long of a field to cross under fire and the north had encampments for cross fire so they were getting hit from the front and both sides not hard to figure that one out.
     
  19. BillO

    BillO 1st Lieutenant

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    Poor Longstreet, the one time he's right no one would listen.
     
  20. Elennsar

    Elennsar Colonel

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    The one time?

    Longstreet was right multiple times.
     
  21. whitworth

    whitworth 2nd Lieutenant

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    The non expert bookworm

    We have too many non expert, untrained militarily, bookworms attempting to win one for the Confederacy, nearly 150 years after the Confederate trained West Pointers, were unable to perform the bookworm magic.

    As said, rolling barrages were of a different era. Besides, WWI artillery shells used smokeless powder and not blackpowder. A fact a bookworm would not know. It was too difficult with a heavy barrage, as the Confederate July 3 Barrage was, to see very much after the artillery firing began. How much experience has the "what if" person have with black powder?
    Another problem is the Confederate artillery was abysmal and even behind Civil War times. At Gettysburg, the Confederate artillery totally lacked percussion shells. With the exploding shells the Confederate artilley used, they exploded in the air, blocking out the area attacked even more. The Union artillery's percussion shells exploded when they hit the ground or object. One Confederate artillery officer, later noted in his book on Gettysburg, the terrible effect of a Union percussion shell that hit a Confederate cannon and carriage. Confederate artillery was unable to do the same at Gettysburg.

    Once the exploding shells burst in the air, it was impossible for each crew to know where their shell was going. Too many artillery pieces, were in one small area, firing black powder charges and exploding, to know precisely where their particular shells were hitting. Plus there was no radio communication or forward observers telling the artillery units where the shells were going.

    We know from writings of the Union officers in the barrage that many of the Confederate artillery shells were far too long. One officer with the reserve Union artillery noted that the Confederate barrage was so long, his unit, in the rear, was getting struck. There was one famously unknown Union artillery unit, that was totally unharmed by the barrage. All the shells went over their heads and exploded in their rear. When the barrage ended, a total of some 39 cannon, in one location, as I recall, opened fire on Pickett's Charge. A complete surprise to Confederates and the dumbfounded artillery.

    If Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and E. P. Alexander, officers, former U.S. Officers, West Point Graduates, experienced in battle couldn't come up with a better artillery barrage, why do some, with no military experience, especially in artillery, know more than these Confederates?

    How these non expert bookworms have come up with more ways, how these Confederate army experts could have won, is truly amazing. I guess they are expert in one thing. "We don't want our side to lose this Civil War, all over again." They sure are expert in that.
     

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