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Your opinion on the American soilders from 1861-1865 (Both USA & CSA)

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  • Your opinion on the American soilders from 1861-1865 (Both USA & CSA)

    Hey here is my second thread.

    What I'd like to know and hear is your opinion, knowledge sorces etc etc about the American soilders, marines and anything and how they would go up against any nation ( presumably 1st rate powers ) at this age.

    Examples;

    In any curcimstance how would USA go against Russia, France, Austria etc

    or;

    In any curcimstance how would CSA go up against these nations.

    Please consider other nations also as the ones above were not the only 1st rate powers.

    Also how does the American training go up against other nations, what about leaders? How would the American leaders be compared with those of other nations?

    Pretty much everthing to do with military.

    Can't wait to hear from you all just like the previous thread I made.

  • #2
    Based on the simple reality that people are basically the same world wide, I don't see much difference. Every nations forces had units that could be depended on in all circumstances and those that were the exact opposite, with the majority somewhere in the middle.

    The same is true on an individual basis. Every force has it's share of heroes and cowards in equal proportion. The majority of all troops do their duty as best as they can.

    My opinion is that I don't like this type of thread comparing nations. They generally degenareate into some type of peeing contest rather than an opportunity to actually learn something. So......I'm out!

    Dennis
    If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

    Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

    Comment


    • #3
      By 1861 the armies of the world had reached a point of basic similarity, the Western ones, that is. Training was fairly standard and really it was leadership, strategy, and leadership that won battles. However, it is easy to say the nations of Europe had, to some extent, more rigorous training and more refined tactics, since field army tactics for both the USA and CSA could be described as crude European strategies. I don't think the Union or Confederates would've fared well in an open battle with a major power's army, without some significant advantage.

      Comment


      • #4
        I would have to say that the Prussian Infantry of the American Civil War period would have to be considered the most combat effective. They had rifled breach loading weapons and tactics to take advantage of the firepower. Their performance against the Danes in 1862 and again against the Aurstrians in 1866 is solid proof of the needle gun advantage vs. conventional muzzle loaders. They also had an aggressive doctrine of attack with the advantage of low level leaders having been trained to take initiative and make independant decisions. All of this culminated in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian war and the decisive defeat of the French in the war's early battles.
        "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
        -Omar Bradley
        "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
        -Anonymous US Army logistician

        Comment


        • #5
          Are we basing this whole thread on the elder Von Moltke supposedly saying that ACW armies were "nothing more than armed mobs"?

          I'll bet that from 1863 and onwards both the rebel and Union armies would give a European army a run for it's money.
          Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by R. Evans View Post
            Are we basing this whole thread on the elder Von Moltke supposedly saying that ACW armies were "nothing more than armed mobs"?

            I'll bet that from 1863 and onwards both the rebel and Union armies would give a European army a run for it's money.
            Correct..in 1863, after the battle of Chancellorsville I believe, a French Observer with the CSA said of the Army of the Potomac "That army is the equal of any European Army". It was in reference to a comment made by a peer back hiome disparaging the Union army after its defeat...and its defeat to a "rabble" no less

            In the end, a trained, diciplined and well led Army is the same all over, regardless of what nationality maikes up its soldiers. The CSA/USA armies of 1861-1862 were new, ill trained and poorly led. By 1863, they were experienced, poor leaders had mostly been removed and the armies were well equipped. So why wouldnt they be as efficient as any European Army?

            The Prussians won in 1870 due to superior logistics, strategic planning, operational speed and artillery frankly. Their tactics were standard and their small arms were inferior. There is nothing to indicate that a Prussian soldier was any better than a French soldier

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mikeck View Post
              Correct..in 1863, after the battle of Chancellorsville I believe, a French Observer with the CSA said of the Army of the Potomac "That army is the equal of any European Army". It was in reference to a comment made by a peer back hiome disparaging the Union army after its defeat...and its defeat to a "rabble" no less

              In the end, a trained, diciplined and well led Army is the same all over, regardless of what nationality maikes up its soldiers. The CSA/USA armies of 1861-1862 were new, ill trained and poorly led. By 1863, they were experienced, poor leaders had mostly been removed and the armies were well equipped. So why wouldnt they be as efficient as any European Army?

              The Prussians won in 1870 due to superior logistics, strategic planning, operational speed and artillery frankly. Their tactics were standard and their small arms were inferior. There is nothing to indicate that a Prussian soldier was any better than a French soldier
              Lee lamented about the low quality of his army at Chancellorsville; "Just give me Prussian formations and Prussian discipline along with it - you'd see things turn out differently here". (from http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=puctKz86zf8C&pg=PA49 )

              Looking at this from a European perspective I think whilst the American armies had good material (as in people, the average American soldier was fit, intelligent but probably overly fond of his comforts), they were badly trained, and what training they had was wrong.

              British observers placed the fault squarely on the poor quality of American regimental and company officers who weren't dedicated enough to their men, and this can be attributed to the republican ideal of electing junior officers and appointing politicians into higher ranks. I think they were probably right.
              "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

              Comment


              • #8
                I dont think that proves that USA/CSA and european armies were not comparable. Prussian dicipline and training was famous, even prior to the Franco Prussian war so to make that statemnt is simply expressing dissapointment in the perfomanc of your army. Lee's Army seemed dicipline enough at G-Burg did they not?

                I would also point out that most nations followed french strategy, tactics and drill...not Prussian. it was not until after 1871 that everyone had to have a General Staff all of a sudden. Prior, Naploeon III's army was the model.

                Its ridiculous to try to say that one army would defeat another in a hypothetical scenario...there are to many variables. But I certainly think one can state that the armies of 1863-1865 were comparable....whereas the 1861-62 armies were not. I cannot imagine any Army being handled better than Grant's at Vicksburg, or displaying more dicipline and bravery than the CSA at G-Burg at both Culp's hill and the ridge, or more audacity than Lee at C-ville.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The Prussians won in 1870 due to superior logistics, strategic planning, operational speed and artillery frankly.
                  I would agree with that, especially the operational speed.

                  Their tactics were standard and their small arms were inferior.
                  In regard to the period 1861-1865 their tactics were not standard and their small arms definately not inferior to anyones with the exact opposite being the reality.

                  There is nothing to indicate that a Prussian soldier was any better than a French soldier
                  Agreed to an extent, but it would certainly appear that a Prussian Soldier trained to take personal initiative is superior. French Soldiers were not trained in the same doctrinal methodology at any level.

                  If you are referring to a recruit, sure....level playing field.
                  "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                  -Omar Bradley
                  "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                  -Anonymous US Army logistician

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mikeck View Post
                    I dont think that proves that USA/CSA and european armies were not comparable. Prussian dicipline and training was famous, even prior to the Franco Prussian war so to make that statemnt is simply expressing dissapointment in the perfomanc of your army. Lee's Army seemed dicipline enough at G-Burg did they not?
                    Before 1866 the (contemporary) Prussian Army was regarded as one of the worst in Europe, and perhaps rightly so. Roon's reforms changed the army from being a mere "training school for the Landwehr" into something a lot more serious.

                    I've argued before (and nothing I've read has changed my mind) that if a disciplined European army (British, French, Austrian, maybe Prussian and Russian) had put in the attack on the Union centre on 3rd July it probably would have succeeded.

                    Its ridiculous to try to say that one army would defeat another in a hypothetical scenario...there are to many variables. But I certainly think one can state that the armies of 1863-1865 were comparable....whereas the 1861-62 armies were not. I cannot imagine any Army being handled better than Grant's at Vicksburg, or displaying more dicipline and bravery than the CSA at G-Burg at both Culp's hill and the ridge, or more audacity than Lee at C-ville.
                    I'd suggest that the Franco-Italian army at Solferino beats all three on all three counts. YMMV.

                    http://www.battlefieldanomalies.com/solferino/index.htm
                    "[T]he worst that could be said of the Peninsula campaign was that thus far it had not been successful. To make it a failure was reserved for the agency of General Halleck." -Emory Upton

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Before 1866 the (contemporary) Prussian Army was regarded as one of the worst in Europe, and perhaps rightly so. Roon's reforms changed the army from being a mere "training school for the Landwehr" into something a lot more serious.
                      Those reforms were aimed at expanding the regular army, not reforms due to a lack of effectiveness, quality or being obsolete. That seems a misrepresentation to me.

                      "Roon and Moltke soon were confronted with a major political crisis that threatened both the Prussian state and its army. This threat was the product of the Prussian Constitutional Crisis of 1858-1862. The crisis brought the king and Roon into direct conflict with Liberals in the Landtag (parliament), who sought to obstruct Roon's military reform proposal. The Liberals sought to gain control of the funding for Roon's plan and to force military leaders to accept direct civilian control of military budgets and indirect control of military planners like Roon and Moltke. Roon and Moltke were appointed by the king and served at his royal pleasure. By making the military budget and reform program the issue, Liberals hoped to force the king to accept parliamentary supremacy over both the king and the army.

                      The Prussian military system in 1858 was an extension of the system devised by Leopold von Boyen in 1818. After Napoleon's defeat in 1815, most European states had abandoned the levée en masse conscript army in favor of an armée de métier (professional army). The Prussians had not followed this pattern, largely because the army was their chief political institution and an important agent of national socialization. So Boyen cast his net wide—very nearly to universal military service. Boyen's law required three years of active military service for all able-bodied males, followed by two years of reserve duty, and varying terms in the Prussian Landwehr or militia. The status-conscious Prussians reserved officer training for aristocrats (known by the von in their names) or young members of the middle class. Despite Boyen's law, the actual number of conscripts taken into the army was substantially less than the number of males who were theoretically eligible to serve.

                      Albrecht von Roon
                      Roon and Moltke were determined to eliminate loopholes and revise the military system. Roon proposed to take 63,OOO conscripts a year, which was an increase of 23,OOO over the existing total. The term of active service would remain three years, but the reserve term would be increased to four years. Finally, the Landwehr would be retained only as a home guard, and separated from the army proper"
                      "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                      -Omar Bradley
                      "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                      -Anonymous US Army logistician

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                        I've argued before (and nothing I've read has changed my mind) that if a disciplined European army (British, French, Austrian, maybe Prussian and Russian) had put in the attack on the Union centre on 3rd July it probably would have succeeded.
                        I'm not so certain of that. It would help they would have better quality of artillery (powder, shell, etc.) it would help them. But the Union Army still would have inflicted many, many casualties on ANY army and the CSA infantry is as good as any. They may not march or look pretty, but the butternuts sure could fight. In 1863 onwards; I'd hate to be in an army facing the Union or Confederate forces. You MIGHT win, but you're going to pay a steep price for it.

                        BTW, I really hate 'What if' scenarios because a lot of people think events happen in a vacuum. Which as we all know; doesn't happen. If you change one event; all subsequent events will be changed. And arguably; some preceding ones as well.
                        Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

                        "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

                        What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 67th Tigers View Post
                          I've argued before (and nothing I've read has changed my mind) that if a disciplined European army (British, French, Austrian, maybe Prussian and Russian) had put in the attack on the Union centre on 3rd July it probably would have succeeded.
                          Hmmm, based on what? Why would a Austrian or French army have more success marching up and attacking a fortified line of veteran troops than the CSA? I would take the AoP..well equipped, adequately led with 2 years of combat experience against any other Army. Thats not to say they would win or lose..again, depends on a lot of variables...but to simply say they dont compare at all is ridiculous.

                          One well led, equipped and experienced army familar with western ways of war and equipped with western arms is as good as another. It depends on How they are employed and how they are fought by their general.

                          General Fremont in charge of the top european Army couldn't defeat an American army guided by Moltke's general staff in an Operational/campaign setting. The Army is merely a tool. you have to make sure it is oiled, sharpened and well maintained, but in the end, the effectivenss of a tool is more about how it is weilded.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Bruce Catton made the comment in his trilogy of the Army of the Potomac that by 1863 the Union armies had become professional in all but name.

                            The ability to inflict and sustain casualties and keep in the field and fighting was a hallmark of the Civil War armies of both sides.

                            The United States Army had a total strength of 16,000 in 1861. No US Army officer had commanded anything larger than a regiment, with the exception of Winfield Scott, and he was too old for active service.

                            Another historian made the comment that if the French and British had come in on the side of the Confederacy they would have been beaten by the Union armies.

                            Union artillery was world-class, and the Union cavalry arm was such by 1863. The infantry of both sides was excellent and produced outstanding units.

                            The European armies to my mind are overrated for the period. The idea that the Prussians supposedly thought that the war was nothing but a fight between armed mobs is ludicrous.

                            The work in one of the above postings that supposedly quoted Lee on the Prussians was written by a Prussian observer. I submit that the quote is apocryphal at best.

                            The list of US army commanders, Grant, Sherman, Schofield, Thomas, et al, were at least the equal of the Prussian general officers of 1866 and 1871 and certainly superior to what the French had.

                            It was an army on the Mexican border, commanded by Sheridan, after the war was over that forced the French finally out of Mexico.

                            Sincerely,
                            M
                            We are not now that strength which in old days
                            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I agree with most that speculating is an exercise in futility at best. I would say that the home field advantage would be the key. If a European power attempted to invade, I think that it would have gone badly for any army trying to do so. On the other hand, I do not believe that you could have shipped a Union or Confederate (or combined) army to Europe & have it cut a swath through them. Knowledge of terrain & logistics would have played a crucial factor on either side of the pond.
                              The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

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