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Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2024 10:09 p.m. PST

"There was nothing to be learned from the American Civil War since it was a conflict between armed mobs."

Helmut von Moltke

This famous quote prompted the late Pat Condray to write an article about this – published in a wargaming magazine that is long out of print and now out of my recollection.

Pat passed away in 2015. link

He and I were friends for decades and traded articles and letters on late-19th century wargaming. He edited the Armchair General which ran maybe a dozen issues.


Pat always promoted our hobby and showed up at conventions.


In any event I located the von Moltke article and my post-script, and I am republishing it for a new generation.


Pat Condray 2001

A few years ago, Paddy Griffith astounded the wargaming world by publishing an entirely forgettable work explaining that our ancestors during the unpleasantness with the Yankees (I hope I will be forgiven for omitting the inseparable prefix) used primitive tactics and showed no particular appreciation of the advances in weaponry. I wasn't impressed. After writing some relatively inane wargame rules Paddy decided that toy soldiers didn't belong in gaming. Since I know that the purpose of wargame rules is to animate toy soldiers, Paddy's opinion didn't impress me. I call him Paddy the Apostate.

Paddy, of course, wasn't the first to criticize the primitive military mentality of the rebellious colonials. A much more credentialed authority, Helmut von Moltke, is reputed to have made a famous statement along the same lines. Rumor has it that old Helmut remarked "There was nothing to be learned from the American Civil War since it was a conflict between armed mobs."

Nobody is entirely sure that he said it. But the word was out. And some of the U.S. Army officer corps took it personally. Years ago Larry Brom (of THE SWORD AND THE FLAME fame) gave me an interesting little volume on the Koeniggraetz Campaign called THE CAMPAIGN OF KOENIGGRAETZ. The author was Lieutenant Arthur Wagner. Of the European skeptics (and their American sycophants) he had this to say:

"European critics have generally been loath to acknowledge the military excellence displayed during the War of Secession" and .." have too often regarded our veteran armies as mere "armed mobs."

Quoting Colonel Chesley (an Englishman) he went on:

"There is a disposition to regard the American generals and the troops they led, as altogether inferior to regular soldiers."

And Wagner continued:

"But it is not only among the European critics that the military excellence displayed by our armies has been depreciated. There is a small class among the professional soldiers in our own country, who are wont to bestow all possible admiration upon the military operations in recent European wars, not because they were excellent, but because they were European; and to belittle the operations in our own war, not because they were not excellent, but because they were American…..To this small class, whose humility in regard to our national achievements is rarely combined with individual modesty, this book is not addressed."

But it might as well have been. Whew! This guy was really annoyed. Although the account of the campaign is carefully set out, much of the small volume is commentary. Paddy the Apostate to the contrary, he made some good points.

All that started me thinking. First off, did von Moltke actually say that? Over a year ago I bounced the question off the news group (which has recently been absorbed into google from deja.) Colonel Bill Gray, formerly Secretary and still web master of HMGS East, chimed in. As did my son-in-law and my oldest boy (LTC Patrick M. Condray USAF.) They bounced the issue off some non-gaming historical groups. To this day nobody can find anything to prove old Helmut actually said what he is accused of saying. But a lot of data floated back from various sources.

Colonel Gray, for example, had written a thesis or something on the evolution of the Prussian reserve system. Most of us recognize that as a product of DIE KATASTROPHIE von 1806. Clausewitz, Scharnhorst and that lot came up with a system of universal military training, very intense, which, when combined with relatively short time with the colors, produced a mass of trained manpower. This got around Napoleon's limits on the size of the Prussian Army, and provided a large army on short notice. The large army did indeed mobilize in 1813 just as soon as the Corsican Ogre's back was turned.

Apparently in the mid-19th century the year of revolutions (1849) prompted a second look. Prussia did indeed have lots of troops. But control over the local militia was not centralized enough to suit the second generation of reformers. It seems that a great many people could shoot (more or less.) But some shot in the wrong direction. A new series of reforms were set up which minimized the role of reserve formations and better subordinated them to the active army.

The discussion, as it developed, suggested that von Moltke's objections to the "armed mobs" stemmed not so much from their lack of soldierly qualities, as from their militia status. He didn't want Prussia or the new German Empire after 1871, to depend on locally controlled militias. The militia that served in the 1866 war was much criticized in subsequent German military writing as being inferior to the regular army. And in 1870 after bringing the regular army up to strength the reserves and landwehr were used only to maintain the siege lines around Metz and other fortresses, not for active field operations.

On the other hand, von Moltke did indeed cite American examples, such as the Union Army's excellent use of railroads and even military railroads. He used the success of these efforts in his successful arguments before the Reichstag for the creation of Eisenbahn(RR)truppen (troops.)

We did have some observers of European excellence. Before the Yankee invasion George B. McClellan went abroad as an observer during the Crimean War. My fascination with the "Rifle and Saber" era prompted me, while on detail to the Pentagon, to pour over his works. And at various times at the old "Main Navy" and on visits to the Library of Congress I read them every chance I got. George wrote in detail of the military structure of all the armies he could get to. For example, when he was passing through on the way back from the Crimea he noted, of the Royal Prussian Army, that the Fusilier Battalions (3rd Battalions of all regiments) were armed with the marvelous new Dreyse Nadelgewehr. The musketeers (battalions one and two of most regiments) retained a cap and ball smooth bore musket. The Jager battalions were at that time armed with a primitive predecessor of the Minie rifle.

McClellan's works "ARMIES OF EUROPE" and "CAVALRY OF EUROPE" described organization, armament, equipment (his "McClellan saddle, standard for the U.S. Cavalry as long as they rode horses came from those studies) and tactics. These works are a must for the serious rifle and saber enthusiast. For example, he notes that "With the possible exception of the Cape Mounted Rifles (shotguns and revolvers) all British cavalry are heavy cavalry." On reflection, the famous "Light Brigade" was notoriously inept at scouting and patrolling, but distinguished itself conducting a massed boot to boot charge. But I don't think I've ever seen any comments other than McClellan's that recognized the obvious. They were heavy cavalry.

After the Second War for Independence over here, Philip Sheridan got the job of watching the Europeans. He was welcomed to the King of Prussia's camp, and managed to get close enough to the front to hear the whistle of French bullets. He also got to witness the French debacle at Sedan, including the famous charge of Marguerite's Division of light cavalry including the celebrated Chasseurs d'Afrique. His observations were much quoted in U.S. military publications in the late 19th century and almost up to WWI. One of his comments had to do with speculation that the Chasseurs d'Afrique and Lanciers at Sedan had refused to charge home. "That" he retorted "is sheer calumny."

The discussion of my question in the various newsgroups turned up some interesting observations and quotations from General Sheridan. He was asked, for example, if old Helmut had indeed said those nasty things about our little war over here. To this he replied that he never heard him say it, and he doubted that it had been said "Because he (von Moltke) isn't a damn fool." This line of questioning seems to have been pushed too far. Sheridan got his dander up. At one point (in all this I'm reporting hearsay) he was asked to compare European armies to our own. Sheridan is reported to have commented "If General Grant landed in Lisbon with the Army of the Potomac he could be in Berlin in six weeks…they have nothing over there that could stop him." I took that as a very sincere compliment to the Army of Northern Virginia, since General Grant set out for Richmond in May of 1864 and didn't take the place until March of 1865.

The numbers aren't quite right. The War Between the States produced armies out of proportion to anything seen before in the Americas. But it must be admitted that the population density of Europe was much greater, and the armies larger than those of the New World. McClellan was perversely impressed with the Imperial Russian Army of the Crimea. The United States at that time had two dragoon regiments, one of mounted rifles, and was thinking about raising a first and second (Jeff Davis' Own) cavalry regiment. Every Russian Corps, and there were many, had more cavalry than that. There was even a division of Imperial Guard Cuirassiers! This distracted him from the clumsiness of the Imperial Russian Army, especially the troops in the Crimea. He did notice, however, that the Russian cavalry regulations called for a much shorter portion of the charge to be conducted at the canter and gallop, a fact which I duly reflected in my WAR IN THE AGE OF NAPOLEON THE LITTLE rules.

In a more practical sense, the French, Piedmontese, and Austro-Hungarian armies at Solferino in 1859 were far larger than those engaged at Chancellorsville or Gettysburg in 1863. And the Austrian and Prussian armies deployed against each other at Koeniggraetz were even larger.

Were they better? Of Koeniggraetz Wagner comments:

"In point of numbers engaged, it was the greatest battle of modern times; for the two contending armies aggregated nearly half a million men. In this respect it exceeded Gravelotte, and even surpassed the "Battle of Nations" fought on the plains of Leipsic, fifty two years before."

"Yet, considering the numbers engaged, the loss of life was not great. The sum total of the killed and wounded was nearly 6,000 less than at Gettysburg though in that sanguinary struggle the combined strength of the Union and Confederate armies was less than that of the Austrian army alone at Koeniggraetz."

"A bit of reflection on these facts might convince certain European critics that the failure of victorious American armies to pursue their opponents vigorously was due to other causes than inefficient organization or a lack of military skill. In the words of Colonel Chesney: "In order to pursue there must be some one to run away, and to the credit of the Americans, the ordinary conditions of European warfare in this respect were usually absent."

Not to put too fine a point on it, those European guys were wimps. In fact:

"It is, perhaps, not too much to say, that had Von Benedek (the Austrian commander at Koeniggraetz) been a Lee, and had his army been of the nature of Lee's army, even if defeated at Koeniggraetz, the next day would have found him on the left bank of the Elbe under the shelter of hasty entrenchments presenting a bold front to the Prussians; for there was no reason, aside from demoralization, for the retreat of the Austrians so far from the scene of their defeat."

Like I said, wimps. At least, that was obviously the direction in which Lt. Wagner's thoughts were headed. It was perhaps unfair, and motivated by resentment of von Moltke's alleged remarks.

First off, we should keep in mind that it took our ancestors three days of battle to do the damage which is being compared to a single day's mayhem at Koeniggraetz. Of the latter Wagner quotes the figures from the Prussian history: "The Prussian losses were 9,153 killed, wounded, and missing. The Austrians lost 44,200, killed, wounded, and missing, including in that last classification 19,800 prisoners." These losses were from armies which, giving the same source, were as follows: "The strength of the Austrian army was 206,100 men and 770 guns. " The Prussian army is given at "220,984 men and 792 guns." Thus the losers suffered 21% losses and routed off the field, while the victors suffered 4% and were too disorganized to effectively pursue for three days.

By comparison "the Union Army at Gettysburg was 78,043. The Confederate army numbered about 70,000. The Union army lost 3,072 killed, 14,497 wounded. The Confederates lost 2,592 killed, and 12,709 wounded. " Thus, counting prisoners and other missing, the Austrian loss was roughly 21%, while the Union loss in killed and wounded was 22.5% and the Confederate loss 22%. But, as noted, hardly a fair comparison since our ancestors took three days to accomplish those figures.

A better comparison would be Antietam, the bloodiest single day of The War Between the States. Lee there lost 13,700 out of roughly 50,000, or 27%, while McClellan (our expert on European Warfare) lost only 12,400 out of 90,000, or 14%. For those who criticize the recklessness of the Southern offensive, we should note that 11,000 Yankees were bagged at Harper's Ferry in the process. (Dupuy, Encyclopedia of Military History.)

On the other hand, Solferino was, until our conflict in the States, the most recent example of a major battle. It was famous for having been so bloody that it inspired the founding of the Red Cross, and discouraged both Emperors (Napoleon III and Franz Josef) from continuing the war. The official histories give Allied (French and Piedmontese) losses as 14,878 out of 138,137, or 10.7%, while the Austrians suffered 19,805 out of 129,273, or 15,3%. As at Gettysburg, Antietam, and Koeniggraetz there was little effective pursuit.

Of course, even the most haughty Prussian was inclined to grant the unskilled masses courage. But Wagner and the friendly sources he quotes were quick to insist on cohesion. And if early war battles such as First Manassas showed less cohesion, there was always the example of the Bavarian Reserve Cavalry (Cuirassier) Brigade in 1866. Their horse artillery opened on the head of a Prussian column, and when return fire landed a shell in their ranks, the armored horsemen bolted for the rear. Worse, during the advance into Austria Prussian cavalry (which wasn't all that swift) routed a brigade Hungarian Hussars (the finest light cavalry in Europe?) from their cantonments. It was enough to make J.E.B. Stuart's brief gaffe at Brandy Station look good.

What of weapons and tactics? Curiously European military writers were aware, between 1871 and 1914, that the peculiar American device, the six-shooter, made a difference in cavalry tactics. But, except for the French Cuirassiers from the late 1870s to 1902 (when they lacked carbines) the revolver was not widely adopted. Several examples were cited of victories of revolver wielding troopers over determined swordsmen. But if nobody else was doing it, European cavalry officers were apparently reluctant to ride in front of masses of revolver firing enlisted men.

Essentially the masses of American volunteers (and conscripts) were equipped with second generation Minie rifles. A comparison in Zietschrifte fur Heereskunde (notebook on military history) observed in the Pentagon Library years ago compared the ballistics of mid century rifles. The French were the worst. Essentially the weapons entering service during the Crimean War and remaining standard through 1866 (Austro-French and Mexican Campaigns) were re-bored 1840s percussion muskets. They were about on a par ballistically with the Dreyse Needle Gun. Some of these entered service in America with Zouave units on either side. The Austrian Lorenz (which equipped many of Forrest's Confederates until Yankees captured the bullet molds) was similar in performance to the Enfields (the English weapon that sparked the Indian Mutiny) and Springfields.

Much to my surprise the Henry Rifle was ballistically superior to most service weapons until the 1867 Chassepot. This caused John Hill a problem when he was writing JOHNNY REB. But he equalized it with the better Minie rifles. The first Prussian repeaters in wide use were the Mausers of the late 1880s-the same reorganization which led to the universal adoption of the lance and carbine by the cavalry.

Although Sheridan and Wilson were able to mount effective saber charges, that was not the limit of American cavalry tactics. Many Europeans commented favorably on the efficiency of U.S. and Confederate horsemen. The role of Union cavalry with the repeating carbine (usually Spencers) in harassing the Confederate retreat to Appomattox, or in the first day's fight at Gettysburg was noted. Curiously, the proportion of cavalry in our armies was higher than in those of Europe. Individual states sent more mounted regiments to war than many European nations. Europeans in the late 19th century usually considered that a division of cavalry fighting on foot would be outmatched by a battalion of infantry. No such sense of inferiority applied to Forrest or Sheridan. Wagner notes: "..the effective fire action of the American cavalry seems to be taken by foreign critics as proof positive that those troops were not cavalry, but merely mounted infantry-a view not shared by those who participated in the saber charges of Merritt, Custer and Devin."

The effectiveness of dismounted cavalry, and its ability to contend with moderate infantry forces obviously gave cavalry over here a formidable edge in raiding. The cavalry raid, Wagner noted, could have tied up either the Prussian or Austrian armies several times during the 1866 campaign. But the protagonists were ambivalent about that practice. Wagner quotes a German authority, von der Goltz as writing:

"If a squadron of horse, improvised by a partisan, was defeated in such an enterprise, or…broke itself, that was of little consequence. … Quite a different impression would be caused by the annihilation of one of our cavalry regiments that by history and tradition is closely bound up with the whole army.."

In response Wagner points out that von Bredow's death ride at Mars-la-Tour "was deemed well worth the sacrifice of two superb cavalry regiments; yet the results obtained by that famous charge certainly were not greater than those achieved by Van Dorn in the capture of Holly Springs. The former is supposed to have stopped a dangerous French attack; the latter is known to have checked a Federal campaign at its outset. Even had Van Dorn's entire force been captured or slain (instead of escaping without loss) the result would have justified the sacrifice."

The Europeans were clearly intrigued by raiding. Graf Zeppelin (of airship fame) attempted a small raid in 1870, defeating a squad of lancers, but being captured with his squad by Chasseurs a Cheval while dining at a French Inn near Metz. Von der Goltz objections carried some weight. But shortly after Wagner wrote (in 1889) the Imperial German Cavalry, newly equipped with lances and Mausers, rethought the issue. I seem to recall from pre-WWI manuals at the Navy Department Library, that German horsemen carried explosives for demolition. Each trooper carried a charge of dynamite or some such. The non-commissioned officers alone were trusted with blasting caps (also revolvers.)

Our artillery over here was about middle of the pack. The gunners of the Army of the Potomac would have been up to the task of defeating the Prussian gunners of 1866, but a bit outclassed by those of 1870. The Napoleon 12pdr which formed such a large part of our artillery arms over here was introduced by Napoleon III (hence the name) during the Crimean War, but he rifled his weapons for 1859 and 1870.

On the whole, the infantry tactics in vogue here were sloppy British. Notionally the battalions fought in two lines, but more commonly three. They brought themselves into contact with the enemy and exchanged volleys. Moltke is said to have noted that advancing troops didn't fire anywhere near as effectively as stationary troops. But Prussian infantry tactics until late in the 1870 War featured maneuver in company columns proceeded by skirmishers. Elite units around Paris went to open order advances supported by artillery.

` Wagner is highly critical of official Prussian tactics, which he claims did not come to rely on the skirmisher as standard infantry tactics until the 1887 regulations. But Hohenlohe (PRUSSIAN INFANTRY) makes it clear that they were used in the Siege of Paris in 1871.

At any rate, I was never able to pin down Helmut von Moltke as the author of the infamous remark. But apocryphal or not, the comment sparked a lot of debate in American, and even European military circles. The main difference between our military forces in the 19th, and much of the 20th century and those of Europe was not in quality. It lay in our habit of sending practically everyone home when the shooting stopped. Thus, our professional officers avidly studied European affairs where standing armies operated in divisions and corps even in peacetime. And, obviously a man like von Moltke could hardly imagine (let alone tolerate) a German Empire which lacked a powerful standing army with massive Landwehr and Landsturm to back it up!

Pat Condray

A Post-script to Pat Condray's Article on
Moltke's "Armed Mob" Accusation
By David Raybin

In light of our similar interest in mid-nineteenth European military affairs, my good friend Pat Condray sent me an advance copy of his Moltke article. I find his thesis exactly correct. Pat is operating with a full clip here.

I too have long heard the "quote" but, as Pat points out, it does not stand up to critical analysis. I suspect the quote is real but was uttered -- or more probably written -- by some other German who was extolling the virtue of the "staff system " of which we, in 1860-65, had none and thus the idea that we were but "mobs." In time the "catchy phrase" may have been attributed to Moltke because -- quite frankly -- nobody had a clue as to the names of the other German military leaders.

Pat's article set me to thinking and so I did a bit of research on the issue and came up with several sources on the question:

George Cary Eggleston, in A Rebel's Recollections written in 1874, says:

"A newspaper correspondent has told us that the great leader of the German armies, Count Von Moltke, has never read anything – even a history – of our war, and that when questioned on the subject, he has said he could not afford to spend time over ‘the wrangling of two armed mobs.' If he ever said anything of the kind, which is doubtful, his characterization of the two armies had reference, probably, to their condition during the first year or two of the struggle, when they could lay very little claim indeed to any more distinctively military title."

In a paper presented to The Civil War Round Table in Chicago 1960, Bruce Catton discusses the same issue. In a fantastic twist he says that he is proud that perhaps we were armed mobs but at least we were not a bunch of "goose-stepping retainers." Mr. Catton then goes on to explain:

"We do pursue, finally, an American dream, and we evoke American means to attain it. We are, in this country, something new; and even our war with ourselves -- our stupid, costly, fearfully tragic attempt to lay hands on our own spirit -- was unique! We are an "armed mob", answerable to no traditions and to no Old World formulas, going forward to shape the future in accord with the dream that we have dreamed. And as we go and look back on what we've done and try to figure out the cost and the meaning of it all, we have nothing much to go on except the words which a poet a century ago left to us: ‘Some day man will awaken from his long sleep, and will find that his dream remains, and only his sleep is gone.' "

Beautiful stuff but back to the issue. My view is that I suspect that Moltke never said much of anything! Here are excerpts from the final paragraphs on Moltke from the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica:

"As a strategist Moltke cannot be estimated by comparison with Fredrick or Napoleon because he had not the authority either of a king or a commander-in- chief. While it is doubtful whether he can be convicted of any strategic errors, it seems beyond doubt that he never had to face a situation which placed any strain on his powers, for in the campaigns of 1866 and 1870 his decisions seemed to be made without the slightest effort and he was never at a loss. He had a tall spare figure and in his latter years his tanned features had received a set expression which was at once hard and grand. He was habitually taciturn and reserved, and though a most accomplished linguist, it was said of him that he was ‘silent in seven languages.' "

Good riddance I say. Perhaps Pat's article finally puts an end to the old Count's misquotation.

Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2024 10:52 a.m. PST

] In 1870, President Grant, at Sheridan's request, sent him to observe and report on the Franco-Prussian War. As a guest of King Wilhelm I of Prussia, he was present when Emperor Napoléon III surrendered to the Germans, which was gratifying to Sheridan following his experiences with the French in Mexico. He later toured most of Europe and returned to the U.S. to report to Grant that although the Prussians were "very good brave fellows [who] had gone into each battle with the determination to win, … there is nothing to be learned here professionally." He criticized their handling of cavalry and likened their practices to the manner in which Meade had attempted to supervise him. However, he referred to theirs as a "perfect military system" and had a high opinion of the officer corps. His words on the French were much more harsh; he criticized the French army for not taking numerous opportunities to halt the German advance, for advancing slowly and clumsily themselves, for not taking any of the numerous good opportunities to cut the enemy's unguarded lines of communication, and for being routed frequently. He remarked: "I am disgusted; all my boyhood's fancies of the soldiers of the great Napoleon have been dissipated, or else the soldiers of the "Little Corporal" have lost their elan in the pampered parade soldiers of the 'Man of Destiny'."

Escapee Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2024 12:22 p.m. PST

Thanks very much for this Nashville, very enjoyable article, links also.

BTW, I still have my fingers crossed that we will get an FPW board someday…

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2024 1:54 p.m. PST

That was a really good read. Thanks for posting.

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2024 1:55 p.m. PST

Sheridan already had his opinion of the French from Mexico. And that's a conflict that I have long wanted to game. One guy in our club has Franco Prussians. Another has US Cavalry and infantry.
This scenario is a deep and twisting rabbit warren. Consider carefully before you climb in. grin

Because of this TMP conversation, I did step into it:

  • I got a good way through writing an entire campaign system for it, and even put up a web site for it (which Google wrecked a couple years ago)
  • It's the only reason I own Franco-Prussian armies (I wanted the French; the Prussians came along for the ride), and as of last year, a large painted 15mm Maximilian-era Mexico collection. (Of course, since I own FPW armies I've tried FPW gaming, but it just doesn't make a flash in my pan.)
  • I added Chassepot, Mitrailleuse and Gatling to the Regimental Fire & Fury QRS.
  • I own 2 games of the MAW and a magazine game called Cactus Throne about the French Intervention, originally as reference materials. The MAW and French Intervention both provide a lot of good pointers to the likely routes, logistics, and strategies, but the size and experience of the American and French armies, the dependence on ports, and the advances in weaponry would have made a war between the two very different.
  • I own a pretty big collection of 1/1200 1850s and 1860s ships (French and American, both wooden and ironclad, from gunboats to steam SOLs). I'm really more of a naval gamer, so the fascinating Franco-American naval contest is what really got my attention. The match is very asymmetrical, and I think much more even than triumphalist American wargamers want to believe.

All that aside, I'm not sure a Franco-American War in Mexico would prove much of anything for Europhile observers. The logistical impediment of the Atlantic prevents any "fair" contest between fully mobilized American and European armies. The French Intervention was considered an overgrown colonial conflict in a tropical wasteland, and realistically that's what it would have been for the USA as well. Mexico was a poor country with rugged terrain and long distances, which would tend to produce small armies operating on long logistical tethers; I suspect there were unlikely to be corps-scale fights in the deserts, mountains or jungles of Mexico. The fights around and between Vera Cruz and Mexico City might have been sizeable, for as long as the supplies lasted for the side cut off from supplies coming up from Caribbean ports.

Normal Guy Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2024 12:09 p.m. PST

Thanks for sharing Pat's article from a different time in wargame history. It was so good to read his humor, wit, and pointed comments. What a jewel.

donlowry08 Jan 2024 9:49 a.m. PST

The Prussian ambassador to the U.S. was certainly imperssed by the U.S. armies that paraded in Washington before going home, especially Sherman's, IIRC.

J. F. C. Fuller and other British military thinkers certainly found plenty to study in the ACW.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2024 10:30 p.m. PST

"Armed mobs" might just as well be applied to any citizen-soldier militia. Greek hoplites, Swiss pikemen, WWII Anglo-Allies. Moltke was full of it.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2024 8:56 a.m. PST

Thanks for sharing Pat's article.

Having been involved with Paddy's study of the Civil War, I think that Pat dismissal of Paddy's assertions is rather facile and misrepresents at least some of what Paddy proposed. One thing that has ample evidence is that the distance at which ACW firefights commenced and infantry attacks were prepared was the same 200-300 yards practiced during the Napoleonic wars. That doesn't mean that Paddy was right about everything he claimed.

As for Prussian Tactics, read some of the Prussian debates after the 1866 war on Prussian tactics by Captain May and the Prussian staff rebuttals. 300 yards appears as an important distance… including the range of the Needle Gun. The Prussians in 1866 are still talking about attacking with columns and skirmishers a' la 1805. The observations of Prussian officers after the 1870 war read like those of the ACW, particularly in reference to tactics and skirmishing.

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