Warfare in the 19th century (history of warfare)

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Text of Warfare in the 19th century (history of warfare)

  • Kl. '. -JL1Z t -1TA4. it

    ARFAREin the

    19thCentury

    ISTORY OF WARFAREIan Westwell

  • BR BRJD361.W471999

    Steck-Vaughn Company

    First published 1999 by Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers,an imprint of Steck-Vaughn Company.

    Copyright 1999 Brown Partworks Limited.

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever or transmittedin any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any informationstorage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner except in the case of briefquotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, address the publisher: Steck-Vaughn,

    P.O. Box 26015, Austin, TX 78755.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Westwell, Ian

    Warfare in the 19th century / Ian Westwell.p. cm. (History of warfare)

    Includes bibliographical references and index.Summary: Surveys the changing nature of warfare in the latter half

    of the nineteenth century, using accounts of various conflicts to describeadvances in communication and transportation, changes in battlefield tacticsand improvements in weaponrv.

    ISBN 0-8172-5449-81. Military history, Modern--19th century--Juvenile literature.

    2. Military art and science -History- 19th century-Juvenileliterature [1. Military history, Modern-- 19th century.2. Military art and science--History--19th century] I. Title.II. Series: Historv of warfare (Austin, Tex.)D361.W47 1999355'.009 ,034

    -dc21 98-38972CIPAC

    Printed and bound in the United States1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 IP 03 02 01 00 99 98

    works Limited Front cover: The Battle of Beecher's Island, Colorado,.ditor: Ian Westwell September 1868 (main picture) and a Prussiangner: Paul Griffin infantryman from the early 1870s (inset).:archer: Wendy Yerren Page 1: Members of a Boer commando unit in 1881

    tentorial Assistant: Antony Shaw in the Drakensberg Mountains of southern Africa.Cartographer: William le BihanIndex: Pat Coward

    Raititree Steck-Vaujjhn ConsultantPublishing Director: Walter Kossmann Dr. Niall Barr, Senior Lecturer,Project Manager: Joyce Spicer Royal Military Academy Sandhurst,Editor: Shirley Shalit Camberley, Surrey, England

    Acknowledgments listed on page 80 constitute part of this copyright page.

  • ContentsIntroduction 4

    The New Science ofWar 5

    The Crimean War

  • Introduction

    Warfare underwent very remarkablechanges during the second half of

    the 19th century. In 1840, armies usedweapons and fought in ways that wouldhave been familiar to military forces a cen-tury before. By 1900, however, warfarehad been transformed almost beyondrecognition. New weapons, the creation ofprofessional general staffs to plan and con-duct wars, and the use of railroads andtelegraph systems made wars moreplanned, controlled, and lethal. Massivefirepower and speedy movement becamethe keys to victory.

    Land warfare was transformed by devel-opments in firepower. The muzzle -loadingmusket gave way to the breech-loadingrifle, which could be fired more quicklyand was more accurate. The single-shotbreechloaders were in turn replaced byrifles that could take magazines (boxes)containing several bullets. The accuracy,range, and volume of fire of these newfirearms were all increased. Extra firepow-er was also being provided by earlymachine guns.

    Artillery was undergoing changes, frommuzzle-loading types to breechloaders.Artillery fire became more accurate, andthe cannonballs of old gave way to explo-sive shells. Fitted with fuses, these couldbe detonated at a set time after leaving themuzzle, or on impact against a target.

    Battlefield tactics had to change due tothis new firepower or casualties wouldhave been huge. Soldiers no longer foughtin close-packed ranks, which made for an

    easy target. Soldiers began to spread out toreduce the chances of being hit. Frontalattacks were avoided because of the likeli-hood of very heavy casualties. Uniformsbecame much darker so that soldierswould blend in with their surroundings.Most major countries still kept large caval-ry forces. Cavalry units still made charges,but these often resulted in large numbersof dead and wounded men and horses.Horses were still important for pullingequipment, and would remain so until thedevelopment of the internal combustionengine and mechanized transportation.

    Major changes also took place in navalwarfare. Sail-powered wooden ships werereplaced from the 1850s onward witharmor-plated, steam-driven warships. Theold broadside (row above row of cannon)batteries were replaced by revolving tur-rets, which were circular armored enclo-sures carrying two or three guns. Navalgunnery was transformed by explosiveshells, which could penetrate armor. Newweapons were being developed, includingthe submarine and underwater torpedo.

    The second half of the 19th centurysaw the world's leading powers, those ofEurope, Japan, and the United States,extend their influence through the processof taking over other peoples' lands. Backedby all the resources that industrializednations could draw on, their campaigns ofconquest across the globe were almostalways successful. The colonizers sufferedthe occasional defeats on the battlefield

    but usuallv won their wars.

  • The New Scienceof War

    Bythe middle of the 19th century it had become clear to a tew farsightcd

    senior military figures that the nature ot warfare on land and at sea waschanging quickly and in many ways. There were many reasons tor this, billthese changes were chiefly brought about by industrialization and tcchnological progress. These two factors added several new dimensions to warfare. Onland, for example, more deadly weapons, especially artillery, And the use ofrailroads and the telegraph were transforming the nature of conflict.

    By the second halfofthe l cJth centur) countries withmore developed economics, mk\ growing popula-tions, could afford to train and equip huge armies,often of hundreds of thousands of men. I lowever,while the soldiers And weapons to tight wars wereavailable, tew had considered the ways that con-flicts should be conducted or had trained careersoldiers to wage them.

    One of the firstand the most successfulattempts to adopt a methodical And scientificapproach to war planning was by a Prussian, Karlvim Clausewitz, a veteran of the NapoleonicWars. Ihs greatest book was On \\'ni\begun m 1819. He analyzed his ownexperiences of war And attempted tocreate a methodical approach to wartare. Clausewitz's approach was veryinfluential, particularly in his homeland where one man, field MarshalHelmuth von Moltke, developed hisideas to a greater extent .

    Detailed planningMoltke, a Prussian aristocrat, set about

    completely overhauling Prussia's militarystructure lie reorganized the Prussian

    General Staff (the organization responsibletor running the countrx \ milnarx affairs

    Iinto

    tour separate units: three militarx districts

    Helmuth von Moltke

    was the man whofounded the

    Prussian

    General Staff,

    which was

    responsible

    for planning

    and runningwars.

  • Warfare in the 19th Century

    Prussian artillerymen

    take part in peacetime

    maneuvers. By

    training regularly the

    Prussians made surethat they were well

    prepared for action

    when war broke out.

    (West, East, and German) and the Railroads Department. Hisaim was to make the state's armed forces more efficient and effec-tive. Prussia was an aggressive state and looked to extend its con-trol over central Europe. War was the chosen method. Moltkedecided that the best way to defeat an enemy was to plan, downto the smallest detail, the strategy to crush an enemy before warwas even declared.

    Using large maps and wooden blocks to represent Prussia'sand an enemy's armies, Moltke and members of the General Staffwould conduct "war games," trying to model the best way to wina victory. Once a general plan of campaign had been agreedupon, the necessary practical arrangements could be made. Thesewould include such factors as where armies should be massed forbest impact, how and when they needed to move and attack, andwhat they had to achieve bv a certain time. This was, in realitv,

  • In i Nl w S( ii \( i oi War

    war by timetable. Every army committed to a war was expectedto achieve a particular objectivecapture a city, or destroy .menemy force, for exampleaccording to the prearranged plan.

    Using railroads Moltke was able to move his forces quicklyand thanks to the telegraph he was kept informed of theirprogress .\nd any difficulties that might arise. Individual armycommanders, although they had a degree of independence tomake their own decisions, could always askfor help from Moltke a\k\ the GeneralStaff. Moltke's ideas were first tried out inPrussia's KS66 war with Austria and laterproved stunningrj successful during theFranco-Prussian War | 1870-71).

    A nation ready for warDuring Moltke's time Prussia also devel-oped one of the world's mightiest warmachines. Soldiers usually received themost up-to-date weapons, their officers

    underwent professional training in theirduties, .\nd the state devoted much of itsresources to improving its war-fightingability. All males of military age, for exampie, had to undergo military training for aset period, and then had to practice then-military skills for a few weeks each year.

    In times of war these men, know n asreservists, could quickly rejoin their units,be given weapons an

  • The CrimeanWar

    The Crimean War was fought from 1853 to 1856 by a number of countriesled by Britain and France against the Russians. It was probably the most

    badly managed war of the 19th century. The