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"Were Rockets a Serious Weapon?" Topic


13 Posts

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982 hits since 30 Jun 2017
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Comments or corrections?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2017 4:41 p.m. PST

The British apparently employed rockets against at least half their colonial opponents. Was there rhyme or reason to the method that was used to choose which colonial enemies they were employed against? I am reading about the Maori Wars of the 1860's and they were used in the battle of Waireka in the First Taranaki War. Rockets would seem like an odd choice in a densely forested country. They were also employed against the Malay pirates in Borneo, again in dense jungle. I don't think I have ever read an account of rockets having much, if any, effect on indigenous people, let alone the Napoleonic French. What was up? Did one of the Royal family own a rocket factory?

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2017 5:07 p.m. PST

My impression is that the effect was more on morale, especially against indigenous peoples. Rockets would be likely to start fires I'd think.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2017 5:18 p.m. PST

Against massed infantry, with everyone in the impact area rushing to move out of the way and avoid getting burns, while the officers shouted angry commands to maintain the formation, the effect must have been intense.

Dan

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2017 8:52 p.m. PST

I really don't know if they were a serious weapon or not, altho' the subject is fascinating to me. I just LOVE rockets!!! I never fail to include them whenever possible, and I don't even much care if they're effective or not.

Perhaps this lunatic mindset of mine explains a few things? If I have these feelings, surely others in the 19th century shared them, too!

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2017 9:04 p.m. PST

They were used extensively in both the 1848-49 Hungarian Revolution and by the Austrians in 1866… and these weren't your 1815 Congreve rockets… Basically used in batteries at canister ranges of 400 to 600 yards. They had fuses and exploding warheads.

foxweasel Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2017 1:20 a.m. PST

They wouldn't have used them if they didn't think they were effective. It's hard to look at it through 21st C eyes.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2017 3:48 a.m. PST

I suggest the value of rockets in colonial warfare lay in their portability. Compared with wheeled artillery with heavy metal gun barrels, it would have been relatively easy to stick a folded tripod and a few rocket poles on the back of a mule.

As for the effectiveness of rockets, I know of a couple of instances from the Hungarian war of independence in 1848-49 when they were useful: Pakozd and Kapolna.

At Pakozd, while they were mostly ineffective because they were outranged and driven off by conventional artillery, they did cause the 1st honved bn to fall back in some haste after it took two rocket hits.

At Kapolna, the Hungarian general Gorgey reports in his memoir that they were very effective attacking uphill against one Hungarian position, as the particular gradient evidently created grazing fire:

"The rockets, little as they used formerly to injure us on the plain, produced now a literally levelling effect
in sweeping over the rising arched ground. This rendered our position almost untenable."

link

Chris

Bloody Big BATTLES!
link
bloodybigbattles.blogspot.co.uk

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2017 4:24 a.m. PST

Oh, say! Can you see?
Etc.

The Royal Navy was full of practical men. I don't think they would have special ships designed to fire on Fort McHenry if they were not useful.
In this case they weren't, because in the dawn's early light, the flag was still there.

Nobody ever sings the second verse, but…
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
'Tis the star-spangled banner O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Rockets didn't work this time but I'm sure they were there for a reason.
Or maybe it was just that "The 24 pounders loud roar" doesn't scan as well as "Rockets' red glare".

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2017 11:11 a.m. PST

Donald Featherstone writes in his Weapons and Equipment of the Victorian Soldier that rockets were used in the following campaigns: New Zealand 1860, Japan 1864, Abyssinia 1868, Ashanti 1874, Perak 1875/6, Kaffir War 1877, Zulu War 1879, 1st Boer War 1881, Benin 1897, Niger 1897, Sudan at Atbara 1898. He endorses the view that rocket's chief advantages were that they were inexpensive and easily transported. He also mentioned that they were used once by the Confederate army during the ACW, which was news to me! On July 3, 1862 Confederate forces under the command of Jeb Stuart fired rockets at Union troops during the Battle of Harrison's Landing.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2017 11:25 a.m. PST

Were rockets used be either the Union or Confederacy during the Civil War?

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2017 11:58 a.m. PST

StoneMtnMinis, see post above yours. I believe that is the one and only time rockets were used in the ACW. I can imagine the British unloading a Whitworth cannon at the Confederate docks and saying: take some of these rockets too, they're cheap.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

Trinkets for the natives….
"Big stick go BOOM!"
"Here Verne. Hold my moonshine…"

Ivan DBA04 Jul 2017 2:26 p.m. PST

The British also believed that rockets (as well as simple fireworks) could overawe colonial opponents. Probably a belief founded more in prejudice than in practice.

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