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  1. - Top - End - #1441
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    So - Ferguson vs Matchlock (assuming your humans are mimicking history, the wheel lock will be an outlier with difficult production that will lead to it being jumped for flintlocks as a mass weapon). Since you control the world building, you’ll have to decide on production factors. As others have noted, the inability to produce more than a handful is what doomed the Ferguson.

    Immediate tactical considerations:

    Rate of Fire: For trained troops, 2 rounds a minute for matchlocks vs 4+ for the Fergusons.

    Range: A Ferguson rifle could reliably hit targets in the 150-200 yds range in the hands of an average trooper (supposedly - we never got to see them in mass action with average troopers), and was sighted out to 300 yards.

    A matchlock volley would be largely ineffective beyond 100 yards, and many of the tactics traded fire at close enough ranges that the pikes could charge the moment a volley broke the enemy formation.

    Reliability: The matchlock mechanism requires a constantly lit match moving around large amounts of powder while held in a serpentine lock device - merely operating the thing is 40+ movements.

    ————

    Tactically consider that as of 1642, the final charge of pike after fire has done its bit is considered the clinching move. By 1815 (and the Ferguson is considerably better than the average musket of 1815), even Napoleon’s old guard are struggling to advance into steady firepower - and they’re supported by the best artillery in the world at the time. It’s not just “my rifle shoots faster and further than humans, go dwarves!” its a technical capability that literally separates an entire generation of tactics because it has crossed a lethality threshold for gunfire.

  2. - Top - End - #1442
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    That second one is what I picture when someone says "wheellock" -- an enclosed mechanism that doesn't flip the pan open at all in its sequence, allowing the firearm to be carried loaded and ready, with no concern for the powder falling out or getting wet as long as you're kinda careful.
    That's interesting, because my understanding is that those ones with the enclosed/sealed wheel were rare. Now, I'm curious about how they work. Did the cover have to be removed to prime the weapon? Or was it a self-priming style? If so, how was the wheel wound?

    The earliest wheellocks (around 1510 or so) either lacked a pan cover, or had manually operated ones. But pretty quickly they developed pan covers that would automatically open when the trigger was pulled. That would do a good job of keeping the powder from falling out, and would protect it from a reasonable amount of water. However a pan cover is not the same as the enclosed type. Those completely enclosed ones must have really raised the protection of the mechanism from the elements.

  3. - Top - End - #1443
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by rrgg View Post
    Regarding snaphaunces, flintlocks, miquelet locks, scandinavian snaplocks, etc. keep in mind that these are generally victorian/modern collector categories based on the design of the lock mechanism and really have little to do with their quality or how they function. Period sources seem to consider them more or less the same thing with the only real difference being that up to some point in the early 1600s it would be more likely to refer to any flint-striking firearm as a "snaphaunce" (even long after "actual" snaphances had widely fallen out of use) and that then by the later 1600s it instead became more common to call them "flint-locks."
    And in some languages it could be even more obscure. A Spanish equipment list from the very end of the 1500s mentioned a certain number of snapping-lock arquebuses (distinguished from the regular arquebuses). Are these some form of miquelet lock (very possible at that time). Or are they referring to a snapping matchlock -- a design that would have been a bit outdated, but was still around. There is another way of referring to flintlock like mechanism in Spanish, that's less ambiguous, but they weren't always consistent with the terminology.

  4. - Top - End - #1444
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by rrgg View Post
    here's some neat 1680s tech:



    Regarding snaphaunces, flintlocks, miquelet locks, scandinavian snaplocks, etc. keep in mind that these are generally victorian/modern collector categories based on the design of the lock mechanism and really have little to do with their quality or how they function. Period sources seem to consider them more or less the same thing with the only real difference being that up to some point in the early 1600s it would be more likely to refer to any flint-striking firearm as a "snaphaunce" (even long after "actual" snaphances had widely fallen out of use) and that then by the later 1600s it instead became more common to call them "flint-locks."

    Secondly remember that we aren't talking about uniform factory parts here so much as tons of individual gunsmiths throughout europe and elsewhere each making individual gunlocks for different guns and different customers. The expense, quality, durability, reliability, etc. depends far more on the skill, experience, and familiarity with getting the temper of springs and other parts just right than anything else.
    I have a number of replies to this:

    1) That is an incredible pistol. I am astonished at such a device (assuming it is genuine), and am going to note the heights which custom-machined black powder weapons could attain for the next time the possibility of a gun-using character winds up in one of my games.

    2) As a minor note, I love the line in the video near the end where the narrator says something to the tune of "If this isn't the coolest flintlock you've ever seen... you've seen more flintlocks than I have." It's refreshing, particularly on YouTube, the land of caps-lock and hyperbolic language, to have someone couch his obvious enthusiasm for the subject in calmness and an awareness of others' different perspectives and experiences.

    3) I'm glad to hear this assessment of the terms flintlock, snaphance, and miquelet, as I have read their respective Wikipedia articles time and time again, attempting to get an understanding of how they significantly differ, to no avail.

  5. - Top - End - #1445
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    I have a number of replies to this:

    2) As a minor note, I love the line in the video near the end where the narrator says something to the tune of "If this isn't the coolest flintlock you've ever seen... you've seen more flintlocks than I have." It's refreshing, particularly on YouTube, the land of caps-lock and hyperbolic language, to have someone couch his obvious enthusiasm for the subject in calmness and an awareness of others' different perspectives and experiences.
    The narrator, Ian MacCullum, is commonly referred to as “Gun Jesus” and has an outstanding channel. He is a firearms historian, has a practical understanding of gunsmithing, and he likes to shoot the weird and wonderful guns he gets access to. If you have any interest in historical firearms he is the best channel on youtube.

  6. - Top - End - #1446
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    I have a number of replies to this:
    3) I'm glad to hear this assessment of the terms flintlock, snaphance, and miquelet, as I have read their respective Wikipedia articles time and time again, attempting to get an understanding of how they significantly differ, to no avail.
    Yeah. They seem to make a big distinction over somewhat minor differences. Flintlocks (aka "true" flintlocks) and miquelet locks both have an L-shaped frizzen. The Snaphance does not have a frizzen; instead it has a separate striking plate and pan cover. However, they were typically linked, so when the striking plate is struck by the flint, it slides the pan cover away.

    In my mind a miquelet lock is, at a fundamental level, a flintlock. The L-shaped frizzen, combining the striking plate and pan cover into one unit, is the major innovation. However, collectors (gun historians?) make a distinction concerning the mechanism by which the lock is cocked. The "true flintlock" uses an internal tumbler, for both full and half-c*ck. A miquelet uses horizontally acting sears, that engage some part of the c*ck directly. An external mainspring is typically listed as an additional defining feature of the miquelet lock, but there were some made with internal ones.

    Many of the early locks didn't have a half-c*ck. The doglock is a variant, which uses the internal tumbler for full-c*ck, but an external catch, the "dog", for half-c*ck. Again, all these locks produce the spark in the same manner -- the flint falls against the frizzen. But small technical differences lead to different categorizations. I consider them to be functionally equivalent.

    [To really understand the mechanical differences, you need to study very good drawings, or see the pieces working in a video, or in person. It's very hard to describe how a tumbler works, if you don't know what it looks like and where it is relative the various other components of the lock.]

  7. - Top - End - #1447
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Rifled Breechloaders in combat:

    What advantages would these weapons have, when most everyone else is equipped with a smoothbore muzzleloader? I recently saw a lecture by an American Civil War historian about tactics used during the war. He spent a considerable amount of time talking about the "Old rifle-musket theory." This is the claim that rifle-muskets marked a revolutionary change in tactics: 1. Soldiers fought at longer ranges, 2. Artillery was subsequently pushed further back, 3. because old mass tactics were still in use, casualties were proportionally higher than in previous wars.

    This theory held sway until the 1980s when it was challenged. And gradually more and more historians are rejecting the theory. The studies begun in the 1980s actually tried to verify the claims of the old "rifle-musket theory," by compiling descriptions of battles, and looking at casualties, etc. They found that: 1. The soldiers fought at the same ranges as they had done with smoothbore muskets, 2. Artillery had rarely been used at close ranges in earlier wars, and 3. Casualties as a percentage of soldiers in engaged were just as high in older wars.

    This actually makes sense to me. Rifle-muskets were introduced as a general infantry weapon, but the general infantry were not trained to use them. Many infantry in the civil war practiced by going through the motions of loading and firing, but rarely actually fired their weapons outside of combat. If I remember correctly, most probably fired their muskets once or twice, some fired their muskets for the first time only in combat. Some soldiers during the war even concluded a smoothbore was better:

    "It is now thought that the musket with buck and ball is after all the best arm in the service." -- Colonel Robert McAllister, 11th New Jersey Vol. Inf. Regt., 1862

    Certain elite units did receive extra training, and some soldiers would have had civilian experience or natural talent. But the evidence suggests that this did not dramatically change the outcome of the combat.

    ---Sorry, that's a very long way of saying, the rifling really only makes a difference if your soldiers are trained to use it! They would probably be more focused on skirmish tactics, although they should be trained in both.

    The increased rate of fire of breechloaders is a different story, however, which clearly had an effect on tactics.
    There's one historian I know of who is promoting this theory - Earl Hess has a book, The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat, which argues exactly this. He discusses casualty rates, combat ranges, etc, noting that they were no higher than previously - while a unit armed with rifled muskets might open fire further out, most effective volleys happened within 100 yards or so. In particular, he talks about the ballistics of a rifled musket. The bullet is slow, heavy, and has significant drop. At a range of, say 300 yards, the musket might have a "lethal range" of 75 yards - i.e. if the sights were set too far the round would go over the enemy's head, and if they were set too short the rounds would not reach the enemy. And since men were not trained to use the sights or to accurately judge distance, much of the potential of a rifled musket at longer ranges was not utilized during the war.

    I have not read that book, but I did read his follow up, Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness. Which has a chapter summarizing his arguments from The Rifle Musket (and is an interesting read in its own right!)
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  8. - Top - End - #1448
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    There's one historian I know of who is promoting this theory - Earl Hess has a book, The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat, which argues exactly this. He discusses casualty rates, combat ranges, etc, noting that they were no higher than previously - while a unit armed with rifled muskets might open fire further out, most effective volleys happened within 100 yards or so. In particular, he talks about the ballistics of a rifled musket. The bullet is slow, heavy, and has significant drop. At a range of, say 300 yards, the musket might have a "lethal range" of 75 yards - i.e. if the sights were set too far the round would go over the enemy's head, and if they were set too short the rounds would not reach the enemy. And since men were not trained to use the sights or to accurately judge distance, much of the potential of a rifled musket at longer ranges was not utilized during the war.

    I have not read that book, but I did read his follow up, Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness. Which has a chapter summarizing his arguments from The Rifle Musket (and is an interesting read in its own right!)
    I recently saw a lecture by Hess, and he covered the subject pretty well, although there were some gaps (he missed an opportunity to point out that smoothbores can fire buck-and-ball, which would be an advantage at close range). A long time ago, I read Paddy Griffith's book, Battle Tactics of the Civil War, which was the work that started this revision. I thought it was pretty convincing.

    The "plunging" nature of the, relatively, low velocity rounds was known at the time. I remember reading somewhere, that the French adopted two different minie-balls: 1. A heavy more accurate bullet used by the light troops, and 2. A lighter, flatter shooting, but less accurate, bullet for the line troops. The flatter shooting bullet was thought to be better for mass volleys versus a mass target.

  9. - Top - End - #1449
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    I suspect that the difference was less the concept of mowing down formations at 300 yards (though a practiced modern marksman can shoot an impressively tight group with rifle-muskets, so the technical advance was there) as it was the extreme uptick in accuracy at 75-100 yards. As opposed to having a volley where a comparatively low percentage of the balls hit at 100 yards, you would have fire that was rather devastating.

    I can’t help but recall that at places like Monmouth Courthouse and Borodino musket armed formations pounded each other across open fields for hours, while by 1864 most attacks that make it to within 100 yards have a very short time frame before they fall apart, go to ground/cover, or carry forward without stopping ala the muleshoe - the ability for anyone to stand in the open against the rifles is just gone.

  10. - Top - End - #1450
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    I suspect that the difference was less the concept of mowing down formations at 300 yards (though a practiced modern marksman can shoot an impressively tight group with rifle-muskets, so the technical advance was there) as it was the extreme uptick in accuracy at 75-100 yards. As opposed to having a volley where a comparatively low percentage of the balls hit at 100 yards, you would have fire that was rather devastating.

    I canÂ’t help but recall that at places like Monmouth Courthouse and Borodino musket armed formations pounded each other across open fields for hours, while by 1864 most attacks that make it to within 100 yards have a very short time frame before they fall apart, go to ground/cover, or carry forward without stopping ala the muleshoe - the ability for anyone to stand in the open against the rifles is just gone.
    It's been a while since I've read the theory, but it's an evidence based theory, that concludes that there wasn't any increase in casualties or range. Overall they fought at the same ranges, and suffered the same casualties. (If I remember there are examples that included rifle-musket armed troops blasting away, in standing ranks, at well less that 100 yards, with few casualties on either side).

    By 1864, field fortifications were becoming more common, which may have shifted the dynamic. I think Griffith's and Hess's theory accounted for field fortifications, but it's been too long since I read it (earlier wars involved field fortifications as well, so there should be points of comparison). Maybe r2excelsior can fill in some details?

    Again, I want to stress that the theory was made by compiling as many statistics as could be found. According to Hess's lecture, Griffith did most of the work, and subsequent historians have only managed to add a relatively small number of datapoints, but they all conformed to the theory. The evidence could be incomplete, but as it stands, there doesn't seem to be any noticeable change in tactics, ranges, or casualties. It might not seem logical -- but it has withstood scrutiny for about three decades. We can only speculate as to why rifle-muskets didn't have the expected effect.

    EDIT -- I do recall discussion about units standing and firing at each other, the ranges, and the casualties taken. So I think they were looking at it at a pretty close level, that would have picked up any uptick in the 75-100 yard range. Need to check out the books again.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2020-09-27 at 02:21 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #1451
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    In fairness, I haven’t read the book. That said, statistical studies while powerful are also vulnerable to lurking variables and context changes. The reason most modern day rifle casualties are inflicted at under one hundred meters is far different than why most arquebus casualties were. And the fact that the first day of the Somme and the battle of Waterloo see the British suffer proportionate losses does not imply there was little change in weaponry or tactics.

    I suspect the core of his argument “for much of the civil war, napoleonic formations closed to 100 yards and suffered equivalent casualties overall” misses the fact that those casualties were accrued much, much faster and that the limit on losses was men breaking, not the potential output of the weapons.

    Consider the wheat field at Antietam where at ranges that a Frederickian battle might have seen two lines trade fire until a bayonet charge was practical and the loser fled, individual regiments were shattered by a few volleys and only by feeding more men into the grinder could either side sustain the fight.

    Also consider that the shovel, axe, and pick were not new tools - and fond of American exceptionalism as I may be, I suspect that if muskets were just as good, Europeans would have decided to field fortify at some point in the centuries of musket based warfare.

    Which actually brings us to another point, at Borodino the French actually do attack Russian breast works with frontal assaults. And unlike what we would see in 1864, this does not result in a lopsided repulse. (The Russians, incidentally, are forced to withdraw at roughly the proportionate casualty rate that will cause the 116th panzer to finally abandon Aachen).

  12. - Top - End - #1452
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    It seems like Hess is just looking at raw numbers and basic distances, without taking much of the context and detail into account.
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  13. - Top - End - #1453
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    I lost my response, so here's a quick version --

    -- Hess's work (and others), are based off of Griffith's. What I remember of Griffith is that it absolutely took into account the context. It was very detailed. Giving ranges, how long they fought, the casualties taken, etc. There were many quotes from battle reports and first person accounts. What I remember is that effects of fire could be highly variable: some units would exchange fire all day long at close ranges, taking little casualties, others were shattered by a single volley. Which is why it's important to look at it in the aggregate to get an idea of general effectiveness.

    -- I have seen no evidence that Civil War battles accrued casualties more quickly, in a general sense. (As always there are exceptions like Cold Harbor). I would point out that Civil War infantry carried as much, if not more ammunition, than Napoleonic era infantry. (It is accepted that the rate of fire was roughly the same.) Perhaps statistics on bullets fired per casualty are available for the different wars?

    -- At the Cornfield at Antietam (I assume that's what was meant) the corn and fog obscured visibility to the point that units were surprising each other at *extremely* close range. I actually got the chance to reenact this in very similar conditions, and it was really amazing how confusing it was, and how short the visibility became.

    -- There are many more examples of field fortifications during the smoothbore musket era than Borodino. In 1864, exhaustion and the inability to replenish manpower (especially for the Confederacy), are, non-technological, factors commonly cited as why there was an increase in the use of field fortification.

    -- That's the strength of Griffith et al's theory -- it was developed by studying and comparing large amounts of data. Instead of working backwards from assumptions about the effectiveness of the technology.

    I think, often, we (humans) are too fascinated by technology, and tend to over emphasize the effect it had. So it can be hard to accept that rifle-muskets had little overall impact on warfare.

    Anyway, if interested in Civil War tactics, you should read some of the works by Griffith et al. At the very least to understand what's considered *current* in the field. I don't actually have the books in front of me, so I can't go through them and see what they said specifically. I could spend more time picking apart arguments about casualties being accrued more quickly. But without the data to back it up it's just speculation (which I'm happy to do). If I recall, Griffith uses the data in his book to make an argument that if Civil War commanders had been more aggressive, they could have fought more decisive battles -- I'm not so sure about that. But I think the arguments about casualties, ranges, etc., were all pretty well backed up.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2020-09-27 at 03:28 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #1454
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    I think Hess did agree that they were an advantage in small skirmishes and in the hands of skilled sharpshooters, but not so much in large pitched battles. In that sense it follows pretty closely Du Picq's observations on the subject.

    I do think it goes a fair bit deeper than just insufficient training. A lone sniper in a concealed position aiming at an unaware target is about as close to practice range conditions as you're going to get. But once you have targets shooting back at you and trying to kill you, you have hundreds of men packed together on either side of you shooting as well, there's flashes and smoke obscuring your vision and all around you are the sounds of gunfire, screaming, bullets and cannonballs whistling through the air, no matter how skilled of a shot you are your ability to stay calm, keep your hands steady and concentrate on aiming usually drops off pretty dramatically.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    I'm not disputing the numbers, but the rifle musket was more accurate. That's demonstrable. Now, if you don't teach men how to shoot, the basic accuracy of the weapon doesn't matter all that much, so if the numbers of hits are the same, I put that down to lack of training. I know the Army of the Indian Wars had notorious few rounds allocated to marksmanship training, I would assume the average Civil War recruit didn't spend a week and a hundred rounds getting comfortable with the rifle and learning to estimate range and windage.

    I do recall from what battles I remember reading about, that it was much more common for an attack to close successfully and drive off the defender in the smoothbore era, where attacks tended not to succeed as often in the ACW.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_G View Post
    I'm not disputing the numbers, but the rifle musket was more accurate. That's demonstrable. Now, if you don't teach men how to shoot, the basic accuracy of the weapon doesn't matter all that much, so if the numbers of hits are the same, I put that down to lack of training. I know the Army of the Indian Wars had notorious few rounds allocated to marksmanship training, I would assume the average Civil War recruit didn't spend a week and a hundred rounds getting comfortable with the rifle and learning to estimate range and windage.
    Yes! I don't think anybody is arguing that the rifle-musket wasn't more accurate. But basic accuracy and accuracy on the battlefield are two different things. From what I remember most soldiers were lucky if they fired their weapons once or twice before going into combat. With the lack of training combined with the issues of firing in close formations, I think that whatever advantages rifling possessed were lost.

    Another potential factor may be buck-and-ball. Smoothbores can effectively fire this round, consisting of one large round ball and three buckshot, while rifles can't. Typically, it's reported that it's effective under 30 to 50 yards. So it's possible that a slight increase in accuracy of rifle weapons at ranges above 50 yards, was offset by buck-and-ball at closer ranges. As I quoted before, some officers concluded that smoothbores with buck-and-ball were superior. (Although I admit that wasn't a particular prevalent view). But again, it's speculation, and it doesn't change the overall picture

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    I'll happily read Griffith - detailed studies of black powder are rare enough to be valuable regardless of their eventual conclusions - but in the interests of this discussion:

    MikeG has the heart of it. If the rifle was no better than the musket, it seems quite strange that you can storm Badajoz over the breach yet trying to reach a low stone wall is a charnel house. Or that attacks at Austerlitz can throw each side back and forth from roads, walls, and fences that would be small fortresses in the ACW - let alone conduct multiple bayonet charges up the Pratzen heights into a numerically superior foe and win...a recipe that rarely works well even before the ubiquitous field works by both sides of the late ACW. Or that cavalry went from an arm of decision which could force infantry into a square if it wanted to resist a charge, to a force that was largely relegated to harassment, screening, etc. because charging a line was likely to be a fatal affair (barring a few actual successful battlefield charges by Custer near the end, usually in an early fix-and-flank.) Or that cannon that could stand off at a few hundred yards in the age of the smoothbore started to take appalling losses at those ranges in the age of the rifle.

    And while the ACW is the big one, these are hardly limited to American discoveries. When the highlanders in a line two deep just shoot the charging Russian cavalry to pieces at Balaclava rather than forming square, this is not an outcome you would have seen in the smoothbore era. When all but the best supported attacks start failing badly in the Italian Wars of Independence, people start to notice. And arguably Moltke's desire for the kesselnacht is born of the realization that the tactical defense has become substantially stronger.

    Given the soldiers didn't change, and the generals didn't change, and by and large rifled artillery wasn't that common until the mid 1860s, if it wasn't the rifle that changed the tactical battlefield, most would be hard pressed to explain how in twenty years the face of war had changed so much from what had been the common style for a century and a half.

    ----------

    As to moment by moment losses, again, I'll look at Griffith, but I can't help but notice that there are accounts in the ACW and such of attacks falling to pieces after a few minutes with the formations crippled as opposed to the back and forth of charge-rally-counter-charge that seems so common in the smoothbore era.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    I'll happily read Griffith - detailed studies of black powder are rare enough to be valuable regardless of their eventual conclusions - but in the interests of this discussion:

    MikeG has the heart of it. If the rifle was no better than the musket, it seems quite strange that you can storm Badajoz over the breach yet trying to reach a low stone wall is a charnel house.

    . . .

    ----------

    As to moment by moment losses, again, I'll look at Griffith, but I can't help but notice that there are accounts in the ACW and such of attacks falling to pieces after a few minutes with the formations crippled as opposed to the back and forth of charge-rally-counter-charge that seems so common in the smoothbore era.
    Examples are often used to support one position or another, while often conveniently ignoring numerous counter examples. War is, after all, not that consistent, and if you are trying to explain a theory, rather than *prove* it, a few examples can be good. This is why I like Griffith's and Hess's work, they didn't cherry pick, they found as many examples as they could and analyzed them. To, somewhat briefly, respond to your specific points:

    1. Some field fortifications were successfully carried during the Civil War. For example at the Battle of Fort Stedman, both sides successfully stormed Fort Stedman.

    2. It is true that the British successfully stormed Badajoz in 1812, but their storming parties *failed* at Badajoz in 1811. (Note also, this a siege situation, as opposed to attacking across an open field in broad daylight -- Napoleon failed at Waterloo in those conditions, although it was a "close run")

    3. As referenced, the ACW was not the only war fought with rifle-muskets; often overlooked is the Franco-Austrian War of 1859, where both the French and Austrians were mostly equipped with rifle-muskets. The French, who were victorious, used very aggressive offensive tactics. The battles were bloody, although again, I don't think they were out of the ordinary compared to Napoleonic battles. The furia francese convinced the Austrians that strong offensive tactics were the key to success. In 1866 the Austrians, armed with rifle-muskets, attempted to use such tactics against the Prussians, armed with breechloading needle rifles, and were mowed down. [Interestingly in the Franco-Prussian War, the dynamic again seems to have reversed]

    4. It was common in the 18th century for line to repulse cavalry. It was recognized that a line with well secured flanks was all that was needed. The square, removed the requirement for well secured flanks, and with the more mobile tactics of the Napoleonic era, infantry squares become common for defense against cavalry. I believe there are some cases of lines in that era repelling cavalry. [Concerning Balaclava: I think if anybody was properly trained to use the rifle-musket effectively, it would have been the British regular forces. However, I can't find consistent descriptions of the "Thin Red Line", and certainly nothing from the Russian perspective, or giving casualty numbers. Despite the dramatic depictions in art, some historians claim the Russians never charged, they were merely demonstrating at a distance.]

    I've been reading a lot about Civil War tactics lately, and, it's been a very long time since I read Griffith, so I should probably find a copy and read it again too. :-)

  19. - Top - End - #1459
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    There's a thing I've been wondering. In old westerns, from time to time you'll come across a guy loading his shotgun with quarters, or drilling holes in his buckshot and pulling wire through them, and so on. In a near-future book by William Gibson, there is a use-and-discard 4 shot russian weapon firing lenghts of chain.

    I'm sure these tricks have been attempted in real life, but since they do not seem to have made it into production, I assume neither chain nor quarters are actually better than buckshot.

    But is there any actual science or even amateur testing of this?

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    There's a thing I've been wondering. In old westerns, from time to time you'll come across a guy loading his shotgun with quarters, or drilling holes in his buckshot and pulling wire through them, and so on. In a near-future book by William Gibson, there is a use-and-discard 4 shot russian weapon firing lenghts of chain.

    I'm sure these tricks have been attempted in real life, but since they do not seem to have made it into production, I assume neither chain nor quarters are actually better than buckshot.

    But is there any actual science or even amateur testing of this?
    Taofledermaus channel on Youtube specializes in exactly this. Anything weird, wonderful, innovative or wacky that can fit in a shotgun shell you can find tested.

    Sample
    https://youtu.be/YkL8q9_Jnj0

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    There's a thing I've been wondering. In old westerns, from time to time you'll come across a guy loading his shotgun with quarters, or drilling holes in his buckshot and pulling wire through them, and so on. In a near-future book by William Gibson, there is a use-and-discard 4 shot russian weapon firing lenghts of chain.

    I'm sure these tricks have been attempted in real life, but since they do not seem to have made it into production, I assume neither chain nor quarters are actually better than buckshot.

    But is there any actual science or even amateur testing of this?
    Even a 10-gauge shotgun (about the largest you could get until you started reaching specialist levels) only has a .75" bore, and a quarter is closer to 1". Even a penny (at .75") would be too large for anything but a wide-open choke. Thus the only coin you could fire from the largest shotgun is a dime. (So far as I can tell, these coin sizes have been constant, just with changes to the metallurgy over time). If you went to this effort, you'd find them to be very poor ammunition, because they are not ballistically shaped and are big enough to interfere with one another while dispersing. This makes them worse than slugs or ordinary shot.

    Lengths of chain would have similar issues. Most chain wouldn't fire well, and you're going to get worse performance. With muzzle-loading shotguns, loading in junk in an emergency is plausible, but as a very last resort.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Some authors in the 16th century to mention firing pieces of chain or chained bullets and other types of irregular ammunition at very close ranges when assaulting or defending a breach. Sir Roger Williams mentions it cutting the heads off pikes, though i don't know if this was the intended purpose or if it was just meant to inflict more devastating wounds

    "At these assaults both sides lightlie shoote all the vilest shot they can inuent, both to pierce Armes and to cut off Pikes, chained bullets, Dice of steele couered withlead. . ."

    William Garrard also comments on ammunition like this being used, but disproves of it, claiming that repeated use tended to wear down a gun barrel and make it more likely to burst:

    "Some contrary to the lawes of the field vse Chayne shot, and quarter shot, which is good in the defence of a breach, to keep a Fortresse, or vpon shipboard: but being dayly vsed, it wil gawle a peece within, and put it in hazard to breake, specially in a long skirmish when the Barrell is hot."


    unrelated, but check out this irish horse archer



    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/C...seum_Amsterdam

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    There's a thing I've been wondering. In old westerns, from time to time you'll come across a guy loading his shotgun with quarters, or drilling holes in his buckshot and pulling wire through them, and so on. In a near-future book by William Gibson, there is a use-and-discard 4 shot russian weapon firing lenghts of chain.

    I'm sure these tricks have been attempted in real life, but since they do not seem to have made it into production, I assume neither chain nor quarters are actually better than buckshot.

    But is there any actual science or even amateur testing of this?
    In an O Henry story ("One Dollar's Worth"), the protagonist cuts a (counterfeit) dollar into slug-sized chunks, but the reasoning there was that the person trying to kill him has a Winchester and all he had was a shotgun and birdshot. Beyond a fairly short distance, heavy clothes are sufficient protection from birdshot pellets, so he rode a circle 'round them, looking for an opening to use his rifle. He was taken very much by surprise when he was shot full of counterfeit money.

    DrewID

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    this thread is very informative and lot of information which helped me to clearing my doubts!

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    The examples in question are illustrative of trends, not proof entire. And just as individual examples may be misleading, so too can any number of mathematical arguments. That said, when broad tactical trends emerge - such as plenty of successful charges in the smoothbore era and far fewer in the rifles musket era - that is a good place to start from as to what true effects were.

    The trends which we definitely notice changing in the relatively short life span of the rifle musket (Brown Bess had a life span of over 120 years...most rifle muskets were being replaced by breach loaders in under 25) would be:

    1. Taking covered, let alone fortified, positions becomes substantially harder.

    2. Cavalry transitions out of its shock role except for a few occasions.

    3. Artillery is drawn substantially further back, even when using the same cannon as you’d find in Napoleonics.


    Given the battlefield accounts that seem to show this being the result of increasingly lethal small arms fire, it seems natural to give the rifle musket the tip of the hat as the causation.

    On a more technical note, I think most smoothbores for the time are generally thought to have a mechanical group of a little under two feet at 100 yards. Meaning even locking the gun in mechanically and lining up the perfect shot, the ball might go nearly two feet off target. The best shot in the word could easily miss a man at 100 yards.

    In contrast, (and understanding this is inherently anecdotal), while I have never fired a Brown Bess, I have gotten to fire a Springfield 61. I am not a great shot by any means, merely an adequate one. While true to Hess I was lobbing rounds over and under at 200, I don’t think I missed a single e-type at 100.

    The difference between “yes, even a vise-locked Brown Bess on a predetermined angle and elevation might miss a man at 100 yards” versus “a not-that-good shot can reliably hit a man from standing at 100 yards” seems like regardless of the other Hess dead zones, the lethality would go way up...

  26. - Top - End - #1466
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    I honestly can see how the rifle was adopted, but didn't make the massive change it promised.

    If the rifle is demonstrated to an army, replacing the smoothbore musket is a no brainer. The rifle is more accurate and has a greater effective range, and thanks to the Minie bullet, it no longer sacrificed rate of fire the way an earlier rifle did, when men had to start the bullets with a separate tool or a mallet. So it seems like it should be a total game changer.

    But I also see how it wouldn't be able to live up to its promise under battlefield conditions. Marksmanship is a skill, and if you don't train, you won't get the actual advantages of an accurate weapon. I know the US army, at least, didn't spend a lot of time on marksmanship in the 19th Century. Range estimating is critical, if you want to avoid the "safe zone," and that takes practice.

    The second fact is that smoke, especially smoke from a massed formation will quickly ruin visibility so that you can't aim at what you can't see. Add in the effect of noise and fear that go with any battle and shooting will be overall pretty bad.

    So we can go to a range and put holes in a human sized target at 100 yards all day and figure that a hundred rifles should inflict a hundred casualties at close range, and then we're shocked when a volley doesn't hit anybody.

    I still think that charges became harder to pull off. It's not easy to be sure, because every battle is different, but it really feels that way from the history I know.
    Last edited by Mike_G; 2020-09-29 at 09:52 PM.
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  27. - Top - End - #1467
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    @Mike

    I don’t think combat condition shooting would put 100/100 in a man sized target at 100, but I do think that the fact that a rifled musket can do that in range conditions when being shot by a standing human, while a musket is sometimes missing by two feet when shot locked in to a vise would indicate that the potential for lethality is much higher.

    And some of that potential is going to make it through even in degraded conditions.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    @Mike

    I don’t think combat condition shooting would put 100/100 in a man sized target at 100, but I do think that the fact that a rifled musket can do that in range conditions when being shot by a standing human, while a musket is sometimes missing by two feet when shot locked in to a vise would indicate that the potential for lethality is much higher.

    And some of that potential is going to make it through even in degraded conditions.
    No, I totally agree.

    A while back (like I'm not even gonna try to search it) somebody was quoting a book where the author took shooting range results, and compared them to battlefield results and tried to claim that the low hit ratio was a result of men not trying to hit the enemy. Like, if a company volley at 75 yards in practice produces say 80% hits, we should expect a company volley to produce those hits in combat, and it doesn't so therefore men aren't really trying to kill one another.

    I'm paraphrasing, and I never read the actual book, so there may have been more of a point to it, but I totally agree that shooting on a controlled range isn't the same as shooting in combat, and I can think of a thousand better reasons for missing than "not wanting to kill a guy for realz."

    I'm no Carlos Hathcock, but I hit ten shots of ten at 500 yards with an M 16 A2 in recruit training. Iron sights, prone, slow fire, with a support sling and--most importantly--nobody shooting at me and forcing me to take cover. I wouldn't expect that kind of result in real field conditions
    Last edited by Mike_G; 2020-09-29 at 11:33 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    1. Taking covered, let alone fortified, positions becomes substantially harder.

    2. Cavalry transitions out of its shock role except for a few occasions.

    3. Artillery is drawn substantially further back, even when using the same cannon as you’d find in Napoleonics.
    It occurs to me that you could see the second and third effects if the commanders perceived that rifle muskets had greater accuracy and lethality, even if that is not borne out in practice. So officers, who have seen the effects of the (admittedly few) highly accurate shots (practicing hunters and such among the semi-trained draftees) act more cautiously because "these new rifle muskets are longer ranged and more accurate than the old smooth-bores". And the first effect could come from officers more hesitant to directly storm covered or fortified positions.

    DrewID

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by DrewID View Post
    It occurs to me that you could see the second and third effects if the commanders perceived that rifle muskets had greater accuracy and lethality, even if that is not borne out in practice. So officers, who have seen the effects of the (admittedly few) highly accurate shots (practicing hunters and such among the semi-trained draftees) act more cautiously because "these new rifle muskets are longer ranged and more accurate than the old smooth-bores". And the first effect could come from officers more hesitant to directly storm covered or fortified positions.

    DrewID
    It could happen that way. Then again, a lot of men were lost during the first world war because of officers who kept sending in charges versus positions protected with machine guns. So the average officer in this scenario would have to be at least more in touch with practice than an average WW1 officer. (Which is entirely possible, those guys do have a bit of a reputation as a stuck up high class bunch.)
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