Discussion Five Myths

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Shadow9216

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'Modern War' needs a definition...what defines wars of, say, the 20th century, or distinguishes them from previous wars?

(Reading my original post, I don't think I was clear)

In the American Civil War, the 'Modern War' innovations I see are:
Use of rail transport for both strategic and tactical objectives
Use of wireless telegraphy for real- and near-real-time communication
Use of cryptography and cryptanalysis on more widespread, systemic basis (rather than ad-hoc and locally)
Use of aerial reconnaissance, no matter how limited
Use of submarine warfare, again without regard to limit
Use of structured intelligence services both nationally and on battlefield commanders' staffs (staves? LOL)...may be stretching this a bit.

We could also add in widespread use of war correspondents embedded with the armies and reporting in near-real-time, providing information directly to the public; add to that the use of public pressure- often led by the papers- to force the governments to act/refrain from action. The first war of public opinion? At least shaped as events unfolded?
 
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Scott1967

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Moving troops with Railroads was done in 1848 and by 1860 it was part of the warplanning in all European armies.

Trenches have been used for 2000+ years.

Rifled firearms had been around in relevant numbers since the 18th century.
By 1850 we have battles like the one at Isted with more than half of the engaged infantry using rifle muskets. (80% on one side and 25% on the other), The crimean war had them... and in 1859 we have the battle of Solferiono. Way way bigger than any battle during the civil war... with both sides armed with rifle muskets.
Also the rifle musket was a technological dead end, that was made obsolete in 1841 by the Breechloaded rifle....

So none of them was new by 1861.

Ironclades was used in the Crimean war... but yes, the first ironclad on ironclad was during the civil war.
(like how jet fighters was used by both sides during WWII, but the first jet on jet fight was in Korea)

The 7 year war (global war),
Napoleonic wars (Huge mass armies based on conscripton),
Franco-Prussian war (large armies armed with breech loaded rifles. Mass use of rifled artillery)
and The Great War are all better candidates for "first modern war" depending on what areas you focus.
No your quite right its down to personal opinion , I totally agree all of the wars you mention have features of the ACW maybe American historians consider the ACW the first modern war , But the Franco-Prussian war is a better fit I grant you.
 

thomas aagaard

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No your quite right its down to personal opinion , I totally agree all of the wars you mention have features of the ACW maybe American historians consider the ACW the first modern war , But the Franco-Prussian war is a better fit I grant you.
Basic problem is that most American historians never really studied European military history to any large extent.
And if they did they focused on wars involving the "UK"... since they read books in English.
So the rebellions in 1848, the Unification of Italy, the two Sleswig wars, 1866 and so on very rarely get any coverage.

So a lot of claimed about how x or y was new is simply not correct.
Just look at the rifle musket. I have seen otherwise good historians claim it was a new and modern weapon that had not been used in war before.. despite the fact that they had been around for 15 years, used in multiply wars and was actually made obsolete in 1841... before it was even invented.

And Iam not much better. really don't know much of anything about Wars in India in the 17th century, or the wars in 19th century South America.
 
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James N.

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Basic problem is that most American historians never really studied European military history to any large extent.
And if they did they focused on wars involving the "UK"... since they read books in English.
So the rebellions in 1848, the Unification of Italy, the two Sleswig wars, 1866 and so on very rarely get any coverage.
Although outside the subject here, one of the more obvious influences of the wars of Italian Unification was the Zouave craze among U.S. militia units, both North and South, evident in units like Elmer Ellsworth's Chicago Zouave Cadets, the Louisiana Tiger Rifles Zouaves, and many others. The inspiration came from the exploits of the French Algerian Native troops fighting alongside Garibaldi's insurgents against the Austrians in battles like Solferino, etc. in the years immediately preceding the Civil War and reported in the English and American press.
 
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