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"Disruption of formation by artillery" Topic

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CorpCommander Inactive Member26 Nov 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

During the ACW, and other periods, cannon were used to disrupt formations from forming. Do you think:

A) Green Troops were more likely to go into disorder than Veterans
B) Veterans, not being dumb, were more likely to go into disorder
C) Both are equally as likely to go into disorder

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2017 1:04 p.m. PST

I think that, like many things, it depends. If the
formation is advancing under artillery fire, the
veterans know that the quicker they traverse the
beaten zone, the fewer casualties they'll have. Hence
they might be more disciplined in keeping a semblance
of formation to enable them to maintain their
movement speed, whatever it might be.

Green troops, otoh, haven't learned that, so might
be inclined to go into a disordered formation.

If merely standing in ranks under artillery fire,
either might go into a much looser formation in order
not to present such a good target – in fact, I'd
venture that their officers might even order such

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Nov 2017 3:15 p.m. PST

One thing to keep in mind is that in the Civil War combat was infrequent. "Veterans" probably have not seen all that many battles and many who were at battles might not have come under artillery fire or even been in combat at all. It's not like the World Wars where soldiers could be in action for weeks or even months at a stretch and those who survived learned the lessons needed to stay alive quickly. By the last year of the ACW you do see the experience of the veterans really affecting their behavior "Get down you damn fools! You can't take them forts!" But in the first two years there wasn't probably that big a difference between veteran troops and green ones.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2017 5:03 p.m. PST

It also depends a whole lot on what else is happening – moving forward with lots of support, less likely – standing alone with a horde of crazed Rebs closing in just behind that artillery, a different story

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Nov 2017 6:31 a.m. PST

+1 Scott Washburn

Veteran is more likely to mean practiced at drill and marching, not fighting. Think about the Atlanta campaign. Much more marching than fighting.

donlowry27 Nov 2017 9:34 a.m. PST

Define "disorder."

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2017 10:26 a.m. PST

I interpreted the OP's 'veteran' to be troops which had
experienced combat, especially artillery fire, not
'trained' (extensively drilled and so forth).

Certainly the troops who survived the 7 Days, and
those who fought Chancellorsville, Antietam and
Fredericksburg and survived would count as veterans, eh ?

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2017 2:22 p.m. PST

It was probably a combination of experience with combat and the particular situation.

By later in the war experienced troops faced with an impossible task would go to ground under artillery fire while less experienced troops often tried to advance until such time that their formations were utterly disordered. Look at some of the actions from the Wilderness through the siege of Petersburg.

On the other hand, experienced troops were perfectly capable of rushing right through the fire to minimize their exposure. Look at Ft. McAlister Georgia.

This is an interesting discussion, especially for someone who might be working on a rule set.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2017 2:43 p.m. PST

"C". Because there can be 2 types of disorder: Formation and loss of cohesion. (Temporary loss of control over the men.) This is a very good question from the mind of a thinker!

The "disorder" the OP asks about could happen to all such units. How disruptive would be a function of training and experience of the men, leaders and (more importantly) how long have these men been serving under these leaders. Even serving together in training, marching to battlefields, etc. provide opportunities for the leaders to know the men and the men to know their leaders. Also importantly, who rises to the top as an informal leader, as well!

"Veteran" troops do not always mean "better" in terms of being able to function as a unit. As new leaders take over from those lost (or promoted out of the unit), the training and experience in this new position in life will be low.

Troop qualities such as "Green, Vets, Elite" etc. have come to be generally accepted as "quantative" valuation in wargames. These terms sidestep what actually determines how well units fight for gaming purposes. This is fine if you understand that you are playing a game- which is fine. If you really desire more (most do after playing for many years), seek other rules that address such issues with value sets more akin to your research than the used rules author's have.

Researching when you have a specific goal in mind, can be a lot of fun as you will invariably discover other things in the process which will expand your core of common knowledge.

Good luck in your quest for an answer that satifies your curiosity.

Blutarski29 Nov 2017 6:13 a.m. PST

Agree with Professor Mohrmann. By 1863, veteran troops abounded on both sides, if, by using the term "veteran", one is referring to units which had participated in a campaign featuring one or more significant battles and engagements.

That having been said, it is my opinion that combat reaction cannot be approached from a simple deterministic point of view. Well directed artillery fire is certainly capable of disordering formations, but IMO other situational factors will influence events as well.


Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP30 Nov 2017 1:01 a.m. PST

There is a difference between a veteran (time in service) and a combat veteran (got shot at and shot back. I knew guys that spent 20 years in the service and never fired a shot in anger or shot in anger. Then there are guys who spent two years in Vietnam, in actual combat.

badger22 Inactive Member30 Nov 2017 7:31 p.m. PST

Rallynow you are totally correct. Even a single small battle will leave you changed in ways you probably never even thought of.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP01 Dec 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

A) Green Troops were more likely to go into disorder than Veterans
B) Veterans, not being dumb, were more likely to go into disorder
C) Both are equally as likely to go into disorder

To actually answer this question to any degree requires a statistical analysis of many instances of each.

donlowry01 Dec 2017 2:46 p.m. PST

A) Green troops are most likely to panic, run away, etc.

B) Veterans are more likely to balk at a stupid order (i.e. not charge when ordered to).

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