Ironclads and blockade: Britain vs Union

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Tielhard

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Unlike you I've actually been there. To anyone with any understanding it is embarrassing how easy it is to get above the fort with riflemen.

Those aren't cliffs BTW, they are moderate slopes. Easily scaleable, and you could drag a 20 pdr up there easily. This isn't the cliffs at the Plains of Abraham is it?
As I said I'd land at Baker beach the top of which is just out of the picture on the top right of the Dilandu's photo. Getting to the cliff's overlooking the fort involves a gentle stroll up the bluffs and along the dip face of the cliffs. With the right carriage you could probably even get a 68 into position but it would be overkill.

I just remembered Milne asked that Dunlop ensure he was well supplied with rockets for Vera Cruz. I wonder if Maitland was similarly equipped because a few dozen of them firing down into the rear of the casemate would be awfully ugly for the defenders.
 

TFSmith121

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got busy with real life and I have lost track of what is going on in here, so good luck folks. I feel reasonably sure that the subject will come up again (chuckle)
True. :smile:

The other truth worth considering is what the British performance in combined and joint operations against Western enemies in the Nineteenth Century was, especially once steam was in play; given the actual record of the British in the Black Sea and Baltic in 1853-55, much less off Peru in 1877, and South Africa in 1880-81, much less in 1899-1902, it's pretty clear the British could not do what is suggested by "some" at any point in the Nineteenth Century.

It is undeniably true the British couldn't do it in 1914-15, against the Turks, and with French and Russian support, as the Dardanelles make clear...

The suggestion the British could mount simultaneous combined and joint operations in the Western Hemisphere, at transoceanic distances from the UK, in winter, from a standing start, in an era of coal-burning wooden-hulled steamers, and against an industrialized power with steam power and telegraphic communications, is ridiculous; considering the only even remotely historical example of British mobilization in anything approximating similar strategic circumstances in the period was the war with Russia, it's even more obvious how ridiculous it is...

If Sinope (November, 1853) is seen as the equivalent to the causus belli in November, 1861 (whatever it is, since Trent alone certainly was not, any more than the Laird rams were in 1863), given the same timing, it is four months until there was a declaration of war (March, 1854), seven months before anything approximating a British expeditionary force worth the name is in the theater (all of 30,000 men at Varna in June), and ten months before they get 28,000 British troops ashore in the Crimea (September, 1854).

In the Baltic, Bomarsund was in August, 1854, but required a French infantry division; in the Pacific, the Allied debacle at Petropavlovsk was in September, 1854.

The idea that anything approaching the tempo of operations suggested by various posters above could be mounted by the British in 1862 is proven to be fantasy by the realities of 1853-54.

Based on the historical record, the British could have had 30,000 troops ashore in North America and organized for the field by June; the realities of any such conflict, however, means the British have to operate in Lower Canada and New Brunswick, along with whatever amphibious operations they may attempt against the US coasts... and 30,000 troops won't cut it.

Even if one is so charitable as to double the British field forces, that means 30,000 in Lower Canada and 30,000 in New Brunswick. Big deal; Grant alone had 25,000 at Henry-Donelson, out of an US Army active duty force (regulars and USVs) of 528,000 as of December, 1861..

Cripes, the French failed against the Mexicans in the 1860s and the Spanish against the Dominicans, of all people... and the Mexican liberals and Dominican nationalists somehow made do absent Indian saltpeter, Italian sulfur, European rifles, English (or Swedish) steel, greenbacks backed by specie, or Hythe marksmanship tactics, or whatever the panacea du jour is ... and to the tune of 18,000 Spanish dead and 33,000 French/Imperialist dead...

A good short summary of the Russian war, which includes the dates mentioned above (which are slightly different in Russian sources, because of the different calendars.):

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a509929.pdf

It's worth noting, of course, that if the US telling the British "if you want Mason and Slidell, come get them" and the British doing so (at their own expense) in 1862, is somehow significant, than the British backing down and buying the Laird rams at a cost of L180,000 in 1863 must be even more so... :wink: Of course, what it really shows is nobody was eager for war, in 1862 or 1863, or particularly sanguine about the results...

Another interesting site, that puts some of this into perspective:

http://necrometrics.com/wars19c.htm

The British suffered 22,000 dead in roughly 24 months of war, both combat and non-combat; by the end of the war, the British war effort was so hamstrung they were recruiting German, Swiss, and Italian nationals as mercenaries (for units that never made it into the field) and the British army LOST the last action approximating a battle they participated in, the assault on the Great Redan in 1855. Absent the successes of the French and Sardinians at the same time, the Allies would have faced another winter in the trenches outside of Sevastopol.

Best,
 
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TFSmith121

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Unlike you I've actually been there. To anyone with any understanding it is embarrassing how easy it is to get above the fort with riflemen. Those aren't cliffs BTW, they are moderate slopes. Easily scaleable, and you could drag a 20 pdr up there easily. This isn't the cliffs at the Plains of Abraham is it?
Yes, many of us have been there as well; some of us were even stationed in the area. :wink: Your concepts are incorrect, to be polite about it - looks more like Pointe du Hoc than Gold, Juno, or Sword, to be frank, and the beaches south of the Golden Gate/Fort Point are wide open to the ocean...

upload_2016-12-17_13-30-58.png


Here's an NPS map that shows Fort Point, Baker Beach, the Presidio, and the city; as a side note, it is worth considering that San Francisco had more people in 1860 than Baltimore did in 1810, as California had more than Maryland, and yet - Hampstead Hill/North Point/Ferry Branch/Fort McHenry.

https://www.nps.gov/prsf/planyourvisit/upload/Pad-Map-9-15_color_print1.pdf

Here's the surf on Baker Beach in early December:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=baker+beach+winter+surf&ru=/search?q=baker%20beach%20winter%20surf&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=baker%20beach%20winter%20surf&sc=0-23&sk=&cvid=04A85BA7122C4FB28E5C3678558A2446&ajf=10&view=detail&mmscn=vwrc&mid=7612F47B590889098B2C7612F47B590889098B2C&rvsmid=7612F47B590889098B2C7612F47B590889098B2C&fsscr=0&FORM=VDFSRV

Enjoy landing in an open oared boat in that, I'm sure - especially trying to get a unit ashore in anything approximating good order, and dragging artillery along. That will end well... :wink:
 
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67th Tigers

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It is not easy, definitedly not for armed troops, and no your experience "oh, I climbed those cliffs once" would count unless you do that several times with weapons, ammunitions and other load of mid-XIX RN marine) Oh, and also put a dozen Union skrimishers above, firing their rifles at you. This would be much more realistic.
Okay, I will take it that you don't think you can climb those slopes. It the Marines, no real bother. Or if willing to land about 1 mile south of Fort Point and walk 15 minutes then you'd be landing on Ocean/ Baker Beach. The worst opposition is the rip tides, which simply means landing is slightly tricky and not a serious obstacle.

However, you might want to investigate what Union troops were actually in San Francisco and environs:

Fort Point: Bty B, 3rd US Arty and Coy K, 9th US Infantry (about 70 men total)
Alcatraz Island: Bty I, 3rd US Arty and a new coy of 2nd California Inf (about 100 men total)
Presido of SF: 2 coys of 2nd California (about 120 men)
Benica (4 miles east of the Navy Yard): Bty A 3rd US Arty, 6 coys 3rd California Inf and 2 coys 2nd California Cav (about 500 men)
Camp Alert (2 miles east of the coast, modern 24th and Van Ness): 7 coys 2nd Cal Cav (about 450 men)

2nd California Cavalry have no carbines (Coy B received carbines from depots in the Eastern US in spring '62). I see little to resist a few hundred Marines.

So, basically the whole "riflemans above the fort" point is moot. There are no way such operation could be done before sufficient Union Army or militia reserves would took positions on the hills above and block all marines attempt to move.

The abovementioned "light guns on the cliff" is even more ridiculous.
All said by the garrison commander before hundreds of riflemen crown the cliff above him. Hubris.
 

TFSmith121

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Okay, I will take it that you don't think you can climb those slopes. It the Marines, no real bother. Or if willing to land about 1 mile south of Fort Point and walk 15 minutes then you'd be landing on Ocean/ Baker Beach. The worst opposition is the rip tides, which simply means landing is slightly tricky and not a serious obstacle. ...All said by the garrison commander before hundreds of riflemen crown the cliff above him. Hubris.
You're going to land several hundred men in open rowing boats in the winter of 1862 on Baker or Ocean beaches, general?

You may wish to consider why the trail today is called "batteries to bluffs" - images 3 of 9 and 9 of 9 are especially illuminating:

http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-batteries-to-bluffs-trail-in-the-presidio#

Here's an interesting summary of the surf and weather conditions; note the comments about winter weather:

upload_2016-12-17_14-9-57.png


"...That turn at Ocean Beach is always dramatic because, to steal a phrase from Forrest Gump, Ocean Beach is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Ocean Beach is the most emotional stretch of beach in all of California, and perhaps the world, because it's located dead center in the middle of California, and it's open to every burble and bellow from the north and the south. The winds are dynamic, but the real factor is the tide. All that water moving in and out of the Golden Gate sweeps up and down Ocean Beach with enough force to dislocate swell and shift sandbars from hour to hour. Ocean Beach has many, many moods, from the manic ecstasy of clear, blue offshore fall days to the gloom and doom of stormy winter, windy spring and gray summer. There is no stretch of ocean in California that changes as much from hour to hour, day to day and season to season as Ocean Beach.

When Ocean Beach is on, you will see three miles of shifting, meaty, dark-green offshore peaks, from head-high to triple-overhead, cannonading the surf zone from south, west and north. A perfect day at Ocean Beach can be a mind-boggling sight, a mile after mile of perfect surf, with scattered humans doing their best to paddle through the impact zone, make it out the back and catch one of the buggers.

On a lot of days at Ocean Beach, just getting out can be a major accomplishment. Depending on swell and tide and sandbar, on many days there is a 200-yard "zone of death" in between the beach and the lineup. It can be as hard to get off the beach and out to sea for a surfer as it was for a marine to get from sea to shore on the beaches of Normandy. It takes knowledge, skill, strength and courage, but the deciding factor on a lot of days is still dumb luck.

Make it outside, and there are rewards, but your troubles aren't necessarily over. A good day at Ocean Beach is as good as any beachbreak in the world, but the good peaks here have a maddening quality of always being 50 yards away from where you're sitting. Even good surfers who surf the place all the time will get skunked, catching maybe one or two waves an hour, while paddling back and forth, trying to hunt down the big, shifting beasts."

Source is here:

http://www.surfline.com/surf-report/ocean-beach-sf-northern-california_4127/travel/

Again, your concepts are, to be polite, incorrect.
 
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TFSmith121

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TFSmith121,

It is a pleasure as always when you contribute something of value to this thread.
The other truth worth considering is what the British performance in combined and joint operations against Western enemies in the Nineteenth Century was, especially once steam was in play; given the actual record of the British in the Black Sea and Baltic in 1853-55, much less off Peru in 1877, and South Africa in 1880-81, much less in 1899-1902, it's pretty clear the British could not do what is suggested by "some" at any point in the Nineteenth Century.

Undeniably, the British couldn't do it in 1914-15, against the Turks, and with French and Russian support, as the Dardanelles make clear...

The suggestion the British could mount simultaneous combined and joint operations in the Western Hemisphere, at transoceanic distances from the UK, in winter, from a standing start, in an era of coal-burning wooden-hulled steamers, and against an industrialized power with steam power and telegraphic communications, is ridiculous; considering the only even remotely historical example of British mobilization in anything approximating similar strategic circumstances in the period was the war with Russia, it's even more obvious how ridiculous it is...

If Sinope (November, 1853) is seen as the equivalent to the causus belli in November, 1861 (whatever it is, since Trent alone certainly was not, any more than the Laird rams were in 1863), given the same timing, it is four months until there was a declaration of war (March, 1854), seven months before anything approximating a British expeditionary force worth the name is in the theater (all of 30,000 men at Varna in June), and ten months before they get 28,000 British troops ashore in the Crimea (September, 1854).

In the Baltic, Bomarsund was in August, 1854, but required a French infantry division; in the Pacific, the Allied debacle at Petropavlovsk was in September, 1854.

The idea that anything approaching the tempo of operations suggested by various posters above could be mounted by the British in 1862 is proven to be fantasy by the realities of 1853-54.

Based on the historical record, the British could have had 30,000 troops ashore in North America and organized for the field by June; the realities of any such conflict, however, means the British have to operate in Lower Canada and New Brunswick, along with whatever amphibious operations they may attempt against the US coasts... and 30,000 troops won't cut it.

Even if one is so charitable as to double the British field forces, that means 30,000 in Lower Canada and 30,000 in New Brunswick. Big deal. Grant alone had 25,000 at Henry-Donelson, out of some 528,000 US Army (regulars and USVs) on active duty in December, 1861, according to the OR.

Cripes, the French failed against the Mexicans in the 1860s and the Spanish against the Dominicans, of all people... and the Mexican liberals and Dominican nationalists somehow made do absent Indian saltpeter, Italian sulfur, European rifles, English (or Swedish) steel, greenbacks backed by specie, or Hythe marksmanship tactics, or whatever the panacea du jour is ... and to the tune of 18,000 Spanish dead and 33,000 French/Imperialist dead...

A good short summary of the Russian war, which includes the dates mentioned above (which are slightly different in Russian sources, because of the different calendars.):

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a509929.pdf

It's worth noting, of course, that if the US telling the British "if you want Mason and Slidell, come get them" and the British doing so (at their own expense) in 1862, is somehow significant, than the British backing down and buying the Laird rams at a cost of L180,000 in 1863 must be even more so... :wink: Of course, what it really shows is nobody was eager for war, in 1862 or 1863, or particularly sanguine about the results...

Another interesting site, that puts some of this into perspective:

http://necrometrics.com/wars19c.htm

The British suffered 22,000 dead in roughly 24 months of war, both combat and non-combat; by the end of the war, the British war effort was so hamstrung they were recruiting German, Swiss, and Italian nationals as mercenaries (for units that never made it into the field) and the British army LOST the last action approximating a battle they participated in, the assault on the Great Redan in 1855. Absent the successes of the French and Sardinians at the same time, the Allies would have faced another winter in the trenches outside of Sevastopol.

Best,
 
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TFSmith121

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Sigh.

Fort_Winfield_Scott_GG_Bridge.jpg


So they would fly, or jump, onto the cliff?

A dozen of US soldier on that hills would be able to held hundreds of RN marines safely downward.

Seriously, at least the geography you should know? It seems that both you and Tielhard completely ignored the simple question: how exactly those marines would make landing and took those cliffs above the fort? They are marines, not alpine troops! Or you suggested that they should land a dozen miles southern and made overland march?

The closest place where such landing could be committed without drafting the spring-heeled Jack, and without being opposed by the corner guns of the fort - which have quite good line of fire along the coast - is behind Seal Rocks, more than a five km south from the fort. From here, the marines would be forced to march overland about six km through the inhospital terrain toward the fort. And you know, there would be Presidio of San-Francisco near their way, from here troops could be moved on the future fort Winfield Scott location and block the marines advance with ease.
Excellent post and photos; worth noting is that while guns on the center face of the fort could engage any approaching enemy ships well out to the northwest of the Golden Gate, those on the left of the fort (right in the picture) facing southwest, could fire on any ships and/or boats attempting to land troops on what is today Baker Beach. Once ashore - if they make it past the breakers (and the great white sharks) - any troops landed then have to organize and ascend the bluffs, which are quite steep and wide open to rifle and artillery fire from atop the bluffs. If any landing force gets to the top of the bluffs, they then have to deal with mobile forces in the defense, deployed westward from the Presidio and the city. All in all, it makes the Great Redan look simple, and we all know how that worked out for the British army.

Good thing the French and Sardinians were around to actually win the battle for the Allies; if it had been the British alone, they'd have been sitting in the trenches through the winter of 1855-56.

Best,
 

Tielhard

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You're going to land several hundred men in open rowing boats in the winter of 1862 on Baker or Ocean beaches, general?

You may wish to consider why the trail today is called "batteries to bluffs" - images 3 of 9 and 9 of 9 are especially illuminating:

http://timsartoris.com/blog/hiking-batteries-to-bluffs-trail-in-the-presidio#

Here's an interesting summary of the surf and weather conditions; note the comments about winter weather:

View attachment 117351

"...That turn at Ocean Beach is always dramatic because, to steal a phrase from Forrest Gump, Ocean Beach is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Ocean Beach is the most emotional stretch of beach in all of California, and perhaps the world, because it's located dead center in the middle of California, and it's open to every burble and bellow from the north and the south. The winds are dynamic, but the real factor is the tide. All that water moving in and out of the Golden Gate sweeps up and down Ocean Beach with enough force to dislocate swell and shift sandbars from hour to hour. Ocean Beach has many, many moods, from the manic ecstasy of clear, blue offshore fall days to the gloom and doom of stormy winter, windy spring and gray summer. There is no stretch of ocean in California that changes as much from hour to hour, day to day and season to season as Ocean Beach.

When Ocean Beach is on, you will see three miles of shifting, meaty, dark-green offshore peaks, from head-high to triple-overhead, cannonading the surf zone from south, west and north. A perfect day at Ocean Beach can be a mind-boggling sight, a mile after mile of perfect surf, with scattered humans doing their best to paddle through the impact zone, make it out the back and catch one of the buggers.

On a lot of days at Ocean Beach, just getting out can be a major accomplishment. Depending on swell and tide and sandbar, on many days there is a 200-yard "zone of death" in between the beach and the lineup. It can be as hard to get off the beach and out to sea for a surfer as it was for a marine to get from sea to shore on the beaches of Normandy. It takes knowledge, skill, strength and courage, but the deciding factor on a lot of days is still dumb luck.

Make it outside, and there are rewards, but your troubles aren't necessarily over. A good day at Ocean Beach is as good as any beachbreak in the world, but the good peaks here have a maddening quality of always being 50 yards away from where you're sitting. Even good surfers who surf the place all the time will get skunked, catching maybe one or two waves an hour, while paddling back and forth, trying to hunt down the big, shifting beasts."

Source is here:

http://www.surfline.com/surf-report/ocean-beach-sf-northern-california_4127/travel/

Again, your concepts are, to be polite, incorrect.
TFSmith121,

It is often extremely useful to have someone take an adversarial and negative view of one's plans and concepts. Thank you so much for taking up the task. Having reviewed what I can only assume to be your very best attempt to derail the proposal for naval troops taking Fort Point from the rear. I am delighted to be able to say that after giving them some consideration the reservations you have uncovered are not significant threats to the proposal, most are trivial. As a result of your efforts we can conclude there is absolutely no reason to think that the task would in any way be beyond the efforts of the Royal Navy, indeed it would appear it would scarcely tax them. Prior to your review I thought it was probably better to run Fort Point but you have single handedly convinced me that taking it would be such a trivial feat for the RN they may as well do it anyway. Thank you again for your splendid work playing Devil's Advocate.
 
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TFSmith121

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- snip -

.
The point to the above post is that winter is not the time to be attempting to land open row boats on westward facing beaches on the San Francisco Peninsula. If you think it is, I suggest you try.

Likewise, given both the hydrography and topography of any of the westward facing beaches south of the Golden Gate/Presidio/Fort Point, to suggest there is anything simple about overland movement by shank's mare from those same beaches to the tops of the bluffs and then northward toward the Golden Gate is equally fallacious. See below for the "gentle stroll"...

4k-aerial-drone-shot-san-francisco-along-cliffs-golden-gate-bridge-sunset_v1v5bpgve__M0000.jpg


Having been stationed in the Bay Area, and for far longer than your friend's visit, this is a reality that I and anyone who has ever lived in the region knows well. Wherever it is you are from, one doubts it is California.
 
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chellers

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TFSmith121,

It is often extremely useful to have someone take an adversarial and negative view of one's plans and concepts. Thank you so much for taking up the task. Having reviewed what I can only assume to be your very best attempt to derail the proposal for naval troops taking Fort Point from the rear. I am delighted to be able to say that after giving them some consideration the reservations you have uncovered are not significant threats to the proposal, most are trivial. As a result of your efforts we can conclude there is absolutely no reason to think that the task would in any way be beyond the efforts of the Royal Navy, indeed it would appear it would scarcely tax them. Prior to your review I thought it was probably better to run Fort Point but you have single handedly convinced me that taking it would be such a trivial feat for the RN they may as well do it anyway. Thank you again for your splendid work playing Devil's Advocate.
Tielhard, your continued snide remarks and veiled insults will result in you being banned from responding to this thread. Chellers, moderator.
 
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galveston bay

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TFSmith121,

It is often extremely useful to have someone take an adversarial and negative view of one's plans and concepts. Thank you so much for taking up the task. Having reviewed what I can only assume to be your very best attempt to derail the proposal for naval troops taking Fort Point from the rear. I am delighted to be able to say that after giving them some consideration the reservations you have uncovered are not significant threats to the proposal, most are trivial. As a result of your efforts we can conclude there is absolutely no reason to think that the task would in any way be beyond the efforts of the Royal Navy, indeed it would appear it would scarcely tax them. Prior to your review I thought it was probably better to run Fort Point but you have single handedly convinced me that taking it would be such a trivial feat for the RN they may as well do it anyway. Thank you again for your splendid work playing Devil's Advocate.
Not to put too fine a point on it but where are these British troops coming from to attack San Francisco? Why would the roughly 15,000 troops historically raised in California in 1861-62 not be available (raised with local resources and weapons), and why wouldn't they be concentrated at the most important point on the Pacific? Only a couple of thousand of those California troops went east (to beat up Indians mainly), so they could be recalled and STILL reach the Golden Gate area before a troop transport from India.

We have often posted information from the California Military Museum on what California had available during the war.

There has even been discussion on what specific ships were available to both sides, the defenses and anything else we care to argue about (in a recent thread in this forum between you and I)

and recently (within the last few months) at that

I get that this is a paper exercise, but you guys are posting war gaming type stuff when the historical record on combined operations and naval warfare makes it clear that the Royal Navy can't do what you think it can do and it is far from invincible.

Look at the record of combined arms assaults on fortified ports in the history of warfare. The failures far out number the successes. From Francis Drake to the Assault on Inchon, the successes all required careful planning, brilliant tactical as well as operational leadership, advantages in training and a lackluster defense (in terms of morale and proficiency). The British pulled off some notable attacks in the Crimean War, including Helsinki, but none of those compared to importance of any objectives (the major cities) that is being proposed here. The RN did not launch an operation like you are proposing against St Petersburg or Sevastapol and did not even consider moving against Vladivostok either.

Why is that? What did the ACTUAL British commanders know that you are ignoring in your proposed RN assaults?

For that matter, why did the British blockade leak heavily even during the War of 1812 when they had overwhelming force compared to the Americans and did not have to worry about refueling and steam engines that break routinely?
 
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67th Tigers

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Not to put too fine a point on it but where are these British troops coming from to attack San Francisco? Why would the roughly 15,000 troops historically raised in California in 1861-62 not be available (raised with local resources and weapons), and why wouldn't they be concentrated at the most important point on the Pacific? Only a couple of thousand of those California troops went east (to beat up Indians mainly), so they could be recalled and STILL reach the Golden Gate area before a troop transport from India.
Yeah, there are about ca. 70 armed US troops in the area of Fort Point (including those manning the artillery), and the available 500-600 Marines and bluejacket riflemen (sailors were trained to use the rifle musket the same as the infantry).

The mounted armament of Fort Point would take about 1,200 men to man the guns, and the fact there are only 70 men there suggests they couldn't man the guns.
 

TFSmith121

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Yeah, there are about ca. 70 armed US troops in the area of Fort Point (including those manning the artillery), and the available 500-600 Marines and bluejacket riflemen (sailors were trained to use the rifle musket the same as the infantry). The mounted armament of Fort Point would take about 1,200 men to man the guns, and the fact there are only 70 men there suggests they couldn't man the guns.
And is it really your expectation that in the event of war - or even a true war scare, as opposed to Trent or the Laird Rams - that Wright, Alvord, Montgomery, Bell, Downey/Stanford, and Allen and Beale would sit back and wait for the British to show up, without mobilizing their own resources?

Again, Baltimore and Maryland had fewer people, respectively, in 1810 than San Francisco and California had in 1860 - and yet the Marylanders were able to frustrate a British expeditionary force and naval squadron quite effectively in 1814, to the point the British Army commander got shipped home in a box...

Interesting, that.
 
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galveston bay

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as an aside, those pictures are making me really miss the Golden Gate. I consider the view from Golden Gate National Recreation area one of the best views in North America

It also from that angle it really gives you a could look at the military topography of the entrance to San Francisco Bay.
 
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TFSmith121

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as an aside, those pictures are making me really miss the Golden Gate. I consider the view from Golden Gate National Recreation area one of the best views in North America. It also from that angle it really gives you a could look at the military topography of the entrance to San Francisco Bay.
Yep, it wasn't exactly the toughest of duty. And yes, it is a very defendable location. Considering the regular establishment, the population base, the state government, the forts and posts, Benicia Arsenal, Mare Island Navy Yard, Union Ironworks, the coal mines and powder mills, the military experience extant in a frontier state, and the engineering experience extant in a state and region made by mining - suggesting the city and region would not and could not be skillfully and successfully defended in the event of an Anglo-American conflict in 1862 is tripe.

The Russians drove the Allies away from Petropavlovsk in disgrace in 1854; the Chinese defeated the best the RN could assemble at Taku in 1859, sinking three warships and badly damaging three others while they were at it; and the Peruvians and Chileans ran the Spanish ragged in 1864-66, even capturing a Spanish warship; suggesting the Americans could not have achieved a similar outcome, or significantly better, given the disparity of resources, is ludicrous.

San Francisco alone had more people in 1860 than the entirety of British Columbia and the other British colonies on the Pacific coast did, and more than a fifth of those living in British territory were actually US citizens.

To get back to the subject of Dilandu's thread, given the Russian Pacific Squadron's operations in 1863, and the correlation of forces just gets more challenging for the British.

Best,
 
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Dilandu

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To get back to the subject of Dilandu's thread, given the Russian Pacific Squadron's operations in 1863, and the correlation of forces just gets more challenging for the British.
By the way, one of british ships on station - HMS "Tartar" - was, actually, russian-ordered "Voyn", requisitioned by RN in 1854)

And yes, the addition of six more fast modern units would make the british situation far more complicated. Both in therms of harbour defense of San-Franciso, and in therms of counter-raiding operations. According to the data of later, "Second American Expedition" (of 1876, where there was a crisis in Russian-Britain relations) the coastal defenses of British Columbia was considered laughable. Even the single clipper could wreck an utter havoc against largerly unprotected coastal settelments - including Victoria and Fort Rupert.

So, the RN would need to worry not just about San Francisco, but also about the protection of Canadian settlements. At least a few ships would clearly need to be dispatched here. Also - since they haven't got the advantage of transcontinental telegraph - they need a lot of dispatch vessels to mantain data exchange.
 

TFSmith121

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By the way, one of british ships on station - HMS "Tartar" - was, actually, russian-ordered "Voyn", requisitioned by RN in 1854)

And yes, the addition of six more fast modern units would make the british situation far more complicated. Both in therms of harbour defense of San-Franciso, and in therms of counter-raiding operations. According to the data of later, "Second American Expedition" (of 1876, where there was a crisis in Russian-Britain relations) the coastal defenses of British Columbia was considered laughable. Even the single clipper could wreck an utter havoc against largerly unprotected coastal settelments - including Victoria and Fort Rupert.

So, the RN would need to worry not just about San Francisco, but also about the protection of Canadian settlements. At least a few ships would clearly need to be dispatched here. Also - since they haven't got the advantage of transcontinental telegraph - they need a lot of dispatch vessels to mantain data exchange.
True. Bottom line, the deployable forces of the British empire in the Pacific in the winter get of 1862 - historically - amounted to roughly a dozen screw steamers, from frigates on down to gunboats, and as many infantry battalions split between New Zealand and China.

Best,
 
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Dilandu

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Absolutely.

So, let's return to the Atlantic. One of most important question: would it be wise to mantain Union-held strongholds on Southern territory, or the best thing would be to evacuate them (and how fast it could be done?)

The most important, of course, is Port Royal. Florida until mid-1862 could be considered as lost cause. The Albemarle Sound are close enough to the Norfolk, to make at least some supply of Roanoke garrison possible (and, the waters of Albemarle Sound clearly aren't suitable for large RN units) - or, at least, evacuation possible. But what about Port Royal?
 

Dilandu

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Just made some calculation about the comparable fighting power of heavy frigate and average 90-100 gun ship-of-the-line (not counting the super-heavy 120-130 gun liners, of course):

- "Merrimack"-class "heavy" screw frigate: broadside of twelve (12) IX-inch Dahlgrens, seven (7) VIII-inch Dahlgrens and two (2) X-inch pivot Dahlgrens. All have fire rate about one shot per minute. All guns could fire shells & shots.

Total salvo in shells - 12*74 + 7*53 + 2*102 = 1611 pdr

- "Duncan"-class 101-gun screw ship-of-the-line: broadside of eighteen (18) 8-inch shell guns on gun deck, eighteen (18) 32-pdr guns on main deck, fourteen (14) 32-pdr guns and one (1) pivoted 68-pdr shell gun on upper deck. Rate of fire is similar, 1 shot per minute (probably 32-pdr could do best, but not in salvo fire).

Total salvo in shells and shots - 18*51 + (18+14)*32 + 1*68 = 2010 pdr. Of them, only 986 are shells.

Conclusion: the total advantage of average ship-of-the-line over heavy frigate is about 20%. But in shells, the situation is, ship-of-the-line actually have almost 60% disadvantage!

So it seems that the RN's ships-of-the-line even more obsolete than at first look. They could barely fight on even terms the modern heavy frigates (and if weather conditions aren't good, the frigate, with higher gun deck, would probably have deciesive advantage over the low-placed gun deck of the ship-of-the-line). They are faster under steam, thought, so they could probably run away - but for what reason any navy might need the ship-of-the-line whose tactical purpose is to run away from enemy units?!
 
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