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Topic ClosedU.S. Civil War to WWI -- no lessons learned?

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franciscosan View Drop Down
WorldHistoria Master
WorldHistoria Master


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 May 2017 at 09:51
I understand that French small arms were rather poor in WW II(?)
I don't know whether they did much military R & D between World Wars.
For example, tanks.
I am curious, did the fortresses have supplies to hold out?  Do you know?
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AnchoriticSybarite View Drop Down
Knight
Knight


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 May 2017 at 04:48
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I understand that French small arms were rather poor in WW II(?)
I don't know whether they did much military R & D between World Wars.
For example, tanks.
I am curious, did the fortresses have supplies to hold out?  Do you know?


I can't speak to small arms, although I would assume that they were very comparable to all the other combatants in quality. As to artillery I absolutely have no clue.

However regarding tanks and aircraft, I can speak with authority. The French tanks were superior in quality and quantity to the Germans. In the largest tank battle in the Battle of France (at the time the largest tank on tank battle of all time) the French met the Germans head on and stopped them dead in their tracks. The following day the Germans renewed their attack with no better results. The French followed their success by withdrawing??????

What the French lacked was political will and competent military leadership and philosophy. The German attack was so effective because their tanks were concentrated and utilized under combined ops tactics. What their tanks lacked in quality their anti-tank weapons more than made up for.

If you want a good read which will really help you to understand the general state of France at the time try Alistair Horne's TO LOSE A BATTLE. One little statistic which speaks volumes is that after declaring war; after the fall of Poland, the French were so uncommitted that their fighter production barely reached 1 plane a week. This for a fighter that was at least competitive to the Me109.
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AnchoriticSybarite View Drop Down
Knight
Knight


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Nov 2017 at 21:04
First regarding the ACW. Following Waterloo, ALL European armies learned the lesson that the British line was better than the French column. Unfortunately they learned wrong.

Napoleon failed because he was under time constraints and hoped for a quick victory. His two principal commanders, Ney and Grouchy failed to support him miserably. But most importantly he abandoned the very tactics which had made him so successful. Instead of using the French column to maneuver his opponent into an untenable position he tried to overwhelm them through sheer size. In this his attack was not so much a columnar assault but a reversion to the old Spanish tercio--essentially a blob of soldiers making an inviting target to troops arrayed in line.

Lee as well as all the West Point grads in the war on both sides simply accepted the given wisdom that line trumped column. Both sides in fact used the same handbook: Hardees Infantry tactics.

What was Lee's greatest triumph--Chancellorsville. The narrow country lanes which could barely accommodate a single wagon at a time forced the Confederate troops into column and when Jackson's men smashed into the Union right flank they were literally an unstoppable force.


Secondly, WW I.

It is true both German, French and Brits used essentially the same tactical system--a variation of the old British line.

However, the German army within the first 6 months had begun the evolution from those dated tactics to the small unit tactics still in use today. In the Argonne German Gen von Mudra used these new tactics to advance against trenchs on a small but steady rate. Indeed it was the abandonment of these tactics which sounded the death knell of the Germans at Verdun.

Almost simultaneously with this was the genesis of the concept of stormtroopers, which proved their worth in the enormous (in terms of WWI) advances in the great German offensive of 1918.

The German's great Achilles heel was not their strategy or tactics but the fact that the enormity of the forces arrayed against them did not allow them to put out one fire before their enemies set 2-3 more.

ON the other hand, the British and the French had the tank in 1916. Yet it took them until almost 1919 to figure out how to use them successfully. Even then Liddell-Hart contends in his great work STRATEGY that British victory was not as much the breakthrough created by the tanks but a failure of will by the German General Staff when they learned of the opening of the Salonika front. He contends that the German Army could have rallied and fought on to reach better terms in the peace that followed.
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