Here is the next what if/could it? thread and it is a sort of follow up to the previous one on the Battle of the Little Big Horn and Gatling Guns.
I got inspired to create this thread and the Little Bighorn one from an article I read in the current issue of Armchair General magazine about the failure of the United States to effectively adopt modern, breach loading and rapid fire weapons, and thus remain with rifle-muskets and the Napoleonic infantry tactics.
A lot of that failure came down to one man: Brigadier General James Wolfe Ripley, chief of the US Army Ordinance Bureau. Whether it was techno-phobia or just plain stupidity im not sure, but he made determined efforts to prevent the US army from adopting modern weapons in the years prior to and the months after the outbreak of the Civil War, such as:
the Henry Rifle:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_rifle
The Spencer Carbine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spencer_repeating_rifle
The Sharps Carbine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharps_rifle
The Agar Gun (AKA Union Repeating Gun or Coffee Mill Gun): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar_gun
and the famous Gatling Gun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gatling_gun
By the time Ripley was relieved of his post in 1863, it was too late for these weapons to make a decisive difference, as the war was already turning against the Confederacy, and there was (IMO) too many men in the Army to give enough of these weapons too.
So, I thought, why not discuss the possibilities these weapons could have presented.
Here is my scenario, for hypothetical reasons, The United States Army adopts one or more of the repeating small arms listed above (Henry, Spencer, Sharps) in the year or two prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. The Sharps was in limited service in the 1850s, so those could have been readily available, and with the Henry and Spencer, we assume that they are being issued not long after being shown and adopted in 1860 when they were first made.
Obviously, there still would have been plenty of Springfield and Enfield Muskets available, but here we will assume that a determined effort is made to phase them out, and that much of the peacetime US army is already wielding them at the outbreak of war.
I think it is safe to say that at the outbreak of war, most of these weapons would be in the hands of the Union army, due to the North's vast industry and the secessions of the southern states halting all supplies of these weapons and ammo to the south. There would be some stockpiles already down there, but not nearly enough for an entire army, and little way to make new weapons and ammo effectively.
So with this change, I present these questions:
With a pre-war adoption of modern rifles in the US army, could the Union army have performed much better in the first campaigns of the war?
Could these weapons alone have crushed the Confederacy without a long drawn out war? By this I mean a 1 or 2 year war at the longest.
Would the commanders have still stuck with Napoleonic tactics, or would they have, at least gradually, ordered more usage of skirmisher-type tactics of spreading out and using cover?
They could not have changed overnight, I think a change would require a minimum of 4-6 months for units already in service, less for fresh recruits, as they would have no previous training to unlearn.
Could proper fielding of Gatling and Coffee Mill Guns have made a decisive difference?
This question can be examined in the case of the actual war or my hypothetical scenario
We could also stretch things a little further, and examine the possibilities of the US Army adopting and producing under license modern European weapons, such as the Dreyse Needle Gun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyse_needle_gun
I don't think any battle demonstrates the effectiveness of modern weapons in the 1860s more than the legendary Battle of Koniggratz in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_K%C3%B6niggr%C3%A4tz
The Dreyse Needle Gun played a critically vital role in the outcome of that battle.
This could be a very interesting thread, I look forward to the discussion and debates.
"we have officially entered into pre-whinning about our games."- CogreI will always respect differing opinions on here, so long as they are presented maturely and in a civil manner
"No Battleplan ever survives contact with the enemy"- Helmuth Von Moltke the Elder
The WWI Thread: https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/30914/why-a-world-war-i-themed-total-war/p1
I'm skipping TW: Warhammer