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"Advantage of holding the high ground?" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Jul 2017 2:47 p.m. PST

I'm just curious. To my mind one of the most important (if not the #1) reasons to hold the high ground is for visibility. You can see the enemy thus you are better informed as to where and when to commit your troops.

Accordingly, I see some rules give little combat advantage but give a command advantage.

I realize it is very dependent on period, but I'd like to hear others' thoughts.

foxweasel16 Jul 2017 2:54 p.m. PST

Weapons are also far more effective firing down than they are firing up.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2017 3:08 p.m. PST

They'll be tired by the time they get up there.

nsolomon9916 Jul 2017 3:41 p.m. PST

I'm not convinced that cavalry get a huge advantage by riding downhill? Actually quite difficult riding a horse downhill.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2017 3:58 p.m. PST

Troops going uphill travel slower so have more fire put on them. Also I think that troops on top may feel more secure.t my 2 cents worth.

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2017 4:01 p.m. PST

Actually it is equally important throughout all periods.

When we think of mere visibility, we tend to think of simply the range of which you as an individual can do something. Think of it as both the distance and the time to be able to influence something.

I remember teaching observation posts to some young guys once. Their preparations were limited to what they saw immediately in their front out to about 200m away.
"Can you see that smoke stack across the river at five kilometers away?" I asked.
Do you think it will be lit up at night?" I asked.
They took the lesson not to limit themselves.

You can think of yourself as armed with a word or weapon of choice and having to go uphill against some similarly armed.
Hard put and at a disadvantage to start with.

Now modernize the scenario. Think of the Italian campaign ith one or two Panther turrets dug in and controlling an entire valley.

Modernize it a little more and just have a two man team with a spotting scope, a map and a radio. Calling in not just artillery from 45km away, but airstrikes too.

If you are worried about the enemies firepower, no problem. ust because you are on a hill does not men that you have to be visible to the enemy.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2017 10:43 p.m. PST

See further
The guys coming at you might get a bit tired
They will take more time ( slower) in your firing zone.
Most times you can hide stuff behind or on top, they can't.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 3:17 a.m. PST

You automatically win a Jedi duel.

Not only does it give you a longer view, it also can give you a much better view of the enemy. On flat ground you only see the front rank of an army, once you're up you can see what's behind that line.

Even a moderate slope can considerably throw off your uphill shooting.

Anyone who ever crossed a field knows that what looks like perfectly flat terrain can be very uneven with lots of potential to sprain an ankle or trip and fall, add a slope and things get really funny.

It also has drawbacks in modern times where modern weapons are far less affected by slopes than ye olde bowe and arrowe. A good example are the Serbians who put a bunch of 120mm above Sarajevo to bomb the city into submission. They were warned that there was a battery of 8 French 155mm GCT's on the other side. The Serbian commander quipped that if the French would probably miss anyway and he would then annihilate them in one fell swoop because he was in a better position.

The Serbians opened fire on the city and suddenly everything around them became extremely bright and extremely hot and had the usual "I think there must be a mistake." talk with a guy wearing a halo.

For years afterwards the Serbians maintained that they were not taken out like complete suckers by the French, but rather bombed by hundreds of American planes and resisted valiantly, even destroying dozens of planes in the exchange, driving them off several times before finally being overwhelmed by superior numbers.

rustymusket17 Jul 2017 5:16 a.m. PST

I think it depends on several factors, thinking in terms of the horse and musket era. Command advantages, yes, cavalry issues going up and downhill, true (I have ridden very little but downhill should be done carefully). I can see where firing up hill could have been a problem due to infantry firing seeming to naturally be low. Isolation can be a problem (think Kings Mountain). Good points and bad points depending upon situation over all and era. IMHO.

boy wundyr x Inactive Member17 Jul 2017 5:43 a.m. PST

As a counter though, during the 1885 NW Rebellion in Canada, at the battle of Fish Creek, the Canadians had the high ground and the Metis in the ravines, using terrain and going prone, made life miserable for the Canadians every time they silhouetted themselves at the edge of the hill. The Canadians never had time to find the Metis down below before they were picked off.

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 7:33 a.m. PST

One of the problems of holding the high ground is a tendency for the defenders to fire too high (remember the old adage of "aim low"). In some extreme cases, such as Missionary Ridge, the cannon muzzles could not be depressed enough to fire on the attackers.

However on well situated high ground, a defender has the advantages of range, visibility, and stamina.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 10:10 a.m. PST

Kings mountain? Uphill muskets at a disadvantage to downhill ones. Modern combat. hills easy to identify, targets more visible.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

Rustymusket, everyone else seems to think the natural tendency is to fire high--or was in muzzle-loader days. All the contemporary stuff I've read is about trying to get green troops to shoot lower than they tend to.

I suspect a lot of the advantage of high ground in horse & musket days was psychological, but high ground can also (mostly) iron out the terrain a little, especially for artillery so you're not troubled as much by small irregularities. You don't necessarily want steep for that: Cemetery Ridge will do nicely.

Great War Ace Inactive Member18 Jul 2017 6:22 a.m. PST

Against an archery army like Steppes horsearchers, high ground is not an advantage because they will simply lob their clouds of missiles into a target that is elevated and easier to see and hit. Low ground reduces the number of enemy archers who can see you. Folds, valleys, ravines, all play into limiting enemies who can see you. If they go onto the high ground with their horses, they reduce their mobility and expose themselves to view, to your own shot.

Static infantry lines changes this. The high ground can shoot from deeper formations to advantage, because the rear ranks can all see over the heads of those in front; and shooting down into a mass of oncoming men makes more shots count. Shooting from low ground, as already noted, tends to cause arrows to overshoot the target.

I have nothing to add when gunnes come into play………

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