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Old November 2, 2012, 10:19 AM   #76
davem
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Not to sidetrack but my view on Picket's Charge was a lack of communications. The left flank attacked too early and the artillery ran out of ammunition and could not advance with and support the infantry- I think that as eager as Lee was to attack the center- if there had been a quick line of communication and all facts were present- he would have called off the attack.
I come from one of those divided families. As much as I admire the gallantry by much of the south I'm glad we are all still one country.
The Civil War- I blame the politicians in Washington (north and south) that didn't work together to get a peaceful solution. Their failure caused a lot of scars,
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Old November 4, 2012, 10:16 PM   #77
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I believe this niche is today filled by mortar rounds, John. Plus there are virtually no instances of large formations on modern battlefields.
Sorry to b unclear. I was referring to civilian ownership in the US. Many seem very excited about $20,000 transferable LMGs that have a cyclic rate of $75/minute.
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If you really want to go at it you could design an inline muzzle loading cannon with modern steel. Could probably cut off a lot of weight that way. That might be a little more complicated legally.
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Old November 6, 2012, 07:58 AM   #78
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"I believe this niche is today filled by mortar rounds, John."

Not to mention anti-personnel shells fired by artillery, like the Beehive round of the Vietnam era.

Artillery isn't used nearly as much for that kind of purpose anymore.
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Old November 6, 2012, 09:04 AM   #79
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I can imagine a Greek-style phalanx advancing against an enemy that happen to have a few artillery pieces on hand. The phalanx would have to be pretty close before pistols would be effective and how heavy would those shields need to be? The artillery would make a bloody mess of the attack, if the artillery was any good. Of course, the artillery made a bloody mess of attacks the way it was, usually. If the artillery fire went over or fell short, then things usually turned out a little differently.

I believe I read that someone tried using bows and arrows during the Russo-Japanese War. I don't remember which side but they didn't repeat the experiment. Using a bow effectively supposedly takes years of practice. Naturally, there would be a national board to promote archery practice, so that's no problem. Surplus bows and arrows could be provided at a nominal price to young men.

One ecentric British army officer by the name of Jack Churchill (no relation to the other guy) supposedly killed a German with an arrow shot from a longbow in 1940 during a commando raid. He likewise carried his sword with him. The British army never seems to be short of ecentric officers, although they are tolerated rather better during wartime.
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Old November 7, 2012, 03:35 PM   #80
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On the British Commandos- I'm not sure but I thought they had small, pistol sized crossbows used to take out Japanese sentries, etc.
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Old November 8, 2012, 10:00 AM   #81
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Maybe the did but I've never seen a photo of one. There are photos of Jack Churchill with his sword, which was a basket hilt broadsword.

I once owned a pistol gripped crossbow. I was still in junior high school at the time. I think it was a Whamo. It had a steel bow probably no more than about eighteen inches long. It would put a target pointed arrow (bolt) through a piece of galvenized steel but it would bounce off a piece of hardwood. If was definitely a short-range affair but it was still a lot of fun. We were always fooling around with bows and arrows, knives and lots of sharp sticks. Wonder we all still have both eyes (but not without a lot of scars).
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Old November 8, 2012, 10:48 AM   #82
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The submachine gun on the other hand? The materials needed to build them are already there in 1861. Got cartridges? Check. Got plumbing parts? Check. Got metallurgy knowledge and guys who know how to operate machine tools? Check.
Indoor plumbing was as rare in 1861 as 1980's cell phones.

In much of the south, the "local hardware store" was not really very local, and contained very little hardware other than nails, hinges, and other GP goods that could be mass produced easier than the local blacksmith could make them.

For pete's sake, you are talking about widespread use of milled interchangable parts, when the 99% of the population was still using a chamber pot or the "back house" .....

The wheels of technology turn slowly, indeed ......

Less than 70 years ago, my mother lived on a largely self sufficient farm that had a handpump in the kitchen sink, new electric lights, a woodstove for heat ..... and there was an outhouse out back. Just because there were A-Bombs being made in Oak Ridge TN at the time does not mean that modern tech was ubiquitous, or even common, in rural America.
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Old November 8, 2012, 12:04 PM   #83
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Less than 70 years ago, my mother lived on a largely self sufficient farm that had a handpump in the kitchen sink, new electric lights, a woodstove for heat ..... and there was an outhouse out back. Just because there were A-Bombs being made in Oak Ridge TN at the time does not mean that modern tech was ubiquitous, or even common, in rural America.
To this day my county does not have complete water service to the entire county. There are many, many homes that still rely on a well or springhouse for their water. It's only been recently (15 years or less) that the church I belong to put in indoor plumbing and running water. Before that we had an outhouse. Some still do.
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Old November 8, 2012, 06:59 PM   #84
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As to General Robert E. Lee he had not been trained as front line in charge war officer. The Mexican War was the only combat he saw up until the Civil War. He was a Combat Engineer and taught at West Point for many years. Only upon accepting the commission in the Confederate Army was he actually a front line battle officer. His only training in combat tactics was what every other West Point student received. It is to his credit that he used his training and native abilities to the maximum detriment of the Union Army for the first 2 1\2 years of the war. It is really too bad he didn't stay in the Union Army, he truly lost every he had by joining the Confederate cause. I think his ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War were rolling over in their graves over his decision. I admire the man, I just can't help to think he got the biggest decision of his life wrong and for that he paid the price for it.
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Old November 8, 2012, 07:48 PM   #85
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The Mexican War was the only combat he saw up until the Civil War.
That could also be said about most of the generals in the war. U.S. Grant, "Stonewall" Jackson, George McClellen, Braxton Bragg, Lewis Armistead, Winfield Scott Hancock, Philip Kearny, George Mead, William Sherman, Joe Johnston, James Longstreet, A.P. Hill, George Pickett and a load of others. Some were good some weren't. Other great leaders never served in the military at all before the war, Nathan Bedford Forrest and John S. Mosby are two. Your statement has nothing to do with Lee's abilities as a military leader.
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Old November 9, 2012, 08:48 AM   #86
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I may have said it already but I'd guess that the biggest reason there were no simple automatic weapons during the Civil War was no one had designed one. No complicated ones, either. But none of them are really simple.

Technology was not all that primative in 1861. Firearms were made on machinery that came from corporations still doing business today. Interchangeable parts (for firearms) had been around for fifteen or twenty years. That was done for ease of production, not so your local hardware store could carry a supply of parts for something. But as has already been pointed out, there was still a lot of ground to go over before workable automatic and even repeating firearms would be available. Probably the ammunition but the early automatic weapons were quite complicated and some models adopted by some armies even after 1900 were not particularly successful, which could even be said of some weapons designed an adopted 30 years later. By then, of course, it was usually a matter of design (poor design, that is) that accounted for poor performance on the battlefield.

As it was, the (probably) most successful automatic weapon, the Maxim, appeared less than 20 years after the end of the Civil War and in fact used black powder cartridges at first. But I'd also have to say that "simple" automatic weapons would not appear for another 60 years after that. Even a muzzle-loading artillery tube is not as simple as it looks. True, the design is simple but the metallurgy is critical or the gun will fail. Oddly enough, it tended to be the more advanced artillery weapons of the Civil War period that tended to fail more often and by fail, we mean blowing up. But that was probably often due to the gunners attempting to get extreme performance from their guns. Remember than when you are handloading your own ammunition.
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Old November 9, 2012, 09:23 AM   #87
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Oh hell, you're going to see LOTS of people on private wells and septic systems in this country for a LONG LONG time.

It's not possible to extend municipal sewer and water to every home in the country, and in many cases, people don't want to come off their wells as they feel the water is better than municipal water.

I grew up 7 miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the 1970s and most of my friends "out the valley" had wells and private septic. All had flush toilets and electric, though.

The benefit, though, was that most of those friends? They could shoot on their own property, something that I, a lad living the much more civilized, much more refined town, couldn't do. Well, I could, but the neighbors tended to get really upset.
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Old November 9, 2012, 12:04 PM   #88
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On Robert E. Lee. I think he was best on the defensive. His two major invasions of the north didn't come off that well. When Grant went up against him, Grant won because of numeric superiority, the ANV exacted more casualties on the Army of the Potomac than existed in the ANV.
Lee was offered command of the Army of the Potomac before Virginia Suceeded. I often wonder what would have happened if Virginia had stayed in the Union and Lee was commander of the Federal Army. This idea of "State Loyalty" It is a strange concept to us these days.
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Old November 12, 2012, 01:22 AM   #89
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"Sherman, set the Way-Back for Vicksburg, 1863..."

I actually think the progress that occurred in the decade of the 1860s was amazing: From single-shot muzzleloading percussion muskets to magazine-fed, mass-produced metallic cartridge rifled repeaters, etc., not to mention the progress in the span of one human lifetime to most of the firearms innovations that now exist.

I submit that even if you hopped into the Way-Back with Mr. Peabody, you would face insurmountable obstacles to making an impact on the outcome of the Civil War even with knowledge of advanced firearms technology. You'd have to come up with advanced brass, springs, metallurgy, manufacturing quality control, geez, jacketed bullets, powder, lubricating oil, etc., technologies from a relatively primitive start. Also, you'd be competing with every other stripe of kook trying to mobilize the political and financial support (there was no shortage of inventors peddling wonder weapons). It would take something like the Manhattan Project (well, not quite) and, I think, more than four years.

Not to be a wet blanket, but I think that history is a complicated tapestry, with technology belonging to a time. Even if you could transport, say, an Abrams Tank back in time, it would be a short-term thing because you could not sustain it with the logistical infrastructure of the time.

Perhaps the more compelling mental exercise is what could be done to optimize the existing technology of the time, like bringing the tactics and technology of, say, 1870 to 1860...
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Old November 14, 2012, 07:25 AM   #90
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While everything you say is true, we generally fail to see the technological advances that happened in other decades, including the decades we've lived through, or maybe that's a given. Of course, the thing about the 1860s was there was a war going on, same as the 1940s, when there were a few (very few) Civil War veterans still living. In fact, my wife has some photos of veterans parading in Alexandria, Virginia, wearing their old uniforms. Some were on horses. I think the photos were taken in the 1920s, perhaps earlier.

It is interesting that you mention how there were a lot of inventors in Washington (and Richmond, too, no doubt) trying to get the right people interested in their wares. Yet at the same time, it is always remarkable how difficult it has always been, and still is, to get a new weapon accepted, sometimes even more difficult than it is to get it manufactured and adopted. Usually it takes the dedication of a few men during wartime to prove the worth, if not always the practicality, of some newfangled gun or other weapon. Even so, often as not the improvement is only marginal of what was already out there, at least in some cases. Take field artillery, for instance.

Rifled field artillery was around in time for the Civil War. We might wonder 150 years later why smoothbores were still used, given all the advantages of the rifles. They shot farther, were more accurate and hit harder. All well and good, only a smoothbore of the same weight on the ground shot a bigger projectile and could do more damage against advancing troops. But if you couldn't get as many of either kind as you could use, it was a moot point.

Surprisingly, automatic weapons (small arms) have always been a hard sell right down to the present day. You only have to read this forum to see that not everyone believes in the value of automatic fire. They were either seen as too expensive, too "thirsty" (used a lot of ammunition, wasting it or not), unreliable in some cases and apparently justifiably so, and so on. In 1914 a British infantry battalion only had two machine guns and the Lewis Gun was in the future. By 1940 that had changed, of course.

Would the outcome of the war have been changed? Doubtful. It doesn't follow that one side would have had the new technology and not the other, although the South had a disadvantage in manufacturing. That didn't keep them from building ironclad gunboats, submarines and even some artillery. They may have had Lee but they didn't have Grant.
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Old November 14, 2012, 11:21 AM   #91
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I think that automatic fire is dependent upon good logistics that enables the front line soldiers to be continually resupplied with ammunition to the fill the air with lead. I am thinking about the first paratroopers that dropped behind enemy lines in Normandy on D Day. They had only so much ammunition and if they didn't link up with any supplies- that was it. I don't know how the army fights these days but years ago everyone had an assigned area and was supposed to hit any enemy in their area. You hopefully could set up a cross fire situation. You could have bolt actions rifles and just a couple of automatic weapons to take care of any sudden charge at your position. In any event, ammunition was a valuable item and I think the traditional view was that it shouldn't be wasted.
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Old November 15, 2012, 11:52 AM   #92
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To refer to the original question again concerning cheap, mass-produced blowback operated weapons, when would you say the first one of those actually appeared? The Sten gun? MP-40? PPSH-41? I don't think anything much earlier than about 1940 qualified as cheap and mass-produced, blowback or otherwise. Mass-produced does not also imply cheap, either.
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Old November 15, 2012, 05:27 PM   #93
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"To refer to the original question again concerning cheap, mass-produced blowback operated weapons, when would you say the first one of those actually appeared? The Sten gun? MP-40? PPSH-41? I don't think anything much earlier than about 1940 qualified as cheap and mass-produced, blowback or otherwise. Mass-produced does not also imply cheap, either."

Well, in the handgun world, in the 1890s with Browning's guns.

In the submachine gun world, really the middle to late 1930s and 1940s, and the ones you mention are certainly contenders.

It's odd that, while some designers were designing guns that could be made quickly and cheaply through stampings, welding, and riveting with VERY few machining operations, others were still hard at work designing guns that were massively difficult and time consuming to manufacture.

Probably, though, the Sten would be among the first of the truly "job shop" weapons, which could be largely manufactured with a drill press, a hand operated stamping press, and a welder.
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Old November 15, 2012, 05:34 PM   #94
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Well, in the handgun world, in the 1890s with Browning's guns.
And 1896, with Mauser's broomhandle pistols and carbines. There was also a "712" version built which took 20 round detachable magazines and full-auto capable.
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Old November 16, 2012, 06:59 AM   #95
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I certainly wouldn't call the Mauser pistols cheap or simple, although they were at least mass-produced, sort of. Ever handle one or shoot one? One of my first guns was a Mauser C-96 purchased around 1966. It came with a shoulder stock/holster (I was living overseas at the time). They were a marvel of design and manufacture. That doesn't mean they would have been beyond the technology of the 1860s by any means. That was only 30 years earlier, after all. But there would have been two things.

The first is obvious. It hadn't been designed yet, just in the same way the Browning Automatic Rifle hadn't been designed in 1896. But by 1896 the other problem had been overcome: the ammunition.

Between the end of the Civil War and 1896 (our newly established base year for discussion), smokeless powder and jacketed bullets had been successfully introduced, both of which largely solved the ammunition problem. Ammunition wasn't perfect yet (is it perfect now?) but good enough for automatic weapons. Still, submachine guns didn't show up for another 20 years and even then, they did not become common for yet another 20-plus years. Some successful designs were introduced before the war to be sure, including the Thompson, but one couldn't say they were common (or cheap or simple).
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Old November 16, 2012, 07:27 AM   #96
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"And 1896, with Mauser's broomhandle pistols and carbines."

The Mauser C96 is not a blowback operated gun. It's a recoil operated locked breech gun.
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Old November 16, 2012, 01:44 PM   #97
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The South had access to a concept that would have ended the war pretty quickly. It's called human rights.
That would have done nothing to end the war. The war was fundamentally because of Lincoln's incorrect view as to the nature of the Union and his unwillingness to accept that the Union was a voluntary confederation of states who voluntarily joined and could voluntarily leave. Instead, he killed over half a million Americans in order to continue to hold to an incorrect view of the nature of the republic, the Nationalist view, which did not even arise until the 1830's. The country was funded under the Compact Theory and would never have been formed if the Nationalist view was the prevailing view.

Even Lincoln wanted to send blacks back to Africa. Ending slavery WOULD have ended the war by bringing England into the war on the side of the Confederacy. The writing was on the wall that slavery was no longer economically viable. Had the southern states been allowed to leave peacefully, slavery would have died out on its own anyway.
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Old November 16, 2012, 04:50 PM   #98
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Exactly which human rights was it that the south had access to? You have me confused there.

There had already been a movement to send blacks back to Africa, which is how Liberia came into existance. And I think there had already been a belief that slavery would "die out on its own anyway," which is probably one of the reasons it was not confronted at the time the constitution was being written, aside from the fact that many at the convention owned slaves. In any case, it didn't die out on its own. Also, ending slavery didn't bring Great Britain into the war. And slavery was still viable and probably would be today.

None of that has anything to do with guns, though, now does it?
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Old November 17, 2012, 11:29 AM   #99
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Lincoln stayed out of day to day operations but he was impressed with the Spencer's rapid rate of fire and also the 25 barrel Billinghurst.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billinghurst_Requa_Battery

For those who are interested.
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Old November 17, 2012, 03:05 PM   #100
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Lincoln may not have micromanaged the war, but he had fingerspitzengefuhl. He went to the War Department (the next door to the White House) and read everyone's telegrams. That's how he knew that Grant was tenacious and fought.
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