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Thread: Who are the great generals?

  1. #341
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I think the gist of it was that there is some irony in poo-pooing one country's interest in its civil war when a disregard of the issues underlying the conflict led to a far more uglier war in one's own backyard. Maybe not the most tactful way of putting it, but I think it was made in the spirit of what we Americans refer to as "ball busting."

    Emoticon etiquette is still in development phase.
    I'm pretty sure that Bob's World wanted to bust those balls big time.

    There is also a saying here in parts of Europe, which I regard as being pretty elegant. When the cards are badly stacked against you, a friendly "With full trousers it is easy to stink" can be bit liberating. In this sense in war one should always make sure that one has an easy time to make things stink for the other side


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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    .....introduction of open battle order (the version of that period).....came after the USCW.
    I will disagree with this one part of your post, Fuchs.

    Open battle order with firearms started to appear on the North American Continent during the colonial era. Admittedly, at that time it was practiced by scouts and skirmishers, not the line infantry.

    The German Jagers made contributions to the evolution of open order tactics in the American Revolution, credit given where due.

    The green coated US Rifle Regiment was very active on the frontier and in the War of 1812.

    The famous Baker rifle armed British rifle units of the Napoleonic era were refinements of the 60th Regiment of Foot, aka The Royal Americans, who learned their trade on the North American frontier.

    The USA fielded two green coated sharpshooter regiments during the Civil War. The CSA fielded many sharpshooter battalions. Both units continued to develop open order light infantry tactics.

    And finally, the true sniper did not emerge in the trenches of WWI as an outgrowth of the earlier skirmisher. Nor can the Boers take credit. The true sniper emerged on the Civil War battlefield as an independent Confederate sharpshooter (the word sniper was not known and used) with a British Whitworth target rifle brought in by blockade runners.
    "Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper

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    Default I would argue

    that true open order fighting with large units really did not take place until late in WWI with the introduction by the Germans of infiltration tactics as a means around trench warfare. The reason this did not ake place sooner, IMO, was the inability to control troops who were dispersed all over the battlefield. The problem was field comms. Even in WWI, a commander had no way of tactically controlling his troops that did not exist at the time when Alexander the Great was a corporal!. Yes, there was the field telephone but it was pretty useless when the troops went over the top or if its wire was cut by an artillery barrage during a defense. So, massed troops were needed because of C2 requirements. The German infitration tactics innovation worked because the German infantryman was rather well educated compared to his 19th century predecessors and was trusted to think on his feet. WWII made it all easier with tactical radios coupled with the German WWI innovation.

  4. #344
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    To Fuchs, and alll, I assure you, no animosity toward anyone was intended by my comments, to paraphrase a classic line from a classic move, I may be guilty "of bringing a gun to a knife fight."

    I stand on my points, but definitely intended it as a friendly, if a bit darkly, humorous retort. All humor in warfare has a dark side to it that I believe it best we don't forget as we debate the topic.

    The point I think most poignantly overlooked by Europeans about the Amercian Civil War is also the point about the American Civil War overlooked by most Americans as well. I don't think it's about tactics, god knows the tactics were criminally outdated. It is not about the many technologies that served to outdate the tactics. For me, the main point is about Strategy. and it goes back to one of the many reasons I am such a fan of General Grant.

    The relationship between Western Governments and their populaces were significantly altered by the American and French revolutions. (Ok, ours was actually a separatist insurgency, but I quibble). Napoleon understood and maximized this new merging of populace and governent as one to mobilize the entire French populace to wage warfare on all around him. The strength of a nation was no longer measured by the size of its army or navy, or even its King's treasury. It was measured by the will of the populace to resist invaders or to assert itself against others as well.

    General Grant understood this. He shifted the focus from the destruction of the other's Army, or the capture of his capital (though he understood both were still essential supporting tasks that he supervised personally as he shadowed General Meade's campaign (Meade really should get more credit) to achieve those two tasks; but sent his two most trusted Lieutenants on missions to break the will of the Southern populace and to destroy their ability to support the military. The birth of "the American Way of War" as it has been tagged, but Grant grasped this, and sent Sherman and Sheridan out to make it happen.

    Everyone focuses on tactics and toys and flags. Grant shifted the focus, he understood you had to crush the populace's will to continue, and that killing soldiers is a damn poor way to do that. I think the European military went into WWI still fully bent on killing soldiers and capturing flags to win the day. I think that day had passed, and they arrogantly missed the lesson that could have spared a generation of soldiers, but would have made WWI much harder on the popualces of Europe. It could well have prevented WWII though.

    Sorry Fuchs, I am guilty of being an American. Bomb my harbor, destroy my buildings; and I come back with bigger response. It;s in the DNA I guess.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 02-14-2010 at 01:55 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
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  5. #345
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    it seems to be have been the beginning of an American habit to simply overcome inadequacies by throwing superior quantities of resources at a problem. That's the opposite of skill (except if you look at logistics only, of course).
    Americans use superior resources for the same reason that dogs lick their own genitals: because they can. I don't see why knowing your advantage and exploiting it to the fullest should be regarded as a sign of inferior skill.

  6. #346
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    To Fuchs, and alll, I assure you, no animosity toward anyone was intended by my comments, to paraphrase a classic line from a classic move, I may be guilty "of bringing a gun to a knife fight."

    I stand on my points, but definitely intended it as a friendly, if a bit darkly, humorous retort. All humor in warfare has a dark side to it that I believe it best we don't forget as we debate the topic.
    Perfectly fine. I'm pretty sure that every any living human being has near or (very) distant ancestors or relatives who suffered from violence in warfare. Dark humour is also part of our nature.

    The point I think most poignantly overlooked by Europeans about the Amercian Civil War is also the point about the American Civil War overlooked by most Americans as well. I don't think it's about tactics, god knows the tactics were criminally outdated. It is not about the many technologies that served to outdate the tactics. For me, the main point is about Strategy. and it goes back to one of the many reasons I am such a fan of General Grant.

    The relationship between Western Governments and their populaces were significantly altered by the American and French revolutions. (Ok, ours was actually a separatist insurgency, but I quibble). Napoleon understood and maximized this new merging of populace and governent as one to mobilize the entire French populace to wage warfare on all around him. The strength of a nation was no longer measured by the size of its army or navy, or even its King's treasury. It was measured by the will of the populace to resist invaders or to assert itself against others as well.
    This reasoning seems to be a bit idealistic in parts, so to speak. The populance of Vanatu or a tribe from the Andaman islands might have a titanic will to resist invasion, but good luck with that considering their numbers and their navy and army.


    General Grant understood this. He shifted the focus from the destruction of the other's Army, or the capture of his capital (though he understood both were still essential supporting tasks that he supervised personally as he shadowed General Meade's campaign (Meade really should get more credit) to achieve those two tasks; but sent his two most trusted Lieutenants on missions to break the will of the Southern populace and to destroy their ability to support the military. The birth of "the American Way of War" as it has been tagged, but Grant grasped this, and sent Sherman and Sheridan out to make it happen.
    Once again a key argument is that he had the ressources, time and space to send those two Lieutenants burning and looting on a grand scale. In this specific instance it did work, but this aspect of the American way of war, the burning part to be precise, failed also quite some times to achieve the aspired goals. Or

    I also fail to understand how this burning and looting thing or strategy, aimed at the populance and the own belly is somehow a new invention. It has certainly been around quite some time in the evolution of mankind. To stay in the same century, it was certainly a staple procedure in the Napoleonic wars.


    Everyone focuses on tactics and toys and flags. Grant shifted the focus, he understood you had to crush the populace's will to continue, and that killing soldiers is a damn poor way to do that. I think the European military went into WWI still fully bent on killing soldiers and capturing flags to win the day. I think that day had passed, and they arrogantly missed the lesson that could have spared a generation of soldiers, but would have made WWI much harder on the popualces of Europe. It could well have prevented WWII though.
    Once again the intent alone is not enough, and arguably very few even intended WWI as a war of annihilation. Anyway, how could the Italian army for example crush the will of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's populace? How could the British empire make the German populace suffer? How could the German empire target the fighting will of the Russian empire?

    The military actions did certainly their part through death and destruction, but they were limited due the specific circumstances. Grant would have found it pretty difficult to initiate a pillaging raid through Central Germany as he did in the South, because the pesky circumstances made such an attempt during the duration of the war impossible.

    I will answer my questions myself. While Italy could do very little in this regard other than throwing paper on Vienna, the British fleet blockaded the Central powers and the Germans tried to cut the British lifelines at sea and send Lenin to Russia, from Germany with love.

    Sorry Fuchs, I am guilty of being an American. Bomb my harbor, destroy my buildings; and I come back with bigger response. It;s in the DNA I guess.
    And in the full trousers, to paraphrase our saying, which make stinking a lot easier.


    Firn
    Last edited by Firn; 02-14-2010 at 08:38 AM.

  7. #347
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    To say the Sherman and Sheridan went "looting and burning" is to apply an unprofessional eye to their mission. Their acts were not random or wanton, or uncontrolled; and their purpose was not to enrich the Union, the Leaders, or the soldiers.

    They were on a specified mission to designed and executed to crush the spirit of the South and to destroy their ability to resource their army and themselves. It was to ensure that the Populace of the South understood on no uncertain terms that they had been defeated when the army surrendured and the capital capitulated. Otherwise they would have likely slid into a long drawn out insurgency with the possiblity of follow-on warfare.

    Which leads to the other great strategic lesson from the ACW that was ignored by the Friench and British, even though Wilson was there to remind them: The importance of being gracious in victory in order to secure the peace that your military has worked so hard to produce.

    I believe strongly that Hitler is far less to blame for WWII than the French and British delegations at Versaille were.

    So:

    The importance of the will of the populace in wars between nations (vice Kingdoms); and
    The importance of being gracious in victory in order to secure the peace.

    Two great strategic lessons from the Amerian Civil War. Grant led the way on both counts; and his President understood and backed his play.
    Robert C. Jones
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  8. #348
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Open battle order:

    There was a vivid discussion during the 1900's about open battle order tactics for a reason. It was not yet standard for line troops in battle (just as it wasn't standard at Gettysburg to advance with several metres spacing between every soldier).
    The Boer Wars inspired the discussion as much as did the new technologies despite the smokeless powder innovation that made closed order + quick firing rifles at least practical in regard to visibility.
    An open battle order existed for skirmishers since warfare began and was institutionalized in Velites, Peltasts and other forms of warriors thousands of years ago.
    I wrote "(the version of that period)" for a reason.


    Strategy and throwing resources at a problem:

    Throwing resources at a problem may lead to some kind of victory, but it's not high art.
    Strategy is among others about efficiency: How to do the best with given resources (maximization of effect up to the given goal).
    To excel with (relatively) few resources is a high art while to come to a painful conclusion after struggling for years is not.

    I can build you a home with a billion dollar, but that doesn't make me a great construction project manager and certainly doesn't help me to become a top 100 construction manager of all time. Keep in mind I might take years for what really good construction managers would achieve in months.

    To answer a question: What's wrong with spending much resources for victory?
    Wrong is that really great generals would have won in months, barely after the federal budget office would have noticed the war. Moltke the Elder would have advanced for a few hundred miles, encircled and annihilated an enemy field army and would have pursued/hunted for the enemy till its surrender in 1862. He would have done so by coordinating several corps from a line setup an encirclement by offering the corps enough freedom of action while coordinating on the operational level instead of failing to copy Napoleon as did Lee, Grant and others.

    In other words (taking high cost for granted and pointing at the ability to stay afloat with relatively few resources):
    Does anyone believe that grant would have survived the Seven Years War as Prussian leader as did Frederick the Great?

  9. #349
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Open battle order:

    There was a vivid discussion during the 1900's about open battle order tactics for a reason. It was not yet standard for line troops in battle (just as it wasn't standard at Gettysburg to advance with several metres spacing between every soldier).
    The Boer Wars inspired the discussion as much as did the new technologies despite the smokeless powder innovation that made closed order + quick firing rifles at least practical in regard to visibility.
    An open battle order existed for skirmishers since warfare began and was institutionalized in Velites, Peltasts and other forms of warriors thousands of years ago.
    I wrote "(the version of that period)" for a reason.


    Strategy and throwing resources at a problem:

    Throwing resources at a problem may lead to some kind of victory, but it's not high art.
    Strategy is among others about efficiency: How to do the best with given resources (maximization of effect up to the given goal).
    To excel with (relatively) few resources is a high art while to come to a painful conclusion after struggling for years is not.

    I can build you a home with a billion dollar, but that doesn't make me a great construction project manager and certainly doesn't help me to become a top 100 construction manager of all time. Keep in mind I might take years for what really good construction managers would achieve in months.

    To answer a question: What's wrong with spending much resources for victory?
    Wrong is that really great generals would have won in months, barely after the federal budget office would have noticed the war. Moltke the Elder would have advanced for a few hundred miles, encircled and annihilated an enemy field army and would have pursued/hunted for the enemy till its surrender in 1862. He would have done so by coordinating several corps from a line setup an encirclement by offering the corps enough freedom of action while coordinating on the operational level instead of failing to copy Napoleon as did Lee, Grant and others.

    In other words (taking high cost for granted and pointing at the ability to stay afloat with relatively few resources):
    Does anyone believe that grant would have survived the Seven Years War as Prussian leader as did Frederick the Great?
    George Washington wanted nothing more (other than perhaps to be a regular in the King's Army) than to be like Frederick. His pursuit of building and fighting a regular army ala Frederick against the British nearly cost us the Revolution. We simply lacked the training, experience and resources to fight that type of warfare.

    By Grant's era, strategies that drove Frederick's operations were obsolete. I suspect he may well of recgnized that had he been in Grant's shoes, but probably not. He probably would have stuck to the old strategem's like everyone else. Could Grant have gone back in time and applied the lessons he was taught at West Point on how to fight like Frederick? I see nothing to indicate why not. Any good cook can follow the directions in a recipe book. It takes a genius to create something bold and new.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    You misunderstood me.
    I didn't mean tactics; I meant the odds. Frederick fought against overwhelming odds and prevailed for seven years without much ground to trade.

    Grant succeeded with overwhelming odds on his side and I think he didn't show anything that could convince me that he had the quality to stand a test at odds as experienced by Frederick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
    And finally, the true sniper did not emerge in the trenches of WWI as an outgrowth of the earlier skirmisher. Nor can the Boers take credit. The true sniper emerged on the Civil War battlefield as an independent Confederate sharpshooter (the word sniper was not known and used) with a British Whitworth target rifle brought in by blockade runners.
    General John "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance" Sedgwick would grudgingly agree with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I do strongly doubt that the tactical and operational experiences from 1861-1865 had much value in regard of the problems of 1914-1918.
    Infiltration tactics

    1. Upton's successful but unexploited assault at the Mule Shoe.

    2. Burnside's failed attempt at the Crater (the decision to remove the assigned USCT unit that had rehearsed for days/weeks for the mission accompanied by Burnside's lackluster performance doomed the mission).

    3. Mahone's failed attempt at Fort Stedman (simply not enough force to accomplish the mission, as evidenced by only a four hour delay of the Presidential review scheduled in the same sector).

    All three episodes foreshadow the principles of the infiltration tactics referred to by John T. Fishel that emerged in WWI from the Germans that eventually helped to break the stalemate.

    Surprise (short to no prep of the point of penetration). Concentrate on a specific point (rather than a general offensive). Exploit the breakthrough with follow on waves.

    Operational art

    You can look to Grant's operational art in coordinating attacks through time and space towards specific objectives as opposed to ineffective, uncoordinated attacks that allowed the enemy to use operational movements to move troops from areas of inaction to areas of action. You could look at his use of the joint force and leveraging joint capabilities to make other services more effective. You could also look at how under him and Sherman, the cavalry became not just a screening/reconnaissance force, but also an arm of attack, just as armor was to become WWI (of course, it took the emergence of the attack, but the use of horse cavalry by the AOP in 1864/5 presents some lessons).

    These foreshadow the modern operational art that would emerge as the stalemate in the trenches was broken at the end of the war.

    Why the stalemate came about

    You could look to the AOP's centralization of artillery as a means to mass artillery fire and make large scale infantry attacks more likely to be a losing proposition (I suspect that this isn't unique in history, but it nonetheless demonstrates a problem that was faced during WWI).

    I would quibble with marct's remark that the Federals and Confederates were not peer competitors (and we may simply be using the term in a slightly different context). While the North did possess an industrial base that gave it an advantage, the Confederates were able to tap into Britain to offset much of the advantage (and if they hadn't chosen to embargo cotton to Britain for a year probably could have taken advantage even more of this), and combined with Union decisions not to adopt exploit some available technologies until later in the war (some units in the Union army still had smoothbores at Gettysburg), this Northern advantage is not as great as it's sometimes made out to be.

    How this translated to the battlefield is that you didn't see large tactical mobility differences, and when combined with the scale of the fighting and finally the emergence of continuous fighting during the Overland Campaign, you saw the spontaneous rise of field fortifications (trenches) that would eventually result in the stalemate around Petersburg when Smith and Hancock failed to turn the key that they held for Petersburg around June 15, 1864.

    You saw the same in World War I, as a lack in large mobility differences combined with the scale of the fighting resulted in the trench stalemate. Some of the exact same type of tactics and the use of the operational art seen at the end of the ACW, adapted to the context of the technology, scale, and situation of WWI would be the solutions to the ending of the trench stalemate.
    Last edited by Shek; 02-14-2010 at 02:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You misunderstood me.
    I didn't mean tactics; I meant the odds. Frederick fought against overwhelming odds and prevailed for seven years without much ground to trade.

    Grant succeeded with overwhelming odds on his side and I think he didn't show anything that could convince me that he had the quality to stand a test at odds as experienced by Frederick.
    Your comparison is a bit fallacious IMO. Grant had to fight an offensive war completely on enemy territory (and then leave forces behind to administer the occupation) to succeed, and had to do so against a Washington clock. Frederick didn't have to fight on enemy territory and didn't have conduct operations in the context of a domestic political election (which constrained potential options). Also, the scale of the fighting meant that you didn't see the near continuous fighting during the Seven Years' War vice the ACW, which also made strategic approaches different. Given two very different situations, I find it hard to make a valid comparison.

    However, I've only done a cursory read on the Seven Years War, and so I'd ask you to go in the opposite direction to help me out, since maybe the two situations are more similar than I believe. Can you argue why Frederick would have been successful in Grant's shoes in the river campaigns in 1862, at Vicksburg in 1863, and finally during the Overland and Petersburg campaigns of 1864-5? Thanks.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi John,

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Peer competitors: I'm glad we agree that USA and CSA were "peers" in 61 and 62. Agree that the Yankees brought population and industry to bear by 63 and they were no longer "peers" - the Gettysburg campaign in the East and Vicksburg campaign in the West are, I think, indicative of that.
    I'm shooting from my hip, here, since I'm not by any stretch of the imagination an expert on the US civil war, but I would argue that Gettysburg was the last campaign were you could see the USA and CSA as anything close to "peers" in the straight military realm.

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    My sense of "peer competitor" is really at the beginning of the conflict and to some extent the perception of the combatants but not entirely. For example, in 1845 the US and Mexico perceived each other as peer competitors - they weren't, it was just a misperception. But I do think that, as you said, in 61 and 62 the USA and CSA were.
    This is where we part company in some ways. I've never liked the idea of looking at a comparison along a single dimension and at a single point in time, which is what I see the term being used for a lot. If we take 1861 - 62 as the "peer" time, at least at an overall gloss level, then it would probably be safe to say that in military experience, leadership, overall elan, general but not specific logistics (i.e. what was actually brought to bear vs. what might have been brought to bear), they were "peers" in the sense that the results were a +/- 15% either way. By the Gettysburg campaign, I would argue that the logistics and population recruitment base, plus infrastructure differences, had reduced the "peerness" to a dangerous point; basically, the leadership, experience and elan were still "peer", but the rest was rapidly dropping off. I have a suspicion that we would have seen a similar change in the Franco-Prussian War if it had lasted longer.

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Crimea as a "major" war: Yes, there were more theaters than just the central one in and around the Black Sea. But the Baltic theater was almost entirely limited naval action as was the Pacific coupled with a few amphibious raids. Nothing really decisive happened outside the Black Sea/Crimea theater.
    Agreed, but I think that that just highlights / foreshadows if you will, a lot of the characteristics of a peer / near-peer competition. The fact that the stalemated theatres were naval does have a major baring, IMO, as does the counterpart in the US Civil War were you had a massive common land border. Even in the US Civil War, you have a funneling effect into two main theatres, as you noted while, given the points of contact in the Crimean War, you really only had one major theatre - although the Caucus campaign was intersting .

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Must be your old Tory ancestors trying to tweak this Yankee Doodle
    But of course . Actually, if you wanted a better analog for what we are dealing with in the current operations, you should be looking at the War of 1812 - at least as far as the accidental guerrilla factor is concerned. Check out General Hull's invasion of July 13th, 1812 .

    Cheers,

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    Infiltration tactics
    ...
    All three episodes foreshadow the principles of the infiltration tactics referred to by John T. Fishel that emerged in WWI from the Germans that eventually helped to break the stalemate.

    Infiltration attacks had happened for thousands of years, with mixed results. The challenges of the Western front and Gallipolli were probably marginally similar to challenges as experienced in some previous sieges (especially Port Arthur), but nevertheless very different than the challenges possible with 1865 technology.

    Surprise (short to no prep of the point of penetration). Concentrate on a specific point (rather than a general offensive). Exploit the breakthrough with follow on waves.

    The German Michael offensive wasn't focused on one point at all. The experiences of 1915-1917 told both sides that the breakthrough must not be narrow for else the defender's railway advantage would produce a successful counteroffensive or sealing.

    Operational art

    You can look to Grant's operational art in coordinating attacks through time and space towards specific objectives as opposed to ineffective, uncoordinated attacks that allowed the enemy to use operational movements to move troops from areas of inaction to areas of action.

    You think that's special?

    You could look at his use of the joint force and leveraging joint capabilities to make other services more effective. You could also look at how under him and Sherman, the cavalry became not just a screening/reconnaissance force, but also an arm of attack, just as armor was to become WWI (of course, it took the emergence of the attack, but the use of horse cavalry by the AOP in 1864/5 presents some lessons).

    The U.S. Horse cavalry was anyway comparable to European dragoons - not counted as cavalry in Europe. There was never a Cuirassier or other shock cavalry force in the U.S.. In other words; such a transformation from screening to attack was less than what had been done 2,500 years earlier by Philipp II. Incidentally, the age of horse cavalry attack against infantry had declined for hundreds of years in Europe, previous to the USCW. Reforming towards a concept that had already lost most of its utility with the standardization of rifles as line infantry weapons was hardly a positive indicator for a general's quality.


    These foreshadow the modern operational art that would emerge as the stalemate in the trenches was broken at the end of the war.

    Sorry, but there was no real operational art involved in 1918 - on neither side. There was more operational art involved in 1914 than in 1918.
    And I don't see any connection of relevance between the interwar years armor theories to the USCW. In fact, I doubt that any of the European thinkers on armour had much interest in the USCW.
    The dysfunctional state of the U.S.Army's armoured units during teh interwar years furthermore suggests that even those with the best knowledge about the USCW had no clue about modern armoured warfare.


    Why the stalemate came about

    You could look to the AOP's centralization of artillery as a means to mass artillery fire and make large scale infantry attacks more likely to be a losing proposition (I suspect that this isn't unique in history, but it nonetheless demonstrates a problem that was faced during WWI).

    Actually, this is regularly attributed to Napoleon.
    Didn't I mention before that tactically the USCW was pretty much Napoleonic? That's what i think, for sure.


    ...
    You saw the same in World War I, as a lack in large mobility differences combined with the scale of the fighting resulted in the trench stalemate. Some of the exact same type of tactics and the use of the operational art seen at the end of the ACW, adapted to the context of the technology, scale, and situation of WWI would be the solutions to the ending of the trench stalemate.
    Interesting. So why exactly did the U.S.Army begin to translate and issue as their own French field manuals during WWI and didn't stop doing so until the early 1930's?
    Why exactly did the USMC almost wipe itself out once it joined the fighting in Europe?



    It's easy to find predecessors of the problems and solutions of the 20th century in earlier warfare. That's why military history is valuable.

    I'm quite sure that there's no unusual concentration of such lessons to be found in the U.S. civil war once you've learned about global military history of different ages, though.

    Likewise, there are no really exceptional generals to be found in that war. Not in the context of a global all-time top 5, 10, 20 or 50 list. I'd even doubt a top 200 entry.

    --------

    @Shek:

    Again; it was about the odds.
    Frederick failed in his first battle, but he also had battles like Leuthen (well done, though not completely original).
    He proved his ability to operate against two opposing armies at once, to beat superior armies, to conserve his power instead of relying on a powerful stream of reinforcements - and he proved his ability to snatch a large province and still defeat its much larger owner in war.
    He was weakened by the need to leave garrisons behind not so much because he was advancing as because he fought against two most of the time numerically superior enemies at once.

    By the way; I don't consider a marauding and blockade strategy as high strategic art. It's rather what military forces tend to resort to once they realize that they aren't superior or successful in a more acceptable form of ground warfare.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Interesting. So why exactly did the U.S.Army begin to translate and issue as their own French field manuals during WWI and didn't stop doing so until the early 1930's?
    Why exactly did the USMC almost wipe itself out once it joined the fighting in Europe?
    These are red herrings. Why did the US not use COIN lessons it had experienced from its history in 2003-4/5? A valid question, but it doesn't negate the fact that there were lessons to be gathered from earlier history (whether from American experience or other counterinsurgent experience).

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs
    It's easy to find predecessors of the problems and solutions of the 20th century in earlier warfare. That's why military history is valuable.

    I'm quite sure that there's no unusual concentration of such lessons to be found in the U.S. civil war once you've learned about global military history of different ages, though.
    Once again, an entirely different statement than your earlier proposition that you doubted that there were any lessons to be carried forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs
    Likewise, there are no really exceptional generals to be found in that war. Not in the context of a global all-time top 5, 10, 20 or 50 list. I'd even doubt a top 200 entry.

    --------

    @Shek:

    Again; it was about the odds.
    Frederick failed in his first battle, but he also had battles like Leuthen (well done, though not completely original).
    He proved his ability to operate against two opposing armies at once, to beat superior armies, to conserve his power instead of relying on a powerful stream of reinforcements - and he proved his ability to snatch a large province and still defeat its much larger owner in war.
    He was weakened by the need to leave garrisons behind not so much because he was advancing as because he fought against two most of the time numerically superior enemies at once.

    By the way; I don't consider a marauding and blockade strategy as high strategic art. It's rather what military forces tend to resort to once they realize that they aren't superior or successful in a more acceptable form of ground warfare.
    Given that you've made a strong comparative statement, I was expecting some comparative analysis. Yet, you haven't offered any. As I stated earlier, I've read on Frederick the Great and Prussian history, but only superficially, so a comparative analysis as to why Frederick would have performed as well or better than Grant during his 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1864-5 campaigns would be very beneficial for me.

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    My biggest question on WWI is; that in a war where technological advances rendered neither side powerful enough to reinitiate maneuver warfare by going forward; why no one on either side thought to do so by falling rapidly rearward, and then launching powerful assaults through the flanks of the salient they had created, and into the enemy rear (while closing the bag on the then cut off attacking force in their own rear.

    I think its because both sides were far too commited to protecting every inch of the hard earned ground they had, so that they could only think about how to go forward.

    One thing that the Civil War and WWI had in common is both were dominated by tragic tactics, executed by generals fighting the war they were trained to fight rather than the war they were in.

    There's actually a lot of that going around in the history of warfare. Recent history as well.
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    My biggest question on WWI is; that in a war where technological advances rendered neither side powerful enough to reinitiate maneuver warfare by going forward; why no one on either side thought to do so by falling rapidly rearward, and then launching powerful assaults through the flanks of the salient they had created, and into the enemy rear (while closing the bag on the then cut off attacking force in their own rear.
    Because no one would fall for such an obvious trick! WW1 Generals were not stupid. Some where but only some. The western front was a unique perfect storm, not seen before and never seen since. Most Generals knew the problem and knew the solutions, based on experience, which cost a lot of lives to get, but there simply was no alternative.

    WW1 cannot be understated in the importance of creating the modern armies we see today, and the various modern tactical systems. The problem is that very poor emotionally based on poetry, novels, and popular fallacies has obscured key operational lessons for nearly 90 years!

    I submit, that WW1 Generals learnt much faster than a lot Generals since, as to what worked and what did not.
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    I don't think it is all that difficult to convince one desparate for success that they are being successful. In fact, that is probably the easiest military deception of them all.

    Clearly you couldn't just abandon your trenchs and then all hide behind farm houses and yell "surprise!" It would requires an assessment of where the enemy wants to succeed, creating impressions of weakness and small successes over time to set the stage, while covertly developing one's own counterattacking force.

    It works in martial arts and small level tactics (god knows how many mounted and dismounted patrols have chased a small group into a large ambush over the annals of time).

    This is an "obvious trick" that the human mind is susceptible to fall for. Kind of like telling a woman she's beautiful, listening to her prattle on, and buying her drinks. Some things work because they work.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Because no one would fall for such an obvious trick! ...
    The 'backward offensive' thing was actually proposed by Manstein as part of an accusation directed at WW1 generals in his memoirs.
    The greatest problem with it was likely that even such an offensive would have bogged down eventually jsut as it happened in 1914 and 1918 when offensives came to a halt.

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