Discussion Did the Southern men fight better than the Northern men?

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Not sure if there was much Riverine Warfare in the ARW. In the ACW the USN definitely had the upper hand. At no time during the ACW did the CSN do what a navy is supposed to do which is protect merchant ships and the coastline from enemy attack as well as interior waterways. Commerce raiding has its place but it doesn't win wars.
I think I should point out here that what you're describing is a doctrine of the role of naval power which is inherently biased towards the role of the stronger navy. If a navy is weaker than its opponent then it cannot expect to exercise sealane control and sealane denial, but what it can expect to do is contribute towards the winning of the war by interfering with enemy sealane control.

The CS Navy was involved in protecting their coastline and interior waterways at many points during the ACW, such as the Virginia denying the James river to the Union in March-April 1862 and the Palmetto State and Chicora interfering with the blockade of Charleston; the latter was unsuccessful but they did materially aid in preventing the Union from capturing Charleston. Other Confederate ironclads (such as the Richmond) helped to prevent the Union from gaining control of waterways, though obviously they couldn't protect waterways they weren't in (this is the advantage the Union had from being able to control the seas).


The commerce raiding, meanwhile, caused massive economic damage to the Union along with forcing the dispersal of lots of USN warships. This materially delayed the effectiveness of the blockade and the economic damage would have been a factor if the CSA had ever managed to get a peace from the USA.

Given the near impossibility of the CSN obtaining naval superiority by strength, it seems gauche to say they didn't do "what a navy is supposed to do" when the reason for that is obvious. They did however contribute towards the war effort, both on the operational scale and on the strategic scale.
 

Piedone

Corporal
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
History is history I'm afraid you cant change it to create some false impression.

The point i was trying to prove is over the years the Scots have been lauded as this proud people both brave and strong and nearly always wronged by their much bigger and more advanced neighbour , Is this starting to sound familiar?.

In truth both Scotsman and Englishman were virtually the same even the Highlanders have been given this superhuman treatment and their society was completely different to the rest of Scotland.

I suspect most of this false history comes from Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Highland charge at Culloden or the making of Braveheart a complete false interpretation of William Wallace a man most of Scotland had never heard of till Hollywood decided to make a film about him which of course 90% made up.

I suspect the lost cause did much to promote the confederate soldier in the same way but in reality when you take a closer look at it you will find the playing field very equal with both sides taking huge casualties and nearly all battles with no outright victories just one side still left on the battlefield while the other retreats.
I am completely d‘accord with that - most of the national / cultural stereotypes we are accustomed to are just creations of the 19th century.

It would be fruitful to take a closer look why especially in the 19th century such stereotypes were produced - and more than that: why these stereotypes are still so very successful in shaping our understanding of the world and are very often still accepted nearly without criticism.

As far as I know some people in the secessionist South especially chose the scottish national mythos as some kind of paragon, and I I think I read somewhere that the battle flag was so well accepted because it resembled the Saint Andrew‘s cross - certain formulas (like calling Lee „the old chieftain“) are - at least in my ears alluding to scottish stereotypes.

And please do not misinterpret my former post - I didn‘t wanted to say that your ideas are wrong - quite to the contrary - I just recalled an evening in a scottish pub where a soccer game of the scottish team against England was shown in the TV... I clearly remember the reactions of the people - they were...well ....somehow vigorous....

and recalling that I just found it somehow funny to think what would happen if the very same people (after some pints) would have read your post...
 
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Peace Society

Corporal
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Location
Ark Mo line
Please excuse my probably peculiar sense of humour - and maybe this remark is very inappropriate....
but
for heaven's sake I dearly do hope that no person Scottish will EVER read your post...the boiler pressure in some people's steam engines might rise to spectacular, yet unknown heights....
Hmmm. I'm half Scots-Irish.
 

Peace Society

Corporal
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Location
Ark Mo line
I don't understand that Anglo-Saxon are recently depicted as a weak and feeble people by the media (including the TV show, Viking) when they pretty much conquered one-fourth of the world at one point. However, it is not the point. I just find that hypothesis of the South being more celtic being just silly. The most of Southern gentlement couldn't speak a word of (both Irish and Scottish) Gaelic or even Manx. How on the earth that they claimed to be descendants of Celtic people. Maybe I am being ignorant and something I have not heard of yet.
It only takes a generation or two for people to become Americans, to the exclusion of whatever ancestry they had before. I wonder what influence ancestry has after a couple generations?
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
There can be certain aspects of cultures which fit well or poorly for certain types of wars. For example a high focus on individualism works better for the kind of war fighting that involves individual initiative (e.g. skirmishing) but less well for the kind of war fighting that involves rigid collective formations (e.g. linear warfare, ranked formation combat).
Similarly an honour culture has advantages in morale because retreat is more shameful, which is one reason why so many "warrior cultures" incorporate a high degree of honour.

This effect appears to be pretty minor though, and a well trained unit from a "bad" culture works better than a poorly trained unit from a "good" culture. The most significant impact is when the culture impedes training (such as 5th-century-BC non-Spartan Greeks, who considered training for war sort of shameful).
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
We can definitely argue that the British Army especially at Yorktown was defeated by battle hardened Veteran Colonial Rebels and professional French and Spanish troops plus a professional French and Spanish naval force off shore. The British Army was not defeated by American guerrillas or Milita hiding behind trees and the British Army won many battles against the Colonial Rebels.
Strategic geniuses don't win conventional war , superior resources do plus at least adequate morale.
Leftyhunter

Not sure if there was much Riverine Warfare in the ARW. In the ACW the USN definitely had the upper hand. At no time during the ACW did the CSN do what a navy is supposed to do which is protect merchant ships and the coastline from enemy attack as well as interior waterways. Commerce raiding has its place but it doesn't win wars.
Leftyhunter
Agree on riverine warfare. That only became important in the ACW because of the development of the interior/the Midwest. In the AWI the most important commercial points were on/proximate to the coast - Boston, NY, Philadelphia, Charleston. The rivers were not a significant source of transportation except tightly within that area. Even with New Orleans added by the Purchase in 1803, the same was true in the War of 1812. Any interior warfare on water was confined to Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Champlain - all tied to control of the US-Canada border and commerce in that region. Chesapeake Bay was used only to stage raids in its area. By 1861, the great interior rivers were the equivalent of highways.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
An often repeated myth, caused by US historians very rarely studying European military history.
The typical combat range in the civil war was not much greater than the range during the Napoleonic wars.

The casualty rates was not greater.

The typical soldier did not in any way have the needed marksmanship skills to take advantage of his rifled firearm.
And he never learned it during the war since there was no structures marksmanship training program, no structured live firing program as training and most soldiers had plenty of problems with correctly loading their guns in combat and cleaning them after a fight.
(this very issue is what got some union officers post war, to create the NRA)

And even when you had a soldier who had picked up marksmanship skills in civilian life, he would be issued cartridges that was not correct for the gun/sights anyway... making the sights less than useful.

I will suggest the book "The destroying Angel" by Brett Gibbons.(A serving Officer in the US army)

He cover how effective the rifle musket was in the hands of very well trained British infantry in the Crimean and India. And how poorly it was used during the civil war by untrained volunteers.
I would just add that - as suggested by the posts of some others - Attack and Die has been the subject of a lot of criticism over the years by others who have studied tactics and actual practice - such as Paddy Griffith. The weakest part of the book is probably the "cultural" conclusion. There's a difference between concluding that an officer may continue to believe in rigid/outdated tactics and concluding that he is doing so because of the "blood" coursing in his veins. I'll admit that when I got that book many years ago, I had the initial reaction that the cultural theory bordered on absurd.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Not really , Hannibal is a classic example at Cannae and the pre battles of a smaller ill trained army beating a vastly superior well trained army with mainly barbarian troops due to his charismatic leadership and clever tactics.

You could also debate that the War of independence was won by volunteer troops vs professional troops.

Heck if you look at the Union army at Gettysburg and take note of the New York regiments anything in 70s was considered a veteran regiment , So you find the 124th NY formed in Sep 1862 giving the 1st Texas a bloody nose on the 2nd day due to fantastic leadership of its senior officers.

Training helps of course it does but you can never tell how a man reacts in any given situation , Most is instinctive , I totally agree with what you say about comradeship its thee most important factor in a unit it gives the unit cohesion as well as having good officers and NCOs.

Iverson's men were lined up like on parade when they were slaughtered the lack of leadership and the fact that no skirmishers were sent out meant that all the training and drill in world could not prevent them getting decimated.
We can definitely argue that the British Army especially at Yorktown was defeated by battle hardened Veteran Colonial Rebels and professional French and Spanish troops plus a professional French and Spanish naval force off shore. The British Army was not defeated by American guerrillas or Milita hiding behind trees and the British Army won many battles against the Colonial Rebels.
Strategic geniuses don't win conventional war , superior resources do plus at least adequate morale.
Leftyhunter
...and the command of the sea lanes (and also the river systems) does the trick...
Not sure if there was much Riverine Warfare in the ARW. In the ACW the USN definitely had the upper hand. At no time during the ACW did the CSN do what a navy is supposed to do which is protect merchant ships and the coastline from enemy attack as well as interior waterways. Commerce raiding has its
I think I should point out here that what you're describing is a doctrine of the role of naval power which is inherently biased towards the role of the stronger navy. If a navy is weaker than its opponent then it cannot expect to exercise sealane control and sealane denial, but what it can expect to do is contribute towards the winning of the war by interfering with enemy sealane control.

The CS Navy was involved in protecting their coastline and interior waterways at many points during the ACW, such as the Virginia denying the James river to the Union in March-April 1862 and the Palmetto State and Chicora interfering with the blockade of Charleston; the latter was unsuccessful but they did materially aid in preventing the Union from capturing Charleston. Other Confederate ironclads (such as the Richmond) helped to prevent the Union from gaining control of waterways, though obviously they couldn't protect waterways they weren't in (this is the advantage the Union had from being able to control the seas).


The commerce raiding, meanwhile, caused massive economic damage to the Union along with forcing the dispersal of lots of USN warships. This materially delayed the effectiveness of the blockade and the economic damage would have been a factor if the CSA had ever managed to get a peace from the USA.

Given the near impossibility of the CSN obtaining naval superiority by strength, it seems gauche to say they didn't do "what a navy is supposed to do" when the reason for that is obvious. They did however contribute towards the war effort, both on the operational scale and on the strategic scale.
True the CSN performed reasonably well with the resources on hand but excuses don't feed the bulldog. The Secessionists knew that the Southern states were highly dependent on exporting agricultural goods mostly cotton which is heavy and bulky. Heavy and bulky exports require large and slow ships not small and fast blockade runners. The Secessionists should of known they needed a large and powerful navy from day one. That's not Lee's fault but unless the Confedrate Army can seize Union ports at least in the South I e. New Orleans, Norfolk,Port Royal,New Berne etc then the Confedracy can't win the war or at least not likely to. Ultimately there is no excuse for failure.
Leftyhunter
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
True the CSN performed reasonably well with the resources on hand but excuses don't feed the bulldog. The Secessionists knew that the Southern states were highly dependent on exporting agricultural goods mostly cotton which is heavy and bulky. Heavy and bulky exports require large and slow ships not small and fast blockade runners. The Secessionists should of known they needed a large and powerful navy from day one. That's not Lee's fault but unless the Confedrate Army can seize Union ports at least in the South I e. New Orleans, Norfolk,Port Royal,New Berne etc then the Confedracy can't win the war or at least not likely to. Ultimately there is no excuse for failure.
I think that to argue the Secessionists "should" have known they needed a large and powerful navy is blaming them for something out of their control. They did know that a large and powerful navy would be greatly beneficial and they took steps to acquire one via overseas purchase and domestic construction, in so far as they were capable of doing so. I'd argue they actually did better with their available assets than the Union did, both in ship acquisition and in the results they obtained.

If the Confederacy could wave a wand and get a navy capable of challenging Union dominance of the sea, this would of course be of immense benefit to them. But it's not practicable, and if you are looking at the minimum requirements for Confederate victory in the Civil War a navy capable of sealane control is a luxury (that is, it is not necessary). The guerre de course and harbour defence navy which the Confederacy actually employed (and could feasibly acquire without overexpenditure) is a good example of a navy which has been built with limited assets in order to cause as much disruption to the enemy as possible relative to the cost it imposes on the country of origin; at that, many Confederate ironclads happen to have been unlucky in that they would have been fairly cost-effective purchases had the Union not rendered them obsolete by capturing the area they were meant to defend before they had been finished.


The basic role of the CSN is the role of the USN in the War of 1812 - that's the comparison - and honestly the CSN does rather better relative to resources invested than the War-of-1812 USN, if only because the ACW-USN was less capable of defending against commerce raiding than the 1812-Royal Navy. During the War of 1812 insurance rates for British shipping went up temporarily by 30%, with a rebate of a third or more if the vessel in question travelled in convoy, but the convoying system kept the losses from getting out of hand; during the Civil War the US merchant marine took a hammering (resulting in US shipping being unable to turn a profit and being sold at fire-sale rates to Britain) and the USN never did set up an effective convoy system or even a system of stationing vessels in an area that they wanted protected. Their alternative (waiting until news of a commerce raider reached Washington and then ordering ships to converge on the news) meant that a small number of commerce raiding vessels could keep significant numbers of Union cruisers occupied away from the blockade and materially impacted its efficiency.

Given the economic disruption resulting, and given that one of the avenues for Confederate victory is the Union suffering from war weariness, this is an effective use of the CS Navy.

The CSN also pursued avenues to get hold of powerful warships able to confront USN vessels in the open sea (like the Laird Rams) but US diplomacy and British law prevented this from coming to fruition.


With the constraints the CSN was under, and the fact that there was a land connection between the South and the North, I think the level of priority given to the CSN was about right. It's not like having a significant navy was essential for a military victory in this period (heck, the side which won Lissa was the one which lost that war, and the Prussians beat the French on land without really bothering with any naval action) and while Union naval dominance does give the Union a major advantage in strategic terms it's one which the Union very much failed to fully exploit and which wouldn't have prevented a Confederate land victory from being devastating.
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
And please do not misinterpret my former post - I didn‘t wanted to say that your ideas are wrong - quite to the contrary - I just recalled an evening in a scottish pub where a soccer game of the scottish team against England was shown in the TV... I clearly remember the reactions of the people - they were...well ....somehow vigorous....

and recalling that I just found it somehow funny to think what would happen if the very same people (after some pints) would have read your post...
Haha well you would be correct in you presumption we have very long memory's on both sides of the border.

I got into an argument with a tour guide at the Wallace monument who was funny enough showing a group of Yanks around when i questioned the age of the Wallace Sword which I knew dated from the late 16th Century , His response to my question was " What does and Englishman know of such things" At this i replied "A lot more than a Jock it seems" I then heard loud gasps come from the Yank tourists and then both me and the tour guide had are pictures took together i can just imagine the stories told afterwards.

Btw England play Scotland in the Euro 21 finals you might want to keep tabs on that one.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I think that to argue the Secessionists "should" have known they needed a large and powerful navy is blaming them for something out of their control. They did know that a large and powerful navy would be greatly beneficial and they took steps to acquire one via overseas purchase and domestic construction, in so far as they were capable of doing so. I'd argue they actually did better with their available assets than the Union did, both in ship acquisition and in the results they obtained.

If the Confederacy could wave a wand and get a navy capable of challenging Union dominance of the sea, this would of course be of immense benefit to them. But it's not practicable, and if you are looking at the minimum requirements for Confederate victory in the Civil War a navy capable of sealane control is a luxury (that is, it is not necessary). The guerre de course and harbour defence navy which the Confederacy actually employed (and could feasibly acquire without overexpenditure) is a good example of a navy which has been built with limited assets in order to cause as much disruption to the enemy as possible relative to the cost it imposes on the country of origin; at that, many Confederate ironclads happen to have been unlucky in that they would have been fairly cost-effective purchases had the Union not rendered them obsolete by capturing the area they were meant to defend before they had been finished.


The basic role of the CSN is the role of the USN in the War of 1812 - that's the comparison - and honestly the CSN does rather better relative to resources invested than the War-of-1812 USN, if only because the ACW-USN was less capable of defending against commerce raiding than the 1812-Royal Navy. During the War of 1812 insurance rates for British shipping went up temporarily by 30%, with a rebate of a third or more if the vessel in question travelled in convoy, but the convoying system kept the losses from getting out of hand; during the Civil War the US merchant marine took a hammering (resulting in US shipping being unable to turn a profit and being sold at fire-sale rates to Britain) and the USN never did set up an effective convoy system or even a system of stationing vessels in an area that they wanted protected. Their alternative (waiting until news of a commerce raider reached Washington and then ordering ships to converge on the news) meant that a small number of commerce raiding vessels could keep significant numbers of Union cruisers occupied away from the blockade and materially impacted its efficiency.

Given the economic disruption resulting, and given that one of the avenues for Confederate victory is the Union suffering from war weariness, this is an effective use of the CS Navy.

The CSN also pursued avenues to get hold of powerful warships able to confront USN vessels in the open sea (like the Laird Rams) but US diplomacy and British law prevented this from coming to fruition.


With the constraints the CSN was under, and the fact that there was a land connection between the South and the North, I think the level of priority given to the CSN was about right. It's not like having a significant navy was essential for a military victory in this period (heck, the side which won Lissa was the one which lost that war, and the Prussians beat the French on land without really bothering with any naval action) and while Union naval dominance does give the Union a major advantage in strategic terms it's one which the Union very much failed to fully exploit and which wouldn't have prevented a Confederate land victory from being devastating.
The USN in the War of 1812 was far too small to do much more than it tried - use its better-designed Humphreys frigates in the occasional ship-to-ship fights and compete with the British on the lakes with their respective "build and sail" operations. The CSN was - as you point out - better-invested and was equipped in a way that meant it wasn't itself the victim of the blockade. The USS Constitution was effectively laid up for most of the war by the blockade.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Both sides fought well depending on the quality of commissioned and non commissioned officers. The policy of electing officers and non coms had a negative effect on combat performance.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The USN in the War of 1812 was far too small to do much more than it tried - use its better-designed Humphreys frigates in the occasional ship-to-ship fights and compete with the British on the lakes with their respective "build and sail" operations. The CSN was - as you point out - better-invested and was equipped in a way that meant it wasn't itself the victim of the blockade. The USS Constitution was effectively laid up for most of the war by the blockade.
That the CSN was too small to do much more than it tried was more or less the point I was trying to get at.
 
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