1 response

  1. Tom Vidar Grasmo Nilsen
    April 7, 2017

    Hello. I recently got your Shiloh book from ebay so I found our page.
    Great study. I dont agree with the “new weapons and old tactics” theory either.
    Considering the amount of smoke on a battlefield and lack of communication, they had no choice but to deploy units in massed formations, both to get effectiv fire and be able to move the units around on the battlefield..
    As you say, the average CW soldier was not a very good shot either. They few that where, was often deployed in ad hoc sharpshooter battalions attached to each brigade. Atleast in Lee’s army.
    Considering the poor shots combined with the lack of visibility on a smokeclad battlefield, they again had no choice but to fire volleys of musketfire and the only way to achive that, is massed formations as we all know..
    So basically the advanced weapons, was no help when you hardly could see anything due to the high amount of smoke.

    The losses in the CW was high compared to previous american wars, but not compared to wars in Europe, as you present some fine examples of.
    This is my personal opinion, but the killing rate was not very high either, when we look at the amount of soldiers. Appx 170.000 soldiers fired probably around 2 million musket shots, resulting in “only” 28.000 killed and wounded. 35.000 was KIA and wounded during the battle. Not the entire campaign and less captured soldiers. If 20% percent was artillery casualties, we are down to 28.000 killed and wounded by musket fire. Not very high considering the amount of soldiers and shots fired and the tactics they used in massed formations.

    As a final note, I recently read that some historians think the reason they found so many loaded weapons on the battlefield, was because lots of soldiers did not want to shoot humans, so they deliberately missed. This could also be used as a reason for low rate of hits, but thats bullshit if you ask me. By 1863, atleast in the confederate army, they where hardened veterans and would have no problem killing your enemy. The cowards and shirkers where long gone. 🙂

    Again, excellent stydy!
    Greetings from Norway.

    Reply

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