Indescribably grand... a mere waste of ammunition: the Confederate artillery at Picket's Charge

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godofredus

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I agree. Fine article. IMHO it substantiates the earlier thread on the Company of Military Historians articlle on Lee's operational incompetence at Gettysburg:

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"I received my copy of the Journal of the Company of Military Historians today. We sponsor a history essay at West Point and the winning article, “Lee and the Artillery on the Third Day at Gettysburg”, was printed. Two quotes from the articles; “Lee did a poor job of implementing his mediocre plan.” “On the third day at Gettysburg Lee failed his subordinates. He demonstrated operational incompetence that ensured the failure of the Army of Northern Virginia, brought down by an unclear view of the battlefield and the men on it that made him blind to better counsel.”

This article places the blame on Pendleton whereas, IMHO, Lee, as commander, should have known what was up.

The article also mentions the inferior Confederate fuses. I've always wondered who manufactured those inferior fuses?
I think they came out of Augusta, where women made them, but I may be wrong....didn't quality control exist?
 

John Winn

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The article also mentions the inferior Confederate fuses. I've always wondered who manufactured those inferior fuses?
I think they came out of Augusta, where women made them, but I may be wrong....didn't quality control exist?
I've wondered about that myself. I think you should march yourself right over to the weapons and ammo forum and post that question.

I've got the impression that fuses were a problem for both sides but were much more of a problem for the CSA (and not just at Gettysburg). Anyway, it's a good question but a bit off topic for the OP perhaps.
 
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rpkennedy

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The Confederate fuses would have normally been manufactured in Richmond but there had been an explosion at the factory in the spring, forcing the army to get fuses from Georgia, IIRC. These were of lesser quality and not as reliable (although reliability was a problem for Southern ammunition in general).

For the record, while the fuses were faulty, it didn't really matter after the first few shots when smoke obscured the target, leading to overshooting (not to mention the difficulty in hitting a linear target with little depth head-on).

R
 

OpnCoronet

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The bigger and IMO, more important problem of Shell Fuses on Day Three, was the policy in confederate armies, to not fire Shell's over their own formations, in supporting an attack.
 
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OpnCoronet

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The perception of 'unreliability' of the shell's being fired over your head, by your own artillery, usually has a dampening effect on the ardor of the attackers.
Day 3, like the previous two, suffered from the lack of a sure hand in the command of the ANV and it had it's effect on the Artillery, as on the rest of the Army.
 

marinegrunt

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Someone else said it, but ammo from the South always seemed to have a reliability issue. I think more telling when it comes to Gettysburg is the failure to secure Cemetery Hill on day 1. From that position Lee could have enfiladed the entire Union Army and not had so much to worry about as far as accuracy.
 

godofredus

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I've wondered about that myself. I think you should march yourself right over to the weapons and ammo forum and post that question.

I've got the impression that fuses were a problem for both sides but were much more of a problem for the CSA (and not just at Gettysburg). Anyway, it's a good question but a bit off topic for the OP perhaps.
I did; and the question keeps getting moved around: here is the location for some answers: http://civilwartalk.com/threads/confederate-artillery-day-3.69838/

In any case, my question has been answered several times over here here and here:

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/inferior-fuses-for-the-confederacy-at-gettysburg.98643/#post-857551

The best answer came from day 3:

After Gettysburg the CSA investigated the fuses and it was found that they contained a resin filler that would soften and mix with the powder in humid warm weather such as that in the first days of July. The filler mixing with the powder was the cause for the longer burning fuses and non detonating shells.

IMHO experienced artillerymen would know the behavior of their weapon (all cannon in those days had peculiar characteristics) but not the behavior of a fuse on a hot day...
 
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OpnCoronet

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Someone else said it, but ammo from the South always seemed to have a reliability issue. I think more telling when it comes to Gettysburg is the failure to secure Cemetery Hill on day 1. From that position Lee could have enfiladed the entire Union Army and not had so much to worry about as far as accuracy.

If one believes Lee in his Official Report on the battle, Cemetary Hill was his objective on all three days of the battle.
 

marinegrunt

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If one believes Lee in his Official Report on the battle, Cemetary Hill was his objective on all three days of the battle.
Well, it's one of several hills that would've made terrific artillery platforms with which to enfilade all of Cemetery Ridge. I believe Lee knew on day one that the Union forces would end up where they did once the battle was joined in earnest, simply because it was the best ground around. How much Longstreet attempted to convince Lee to flank the Federal left I can't say (in Longstreet's memoirs, he gave it a good effort), but I think if he had managed to secure that hill there wouldn't have been a need to get around the flank. Maybe that's what Lee was thinking. Either way, that hill would've have made a big difference when it comes to the artillery.
 

ole

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If any of the hills had been taken, Meade would have gone back to that line he had intended to fortify before Gettysburg. Had he done that, Gettysburg would be known as a shining skirmish.

You can tell, can't you, that I don't remember the name of that alternate line. Nevermind. I'll remember it later.
 
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John Winn

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What, no name and no references ? You call yourself a General ? No wonder you have trouble keeping your mower running ! Why, you should .....

Oh, sorry. That was the old bad John (he gets out sometimes bless his heart). What I/we meant to say was 'absolutely right and no need to worry ... happens to me/us all the time.' :D
 

marinegrunt

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If any of the hills had been taken, Meade would have gone back to that line he had intended to fortify before Gettysburg. Had he done that, Gettysburg would be known as a shining skirmish.

You can tell, can't you, that I don't remember the name of that alternate line. Nevermind. I'll remember it later.
I can't either. Something creek. He sent Hancock up to see if Gettysburg was a good spot and he said it was.
 

marinegrunt

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If any of the hills had been taken, Meade would have gone back to that line he had intended to fortify before Gettysburg. Had he done that, Gettysburg would be known as a shining skirmish.

You can tell, can't you, that I don't remember the name of that alternate line. Nevermind. I'll remember it later.
Pipe Creek, in Maryland.
 
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OpnCoronet

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I agree with the premise of the title for this thread, the Artillery fire was impressive, but was not nearly as effective as it really needed to be. But, I believe that Lee gets too much of a pass on responsibility for that fact. As noted by others on this thread, Lee was well aware of the deficiencys in his Aartillery both in command and ammunition. But, apparently by Day 3, Lee was committed to throwing the results of the attack upon the shoulders of the men in the ranks of the ANV, whom he, more or less, confessed, that he believed, when properly planned ans executed, a full blooded assault could not be stopped.
 
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ellsworthpc

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When you have limited ammunition, precision is an absolute requirement. I think the biggest problems for the AofNV artillery were poor placement and lack of overall coordination, plus no effective spotting -- which is the "waste of fire" problem. Visiting the battlefield later, Col. Alexander pointed out that the "facing vertical" bombardment from positions across the valley was a very poor choice, made worse by Pendleton's removal of many artillery pieces from coordinating fire. Hancock pretty much confirms that the back of the center was pretty much wiped clean early in the barrage -- but the AofNV artillery never really tore into the infantry lines. It also didn't remove much of the AotP artillery from active operations.

My non-Alexander version of a Confederate 3rd day win, -- with it in mind that I'm glad they didn't -- would have essentially had the artillery under Porter moving their targeting by a tiny fraction each salvo, spreading both left and right (carpet bombing style), then moving progressively lower until it was into the Union infantry lines of the 2nd and 3rd Corps, with Pendleton's artillery essentially doing the same thing from enfilading angles vs. the Round Tops. Thoughts?
 

wausaubob

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My understanding from J.F.C. Fuller is that both sides were pre-modern. They did not adjust the angle of artillery fire with the angle of infantry advance in order to allow the artillery to continue to bombard the enemy during the advance. None of them had enough combat experience to know how to do it and there was a war going on, so the opportunity to see how it should have been done was extremely limited. Not a lot of library time available.
 
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