Wall of fire - the rifle and Civil War infantry tactics


1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Mar 16, 2016
A paper to go with https://civilwartalk.com/threads/the-rifle-musket-in-civil-war-combat-by-earl-j-hess.152570/ and https://civilwartalk.com/threads/un...doctrine-in-the-battle-of-chickamauga.153214/

Collection; Master of Military Art and Science Theses
Title; Wall of fire -- the rifle and Civil War infantry tactics.
Author; Kerr, Richard E., Jr.

Abstract; This thesis examines the effect the rifle had on infantry tactics during the Civil War. It traces the transition from smoothbore to rifle and the development of the Minie ball. The range and accuracy of various weapons are discussed and several tables illustrate the increased capabilities of the rifle. Tactics to exploit the new weapon are examined, primarily those of William Hardee. Using Hardee's tactics as the standard rifle tactics before the war, the change in how infantry soldiers fought is documented with two battle analyses. The 1862 Maryland Campaign shows the start of tactical evolution as soldiers seek cover, expend large quantities of ammunition and are decisively engaged at greater distances. During the 1864 Wilderness-Spotsylvania battle, the concepts of fortification defense and skirmish offense take hold. Examining several current books that deal with the rifle and its effects, the thesis concludes that the rifle's increased firepower was a major factor in the move away from Hardee's formation tactics.

Series; Command and General Staff College (CGSC) MMAS thesis
Publisher; Fort Leavenworth, KS : US Army Command and General Staff College,
Date; Original 1990-06-01
Date; Digital 2008
Call number; ADA 227467
Release statement; Approved for public release; Distribution is unlimited. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the student-authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College or any other governmental agency. (References to these studies should include the foregoing statement.)
Repository; Combined Arms Research Library
Library; Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library
Date created; 2008-02-19



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Sergeant Major
Nov 9, 2016
About 40 percent of the Confederates at Chickamauga had smooth bores.

Just think Chickamauga would be a strange example of the success of Cassey’s tactics when on the 19th it was a virtual draw, mostly because of terrain; woods with some open fields. Then on the 20th, a third of the Federal Army was Routed.

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