American Civil War

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by legs-o-lead, Jun 21, 2010.

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  1. I'm currently reading a book on the American Civil War, and one of the areas that the author concentrates on is the almost staggering incompetence of the senior offices of both sides.

    No wonder that the soldiers felt little compunction in removing them. Sometimes by making them dead. Fragging officers seems to be re rigeur in the US Army then?

    Any history of similar occurrences in the UK Forces ?
  2. There a couple of refs, in Welsh history though, battle of Pilleth springs to mind
  3. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    The qn to be asked is 'What experience did any American general have, when the Civil War started, of manoeuvering a field army?' They had to learn on the job. Eventually the North found Ulysses Grant drinking himself away on the banks of the Missouri (I think) and they had their man. 'Mad is he? I wish he would bite some of my other generals.'
  4. Abs agree about lack of experience. Both sides appointed commanders on political grounds and on nepotism (sp?) until well into the war when they finally woke up to the realities of it all.

    BTW, the author has nothing good to say about U.S. Grant either :? It must have been a torrid time of the private soldiers.

    I've just read the bit where in 1863/4 the Union decided they should invite blacks to serve. Bearing in mind the fact that the war was supposedly fought over the morality of slavery, neither side thought they were capable of becoming soldiers. Even the Confederacy eventually recruited a black unit, but it was never fielded.

    I think that if any one of the 186,000 black troops that did fight had known it would take another 100 plus years for them to get any sort of equality, they would probably not have bothered.

    According to this book, there were over 600,000 deaths and over a million wounded. Incredible figures.
  5. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    Funny I could have sworn I just (at the weekend) read that quote attributed to the king (George II?) about General Wolf - him what took Quebec, not the one who went on to appear in Gladiator.

    In Mallinson's Making of the British Army, which I bought to take on me holibobs, but I cannot just leave it lying there.
  6. It was the most deadly conflict in US history, its death toll surpassing even the number of Americans killed in WW2 (around 415,000 I think)
  7. More than half of those 600,000 deaths were caused by diseases.
  8. didn't all sides have percussion rifles that were a tad more deadly than old style muskets making standing volley style fire rather more dangerous?
  9. and the Gatling gun, automatic fire. Barbed wire, trenches, use of railways to speed up supplies, armour plated boats et al. War on an industrial scale for the first time I'm told.
  10. squeekingsapper

    squeekingsapper LE Reviewer

    They didn't quite have the gatling gun as this appeared slightly after the war I believe in 1884, and they only used trip wire strung out at knee height, they never actually had any barbs on it. They also had repeating rifles as well, which fired around seven times the rate of the muzzle loaders.

    They also had both land mines and sea mines (known as torpedoes) and it was the first war where a submarine was used (CSS Hunley), however I believe that it had to ram its explosive charge on to the ship so sank both times it was used, once with only one survivor and the second time with no survivors.

    I was once told a story (I think the battle of cold harbour) where the Union soldiers were stitching their names into their uniforms as they could see that the coming attack was tantamount to suicide and they had no chance of success and little of survival. I seem to remember that even losing a finger in battle had something like a 6% chance of turning fatal due to disease etc.
  11. Though in the minority, there were still Units – and Confederate individuals – using smooth bore muskets at Gettysburg. Just as while the ‘Napoleon’ 12 pounder was the most prolific cannon, pieces like the rifled Whitworth were deployed in the mix.

    US 400k+ for WWII refers to all casualties, not just KIA.

    United States of America WWII
     Military references:
     Keegan: 292,000
     HarperCollins: 292,100
     Britannica: 292,131 (not incl. 115,187 non-battle)
     Compton's: 293,986
     Urlanis: 300,000
     DoD: 291,557 KIA + 113,842 other = 405,399
     Ellis: 405,400
     Encarta: 292,131 KIA + 115,187 other causes = 407,318
     Wallechinsky: 292,131 KIA + 115,187 other = 407,318
     Eckhardt: 408,000
     Small & Singer: 408,300

    American Deaths...........Killed in Battle or Died of Wounds....Died of Disease, Accident, etc..........Total
    Civil War (US+CS)......................204,070..........................................414,152............................618,222
    World War II............................291,557..........................................113,842............................405,399

  12. I have a book somewhere that says that the Colonel of the 42nd foot, The Black Watch, was shot by one of his own men at Quatra Bras because he'd had him flogged a few days before.

  13. Have read that all of the officers involved in the civil war studied all of the great battles in the recent European wars at westpoint, napoleon and Wellington for example and many officers were very good but the advancement in the technology of firearms took all by surprise which led to the bloodbaths.
  14. The Gatling Gun was patented in 1861 and several were used during the American Civil War.