why did Napoleonic style fighting die out?

This is for Discussions about Napoleonic History only.
User avatar
Lord Crow

Postby Lord Crow » Wed Nov 02, 2005 3:47 pm

Thanks Tigers. :D

User avatar
Miles Gloriosus
Gentleman
Gentleman
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 10:32 pm
Location: Upper Canada

Postby Miles Gloriosus » Thu Nov 03, 2005 11:57 pm

Miles Gloriosus wrote:
Tzar Jakob wrote:
Leftenant Digby-Chinless wrote:The incident of the Garde Francaise and the British Foot Guards officers agreeing who should fire first at Dettingen in 1745, with officers toasting each other with champage before the slaughter commenced is the best example I can think of of honour on the battlefield.


Thats not honour thats just down right stupidity. .


And that's not history .......

There were no Champaign bottles at Dettingen.


But there WAS a toast at Fontenoy....albeit a one-sided, cheeky and even hubristic one.....

Lord Hay, Colonel of the (English) Foot Gaurds advanced with his troops to within range of the French line. The Colonel doffed his hat and drank a toast and offered a shouted taunt to the French. The Gaurds then fired a battalion volley and charged through the French line.......in the end they were replused by French reinforcements and withdrew in good order.

Now what Lord Hay did was uncommon (partially why it is remembered in history) and it was actually a slight breech of civility but oh what a cheeky, confidence boosting gesture for the men. A great bifg raised midle finger before hell is unleashed on a blasted French! HUZZA! *ahem*

During the Fronde, a French marshal threw his baton into the enemy's trenchs and told his men to bring it back, Highland regiments often had a piper playing when they whent "over the top" during WWI........such little moral-boosting tricks are part of the "baubles with which battles are won".
Weapons Cause Fear

User avatar
Lord Xelous
Honourary Lord
Honourary Lord
Posts: 2660
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2003 10:21 pm
Location: Nottingham, England
Contact:

Postby Lord Xelous » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:04 pm

The Rifle. Accurate massed ranks of fire made men have to take cover or suffer appauling consequences, the smoothbore musket was highly inaccurate, meaning that to kill with it the opponents were made to line up and basically hammer one another to the death, or the breaking of nerves.

So along comes the invention of rifling and suddenly 1 man can kill 3 times as many opponents, and upp his hit rate expenentially. Making him something to fear.

I'm affraid to say, the American Civil War was the last war in which massed ranks of men were viable, after which the high velocity rifle was king.

Too bad generals and tacticians did not see or learn the lessons before 1915. As it cost so many lives in around the world, until the Maxim Machine gun and the hundreds of thousands in the KIA columns made generals think "sh!t, maybe we should duck".
"We're not easily frightened. Also, we know how hard it is for an army to cross the channel. Last little corporal who tried came a-cropper. So don't threaten or dictate to us until you're marching up Whitehall! And even then we won't listen."

User avatar
LXVII Regiment (Tigers)
Baronet
Baronet
Posts: 857
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 4:48 pm
Location: Oxford

Postby LXVII Regiment (Tigers) » Fri Nov 04, 2005 5:15 pm

Except the ACW battlefield was not particularly more lethal than a Napoleonic Battlefield.

If you exclude the Peninsula (where British tactics tended to close the range), the average range of a firefight in the ACW and the Napoleonic wars were quite close. After all, the point blank range* of a smoothbore musket is 200 yards, while for a Minie rifle it's only 150 yards.

That said, an ACW firefight should have been more lethal. Herman, a CS soldier who later analysed the ACW firefight worked out that it took 400 rounds to produce 1 fatality on average (so about 1 shot in 150 hit, which is in line with Rosecran's 145 rounds per hit estimate). This is about the same as the US achieved with smoothbores in the Mexican-American War (British observers estimate 1 in 125), about the same as the British infantry in the Napoleonic wars and about the same as the Prussian infantry at Czaslau.

However, a single volley at 30 yards was much more effective. The French and Blenheim, the British and Fontenoy and Minden volleyed once at 30 yds and achieved a 25% hit rate

* Point blank range is the range at which you don't have to elevate the weapons system to hit.


Return to “The Napoleonic Library”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests