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 Posted: Sun May 13th, 2012 10:28 am
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BHR62
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I just finished Perryville:  Grand Havoc of Battle.  In the books I've read on the Civil War something I've noticed is that generals on both sides could be really incompetent at times.  Seems like who you knew was more important...especially early in the war.  It got me thinking about how the CSA and US armies matched up against the Prussian/French/British armies.  Were we on par with them in quality of soldiers and weapons?  Or would the Europeans have slaughtered the Yank/Reb armed forces?  At the start of WW 1 we built an army from scratch like the Civil War.  Germans found out at Chateau Theirry/Belleau Wood that we weren't bad soldiers.  Anyway just curious what you all think about the Civil War soldier compared to the Prussian/French/British soldier.

Last edited on Sun May 13th, 2012 10:30 am by BHR62



 Posted: Sun May 13th, 2012 02:05 pm
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pender
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BHR62, good thought. I believe the North and South together could have beat any army in the world then. Imagine the resources of the North and the combined soldier ship of the North and South together. The character of the Civil War soldier has always amazed me, North and South. I may be biased being an American, but no I do not think there was a Country on Earth then that could have defeated the United States. Imagine Lee at the head of an army and Grant, Sherman, Jackson, Longstreet, Cleburne and Hancock as his Corp. commanders. Or put Grant at the head of that army, either way you are going to have one hell of an army. Just look at what they done to Santa Anna's army before the Civil War. They would make mistakes of course but they would adapt. I am reminded of what an old WW2 veteran told a young man a few years back. The young man was saying he did not know if this generation could defeat an army like the ones Germany and Japan had. That he did not believe men were as strong in character now as they was then. The old WW2 veteran said Oh yes you would, the young man said, how do you know? The WW2 veteran said because you are Americans.



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 Posted: Mon May 14th, 2012 02:57 pm
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sgtredleg
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Of course I'm biased! Combined, we would have stomped the snot out of any Army on earth! (and did: Revolution, 1812 (but it was close), Mexico)



 Posted: Mon May 14th, 2012 03:19 pm
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BHR62
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It would have been interesting to see the command structure that is for sure....Grant, Lee, Sherman, Jackson, Hancock, Longstreet, Cleburne, Thomas, Sheridan, Reynolds, Forrest and Stuart. Would have been something to see how that all shook out. Seeing that Lee was offered command at the start of the war by Lincoln...probably safe to say Grant would be a Corps Cmdr. I have an admiration for the way the South went down fighting. Defiance to the end. The valor shown from both sides was pretty impressive.

WHo was the Prussian that said our Civil War was just two armed mobs moving around blasting away at each other? Moltke? Like it was mentioned....the terrain over here had a big impact on our tactics that I don't believe the Prussians took that into account. Do any of you know much about the rifles the European armies used in comparison to the Springfield and Enfields used by the Yanks/Rebs?



 Posted: Mon May 14th, 2012 04:22 pm
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Texas Defender
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BHR62-

  I'm not a small arms expert, but it seems clear to me that the Prussian needle gun was much better than the muzzle loaders used by both sides in the American Civil War. There were still problems with it, but the rate of fire was much higher, and the soldier could stay somewhat concealed, not having to expose much of his body to reload.

Needle Gun - Prussian Needle-Gun Austro-Prussian War

  I believe that you are correct about the author of the: "Two armed mobs" quote. That has been attributed to Helmuth Carl Bernard Graf von Moltke (AKA: "Moltke the Elder"). Various sources mention it, including the two below.

  Here is a book review that might interest some:

Amazon.com: Civil War Command And Strategy: The Process Of Victory And Defeat

  I have not read this book, and so I can't evaluate it as being among the good, the bad, or the ugly.

  Here is a recent article that might interest some:

America: crossing the line | Energy Bulletin

Last edited on Mon May 14th, 2012 05:01 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 04:27 pm
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BHR62
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Thanks TD for the links. If we would have replaced the Springfields and Enfields with Henry rifles I think that would give us an edge in firepower over the European armies. I agree with the rest that the Yank/Reb was probably the best soldier of his time in the world. No wonder we had a minimum of 620,000 dead in the war.

Pender...I like the WW 2 generation of optimism. My dad was in WW 2 (Patton's 3rd Army vet). He'll be 91 this June. Its amazing the confidence they have that America is unbeatable when we set our minds to it.



 Posted: Tue May 15th, 2012 05:42 pm
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The north and south, joined together, would probably have been undefeatable, even with the better weapons and the like on the other side... The british/ prussian forces were and are deadly, but combine the north and south, and the US becomes dangerously well oiled death machines.

~Insecurity



 Posted: Sun May 20th, 2012 01:27 am
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pender
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BHR62, wonder if alot of the WW2 generations optimism came from their forefathers in the Civil War? My Grandfather was also in Patton's 3rd army. Sad to say, but he passed away back in 91.

Pender



 Posted: Fri May 25th, 2012 02:16 pm
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Johan Steele
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61 to early 63 ANY Continental Army would have routed any North American Army. By mid 63/64... I believe the reverse was true.

As to the arms... the prussian Needle gun had a lot of problems... ironicly it was most effective when fired from the hip. Accuracy was questionable, but it was designed for massed fire against massed troops so accuracy wasn't all that vital.



 Posted: Sat May 26th, 2012 08:52 am
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Hellcat
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BHR62 wrote:
At the start of WW 1 we built an army from scratch like the Civil War.  Germans found out at Chateau Theirry/Belleau Wood that we weren't bad soldiers. 


Technically we never built an army from scratch at the start of WWI or at any time during the war. The US didn't get involved in the war until April 1917 by which time the war had been going on for nearly three years (it would have been in the summer of 1917 that the third anniversary of the war's beginning would have occured). Just like during the Civil War, we had a standing army at the time the war started. According U.S. Army: A Complere Hisotry from the Army Historical Foundation, By April 6, 1917 the Regular Army was at fewer than 200,000 troops. In 1916, about two weeks after the passage of the National Defense Act, Wilson authorized 10,000 Regulars under Pershing to take part in the Punitive Expedition to track down Pancho Villa. Apirl 8th saw Pershing marching 400 miles into Mexico with about 7,000 Regulars under his command and by May 11th he called up 5,260 National Guardsmen to protect the boarder (actually, he called them up May 9th but it took 48 hours before they headed towards the boarder). Even before that Funston had taken his command of 3,607 soldiers and 3,446 Marines against Vera Cruz in 1914.

And our intial troops in Europe came from the National Guard. By the time we entered the war in April, 1917 there were some 66,594 Guardsmen on active duty on the Mexican border, many of these men would be shipped to Europe ahead of the regulars as part of the 16 divisions of 379,700 Guardsmen who were the initial American troops in Europe.

Also, I'm not exactly sure it's wise to compare the Federal and Confederate armies to the armies of WWI as it seems to be suggested when you say that the Germans learned at Belleau Wood. Things had changed quite a bit by that time, even for Marines. Even by the late 19th century things were quite different than they had been during the Civil War and I dare say only the weakest European armies would have stood a chance of being defeated by any Civil War era American Army, North or South. Comparing European armies from the same period is one thing but to bring up those from WWI makes no sense to me.



 Posted: Sat May 26th, 2012 12:06 pm
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BHR62
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I called it building from scratch because the standing army in 1861 was under 20,000 and half of them hit the road at the start of the war. The Union alone had 2.7 millon served in its forces. Thats a vast difference that caused a lot of growing pains. It was the same with WW1....standing army of less than 100.000 with no current heavy weapons grew into a force of over 2 million. The fighting spirit displayed on the battlefields of the Civil War was grandly displayed in WW1. Moltke described our Civil War armies as roving mobs blasting away at each other. In WW1 the Germans had little respect for the military capabilities of the American soldier. Which like i mentioned they found out different at Belleau Wood and Chateau Thierry. These are the reasons I compared the WW1 and Civil War armies.

I am not an expert on historical rifle comparisons but from what I know it seems like the Henry Rifle of 1860 was superior to the Prussiaan Needle Gun. Which makes think mass production would have given us a huge advantage in a match up of Yank/Reb vs European foes.



 Posted: Sun May 27th, 2012 01:52 am
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Hellcat
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But building from scratch means it doesn't exist to begin with. And according to the Army Historical Foundadtion's own book it was less than 200,000 before entry in WWI.

Again, why say how the Germans felt about the American army in WWI? That's a completely different army than the Civil War era armies, as is the German army. New weapons have come along, training has changed, new machines of war are already beginning to change the battlefield before the break out of WWI. What were German views during the Civil War, not decades later. Those are what matter.

On the roving mobs thing, I believe Catton said that at the start of the war they were roving mobs but at the end they were organized armies.



 Posted: Sun May 27th, 2012 12:47 pm
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BHR62
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You may not think it was built from scratch but it was pretty close. A herculian effort was required to build the Civil War and World War forces. At the start of the Civil War we were buying rifles from Europe to help supply the need to arm the troops. Both sides didnt even have standard uniforms. Logistical supply chains had to be created. World War 1 the armed forces were scattered across America, Phlipines, Puerto Rico, and chasing Poncho Villa into Mexico. The French and British had to supply our troops machine guns, artillery, planes, and even uniforms. There are a lot of similarities. Moltke the Elder held our Civil War armies in contempt. The Germans didnt think much of our army at the start of our involvement.

But my main reason for this thread was to compare the average Yank/Reb to his European counterpart.

Last edited on Sun May 27th, 2012 02:05 pm by BHR62



 Posted: Sun May 27th, 2012 10:30 pm
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I'm not saying there's no effort in building up an army from a eace time strength to a war time strength and beyond (without grabbing the book I want to say it said the prescribed war time strength in the early 20th century was supposed to be around 400,000), but to build it up from scratch in a short period is far more than a herculian effort. To have the troops and training already in existance who can start training the incoming troops and can serve as maybe the first troops to be sent into the field while the army is brought up is better than no troops or any kind of training existing and you'll have to completely develop both. It took time to turn raw volunteer recruits into an army, even during WWII. But there were already ideas of what an army was and what needed to be done to train them.

And I agree with you're point. I just don't agree with bringing up WWI because the armies were different then and it feels like you're comparing Federal and Confederate Armies to US and European armies from decades later.



 Posted: Tue Jun 12th, 2012 05:34 pm
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Just think of the mayhem Jackson caused... now think of Jackson and Grant each with a corps! They were both extremely aggressive and with Lee leading them i doubt any TWO armies on earth at the time would have defeated them. And about the needle guns... the south fought the entire war against an army of superior numbers and firepower i'm sure they could do it against a foreign army. Also i think this question really depends on the location of the war, North and south fought to defend their country



 Posted: Sun Jul 14th, 2013 02:46 am
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BHR62 wroteMoltke the Elder held our Civil War armies in contempt.

The statement that Moltke supposedly said that, the Civil War fought by armed mobs, has been trotted out for years but no one seems to be able to pinpoint when or where Moltke said it. There was an ongoing offer of money on historynet for years if anyone could find evidence of it in his writing or speeches, as far as I know no one ever collected.

The accusation that he said it was made as early as 1871 when Wm T Sherman was testifying before an American-British committee to settle war claims. He was directly asked what he thought about Moltke's statement and his answer was something like "I met Moltke and never asked him because I don't think he'd have been such an ass to say such a thing." & also stating that Prussian officers told him they'd studied the Civil War and profited from it.

Last edited on Sun Jul 14th, 2013 05:39 pm by ghost_7



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