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Paskal Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2022 1:23 a.m. PST

Hello everyone,

Do you think that some rules for the ACW could be perfectly used for a conflict in Europe or elsewhere at the same time, because the weapons used are often of the same system.


Porthos23 Jun 2022 3:23 a.m. PST

"Helmuth von Moltke, the elder of the two notable Generals von Moltke and who made his fame in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, is noted for allegedly describing the American Civil War as nothing but "two armed-mobs" running around the countryside and beating each other up, from which very little of military utility could be learned."

So I am not positive about using tactical rules for the ACW in Europe, but perhaps more strategical rules (at least divisions or higher) could be useful.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Jun 2022 3:49 a.m. PST

Very abstracted rules for large battles (such as BBB) can work for both but the more tactical (as opposed to grand tactical) level does, in my opinion, need a different approach.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2022 6:33 a.m. PST

I think von Moltke was a bit unkind – but given the differences between European and American armies and terrain not sure how portable a rule set would be

That being said I think that people do use Fire & Fury for European wars – as well as BBB

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2022 6:36 a.m. PST

The American armies were very different in character from the Europeans. The weapons used in 1870 in Europe were more advanced also.

I would say Volley and Bayonet would also serve both. Again, grand tactical.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2022 7:47 a.m. PST

No, the weapons used are not "often of the same system." You might get away with 1859 or with Langensalza in 1866, but it's unusual to find a European conflict in which both sides used mostly rifled muzzle-loaders, so adapting tactical ACW rules is probably going to be more trouble than it's worth.

At the big battle end, where most of the problems are command and control of large armies using mounted couriers, I agree with Gildas and Tortorella--V&B and BBB should work for both continents.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2022 10:14 a.m. PST

I think you could use them for the South American War of the Triple Alliance. Also, they would work for the Mexican Adventure with a few home rules added.

Rich Bliss23 Jun 2022 10:22 a.m. PST


Paskal Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2022 10:33 a.m. PST

Helmuth von Moltke, the elder of the two notable Generals von Moltke was perhaps Americanophobic?

Need a different approach? Which ?

Do you think von Moltke was a little mean? Because maybe he wasn't an Americanophile? Of course there were differences between the European and American armies, but the weapon systems were the same!
And if people use Fire & Fury for European wars – as well as BBB, I think a lot of us had that idea.

The evidence is that many ACW weapons saw service in the Third Republic army.

@robert piepenbrink
During ACW we already find the types of weapons that will be used in 1870-71, so I too agree with Gildas and Tortorella – V&B and BBB should work for both continents and other rules too, but attention with some small modifications in the tactical factors.

In fact I think they will work for any conflict that is contemporary with them!


Regicide164923 Jun 2022 10:45 a.m. PST

Certainly for the Crimean War; probably for the Russo-Turkish War of the 1870s (the smoothbore musket was still the standard infantry arm of those nations, but I have no idea if these had been rifled). Elsewhere, from 1850 onwards, just about every 'smooth-bore' anywhere in Europe and the US was rebored to recieve the Minie ball, with some exceptions in the Confederacy and among second line Federal units. ACW rules would well fit the Austrians in the war of 1866; in fact, Napoleonic rules would work well if you reduced cavalry charge effectiveness and amped up artillery, but only slightly. The Prussian 'needle-gun' was flawed and soon abandoned; it alone is perhaps the innovation of no relevance to the ACW. And I suppose, the mitrailleuse.

Martin Rapier23 Jun 2022 11:10 a.m. PST

As noted above, pretty well all the larger scale rules (V&B, BBB, Fire & Fury, HFG etc) work fine for both theatres. Obviously later in Europe, weapons, artillery ratios and tactics are quite different, but if you are shoving around divisions and corps, it doesn't matter that much. The command issues are much the same (huge armies, huge battlefields, very limited C2 tools).

BBB is essentially just a simplified and extended version of Fire & Fury.

Old Contemptible23 Jun 2022 12:57 p.m. PST

I would say no. Too many differences in weapons, organization, technology and tactics. By the FPW these differences are magnified. For the ACW we use MLW but for the FPW we use TDFG.

Personal logo KimRYoung Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2022 7:13 p.m. PST

The Franco-Austrian War of 1859 would be the closest in terms of weaponry.

Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871 had major changes in weapons and tactics that ACW rules won't reflect.


Paskal Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2022 4:03 a.m. PST

Rifle and smoothbore muskets were not the only types of shoulder armies used during ACW, as were artillery pieces which were sometimes also breech-loading.

@Martin Rapier:
Completely in agreement with you!

@Old Contemptible:
Completely disagree with you!

The weapon used during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871 was also used during the ACW!

Personal logo KimRYoung Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2022 6:52 a.m. PST

The weapon used during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871 was also used during the ACW!

That is true, but by then entire armies were armed with breech loading rifles unlike the civil war in which it was usually select regiments or primarily (union) cavalry.

Also, changed was artillery being breech loading (Prussia) and the French Mitrailleuse (early machine gun) attached to their artillery batteries.

This drastically changed tactics from the American Civil War to ones more like the early months of World War I.


Paskal Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2022 10:09 a.m. PST

@ KimRYoung :

The army of the third republic used many weapons of the american civil war without the tactics being modified.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2022 12:12 p.m. PST

Paskal, the armies of the Third Republic were desperate, and picked up obsolescent and poorly-stored leftovers from the ACW. Think of it as our revenge for the junk various Europeans sold us at the start of the ACW. An army raised almost from scratch in the middle of a war didn't revise tactical drills for stop-gap weapons given to units the high command didn't like. The point remains that to get an ACW tactical set right, the important thing is the effect of muzzle-loading rifles, though you'd probably want to allow for smoothbores and breech-loading carbines. If you ignored breech-loading rifles entirely, the issue would rarely come up. If you're writing rules for the FPW, the most important infantry thing to get right is the interaction between chassepot and needlegun.

If you've already decided that there is only one acceptable answer to your question and you already know what it is, why post the question?

As for von Moltke, sometimes when I watch the armies blundering around through the Seven Days--usually lost in the woods, no maps, commanders with no idea where their corps are, and no functioning staff--I see what he's talking about. By 1863-4, things are different. But does anyone know when he made the comment?

Old Contemptible24 Jun 2022 5:00 p.m. PST


Why are you asking if you already made up your mine? There are reasons why there are separate sets of rules for these conflicts. If you want to use ACW rules for these later 19th Century wars then go ahead.

I play regimental ACW, battalion FPW and battalion/commando 2nd Boer War, these later conflicts are not entirely the same as the ACW. In my opinion the ACW has more in common with the earlier Crimean War than the later conflicts.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP25 Jun 2022 4:06 a.m. PST

@ robert piepenbrink:
Your revenge for the junk various Europeans sold you at the start of the ACW? Which nation sold bad muskets or rifles to the american?

@ Old Contemptible:
There are reasons why there are separate sets of rules for these conflicts. Oh yes? Which? When we know that certain types of weapons were used from 1700 to 1871 without too many changes.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jun 2022 8:14 a.m. PST

Sorry Pascal that has nothing to do with the reality of wars and weaponry between major nations over that time period.

Prussia was using a flintlock musket in 1700 and most certainly not using them in 1871 and nor were any but the most lowly militia in any major european army of that date. Just because a few turned up in small states or in the hands of revolutionaries or non-european forces does not have any bearing on comparing the ACW with the FPW in terms of weaponry & tactics.

You really do need to get a proper perspective on what you try to discuss before making statements that are untenable and/or irrelevant.

donlowry25 Jun 2022 8:35 a.m. PST

Which nation sold bad muskets or rifles to the american?

There were many complaints about Austrian muskets, although Grant said the problem was more with the percussion caps than the muskets themselves. I also seem to recall complaints about muskets bought from Belgium, but those might have been of Austrian origin or Austrian pattern -- not sure.

donlowry25 Jun 2022 8:38 a.m. PST

As for von Moltke's comment, IIRC, the Prussian ambassador to the U.S., after watching Sherman's army march down Pennsylvania Avenue in the victory parade, said an army like that could conquer all of Europe -- or something along those lines.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP25 Jun 2022 9:49 a.m. PST

Paskal, I think just about everyone. I might except the British, because they habitually armed HEIC troops with their castoffs. donlowry mentions the largest suppliers, but those were the weapons good enough to be almost acceptable. Remember both central governments and virtually every state had buyers in Europe in competition to one another, and many of the buyers knew little or nothing about military longarms. Most of this junk was swapped out before soldiers went into battle with it--at least in the north--but I think we purchased all the scrap iron in Europe in 1861.

This is normal. As you noted, the Third Republic does the same thing in 1870, though I think the poor Bretons may have been the only ones actually sent into combat with rusted-out antiques. And you can see the same thing at the start of the Spanish Civil War. Desperate nations buy third-rate weapons, and often pay premium prices. It's no use saying that the purchases prove the value of the weapons, or their compatibility with tactical doctrines.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2022 3:18 a.m. PST

@robert piepenbrink:

For the poor Bretons it's normal, it was said in the past "that the anti-clerical Republic wins its wars with its Bretons, its Vendeans and its indigênes".

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