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The US Civil War and Military Innovation

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  Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The US Civil War and Military Innovation
    Posted: 27-Mar-2007 at 02:09
The Civil War also saw the forerunner of modern AFVs in the form of armed and armored trains.
 
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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 08:54
Originally posted by Emperor Barbarossa

One thing I have not seen covered in this thread yet is the widespread use of trenches by the Confederates while they defended Virginia in 1864-1865. The use of these trenches were not enough to save them, but they introduced a new concept of warfare, not fighting in lines, but fighting in trenches.


Ah ... no that was not a new concept. It had already been introduced in the Crimean War a decade earlier, during the great Siege of Sevastopol.

Also note that since the 17th century, forts had been used what were called "covered ways"or "advance ditches" which were basically trenches positioned in advance of the walls, used as a firing position. Sometimes the advance ditches formed a network on the field around the bastions.



Note, however, that this is not true trench warfare since trench warfare refers to defences thrown up in the field, not as part of a system of prepared defensive works. The British trenches at Sevastopol were true trench warfare, however.

The telegraph and the railroad were also used in the Crimean, although, the railroad was used in a quite limited fashion. The British built a track from their beachhead to the forward trenches at the Siege of Sevastopol; it was only a few miles long. Nothing at all like the use of railroads in the ACW.

Edited by edgewaters - 21-Jul-2007 at 09:15
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 09:30
Originally posted by edgewaters

Originally posted by Emperor Barbarossa

One thing I have not seen covered in this thread yet is the widespread use of trenches by the Confederates while they defended Virginia in 1864-1865. The use of these trenches were not enough to save them, but they introduced a new concept of warfare, not fighting in lines, but fighting in trenches.


Ah ... no that was not a new concept. It had already been introduced in the Crimean War a decade earlier, during the great Siege of Sevastopol.

The telegraph and the railroad were also used, although, the railroad was used in a quite limited fashion. The British built a track from their beachhead to the forward trenches at the Siege of Sevastopol; it was only a few miles long.
 
Actually, extensive trench warfare dates from the 16th century when new technology in fortifications aced out the advantage artillery gave against medieval walls.  The only way to attack the new "Trace Italienne" was to construct extensive (and almost total) trench lines around a besieged place--lines of circumvalation/offense--and then lines of contravalation/defense to ward off attempts at relief.
 
Most of this activity was done in trenches, sapping and getting close enough to bring guns to bear, while defending against counter batteries, or to mine a weak point (not new to warfare) where a breach could be effected.  Sallies by the defenders were frequent, and very nasty actions were fought in the trenches.  In many cases relieving forces concentrated on driving the besiegers from their trenches to disrupt the siege or force the besieger to lift and withdraw.   
 
There was a lot more trench warfare than pitched battles from about the 1550s well into the 17th cent., and even up to the Fr. Rev.
 
                                       ******************
 
The French army made extensive use of railways in their war against Austria in Italy, 1859.  Logistics were improved, and it even made possible sending home large numbers for soldiers for "R & R."  The assumption is that French experience and observation in Crimea had an effect. 
 
EDIT:  Sorry to be pedantic, but I LOVE this kind of stuff.  Big%20smile 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 21-Jul-2007 at 09:42
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 09:40
Edgewaters's diagram IS in essence the Trace Italienne.  The scarps, glacis and forward firing position (covered way) are essentially the same in many mid-19th century military engineering texts as they are in the diagrams of the engineers of the 16th century.
 
The method(s) of attacking these resulted in the type of trenches and trench warfare under discussion.
 
The bastions of fortification like Ticonderoga are little different than those of the walls and internal citidels of important European cities in like 1580.  The only real difference between those of late 16th cent. and Vauban is Vauban's far more complex concepts.  With the expense involved, it is lucky the king was in his corner.
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 21-Jul-2007 at 09:53
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 09:42
Well, if you want to nitpick, almost all innovations have been tried (albiet) in different forms before. What the ACW's biggest innovation was, was to bring an industrial might of a nation tomb bear.
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 09:46
Originally posted by Sparten

Well, if you want to nitpick, almost all innovations have been tried (albiet) in different forms before. What the ACW's biggest innovation was, was to bring an industrial might of a nation tomb bear.
 
True.  The ditch surrounding even a field work was well known at least since the Roman Republic.
 
(nitpick?.........you hurt my feelings.  Smile )
 
Just wanted to make clear that very extensive trench warfare long predated Crimea and ACW.
 
 
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 15:22
It should be remembered that railroads were of such paramount imporatnce that campaigns were conducted to protect and destroy them, v unlike before.
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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 20:09
Originally posted by Sparten

Well, if you want to nitpick, almost all innovations have been tried (albiet) in different forms before. What the ACW's biggest innovation was, was to bring an industrial might of a nation tomb bear.


"Bringing the industrial might of a nation to bear" was not new at all. What do you think the British Empire with its factories and coalfields and steel mills had been doing for an entire century preceding the ACW? Industry was the power (and often the reason) behind British expansionism.

The railroad, in the way that it was used, was certainly new and unique in the ACW. Although railroads had played some minor role in previous conflicts, no conflict prior to the ACW was so defined by the use of railroads to the extent that it altered the nature of war. So was the machine gun new, although it saw little use.

Also, new ironclad designs. Although ironclads were not new per se - several navies had hit on plating warships and the French and British had sixteen each at the outbreak of the ACW - the designs of ships like the monitors was radically different, employing a rotating gun turret. The rotating gun turret for naval use was a revolution in sea warfare.

Edited by edgewaters - 21-Jul-2007 at 20:19
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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 20:28
Originally posted by pikeshot1600

Actually, extensive trench warfare dates from the 16th century when new technology in fortifications aced out the advantage artillery gave against medieval walls. The only way to attack the new "Trace Italienne" was to construct extensive (and almost total) trench lines around a besieged place--lines of circumvalation/offense--and then lines of contravalation/defense to ward off attempts at relief.


Hah! Well you learn something new every day. I knew sapping was ancient, but I had no idea actual trenches were employed by siegers prior to Sevastopol. It makes quite a bit of sense, though.

I'd love to see a wargame represent this. There are so few 17th/18th century wargames out there and so much has not been explored properly.


Sorry to be pedantic, but I LOVE this kind of stuff. Big%20smile


Yeah, me too. You ought to see the fort near where I live - its one of the latest models built in North America, and one of the largest this far west (Fort Henry in Kingston). The ditches are the coolest part - there are sally ditches leading to cannon-towers around the base of the hill on which the fort is located, covered ways on the ditches around the fort, and even firing galleys inside the counterscarp so if you managed to fight your way into the ditch, you'd really be in hot water.
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  Quote Mr. K. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Jul-2007 at 02:11
Strangely enough, the Union had a lancer regiment from Michigan during the war. What chance the generals thought men on horseback using glorified spears stood against shells, canister, and accurate rifles, while charging en masse into all of this, I don't know. It wasn't a common thing, the cavalry mostly relegated to scouting and dismounted fighting, but someone must have thought it would be useful.
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Jul-2007 at 09:23
Originally posted by Mr. K.

Strangely enough, the Union had a lancer regiment from Michigan during the war. What chance the generals thought men on horseback using glorified spears stood against shells, canister, and accurate rifles, while charging en masse into all of this, I don't know. It wasn't a common thing, the cavalry mostly relegated to scouting and dismounted fighting, but someone must have thought it would be useful.
 
Most likely it was a "fashion statement."  Some state militias and some volunteer regiments tended to ape the European armies, especially the French, in the early stages of the war.  Zouave and "Turco" uniforms were not uncommon.  You are of course right about US/CSA cavalry in the war.
 
Most of the European armies retained regiments of lancers into the first World War (and the Poles later).  I agree that in an age of new rifles sighted to over 1,000 yards and of more quick firing artillery it seems incongruous.  I don't know what their tactical utilization was to be, but they all most likely served more as dragoons than anything else....til the big War when most were dismounted infantry (except in the east).
 
Lances were a vestigial remain of chivalry I guess.  Not much chivalry after 1861. 
 
   
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  Quote Mr. K. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Jul-2007 at 16:33
Originally posted by Crusader3943


The first real machine gun was also invented and used during the Civil War.
 
 
Technically it was the Gatling Gun, which works differently from the machine gun. It is hand cranked and fires from multiple spinning barrels, while the machine gun was gas powered and was drum or belt fed.
The biggest use of the Gatling gun in the war was at Petersburg, by the troops of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, who had purchased 10 of the guns for his troops.
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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Sep-2007 at 04:13
Well it has been mentioned a lot but I personally think the major innovation was the use of the railroads.  These revolutionized the size of warfare forever.  Now you could get enormous amounts of men to one spot quick enough to avoid exhausting your supply of food.  (which could also be shipped much quicker to the army than say wagons)  After that would have to be the improvement in rifles.  Then,also the relegating of cavalry to nothing more than scouts as has been mentioned.  Interior lines were brought to a whole new level.  You can see this in the Schlieffen plan of germany for WWI.  One thing that has caught my eye is how similar the civil war was compared to WWI in the technology outstripping the tactics and the lessons being learned at a very high cost.  Just proves that theory that constant warfare produces advancements whether it be revolutionary france, renaissance italy etc.  I know it wasn't invented during the civil war, but didn't both sides use the balloon as a form of scouting for the first time in warfare?  (I know the french had balloons earlier but I don't remember it being used in warfare before the civil war)
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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 01:34
Originally posted by Justinian

Well it has been mentioned a lot but I personally think the major innovation was the use of the railroads.


Railroads had been used in war prior to this, but I think the ACW was unique in the way railroads became so central to logistics and deployment and so characteristic of the conflict.

After that would have to be the improvement in rifles.


The only improvements I can think of that you might be referring to here are Minie balls, percussion caps, or rifled barrels, which were first extensively used in the Crimean.

I know it wasn't invented during the civil war, but didn't both sides use the balloon as a form of scouting for the first time in warfare? (I know the french had balloons earlier but I don't remember it being used in warfare before the civil war)


Since the previous century (in 1794). Napoleon had an entire air corps, which was instrumental in several key victories:

http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Lighter_than_air/Napoleon's_wars/LTA3.htm

Funny quote - "The Austrians feared the balloon and looked upon it as an agent of the devil that was allied to the French Republic."



Edited by edgewaters - 30-Nov-2007 at 01:54
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 07:10
The first really effective CinC. In previous wars the CinC was much more of an administrative position, the commanders in the field were highly independant. From 1864 Grant commanded the entire effort through telegraph. That includes Sherman, Banks and Butler/Ord, often controlling the battle himself, for example at Atlanta, he ordered a corps to attack over Sherman's head. Something which was impossible before. As a result it became possible to direct syncronized ops.
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  Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 09:34
Originally posted by edgewaters

Also, new ironclad designs. Although ironclads were not new per se - several navies had hit on plating warships and the French and British had sixteen each at the outbreak of the ACW - the designs of ships like the monitors was radically different, employing a rotating gun turret. The rotating gun turret for naval use was a revolution in sea warfare.

I had heard that the first proper ironclad (not a Man-O-War with armour plating attached) was used by the confederates in the American Civil War. The arrival of that ship on the seen caused panic in England and France as they suddenly realised that all their warships were out-of-date.

Personally I really love the civil war from a tactical perspective. Grant played Lee superbly, and understood how to deal with a great general with a single army. He learnt his lessons from the Napoleonic wars well.
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  Quote edgewaters Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Nov-2007 at 10:12
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim

I had heard that the first proper ironclad (not a Man-O-War with armour plating attached) was used by the confederates in the American Civil War. The arrival of that ship on the seen caused panic in England and France as they suddenly realised that all their warships were out-of-date.


The British and French designs were not wooden sailing ships hastily converted to carry iron plating like the Merrimac, but all-steel hulled ships.

By the 1830s, British drydocks were launching new steamer ship designs totally absent of wooden supports, including oceangoing vessels.

In 1859 France launched the La Gloire, an iron-plated battleship.

In response, in 1860, Britain launched the Warrior - an all-iron hull, the first warship to feature it. In retrospect, it is often felt that the Warrior probably could have singlehandedly defeated any fleet in the world. It's not just an ironclad, it really is a dreadnought or battleship, weighing in at 9200 tons, 4.5 inch steel plates, propellors (a new technology at the time), 14.5 knots under steam. Not only was it the first all iron hulled warship, it was also the largest warship ever launched, and one of the fastest (with both sail and steam it could hit 17.5 knots). By comparison, the Monitor, launched 2 years after the Warrior, displaced under 1000 tons, featured armour plates of only 1 inch thickness, could travel at a stop speed of 8 knots, and could not safely operate on coastal waters (let alone make transoceanic trips) but was only suited to river combat.

The battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac was indeed stunning for the French and English, but not because the machines were novel - compared to battleships like the Warrior, the Monitor and similar designs were little more than light riverboats. They each had a fleet of much larger and far more powerful versions, capable of transoceanic trips. They were stunned because nobody had ever seen ironclads in battle yet.

When you see ships like the Warrior, don't be confused when you see sails. There is no wood in the hull. The reason they featured sails was because ships of that period couldn't carry enough coal for transoceanic voyages, and littoral craft were not much use for imperialist powers. So these ships featured both steam and sails (and all steel warships continued to do so, until the Royal Navy switched to oil just before WW1).

By 1862, both France and Britain had launched a small fleet or all-iron hulled warships based on the design of the Warrior.

The evolution of the hull design in later dreadnoughts comes from the Warrior. Nothing about later hulls was derived from the Monitor, whose low profile made it suitable only as a riverboat, or iron-plated wooden designs like the Merrimac or La Gloire.

Edited by edgewaters - 30-Nov-2007 at 10:38
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  Quote Justinian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Dec-2007 at 00:09
Originally posted by edgewaters

Originally posted by Justinian

Well it has been mentioned a lot but I personally think the major innovation was the use of the railroads.


Railroads had been used in war prior to this, but I think the ACW was unique in the way railroads became so central to logistics and deployment and so characteristic of the conflict.

 
After that would have to be the improvement in rifles.


The only improvements I can think of that you might be referring to here are Minie balls, percussion caps, or rifled barrels, which were first extensively used in the Crimean.

I know it wasn't invented during the civil war, but didn't both sides use the balloon as a form of scouting for the first time in warfare?  (I know the french had balloons earlier but I don't remember it being used in warfare before the civil war)


Since the previous century (in 1794). Napoleon had an entire air corps, which was instrumental in several key victories:

http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Lighter_than_air/Napoleon's_wars/LTA3.htm

Funny quote - "The Austrians feared the balloon and looked upon it as an agent of the devil that was allied to the French Republic."

Right, railroads making a huge impact on the art of war.  Size of forces increasing drastically, and the speed with which forces could be redeployed.
 
I was just thinking of the rifle improvements that improved the rate of fire and accuracy, so pretty much what you mentioned. 
 
Ah, thats right Napoleon.  I was thinking of the third version not the first.Embarrassed
 
Thanking for the information, edgewaters.Smile
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  Quote Cezar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 11:16
Originally posted by edgewaters

The evolution of the hull design in later dreadnoughts comes from the Warrior. Nothing about later hulls was derived from the Monitor, whose low profile made it suitable only as a riverboat, or iron-plated wooden designs like the Merrimac or La Gloire.
You forget about the monitors which were inspired by Monitor (what a surprise!). Even in Vietnam the US were using a ship which they called monitor. And it was the Ericsson turret what made Monitor special. Though up until WWI fixed guns were kept on the battlewagons the turret was the real enhancement.
The ship that was bat was probably USS Keokuk.
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  Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 13:55
You hit it right on the nailhead, Cezar! The significance of the ironclad in the annals of naval warfare has little to do with hull design but the emplacement of the turret gun! True the initial problem with the "monitor" class was the unbalanced turret (the center of mass was not the center of rotation) that caused dangerous listing, but this problem was resolved by the 1890s and essentially made the casemate gun secondary. The final kink was resolved by the 1920s with the elimination of the sighting hood and the development of the delay coil. Now the USS Keokuk was not a turret gun ironclad and all that vessel proved was that an iron hull was still no match to concentrated artillery! One can say that it was the refinement of the armoured cruiser with the turret guns that laid the foundations of the battlewagons in the first decades of the 20th century.
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