Foreign naval observers

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major bill

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Many foreign nations sent military observers to see what could be learned from the American Civil War. However, some of the more important lessons of the Civil War in in the field of naval operations.

So did any foreigan nation send naval personnel as observers? I don't remember hearing of any. Riverine operations and the use of combined army/navy operations should have been of great interest to several foreign nations. Also the use of iron class and wooden ships should have been of interest as well.
 

major bill

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Justus Scheibert of the Royal Prussian Engineers wrote Das Zusammenwirken der Armee and Marine (English version was Combined Operations by Army and Navy: A Study Illustrated by the War on the Mississippi, 1861-1863) about Civil War combined army and naval operations, but this was not published until 1887. I am uncertain if an army engineer was the best person to evaluate army navy combined operations. I have no direct knowledge if his thoughts wer still completely relevant by 1887 when the book was first published.

Still I would not call Scheibert a naval person.
 

Drew

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Well, there was of course the Trent Affair.

And then Confederate Commerce Raiders effectively destroyed Union shipping interests.

I don't know there was an "observer,' only that it happened.
 
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major bill

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Although the Confederate raiders are fairly successful, I am not sure if this was something the world navies were interested in. Commerce raiders had been used in the past. Still the use of steam powered raiders had probably not been used so much. It might be a subject worthy of study.

I do think the Civil War showed that wooden ships were a thing of the past. The Civil War also would have shown that masonry forts could not withstand heavy naval guns.

The use of armor clad riverine warfare was shown to be a useful way to control inland water supply routes. The use of steam powered river boats to transport men and supplies was well demonstrated by the Union.

Also foreign observers would have seen that river craft could not often gain sufficient gun elevation to fire at forts on bluffs.
 

major bill

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I am uncertain if cavalry officers an army engineers would have had the naval experience to fully understand what they were seeing in naval advances duri g the Civil War.
 
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I admit I don't think I've ever heard of a naval observer in any war period, was this a common practice in other wars of the time? It seems to me that a naval observer may be less practical than a land observer.
 
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major bill

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I admit I don't think I've ever heard of a naval observer in any war period, was this a common practice in other wars of the time? It seems to me that a naval observer may be less practical than a land observer.
Perhaps some of out naval experts would have more knowledge than I. Because engineers built forts it would seem like and army engineer would be able to see that masonry forts could not stand up to Civil War era naval cannons. But I am not sure if a land soldier would full see the potential of iron clad riverine operations. I know Prussia was interested in this from a future colonial view.

Also the use of naval mines and how mines and steam powered naval craft interact. The Prussian view was mines are not all that effective at stopping steam power ships but are effective in morale of naval personnel. Mines are effective if the naval personnel are too effected by the presence of mines to conduct operations.
 

major bill

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Commerce raiders had been used for generations. Observers could have studied how steam powered raiders operated. For example commerce raiders needed high quality coal. Not always an easy thing to obtain for a raider.
 

major bill

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I also believe the difficulties the Union blockade had cutting off blockade runners should have been of interest to the British. Wooden ships had did blockades but the use of steam powered blockade runners was a new twist.
 
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Commerce raiders had been used for generations. Observers could have studied how steam powered raiders operated. For example commerce raiders needed high quality coal. Not always an easy thing to obtain for a raider.
Something to note though that as of 1856 the civilized nations of Europe all agreed to abolish privateering which let's be honest "commerce raiding" is just another name for in the Declaration of Paris. Attaching an observer to such a vessel could have been problematic, even if not learning raiding tactics wouldn't have been useful. Though I'm sure there's plenty you could have learned on the Alabama or Tallahassee you could apply in conventional naval war.
 
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Many foreign nations sent military observers to see what could be learned from the American Civil War. However, some of the more important lessons of the Civil War in in the field of naval operations.

So did any foreigan nation send naval personnel as observers? I don't remember hearing of any. Riverine operations and the use of combined army/navy operations should have been of great interest to several foreign nations. Also the use of iron class and wooden ships should have been of interest as well.
why not? i'd say an engineer is probably the most neutral military man for that task. if a (regular) army officer sees something to go wrong he'll be inclined to blame the navy and vice versa. an engineer has a way smaller dog in that fight. that's not ill will but different ways of doing things and the respective other side not doing it properly - an occupational deformation. there was no cross training of officers then.
 
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Perhaps some of out naval experts would have more knowledge than I. Because engineers built forts it would seem like and army engineer would be able to see that masonry forts could not stand up to Civil War era naval cannons. But I am not sure if a land soldier would full see the potential of iron clad riverine operations. I know Prussia was interested in this from a future colonial view.

Also the use of naval mines and how mines and steam powered naval craft interact. The Prussian view was mines are not all that effective at stopping steam power ships but are effective in morale of naval personnel. Mines are effective if the naval personnel are too effected by the presence of mines to conduct operations.
an engineer could access the damage and how it was done and file a report for the specialists to sort out their respective part of the operation. not exactly knowing what happened in detail (on the observers part) also forces the specialists reading the report to figure out what actually happened and thus reevaluate their traditional ways of doing things.

sometimes in the '80s porsche wanted to sell the 911 enginge as aircraft motor, having lost the original drawings they needed to completely redraw it for the faa. after that the engine was nearly 30% lighter and 20% more powerful; it also needed less fuel. compare that to using the original drawings and be done with it :D
 
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Something to note though that as of 1856 the civilized nations of Europe all agreed to abolish privateering which let's be honest "commerce raiding" is just another name for in the Declaration of Paris. Attaching an observer to such a vessel could have been problematic, even if not learning raiding tactics wouldn't have been useful. Though I'm sure there's plenty you could have learned on the Alabama or Tallahassee you could apply in conventional naval war.
no way - commerce raiders use regular navy personnel, privateers don't.
 

rebelatsea

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I admit I don't think I've ever heard of a naval observer in any war period, was this a common practice in other wars of the time? It seems to me that a naval observer may be less practical than a land observer.
Several navies had observers with the Japanese and Russian fleets at Tsushima. Officially, contact with Southern ports and ships by the Royal and French navies was limited to the "Station"ships whose job was to maintain contact with the consuls. I know of no personnel acting as observers in either navy in consequence.
 
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USS ALASKA

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I believe there were British and French ships in the vicinity of the Monitor / Virginia fight - not that they were serving as official 'observers' but if they were close enough to the action they would have observed and reported.
105

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
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rebelatsea

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I believe there were British and French ships in the vicinity of the Monitor / Virginia fight - not that they were serving as official 'observers' but if they were close enough to the action they would have observed and reported.
105

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
At least one of each, HMS Rinaldo and I think either Cassini or Gassendi from France.
 
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