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  #46  
Old 01 Feb 13, 22:53
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I would say that rifled muskets improved accuracy over smoothbores. I don't think that point can be argued. I also think they caused a change in tactics although not a sudden one. Entrenchments were used in the Civil War and the longer armies faced each other the more extensive they became. I don't know if the rifled musket led to a greater use of cover but Common sense, as someone else pointed out,says if someone is firing at you find cover,a tree,boulder,ditch or build your own.
On another point I don't think you can compare casualty figures from different time frames and countries to determine the effectiveness or lack thereof of a particular weapon. All that tells me is they fought a little longer and took more punishment before retreating.
Face it when people fight a war they use the most advanced killing device they can find and are always looking for better ways to kill or maim.
If the powers that be did not believe the the rifle musket was better and more accurate they would not have adopted them.
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  #47  
Old 02 Feb 13, 00:31
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Ok, but how can you say that in other wars, they fought longer. The battle of. Blenheim in 1704 lasted one day, yet casualty rates were similar to Gettysburg which was a three day battle. In fact, most of the battles I mentioned like Kolin, Zorndorf, Ramillies, Waterloo, borodino, etc were 1 day battles, yet combatants sustained a higher or similar casualty rate than combatants did at Gettysburg, Shiloh, Chancellorsville or Wilderness which were all 2-3 day battles. It took just as many rifled minee balls to kill a man (850-1000...based on rounds fired vs casualties) as it did using a smoothbore in the 150 years prior.

So while no one can deny that the rifled musket is better weapon individually or when used by armies trained in marksmanship and skirmish tactics, US and CSA armies were trained in neither. Fact is, just like they had for 150 years prior, armies in the civil war stood about 100 yards away from eachother, fired about 800-1000 rounds to cause a casualty per battle and inflicted a casualty rate of around 15-25% percent. So I just don't see any change caused by anything really.

I think the best example of when the impact of the rifle really occurred is the Franco Prussian war. Both sides were trained and had high powered rifles that fired on a flat trajectory. This allowed for a high rate of fire accuratly at longer range. To accommodate, the Prussians adopted company based units that fought in a skirmish formation allowing them to take cover and maneuver more quickly.

I'm not saying that ACW armies couldn't have done this with the rifled musket....just that they didn't. So although the rifled musket had a capabitu to alter warfare in the hands of a trained army using new tactics, the armies weren't well trained and they didn't use new tactics...and even with using classic linear formations, the weapons were no more deadly than their predecessors because no one had sufficient training to use them to their capability and no army had the training to use offensive skirmish formations that would have allowed this marksmanship to flourish anyway.

Last edited by mikeck; 02 Feb 13 at 01:20..
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  #48  
Old 02 Feb 13, 21:42
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I don't know Mike.. but its hard to prove either way. even the statistical game doesn't really mean much. all we can say for sure is the ACW is one of the worlds first modern wars.

in the Civil War tactically both armies started out fighting standing up and in formations just like Napoleons Army

it didn't take very long before the men were digging in whenever they could .

By the end of the war both sides were in trenches and fortification just like in WW1.

one thing to note is a person can't load a muzzleloading weapon very rapidly lying down and a fouled rifle would be even more difficult to load .
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  #49  
Old 03 Feb 13, 12:33
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Yep...that's why the breachloader made skirmishing so much more effective
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  #50  
Old 03 Feb 13, 21:45
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Yep...that's why the breachloader made skirmishing so much more effective

don't forget the Spencer.

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  #51  
Old 04 Feb 13, 00:51
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It's not from the American Civil War, I know. But the Boer farmers with their rifles acquired a great skill in accuracy on the veldt. They learnt how to fire from age of six, so as to go hunting on the veldt, and also to defend themselves from such 'friendly' creatures as rogue elephants, rhinocerous, hippopotamus, and water buffalo among others. The rifled rifle had changed tactics. The Battle of Majuba Hill during the Boer war is a prime example. Military tactics were still based on the smoothbore musket, whereas actually fighting had been changed by the rifle due to its greater range and accuracy.
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  #52  
Old 04 Feb 13, 08:23
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Originally Posted by Nickuru View Post
It's not from the American Civil War, I know. But the Boer farmers with their rifles acquired a great skill in accuracy on the veldt. They learnt how to fire from age of six, so as to go hunting on the veldt, and also to defend themselves from such 'friendly' creatures as rogue elephants, rhinocerous, hippopotamus, and water buffalo among others. The rifled rifle had changed tactics. The Battle of Majuba Hill during the Boer war is a prime example. Military tactics were still based on the smoothbore musket, whereas actually fighting had been changed by the rifle due to its greater range and accuracy.
Very true. Bear in mind that those arguing against the rifle-musket changing things also admit that that is because of those who are untrained to use them. There were exceptions to that rule-sharpshooters. Not every unit of sharpshooters carried around specialized guns like Whitworths or Sharps. There were units on both sides who utilized Springfields & Enfields to deadly advantage. I highly recommend Fred Ray's "Shock Troops of the Confederacy: The Sharpshooter Battalions of the Army of Northern Virginia": http://www.cfspress.com/sharpshooters/ They actually alude to the Boer War in the discussion of that book.
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  #53  
Old 04 Feb 13, 09:36
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Originally Posted by hellboy30 View Post
Very true. Bear in mind that those arguing against the rifle-musket changing things also admit that that is because of those who are untrained to use them. There were exceptions to that rule-sharpshooters. Not every unit of sharpshooters carried around specialized guns like Whitworths or Sharps. There were units on both sides who utilized Springfields & Enfields to deadly advantage. I highly recommend Fred Ray's "Shock Troops of the Confederacy: The Sharpshooter Battalions of the Army of Northern Virginia": http://www.cfspress.com/sharpshooters/ They actually alude to the Boer War in the discussion of that book.
Correct. Units trained in marksmanship could estimate range and site accordingly. In skirmish, they could also fire from a stablized position. Also, the breechloaders like the Chassepot fired with a much higher velocity (1350 fps vs about 900fps )and thus a flatter trajectory. It is much much easier to hit a target at distance with a flatter trajectory becuase your range estimation can be off 50-75 yards and still score a hit.

In all my carping and screeching I dont want anyone to think I was saying that Rifles made no difference in the evolution of warfare..just not Muzzleloading rifles and their use in the Civil War.

I would point out that the Austrians didnt have much luck with muzzle loading Lorenz rifles against the Prussian breechloaders at Konigratz..they were slaughtered as they tried to close to 100 yeards in line and engage. Prussians with high velocity rifles and training opened up at 250 yards and tore into them. The Dryse had a low velocity too..about 1000fps, but becuase it was a breech loader, skirishers could fire kneeling or laying down and most importantly, Prussians were highly trained in its use and range estimation.

Edit: One last thing and I swear I will shut up about it: Its very hard to accurately hit targets at range with a rifled muzzleloader for other reasoss as well...a huge factor is powder. At longer ranges, a few more or a few less grains can have a large impact on perfomance. In a breechloader like the Dreyse, you are getting the same powder load every time. I doubt in the heat of battle, if all of the powder was getting down to the chamber...especially once its been fouled by firing.
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  #54  
Old 04 Feb 13, 13:34
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Interesting analysis. Causing me to rethink some basic assumptions.
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  #55  
Old 04 Feb 13, 15:19
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Interesting analysis. Causing me to rethink some basic assumptions.
I can only say find someone that has a smooth bore and a rifle
to sand bag it and shoot a 10 circle target at 100 yards. The accuracy
is entirely different and mostly hard to believe those old rifles shot
so good.
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  #56  
Old 08 Feb 13, 14:38
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Originally Posted by B7B Southern View Post
I can only say find someone that has a smooth bore and a rifle
to sand bag it and shoot a 10 circle target at 100 yards. The accuracy
is entirely different and mostly hard to believe those old rifles shot
so good.
Having been shot at, and having those friendly bullets wizzing by my ears I can certainly say that the rifle is far more accurate than than the smoothbore musket. The American Civil war was a time when technology was in transition. At these times tactics take time to readjust.

As an earlier historical example, let us consult the history of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years War. He completely reorganized all of his divisions, and used artillery to prepare the battlefield for the infantry. The American Civil War did not quite reach this adjustment of tactics, but here was the start of a new era.
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  #57  
Old 08 Feb 13, 15:12
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Yes, generally, rifles >smoothbore

BUt, you cannot compare a breechloading high powered rifle with a flat trajectory to a muzzle loading rifle that fired the round at the spped that a .45 caliber round comes out of a pistol.

The question was never, is the rifle better than the smoothbore...it was "did the rifled musket change teh way they fought or make it more bloody."
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  #58  
Old 13 Feb 13, 08:19
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The reason Civil war combat divulges into stalemate is simple; horrendous staffwork. That is the major reason there were no truly decisive set piece battles. Both sides just could not muster a truly professional staff system.

Rifle muskets ARE more accurate than smoothbore; however the failure of Infantry attacks in the Civil War has more to do with these three factors;

Terrain,
Training; and,
Failure to apply combined arms.
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Old 13 Feb 13, 09:44
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"66" - I agree with you there.
Add to it if a staff member was killed or captured, the gig was up.
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Old 13 Feb 13, 11:16
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rirfle musket are accurate

I have a Euroarms 3 band rifled musket 58 cal that I live fire. I have shot 5 shot groups at 60 yard that are 1 inch in diameter. This is with bench rest and sand bags. It is very important that all black powder loads are exactly the same. Also you must check that all Minnie ball are very well made. The company that makes mine has won the north south competition several times
That being said you can get very accurate with a civil war rifled musket. Some of my civil war buddies have told me that they have put a hole in a hole at fifty yards.
I am planning on entering the north south skirmish association for one of their shooting competitions.
Please check out the web site to see how accurate the civil war guns can be

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North-S...sh_Association
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