Cavalry in the Civil War

Saphroneth

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#21
The improved reliability, range and accuracy of fire weapons reduced the effectiveness of old-style shock combat methods. Battlefield saber charges by large mass groups of cavalry became harder to manage and successfully execute.
The reason why we can tell that this is not what causes the problem with cavalry charges in the American Civil War is that one of the big cav charges was repulsed by a brigade specifically known to be armed with smoothbores. (It's the Texans.)

Make no mistake, your post is broadly accurate on the increasing difficulty of cavalry charges in general (indeed in the Indian Mutiny the British regulars could maintain a half-mile "no go" zone around them where cavalry movement was highly dangerous when within line of sight), but it's almost irrelevant to the ACW because the weapons (and the weapons training to use the rifles effectively) simply are not there.

I'll also note that von Bulow's death ride was actually quite effective - yes, a lot of his men died, but nothing else could have tied up such a large number of French troops for so long as the chaos caused by the cavalry charge. This makes it an effective weapon, if one you can't actually reuse - there are several places in the ACW where the ability to fire a cavalry unit at an entrenched line and be pretty sure they'd make contact and disrupt the position would have been totally invaluable and swayed the course of the entire campaign (or indeed the war).

If you have adequate cavalry support in proportion to the size of your army, the loss of 420 cavalrymen (out of 800) for that kind of disruption is cheap at the price.

ED: on checking the charge I was referring to was New Market in 1864. The Texans still had smoothbores though...
 
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Saphroneth

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#22
As I mentioned upthread a year or two ago, there really wasn't an appreciation of what well-mounted cavalry could achieve - at least in the early war. This was demonstrated by an engineering officer who charged up the sides of one of the Potomac forts on a horse, which left his Union hosts aghast at the idea of cavalry "charging the slightest obstacle".

This tends to support the idea that the cavalry in the ACW was simply not technically capable in the main, at least early on.
 

trice

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#23
The reason why we can tell that this is not what causes the problem with cavalry charges in the American Civil War is that one of the big cav charges in the early-mid war was repulsed by a brigade specifically known to be armed with smoothbores. (It's the Texans.)
Well, that has nothing to do with anything I said and does not negate any of it. Nowhere did I say smoothbores had become ineffective. My post points out that new weaponry tilted the advantage towards firepower more than it had been before. Getting shot with a smoothbore was just as effective as it had been before rifled muskets and rifles became the standard infantry weapon; rifled weapons simply had capabilities the smoothbore did not have.

Percussion-capped weapons (British adapted in 1842 on the Brown Bess; US about 1833 for the M1819 Hall Rifle carbine version) began this because they offered two advantages:
  1. they were roughly 10% more likely to fire than a similar flintlock, meaning that a 500-man unit could put out about 10% more shots in a volley than a similar unit armed with flintlocks.
  2. percussion-capped weapons were much more likely to fire in the wet than flintlocks were, removing a major advantage cavalry had before that time (particularly lancers, who could strike from beyond the reach of a bayoneted rifle)
Those aren't huge changes, but they start the process. Once that type of weapon is widely deployed to the troops, the scale has tilted away from the cavalry a little. The change isn't very visible because of the lack of large wars to highlight the issue.

After that, the Minie rifle comes along (invented in France in 1847, issued to the French Army from 1851 on). The British Enfield comes in 1853, the US Springfield in 1855, the Austrian Lorenz in 1855, the German Vereinsgewehr in 1855.Deployment of these weapons, of course, takes time, but the first real use of them in combat comes in the Crimean War against the Russians by the French and British. The world's major armies are convinced the rifle is a better weapon, but the usual bug-a-boos (money and time) are the only thing really delaying universal deployment of the new weapon. (The Prussians were moving towards the Dreyse rifle, but economic constraints are a large part of their delays in moving to the Dreyse completely until 1859, when the last Potsdam 1839 muskets were ordered replaced in the line troops, although it takes more time to get it done.)

The military men of the time knew in the 1850s that the improved reliability/accuracy/range capabilities of the new rifled weapons would change the tactical equation. They just were not sure exactly how it would change. Theories abounded: they were proposed, argued, tried throughout the period. Knowing that the kill zone of infantry fire had expanded ( the improved reliability/accuracy/range capabilities), tacticians tried to figure out how best to exploit and counter those changes.

One of the things they agreed on (they didn't agree on much) was that it would be better to cross the kill zone quickly since the kill zone was now bigger (longer range) and might be covered by interlocking fields of fire from more units (due to longer ranges). The pace infantry moved at was changed as a result (I am not a musician, but someone once told me that the same march was played at a different speed in the American Revolution and the Civil War because the number of steps/minute had increased).

You can't really get cavalry to do that. A textbook cavalry charge would have been planned for 600 yards, with the first 200 at a walk, the next 200 at a trot and the last 200 at a gallop. That takes a bit of time and you will probably be exposed to rifle fire for a longer distance and probably receive more volleys from the defender. You would probably be exposed to smoothbore fire for a shorter distance and for fewer volleys. That is a substantial difference and it had an impact you seem to be saying did not exist.

These changes apply to infantry and artillery as well as cavalry. Military men knew it. The French Army went to a tactical system of Napoleonic tactics raised to a high level by vigorous training and discipline (this includes what we think of as the Zouave tactics of the Crimean War and the 1859 Austro-French War in Italy). The Austrian Army stayed with the tactical system of the Archduke Charles they'd been using since 1809 or before, relying on the tradition courage and discipline of their troops. French "victory" at Magenta and Solferino led to a rage for all things French (Magenta and Solferino became the 1860 hot women's fashion colors) including touring drill companies executing "Zouave tactics" at a level that required tremendous athletic ability. The French Army decided they already knew what they needed to know; the Austrian Army decided French elan was what had won the war, so they de-emphasized firepower and re-emphasized their traditional bayonet charges (leading to the disasters of 1866).

One thing to look at is the change in offensive artillery tactics. Close range offensive artillery charges and horse-artillery tactics were often decisive (starting with Senarmont at Friedland in 1807 and still working fine for the US horse artillery and Braxton Bragg in the Mexican War). Guns were pushed forward aggressively to fire at ranges as short as 50-60 yards. Mass deployment of rifles appears to have put an end to this tactic, with guns needing to fire from much greater ranges. Defensive use of artillery could still be decisive (see Mendenhall saving the day twice at Stones River and once at Chickamauga), but decisive close-in offensive use of field artillery is not commonly seen. The reason: small-arms fire was now able to reach-out-and-touch the artillery at greater ranges, making men and especially horses big targets.
 

Saphroneth

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#24
You can't really get cavalry to do that. A textbook cavalry charge would have been planned for 600 yards, with the first 200 at a walk, the next 200 at a trot and the last 200 at a gallop. That takes a bit of time and you will probably be exposed to rifle fire for a longer distance and probably receive more volleys from the defender. You would probably be exposed to smoothbore fire for a shorter distance and for fewer volleys. That is a substantial difference and it had an impact you seem to be saying did not exist.
Absolutely not; I'm saying it didn't exist in the Civil War, because of the well-documented issues with rifle fire in the ACW - it was just balanced out by the issues with the cavalry as well. The fact a cavalry charge was stopped by a smoothbore brigade indicates that that cavalry... was stopped by smoothbores, not by rifles, and that we thus do not need to postulate rifle improvements to explain the general failure of cavalry in the ACW.

If you want to talk about the general state of play with cavalry, that's one thing; if you want to talk about whhy it didn't work in the Civil War, it's another thing entirely.


One thing to look at is the change in offensive artillery tactics. Close range offensive artillery charges and horse-artillery tactics were often decisive (starting with Senarmont at Friedland in 1807 and still working fine for the US horse artillery and Braxton Bragg in the Mexican War). Guns were pushed forward aggressively to fire at ranges as short as 50-60 yards. Mass deployment of rifles appears to have put an end to this tactic, with guns needing to fire from much greater ranges. Defensive use of artillery could still be decisive (see Mendenhall saving the day twice at Stones River and once at Chickamauga), but decisive close-in offensive use of field artillery is not commonly seen. The reason: small-arms fire was now able to reach-out-and-touch the artillery at greater ranges, making men and especially horses big targets.
But artillery was recorded taking "sharpshooter" fire (a few casualties a minute) at Antietam at ranges of 50 yards. Against properly rifle-trained units this would be dramatically different.
Can you give an example of an artillery gunline being dominated by line infantry rifle fire at a range significantly greater than that at which a musket is almost as accurate as a rifle? (i.e. within 80-120 yards; rifle fire in the Crimea from properly trained troops dominated a gunline at 600 yards or more.)
 

trice

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#25
...

ED: on checking the charge I was referring to was New Market in 1864. The Texans still had smoothbores though...
Here's how Confederate General Imboden described the repulse of that charge:

Whilst General Breckinridge was advancing the brigades of Echols and Wharton, and the 62d Virginia under Colonel Smith and the cadets under Colonel Ship, and in the face of a most galling artillery fire steadying them everywhere by his personal presence, we on the extreme right were only treated to an occasional random shell thrown through the woods from an invisible battery.
When the infantry had reached the edge of the town, I rode into the woods in my front to ascertain what force, if any, the enemy had immediately beyond the woods, with which we would have to cope when Breckinridge passed beyond the town , as it was evident he would do in the next half hour. I was rewarvery of Sigel's entire cavalry force massed in very close order in the fields just beyond the woods. It was from a battery of theirs that the few stray shots, aimed at random, had reached us through the woods. I moved my command at a "trot march." We swept down Smith's Creek to the bridge on the Luray road, McClanahan's battery following. Moving down the east side of the creek we gained the top of a little hill and unlimbered "in battery" before we were discovered, or at least before a shot was fired at us. The position was a magnificent one for our purpose. It was less than one thousand yards from the enemy's cavalry, and a little in rear of the prolongation of his line. A large part of his cavalry, and that nearest to us, was massed in column, close order, squadron front, giving our gunners a target of whole acres of men and horses. The guns were rapidly worked, whilst my cavalry kept on slowly down the creek as if aiming to get in the enemy's rear. The effect was magical. The first discharge of the guns threw his whole body of cavalry into confusion. They could not change front and face us without great slaughter. They did the next best thing. Being ignorant that the woods in their front were only held by a skirmish-line, they turned to the right about and retired rapidly till beyond our range. In doing this they uncovered one of their batteries, which changed front to the left and exchanged a few rounds with McClanahan. But the rapid retrograde movement of the discomfited cavalry and our flank fire was observed by General Breckinridge, who immediately pushed forward his infantry with great energy under cover of the excellent service of McLaughl by McClanahan, whose shot and shell, now that the cavalry were out of the way, began to fall upon Sigel's infantry flank. Thus pressed in front, and harassed in flank, General Sigel retired his whole line to a new position half a mile farther back, pressed all the time by Echols's and Wharton's brigades, Smith's 62d, and the Cadet Corps. The town was thus passed by our troops, and a little after noon McLaughlin occupied the ground on which the enemy's batteries had been planted the day before, and from which they had been gallantly served all that forenoon.
The US Army's Center of Military History describes it this way:
The climax of the battle was fast approaching. General Sigel had noted the discomfiture of the Confederate line and ordered a counterattack, but unfortunately his orders were not clear and they were poorly executed piecemeal. First, about 1445, the Federal cavalry attempted to charge up the Pike. It rode virtually into the mouths of the guns Breckinridge had set up on the ridge southeast of the Federal line. The cavalry's position was worsened by the response of the Confederate infantry, which briefly faced the Pike on both sides of it, adding a wall of fire on each flank of the quickly decimated Federal horse. The troopers were repulsed with great loss in a matter of minutes. At about this time, a violent thunderstorm was adding to the confusion. Confederate fire continued to build on the Union line. Jackson's Battery was deployed southeast of the Bushong House and one company of the 26th Virginia inched close enough to focus accurate rifle fire on Snow's and Carlin's Federal artillerymen and their teams.

Imboden's account doesn't mention the infantry fire, just as yours doesn't mention the rather devastating flank artillery fire from Imboden's guns. Neither seems completely in sync with the US Army's account. None of them mentions the Union cavalry bunching up to cross a bridge, which I seem to recall from either visits to the battlefield or a book I read somewhere along the way. Both the flanking artillery fire and the infantry fire happened. Smoothbores had no magical power to them and the infantry fire did not save the day alone here, although it certainly played a part.
 

trice

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#26
But artillery was recorded taking "sharpshooter" fire (a few casualties a minute) at Antietam at ranges of 50 yards. Against properly rifle-trained units this would be dramatically different.
We can show examples of Union artillery taking "sharpshooter" fire at ranges above 800 yards in the Civil War. Their standard response was to pack up and leave quick because that fire meant their animals would be killed, leaving them unable to withdraw their guns, after which the sharpshooters would start shooting the gunners. Yes, those are specialized troops with Whitworths -- but no "sharpshooter" will be doing that with a smoothbore.

An artillery unit is a big target, particularly the animals. Infantry fire doesn't need to be aimed at a single man and hit him to be effective. It can simply be area fire. The same applies to infantry unit targets and cavalry unit targets. Napoleonic smoothbore units would generally not fire at units 80-120 yards distant; veteran, experienced ones might rarely employ suppressive area fire out to about 150 yards with no idea any individual shot would hit any particular target. Rifle units can fire at ranges smoothbore units simply cannot.

Troops need training to use a smoothbore as well as a rifle. Napoleon's army had little practice due to supply restrictions on ammo. Down in Spain a French Brigadier decided to put some newly arrived recruits through a practice volley with blanks. Knowing they had blank loads in their muskets, he stood in front of their ranks (foolishly -- the general had been drinking when they arrived). IIRR, sixteen men still had their ramrods in their gun-barrels when the "Fire!" command was given. The general was transfixed several times by the ramrods from the volley.

Can you give an example of an artillery gunline being dominated by line infantry rifle fire at a range significantly greater than that at which a musket is almost as accurate as a rifle? (i.e. within 80-120 yards; rifle fire in the Crimea from properly trained troops dominated a gunline at 600 yards or more.)
See the example above. As noted, my point is that the typical offensive artillery tactics of Napoleonic days (the artillery charge and the horse-artillery tactics, such as at Dresden) are not seen in the ACW. You don't find Union or Confederate gunners rolling their guns up to 50 yards from an enemy line and blowing it into bloody pulp. I gave examples of powerful use of artillery in a defensive role, but the major successful offensive artillery tactics of the 1807-1847 era have disappeared in the day of the rifle.

You seem to have this backwards. It doesn't matter if you can show smoothbores having an effect within normal smoothbore range; rifles can essentially be just as effective at any range as the smoothbores can. Can you show smoothbores having an effect at rifle ranges? If you cannot, then obviously the rifle has an edge.

If your issue is that Civil War units could have been more effective with substantially better training: of course they could. But no amount of training could make smoothbores effective at rifle ranges.
 

thomas aagaard

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#27
After that, the Minie rifle comes along (invented in France in 1847, issued to the French Army from 1851 on). The British Enfield comes in 1853, the US Springfield in 1855, the Austrian Lorenz in 1855, the German Vereinsgewehr in 1855.Deployment of these weapons, of course, takes time, but the first real use of them in combat comes in the Crimean War against the Russians by the French and British. The world's major armies are convinced the rifle is a better weapon, but the usual bug-a-boos (money and time) are the only thing really delaying universal deployment of the new weapon. (The Prussians were moving towards the Dreyse rifle, but economic constraints are a large part of their delays in moving to the Dreyse completely until 1859, when the last Potsdam 1839 muskets were ordered replaced in the line troops, although it takes more time to get it done.)
You are making a common mistake of thinking "minie" rifles where the first riflemusket in use.
RM have been around since the early 1840ties.
About 30.000 rifled muskets was used at the Battle of Isted in 1850. 25% of the danish government army had them (with all units down to the platoon level having some) and about 80% of the rebel "german" army had riflemuskets.
During that war Danish cavalry still managed to get into close combat with infantry. (So Did Austrian cavalry in 1864 against a purely rilfemusket armed danish force.)
The RM don't make mounted attacks impossible... just harder.

The same with offensive use of artillery. It was done a lot in 1848 when both sides only used a few rifles. By 1850 with experienced infantry formations and a lot more rifled firearms around it was still done, but it now needed to be done in close cooperation with the infantry. And artillery try to find positions where they can get some cover from rifle fire.

Also the RM don't extent the kill zone. It give your two of them. One close to the shooter and the other at an short area around the target. And that is in the hands of well trained men. In between you got an area that is "safe" and if the shooter is not well trained he can easily misjudge the range (usually judge the ranger bigger than it is) and overshoot.

During the civil war the change to rifle muskets had very little effect on infantry tactics. (thanks to lack of proper marksmanship training)

It had little effect on cavalry tactics, because early in the war the cavalry didn't have the skills to do proper mounted charges anyway. And on many battlefield the terrain is ill suited for it.
Late in the war union cavalry do start to make mounted attacks, but by that time they are armed with breechloaded or even repeating firearms, making the dismounted line very effective because of a technological edge over the infantry.

But I agree that the (theoretical) threat of long range rifle fire made the artillery unwilling to support the infantry at close range during attacks.
 
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trice

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#28
You are making a common mistake of thinking "minie" rifles where the first riflemusket in use.
RM have been around since the early 1840ties.
About 30.000 rifled muskets was used at the Battle of Isted in 1850. 25% of the danish government army had them (with all units down to the platoon level having some) and about 80% of the rebel "german" army had riflemuskets.
During that war Danish cavalry still managed to get into close combat with infantry. (So Did Austrian cavalry in 1864 against a purely rilfemusket armed danish force.)
Well, I don't think that's a mistake I am making; I might be wrong. What I am pointing to is the mass deployment of such weapons among major armies of the day (Denmark was a bigger power than most might be aware of in those days, but the French and Austrians were far more important in the eyes of the world).

The RM don't make mounted attacks impossible... just harder.
As I have said myself many a time over the years. Von Moltke's instructions to his generals after the 1866 Austro-Prussian War say the same.

The same with offensive use of artillery. It was done a lot in 1848 when both sides only used a few rifles. By 1850 with experienced infantry formations and a lot more rifled firearms around it was still done, but it now needed to be done in close cooperation with the infantry. And artillery try to find positions where they can get some cover from rifle fire.
If I have not made this obvious, I apologize: the technological advances I have been discussing are an ongoing process.

Battlefield conditions during the days from Frederick the Great to Napoleon I remained generally constant (with changes of degree and constant refinement). The days of Musket and Pike started to end as the flintlock musket and bayonet (first plug, then socket became common). Iron ramrods were a "major" improvement, but otherwise infantry weaponry didn't change drastically until after the Napoleonic Wars. Likewise, artillery improved but did not drastically change. There is little conceptual difference between the arms used by Marlborough, Frederick the Great and Napoleon, although there are engineering improvements and refinements in the weapons. Tactics were refined as well, but essentially a good soldier of the period from 1700 to 1840 would have little difficulty with the capability differences.

Before that time there is a period where the old musket-and-pike technology is transitioning to the new flintlock-muskets-with-bayonets technology, just as you have a transition period in roughly 1830-1860 as the old flintlock-muskets-with-bayonets model changes to a percussion-capped rifle model, followed immediately by a transition to the breech-loading/magazine rifle by the later 1800s. Artillery was undergoing a similar smoothbore muzzle-loaders to rifled muzzle-loaders to quick-firing breech-loaders transition period. Most European military observers of the ACW were coming to observe the effect of the new rifled artillery, particularly in siege operations against the existing state-of-the-art fortifications like Ft. Sumter and Ft. Pulaski. Few of them saw much else of interest (the Russians studied cavalry raids, the British ignored the ACW until G. F. R. Henderson rose to prominence, the Prussians later adopted the USMRR organization wholesale).

Also the RM don't extent the kill zone. It give your two of them. One close to the shooter and the other at an short area around the target. And that is in the hands of well trained men. In between you got an area that is "safe" and if the shooter is not well trained he can easily misjudge the range (usually judge the ranger bigger than it is) and overshoot.
I have to admit this confuses me. It appears to me that you are saying there is a kill zone near the shooter and a kill zone near the target and a safe zone in between. That seems wrong. I am using the term to mean the kill zone is the area in which the fire of the shooter can reasonably reach out and hit the target. Terrain might change that by protecting the target (hills, rocks, gullies, things that obstruct the line-of-sight like trees and bushes and rolls in the ground, etc.), but otherwise the shooter's kill zone is what he can see and reach with his fire.

A problem I have in my understanding of your description is that it seems to say that the shooter's kill zone changes shape every time the target moves -- that if the target is 150 yards away, the kill zone exists as a blob around the target at 150 yards, if the target retreats to 200 yards, the kill zone exists as a blob around the target at 200 yards, etc. In the sense that you can't kill a target where it is not located, I see that you are correct, but I think of the kill zone as the entire area the shooter can effectively hit the target.

During the civil war the change to rifle muskets had very little effect on infantry tactics. (thanks to lack of proper marksmanship training)
Hmm. Bad training will always impact performance. However, the issues involved in the mass introduction of Minie-style rifles to the battlefield had not been resolved by any Army of the day at the time of the ACW. The 1859 war in Italy left the French convinced they already had the solution (essentially Napoleonic tactics raised to a high level by training). It caused the Austrians, who were moving to a firepower-based system based on the Archduke Charles tactical system from the Napoleonic wars (a good idea that fit it well) to reverse their training, that bayonet charges and traditional shock combat were the way to go. Von Moltke, down there to observe, decided that firepower would now dominate and that both the French and the Austrians were headed in the wrong direction. It isn't until 1866 that the horrendous Austrian defeat convinces rest of the military world to change.

The ACW occurs in a time of experimentation and theoretical debate in military circles. Before 1850, weaponry is little different than it was in the French Revolution or the Napoleonic Wars. The tactics that won the Mexican War for the Americans (essentially aggressive light artillery fire and disciplined bayonet attacks) would be immediately familiar to any of Napoleon's men or the British Wellington or the Austrian Field Marshall Radetzky. Braxton Bragg's use of horse artillery at Buena Vista is probably/possibly the most brilliant such example to be found in the Americas, but it would have been seen as just a good example of textbook tactics by Napoleonic veterans.

It had little effect on cavalry tactics, because early in the war the cavalry didn't have the skills to do proper mounted charges anyway. And on many battlefield the terrain is ill suited for it.
On the terrain, this was the opinion of the British Army's G. F. R. Henderson, who thought even Brandy Station was tight terrain for a European-style cavalry battle.

On the skills issue:
  1. Pre-war US Army Regular units had the skills, but there were only 5 regiments (2 Dragoons, 2 Cavalry, 1 Mounted Infantry) and were largely scattered west of the Mississippi when the war started. One of these makes a mounted charge out in Missouri about May or June of 1861. The 5th US Cavalry (originally the 2nd US Cavalry) made a mounted charge on advancing infantry at Gaines Mill (June, 1862) that is shot up (55 casualties of 237), possibly gaining some time for the retreat. For the Confederates, J. E. B. Stuart leads a mounted charge on infantry (Ellsworth's Fire Zouaves) during 1st Bull Run in July of 1861 (a success).
  2. Generally, men in "the South" were much more likely to ride horses while men in the North were much more likely to drive wagons or buggies. Newly recruited Union cavalry regiments (particularly in the East) had to spend a lot of time training men to ride while Confederate units could skip that part. Even in early 1862, Union cavalry units would lose riders simply by getting off the road and trying to move cross-country. The lack of familiarity with caring for horses also led to many broken-down horses in any kind of extended cavalry deployment. This is very evident in the Manassas Campaign (August 1862), where Pope's attempt to make hard use of his cavalry brigades quickly leads to rapidly dwindling strengths. Still, 2nd Manassas is the first real example of Union Volunteer cavalry launching a saber charge in the East (Buford, briefly successful, possibly saving Pope from even greater defeat). Given the general belief that it took 12-18 months to train a cavalryman, that is about the earliest you could expect a Union Volunteer Cavalry regiment to be ready; mounted charges become more common in the Spring of 1863.
  3. The Gettysburg Campaign features a good number of mounted charges by both sides (June-July 1863). They are usually cavalry-on-cavalry, but the battle itself features two notable cavalry-on-infantry moments: Kilpatricks' sacrifice of Farnsworth in Farnsworth's Charge on July 3 and Buford's mounted-dismounted combined attack to cover I Corps retreat on July 1 (Rebels may have formed some sort of square here, making a good target for the dismounted troopers).
  4. Out West, you might find more examples of saber charges, but it is probably hit-or-miss. Forrest's commands certainly used the saber, but Forrest generally did whatever worked best for the situation, making excellent use of artillery fire, rifle fire, pistol fire and swords in different places. Wheeler (pre-war US Mounted Rifles Regiment) started out favoring the mounted charge but trended more to dismounted action over time; by 1865 he is debating the point with his new superior, Wade Hampton, who favors a mounted charge. Confederate Cavalry units were sometimes less well equipped with sabers and often acted more like mounted infantry.

Late in the war union cavalry do start to make mounted attacks, but by that time they are armed with breechloaded or even repeating firearms, making the dismounted line very effective because of a technological edge over the infantry.
Up until the end of the Civil War, Confederate infantry remained confident they could push Union cavalry out of any position they tried to hold, because they generally could. This is certainly true in June 1864 when Meade has to order Sheridan to hold his ground against Confederate infantry near Cold Harbor. Repeaters and breech-loaders could be very effective in certain situations (usually in a "mad minute" close-quarter assault where volume of fire can decide the issue, and then generally in favor of the defense). Examples are hard to find, generally occur in 1865, and often involve situations where the Union side had a large numerical advantage.

You can find a few crucial uses of repeaters earlier but they generally will come down to Wilder's Brigade in the Tullahoma Campaign, Wilder's Brigade at Chickamauga, and the Colt Revolving Rifles of the 21st Ohio Infantry at Chickamauga, or the action at the Carter house at Franklin. Wilder's Brigade is truly mounted infantry (existing infantry regiments that had been issued horses) and the 21st Ohio was simply an ordinary infantry unit that ended up in a crucial spot at a crucial time. The Carter house action involves only a few companies (armed with repeaters) of a single regiment among the forces fighting there, but it is a crucial pivot of that fight and the repeaters might have tilted the action.

But I agree that the (theoretical) threat of long range rifle fire made the artillery unwilling to support the infantry at close range during attacks.
I don't think you will find an example of anything remotely like the Senarmont "artillery charge" tactic first seen at Friedland in 1807 or even of typical horse-artillery tactics as seen at Dresden in 1813 (or many other Napoleonic battles), even like Bragg's action at Buena Vista. Perhaps the Gallant Pelham's actions might show like that for the Confederates if I looked closely -- but then he died at Chancellorsville in May, 1863.

Rifle fire was the primary reason artillerymen didn't push forward to engage at extreme close range anymore, although increased artillery ranges and heavier guns must have also played a part. A 12-lber Napoleon was a pretty lethal canister gun at ranges out to 400 yards or more; a 3-inch Rifle a little less so.

It is easy to find examples of artillery in a defensive role dominating the battlefield in the ACW (Mendenhall did it 3 times to save Rosecrans bacon at Stones River and Chickamauga before dying when he tried the fourth time, for example; Malvern Hill also comes to mind). It is hard to find examples where artillery dominated the battlefield in an offensive role. Looking at the European examples shortly after the ACW, I don't see close-in offensive use of artillery there either (but that might just be my lack of depth on the battles).

I think that the change in weapons technology in the 1850s-1860s caused this change, making the artillery-charge tactic and traditional horse-artillery tactics too difficult, too costly, or less efficient/necessary in achieving the desired result. Perhaps it was all three -- perhaps the artillery discovered they could avoid the heavy losses caused by moving into close contact and still affect the results from longer range due to new technology (longer range, more effective ammo, better accuracy, etc.) The Franco-Prussian War seems the turning point for artillery dominance (leading to a peak in WWI).
 
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thomas aagaard

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#29
What I am pointing to is the mass deployment
So the battle of Alma don't count as a battle with rifled muskets?
And Balaclava don't count and so on.
And a number of the early acw battles did similar involved fare fewer rifled muskets than the battle of Isted.

Also the rifle muskets was based on the design of french Officer Thouvenin. They where being produced in France, Belgium and across the smaller German states and in Denmark...
The only reason Minie is famous is because he managed to get the french to adopt a rifle he designed and then when the British got their M/1851 Minié rifle his part to fame was secured... Others had invented the "minié" bullet and his only involvement was adding a desk at the rear... something that was later removed as not needed.

But in the English speaking world its the civil war and Crimean war that get all the focus...

I have to admit this confuses me. It appears to me that you are saying there is a kill zone near the shooter and a kill zone near the target and a safe zone in between. That seems wrong. I am using the term to mean the kill zone is the area in which the fire of the shooter can reasonably reach out and hit the target.
If you fire a weapon level the bullet will reach x range. This range is shorter for a rifle musket than a smoothbore.
(because of lower velocity)
To get the bullet out too a longer distance you need to aim the barrel upwards. (just like when throwing a football)
So if you set the sights at 300 yards, the the bullet will be traveling above the height of a man for much of its path.
The result is that it great two zones where a man might get it, and one that is "safe" in between.
If you set the sights at 300 yards, but the target is only 200 yards away you will overshot the target (if aiming level)

And the 2nd zone at the target is pretty small. The result is that you need to judge the distance very accurately.
The big challenge is that giving the orders to fire, changing the sights and actually firing take time.
And if the officer in command don't time this he might have ordered 300 yards, but not having the men fire until 200.
and if they are not trained to compensate most hots will overshoot.
(with a modern M16, you can set the sight at 300 and you got a killzone out to 300.. because it got a much higher velocity)

In the last danish/Prussian fight in 1864 a danish company tried to surprise a Prussian company and attacked quickly in a column down a road on a shallow hill When the Prussians fired their first volley most of the danes hit where at the rear of the danish formation.
And the issue mentioned above was part of the reason. the other that the danes was going a bit downhill.

(The fight btw got a lot of attention in the European military circles, because it was so "clean" With one company against one company with no external factors like, artillery. 70 Prussians against 160 danes... the prussians had 3 wounded, the danes lost 98 men, most of the had been hit. Some more than one time. And it was seen as very clear evidence of the superiority of the breech loaded rifle over the muzzle loaded one.)

Given the general belief that it took 12-18 months to train a cavalryman,
That is to low. Scott said 2 years.(that is why he didn't want volunteer cavalry at the start of the war)
The danish army said 2 years to train a recruit to the needed standard.
The Prussians expected about 2½ until a recruit could be trained to a well trained cavalryman.

About cavalry charges. It have been debated in another topic and there are a number of them late in the war.
Where CSA cavalry is routed by "saber charges" by union cavalry.

Up until the end of the Civil War, Confederate infantry remained confident they could push Union cavalry out of any position they tried to hold, because they generally could.
Mounted Cavarly can't hold a position. That was the case When Caesar commanded his legions and that was the case until cavalry started using tanks... and even then they need infantry support.

Artillery.
The prussian artillery in 1870 was willing to go forward and paid the price is men and horses.
"close" was further away than earlier, but the range of the french small arms was similarly much longer.
Smoke, and the french using entrenchments and similar was why they needed to get rather close. (and needing to awoid hitting their own men)
 
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67th Tigers

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#30
I don't think you will find an example of anything remotely like the Senarmont "artillery charge" tactic first seen at Friedland in 1807 or even of typical horse-artillery tactics as seen at Dresden in 1813 (or many other Napoleonic battles), even like Bragg's action at Buena Vista. Perhaps the Gallant Pelham's actions might show like that for the Confederates if I looked closely -- but then he died at Chancellorsville in May, 1863.
Nor will you find an artillery charge at the real battle of Friedland.

Senarmont was the artillery commander for Victor's 1er Corps. The action involves DuPont's division of 1er Corps advancing to support Ney's corps attack (on Victor's right), but then being stopped dead by a charge of the Russian cavalry. DuPont's division is forced into squares to protect themselves. The divisional battery under Capt Ricci is firing well, but it is suffering by Russian artillery. Victor directed Senarmont to reinforce Ricci with the whole corps artillery. Senarmont did this, and lined up 30 guns just as a Russian infantry division moved to overrun DuPont's paralysed division. These 30 guns broke up the Russian infantry attack very effectively, and the French 4th Dragoon Division drove off the Russian cavalry.

Rather than the claimed "artillery charge", Senarmont's actions at Friedland were reactive and defensive. In putting the whole Corps artillery in a stop line, he probably saved DuPont's division from complete destruction. It was not particularly innovative or that well regarded - hence the lack of comment at the time. It became exaggerated by the post-war writing of Senarmont himself.

Dresden was a defensive battle by the French, and most of their artillery was entrenched, and a lot of it on the far bank of the Elbe.

In Mexico, Bragg's Battery (E/3rd) was only mounted in theatre, using captured Mexican pieces. At Buena Vista, Bragg's and Thomas Sherman's batteries were simply placed on a prominent plateau, and fired as best they could at the oncoming infantry. A section was detached and did similar elsewhere. There was no "artillery charge".

The entire idea of an "artillery charge" is a myth. There is no account I know of that isn't, on inspection, wildly exaggerated at least.
 

trice

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#31
Nor will you find an artillery charge at the real battle of Friedland.

Senarmont was the artillery commander for Victor's 1er Corps. The action involves DuPont's division of 1er Corps advancing to support Ney's corps attack (on Victor's right), but then being stopped dead by a charge of the Russian cavalry. DuPont's division is forced into squares to protect themselves. The divisional battery under Capt Ricci is firing well, but it is suffering by Russian artillery. Victor directed Senarmont to reinforce Ricci with the whole corps artillery. Senarmont did this, and lined up 30 guns just as a Russian infantry division moved to overrun DuPont's paralysed division. These 30 guns broke up the Russian infantry attack very effectively, and the French 4th Dragoon Division drove off the Russian cavalry.

Rather than the claimed "artillery charge", Senarmont's actions at Friedland were reactive and defensive. In putting the whole Corps artillery in a stop line, he probably saved DuPont's division from complete destruction. It was not particularly innovative or that well regarded - hence the lack of comment at the time. It became exaggerated by the post-war writing of Senarmont himself.
Or you could go with a more traditional version, like this one in John Elting's work:
1549817438414.png
Looking around quickly, I see this article from Kevin F. Kiley online: Action Front! Senarmont at Friedland. Kiley is a retired US Marine artillery officer and West Point graduate who also wrote Artillery Of Napoleonic Wars, which I have not read.

Dresden was a defensive battle by the French, and most of their artillery was entrenched, and a lot of it on the far bank of the Elbe.
This is a very misleading description of the Battle of Dresden (August 26-27, 1813). It covers only the first half of the action on the first day of a two-day battle.

Dresden certainly starts out with Napoleon's Marshall St. Cyr defending the city against the assault of the Allied Army (Austrians, Russians and Prussians). Napoleon arrived during the 26th and French counter-attacks had regained everything the Allies had taken earlier in the day. On the 27th, Napoleon assaulted the Allies outside the city, despite being outnumbered 3:2. Napoleon turned their flank and won a substantial tactical victory in the rain. Casualties are usually reported as 38,000 Allied to 10,000 French, with 40 Allied guns captured. The Allies retreated that night (leading to the Battle of Kulm on August 29-30, where Vandamme's French are smashed and Moreau gets killed while talking to the Tsar)

The horse-artillery actions I was referring to are on August 27th. The Allied left was cut off from the rest of the Allied Army by a swollen stream -- Murat fell on them with every cavalry unit he could bring to bear. During the downpour, flintlock muskets were generally useless and the infantry had to form square to protect themselves from the cavalry, but still had little or no ability to keep the cavalry off with firepower. Gunners would traditionally abandon their guns as a cavalry force charged, take cover in the nearest square, then return to the guns when the cavalry recoiled after the charge.

Murat's horsemen were not able to work up to a full charge in the mire, but they could move in formation and maneuver close to the squares, able to ride down any force that left square. Any opening in a square quickly led to disaster, allowing the horsemen to enter and tear it apart. The horse artillery was able, with great effort, to come forward into close range of the squares, go into battery, and open fire on the squares, blowing holes in the wall of men and bayonets. The infantry could not fire and could not leave square to go after the horse artillery because of the French cavalry. The Corps of Klenau and Gyulai were devastated, many units surrendering to avoid destruction. A wonderful example of combined arms in action, described in every account of this battle I have ever seen. I am usnure how you missed it.

In Mexico, Bragg's Battery (E/3rd) was only mounted in theatre, using captured Mexican pieces. At Buena Vista, Bragg's and Thomas Sherman's batteries were simply placed on a prominent plateau, and fired as best they could at the oncoming infantry. A section was detached and did similar elsewhere. There was no "artillery charge".
I was using Bragg's work at Buena Vista as an example of horse-artillery tactics. I did not use it as an example of an "artillery charge". However, if you think the US artillery at Buena Vista simply remained in place and fired when the Mexicans came near, you have not viewed the action in detail.

The entire idea of an "artillery charge" is a myth. There is no account I know of that isn't, on inspection, wildly exaggerated at least.
Strange how many respected historians use it as fact then.
 

trice

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#32
So the battle of Alma don't count as a battle with rifled muskets?
And Balaclava don't count and so on.
And a number of the early acw battles did similar involved fare fewer rifled muskets than the battle of Isted.
I haven't said anything about any of those battles, so I am not sure what you might be referring to in my post. My point on the impact of technology is that it requires mass deployment to the armies and use in war in very substantial quantity to change the way armies think and fight. There is also a substantial learning curve involved where military men figure out how best to use the new weapons and how tactics must change as a result. This takes time.

Also the rifle muskets was based on the design of french Officer Thouvenin. They where being produced in France, Belgium and across the smaller German states and in Denmark...
The only reason Minie is famous is because he managed to get the french to adopt a rifle he designed and then when the British got their M/1851 Minié rifle his part to fame was secured... Others had invented the "minié" bullet and his only involvement was adding a desk at the rear... something that was later removed as not needed.
I understand what you are saying -- but people speak of the Minie because it was the mass adoption of it by the French Army and then the Enfield by the British that is the inflection point for the change that follows. Rifles had been around for a long time, but this is the point where they become the standard weapon for the major armies.

But in the English speaking world its the civil war and Crimean war that get all the focus...
There really aren't all that many large wars between major powers in Europe in the period from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the start of the Crimean War in 1853. I have been referring frequently to the 1859 Austro-Sardinian War in Italy, as well as the 1866 Austro-Prussian War and the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War, in this thread. If you look on the forums for my posts, you'll see common references to the 1864 "Potato War" in Schleswig-Holstein as well as the 1st Danish War in 1848. I don't think you can easily apply this criticism to me.

If you fire a weapon level the bullet will reach x range. This range is shorter for a rifle musket than a smoothbore. (because of lower velocity)
To get the bullet out too a longer distance you need to aim the barrel upwards. (just like when throwing a football)
So if you set the sights at 300 yards, the the bullet will be traveling above the height of a man for much of its path.
The result is that it great two zones where a man might get it, and one that is "safe" in between.
If you set the sights at 300 yards, but the target is only 200 yards away you will overshot the target (if aiming level)

And the 2nd zone at the target is pretty small. The result is that you need to judge the distance very accurately.
The big challenge is that giving the orders to fire, changing the sights and actually firing take time.
And if the officer in command don't time this he might have ordered 300 yards, but not having the men fire until 200.
and if they are not trained to compensate most hots will overshoot.
(with a modern M16, you can set the sight at 300 and you got a killzone out to 300.. because it got a much higher velocity)
OK, I understand what you are saying then: you mean that a typical British Brown Bess .75 smoothbore has a muzzle velocity of approximately 1,000 FPS and a 1953 Enfield .577 rifle has a muzzle velocity of approximately 900 FPS, resulting in different projectile ranges, all other things being equal.

I also understand that the flight of a bullet fired from a gunpowder weapon does not continue in a straight line like a laser, but in an arc. It probably isn't as cut-and-dried as it sounds because I suspect the flight path of a spinning round lead ball is not the same as a spinning conical lead bullet, but I get your concept.

I also understand your reference to firearms training. Practically speaking, my own kill zone with any gun would be measured in feet because I have no experience. My Dad's would be substantially longer (he qualified Expert with the M-1 Garand and the 1903 Springfield back in WWII, finishing 3rd in his company's firing competition for snipers -- the top 2 got the Springfields; he was in a division known as "The Deadeyes" because the assistant division commander had been the captain of the US Army Rifle Team and took a very strong personal interest in small arms training).

In the last danish/Prussian fight in 1864 a danish company tried to surprise a Prussian company and attacked quickly in a column down a road on a shallow hill When the Prussians fired their first volley most of the danes hit where at the rear of the danish formation.
And the issue mentioned above was part of the reason. the other that the danes was going a bit downhill.

(The fight btw got a lot of attention in the European military circles, because it was so "clean" With one company against one company with no external factors like, artillery. 70 Prussians against 160 danes... the prussians had 3 wounded, the danes lost 98 men, most of the had been hit. Some more than one time. And it was seen as very clear evidence of the superiority of the breech loaded rifle over the muzzle loaded one.)
Yes, I've seen reference to that fight a time or two. It is possible I read this article a while back: The Gun That Should Have Changed Everything.

Although that incident may have been noticed, it did not change the way the Austrian, British, French or most other armies viewed things. The French, for example, did not suddenly start buying Chassepot rifles in 1864, although they could have. It was the mounds of Austrian casualties and the quick defeat of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 that led the French to fund an emergency appropriation to rearm with the Chassepot that very same year.

That is to low. Scott said 2 years.(that is why he didn't want volunteer cavalry at the start of the war)
The danish army said 2 years to train a recruit to the needed standard.
The Prussians expected about 2½ until a recruit could be trained to a well trained cavalryman.
What can I say? When I have seen such estimates, it was 18 months for cavalry and 2 years for a Lancer. Personal estimates will always vary.

OTOH, in 1813-14 Davout created the 15th Cuirassiers from a cadre of the 1st Cuirassiers and whatever loose sweepings he could come up with -- but then that was Davout. From Elting's Swords Around a Throne:

1549826557874.png

Mounted Cavarly can't hold a position. That was the case When Caesar commanded his legions and that was the case until cavalry started using tanks... and even then they need infantry support.
]

The example I gave was of fighting dismounted at Old Cold Harbor May 31-June 1, 1864. Sheridan's Cavalry (Torbert's Division reinforced by part of Gregg's Division) had seized that crucial road junction from F. Lee's Cavalry, and dug in. As Confederate infantry started to show up, Sheridan wanted to pull out. He actually started doing so, abandoning the main purpose of his mission -- Meade/Grant had to order him back to hold the junction. Torbert got back to his entrenchments about 1 AM on June 1, glad the Confederates hadn't noticed he left.

The Confederate infantry attacked in clumsy and disjointed fashion the next morning. Sheridan's troopers, fighting from their quick entrenchments, threw them back with fire from breech-loaders/repeaters (actual fight comes down to a brigade of Confederate infantry led by a new political Brigadier against Wesley Merritt's Union Cavalry brigade with Spencers). Hoke's Confederate infantry division did not make it into action, F. Lee's Cavalry seem to have been off to the southern flank. Sheridan's men were looking nervously over their shoulders when Wright's lead infantry arrived about 9 AM to relieve them. Sheridan pulled his cavalry out to the east as Wright's infantry arrived and filed into the line.

Artillery.
The prussian artillery in 1870 was willing to go forward and paid the price is men and horses.
"close" was further away than earlier, but the range of the french small arms was similarly much longer.
Smoke, and the french using entrenchments and similar was why they needed to get rather close. (and needing to awoid hitting their own men)
Yes, the Krupp C64 (8cm, 4-lber) and C67 (?cm, 6-lber) guns were much superior to those in use in the ACW in many ways (better ammo and fuses, for one thing and the only breech-loading field artillery in the ACW are the very few Confederate 12-lber Whitworths).

The Krupp guns first saw mass deployment in 1866. That experience revealed many faults, from the technical (leaky breeches and exploding guns that embarrassed Krupp so much he fled to Switzerland) to the doctrinal (late operational and tactical deployment, passive deployment, lack of effective gunnery training, etc.) The Prussians therefore addressed those problems in 1866-70, improving the weapons, the tactics, and the training (the School of Gunnery was established by the Prussians in 1867). Where the major feature of the 1866 war was seen as the Needle Gun, the Krupp quick-firing guns were seen as the major feature of the 1870 war.
 
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67th Tigers

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#33
Or you could go with a more traditional version, like this one in John Elting's work:
Which is exactly what Senarmont says in his sensationalist account, because Elting took Senarmont's writings at face value.

Lets not worry about the fact that it's obvious BS - for example the division that Senarmont "inflicted 4000 dead on", suffered ca. 1,300 killed, wounded and missing the whole battle, including being assaulted by DuPont's infantry and overrun by French cavalry. Senarmont's artillery expended 2,516 rds in the whole battle, of which only 368 were canister fired at close range.

Lets not worry that Victor's report (i.e. Senarmont's corps commander) doesn't mention the alleged artillery charge, or that Bennigsen, the Russian commander doesn't mention it either. What Bennigsen says is that the French assembled a masked battery of 40 [sic] guns and when pushed back beyond it, they stopped his advance, and so he withdrew back across the Aller River in good order.

There were observers who watched it, and it was well known that Senarmont formed a stop line of 30 guns, and the Russians had tried, and failed, to assault it. This knowledge however disappeared as the more sensationalised version was publicised.

For example, a far more careful historian, Rory Muir, comments:

"Such at least is the traditional story, based on Senarmont's own account of the battle. In broad outline it is probably fairly accurate, but there are problems with it which suggest that the details are exaggerated, and in particular that the ranges quoted are far too short. Senarmont's thirty guns fired a total of 2,516 rounds (an average of eighty four per gun), of which only 368 (roughly one in seven) were canister. It is hard to believe that his guns would really have closed to within 150 or 250 yards and continued to fire round-shot when canister was specifically designed for use at these and even longer ranges. Nor do Senarmont's casualties support the idea of this closing within musket range of the enemy, for he lost only one officer and ten men killed, three officers and forty-two men wounded. It may be that the Russians passively waited to be slaughtered, but it seems more likely that the tale of Senarmont's daring grew in the telling, encouraged no doubt by Napoleon, eager to inspire his gunners with a spirit of emulation. After all, 'to lie like a bulletin' was proverbial in the Grande Armée."
Looking around quickly, I see this article from Kevin F. Kiley online: Action Front! Senarmont at Friedland. Kiley is a retired US Marine artillery officer and West Point graduate who also wrote Artillery Of Napoleonic Wars, which I have not read.


I know Kevin, and he is really not a good source.

This is a very misleading description of the Battle of Dresden (August 26-27, 1813). It covers only the first half of the action on the first day of a two-day battle.
... I am usnure how you missed it.
Yes, there was a massed cavalry charge, which in the rainstorm, which stopped muskets and cannon from firing, was devastating.


I was using Bragg's work at Buena Vista as an example of horse-artillery tactics. I did not use it as an example of an "artillery charge". However, if you think the US artillery at Buena Vista simply remained in place and fired when the Mexicans came near, you have not viewed the action in detail.
Bragg's improvised battery was a foot-battery.
 

67th Tigers

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#34
OK, I understand what you are saying then: you mean that a typical British Brown Bess .75 smoothbore has a muzzle velocity of approximately 1,000 FPS and a 1953 Enfield .577 rifle has a muzzle velocity of approximately 900 FPS, resulting in different projectile ranges, all other things being equal.
Smoothbore muskets had MV of ca. 1,500 fps. Something to do with using a powder charge of 25-33% of the projectile weight vs 10% with a rifle-musket...
 

trice

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#35
Which is exactly what Senarmont says in his sensationalist account, because Elting took Senarmont's writings at face value.

Lets not worry about the fact that it's obvious BS - for example the division that Senarmont "inflicted 4000 dead on", suffered ca. 1,300 killed, wounded and missing the whole battle, including being assaulted by DuPont's infantry and overrun by French cavalry. Senarmont's artillery expended 2,516 rds in the whole battle, of which only 368 were canister fired at close range.

Lets not worry that Victor's report (i.e. Senarmont's corps commander) doesn't mention the alleged artillery charge, or that Bennigsen, the Russian commander doesn't mention it either. What Bennigsen says is that the French assembled a masked battery of 40 [sic] guns and when pushed back beyond it, they stopped his advance, and so he withdrew back across the Aller River in good order.

There were observers who watched it, and it was well known that Senarmont formed a stop line of 30 guns, and the Russians had tried, and failed, to assault it. This knowledge however disappeared as the more sensationalised version was publicised.

For example, a far more careful historian, Rory Muir, comments:

"Such at least is the traditional story, based on Senarmont's own account of the battle. In broad outline it is probably fairly accurate, but there are problems with it which suggest that the details are exaggerated, and in particular that the ranges quoted are far too short. Senarmont's thirty guns fired a total of 2,516 rounds (an average of eighty four per gun), of which only 368 (roughly one in seven) were canister. It is hard to believe that his guns would really have closed to within 150 or 250 yards and continued to fire round-shot when canister was specifically designed for use at these and even longer ranges. Nor do Senarmont's casualties support the idea of this closing within musket range of the enemy, for he lost only one officer and ten men killed, three officers and forty-two men wounded. It may be that the Russians passively waited to be slaughtered, but it seems more likely that the tale of Senarmont's daring grew in the telling, encouraged no doubt by Napoleon, eager to inspire his gunners with a spirit of emulation. After all, 'to lie like a bulletin' was proverbial in the Grande Armée."
Please note that your own quoted source says "In broad outline it is probably fairly accurate". Almost all personal accounts of combat will fail to match up completely on close examination of the details -- such things are only expected.

You could also go with Charles Henry Owen's 1873 description:
1549838895920.png
 
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trice

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#36
Smoothbore muskets had MV of ca. 1,500 fps. Something to do with using a powder charge of 25-33% of the projectile weight vs 10% with a rifle-musket...
The example I gave was for a Brown Bess .75. One source I was reading said this: "Typical charge weight was about 100 gr. of coarse black powder, usually Fg or FFg grade. The ball was a 545 gr. .71 caliber pure lead ball. The Brits used a paper cartridge, one end of which was secure around the ball, with a cylindrical tail filled with the powder charge, and the powder end tied off. " A tiny amount of that powder would have been used to prime the pan. That would give you about 100 gr/545 gr, or 18% of the projectile weight. The smaller ball was used because of fouling.

It might, perhaps, be from an different day than your numbers. Rifles in the earlier days actually often used a larger charge of powder than smoothbores.

But we should probably send this Cavalry thread back more towards the topic.
 

thomas aagaard

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#37
There really aren't all that many large wars between major powers in Europe in the period from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the start of the Crimean War in 1853. I have been referring frequently to the 1859 Austro-Sardinian War in Italy, as well as the 1866 Austro-Prussian War and the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War, in this thread. If you look on the forums for my posts, you'll see common references to the 1864 "Potato War" in Schleswig-Holstein as well as the 1st Danish War in 1848. I don't think you can easily apply this criticism to me.
No I was not referring to you. But if you read american books about the civil war, they often completely ignore anything before it, or only just mention the Crimean war. And it is much worse when watching documentaries.
 

Waterloo50

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I dont completely disagree with that point.....but it would seem the infantry would have been equally as untrained, not familiar with forming squares...and what I really tend to suspect wouldn't have had the discipline to stand firm as hundreds or a thousand cavalry thundered directly at them.
I’ve read a number of reports that state Squares work because horses will pull up short, the horses panic when they see a wall of bayonets, this was evident at Waterloo. It took an incredible amount of skill and courage to form a square and maintain it, take the 27th Foot regiment for example, they were pounded by infantry, cannon and numerous cavalry charges, reports are that the square of the 27th Foot lost two thirds of their men and after the battle the corpses of the 27th were still in position forming a square. At Waterloo every single square held position, none broke, now that takes discipline and years of practice and hard campaigning.
 

trice

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#39
No I was not referring to you. But if you read american books about the civil war, they often completely ignore anything before it, or only just mention the Crimean war. And it is much worse when watching documentaries.
Naturally enough. The Prussian/German General Staff never did a study of the American Civil War, either, and there was essentially only one source for books and articles about the ACW in Prussia/Germany back in the 30 years or so after it: Heros von Borcke, who rode with Stuart. The Prussians/Germans probably figured they had more than enough examples of their own in the wars of 1864/1866/1870 and that there was nothing particularly of interest in the ACW. The not-invented-here mindset is pretty universal among people everywhere.

The Prussian observers in the ACW (like almost all of the Europeans who came) were primarily here to look at the effects of rifled artillery (particularly against the pre-ACW masonry forts) and the impact on siege warfare. A recently returned Prussian officer who had studied fortifications and sieges in the ACW was assigned to lead an assault on a Danish fortified position in 1864 because of it. The other aspect of the ACW that caught the Prussian eye was the use of RRs to move and support the armies, particularly Sherman's Atlanta Campaign (the essentially adopted the USMRR organization as their own plan), but then von Moltke had a keen interest in RRs, had been an early investor in a RR as a young officer and had seen the French fiasco using the RR to mobilize to Italy in 1859.

The British fell into the all-things-Prussian camp after the Prussian triumphs in 1866-1870. The later began to study the ACW intensely in two waves: the G. F. R. Henderson school after 1880 and running up to WWI (seeing similarities in a small professional/large volunteer army structure, educating a generation on Lee/Jackson/Stuart -- Allenby was a Henderson student) and the post WWI school of B. H. Liddell-Hart and J. F. C. Fuller (looking at Sherman and Grant for a way to break the stalemate of trench warfare).

The Russians found a particular interest in a few things, seeing similarities in the vast distances and primitive infrastructure of their own country with those of ACW America. They end up on the "mounted rifles" side of the cavalry wars. If you look at the 1877 war against the Turks you'll find examples of deep-penetration cavalry raids by the Russians, the Cossacks being trained to fight dismounted (including with the bayonet) and a sapper unit attached to do the real destructive work ACW cavalry rarely did to something that would not burn.

The French, OTOH, seem to have sent only one official observer team (two officers, one of whom supposedly could not speak English despite having a wife from Baltimore) and they didn't come until the Summer of 1864. When they returned, their report was written with a public and a private part; the private part was still apparently classified in the 1980s. A number of items (medical care, camp health, etc.) were recommended, including the adoption of the McClellan saddle, which McClellan had brought back from Europe after the Crimean War.
 

67th Tigers

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#40
Please note that your own quoted source says "In broad outline it is probably fairly accurate". Almost all personal accounts of combat will fail to match up completely on close examination of the details -- such things are only expected.
Yes, and in this case you're relying on a single claim, by the man himself.

No-one doubts Senarmont lined up 30 guns and that that gun-line fired on the Russian infantry. What is fantastical is Senarmont's claims that he advanced his guns like they were tanks, without infantry or cavalry support. Indeed, it begs the question if that what he did, and it was effective, why was it never replicated? It is claimed that the 30 guns fired canister continuously for 25 minutes, but they expended expended 368 canister rounds (1 round per 2 minutes per gun) in the whole battle, so this is obvious BS.

The truth is more prosaic; the Russians attacked DuPont's division, which Senarmont's guns were deployed in front of. They then advanced with the own infantry and cavalry as they advanced, exactly as per the manual. The Russian artillery could not return fire, because their own troops (who were advancing) block their shoot.

The hyperbolic claims of "artillery as an independent arm" are nonsense.
 

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