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Old 12-25-2012, 12:24 PM
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Default T2K and the [1st] American Civil War

After seeing Lincoln a few weeks ago, I decided to read Shelby Foote's justly famous three volume Narrative History of the Civil War (a Christmas gift from a few years ago). I just finished Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville and, as with most non-fiction that I read, it got me thinking about the Twilight War.

The American Civil War has been called the first modern war by many military historians. It was the first major war in which the major combatants had access to extensive railroads, rifles (some of them breach-loaders and/or repeaters), telegraphs networks, observation balloons, and ironclad steam-powered warships. Compared to warfare today, it doesn't seem all that modern, but when you consider the widespread destruction caused by limited nuclear warfare, warfare c.2000 would have reverted in many respects to earlier models. The more I think about it, the more the American Civil War seems like a good model for warfare in the later years of the Twilight War.

First off, combat unit sizes were generally smaller then and support services much more so. A "full-strength" infantry division might only contain 3000 men. A regiment may contain only 500 or so. These unit sizes have more in common with late Twilight War unit sizes than they do with late Cold War or modern ones. The scale of fighting in 2000 would more closely resemble the scale of warfare during the ACW than it would that of WWII. The parallels that I see have mostly to do with warfare on a strategic and operational level (the latter moreso than the former). Tactically speaking, advances in military technology between 1865 and 1996 would make civil war battle tactics suicidal to emulate.

Second, during the ACW, there wasn't much of a front line in a modern sense- at least not a continuous one. The country was simply too big and the relative armies small in relation to the territory being contested. Units tended to congregate near major, strategically important population centers (i.e. cantonments, in T2K parlance) but units could range far and wide while on campaign. Despite being mostly foot bound, ACW infantry divisions were highly mobile. Since there wasn't a continuous front, units could really explore the space, so to speak. Lines of supply were important, but since armies could sustain themselves in the field for weeks or months at a time, they could sometimes be disregarded by units on the march. Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign is a prime example of this. The capture of enemy supply depots became an important component of resupply when on campaign. It was not desirable to have a large enemy unit across one's rear, but it wasn't necessarily disastrous. As long as it had enough ammunition to defend itself, a unit could operate in the field for extended periods of time, to a large extent living off of the land. Feints and misdirection were important, in an operational sense. If an enemy unit could be drawn off on a wild goose chase, a friendly unit were have much more operational freedom. There were many instances where opposing armies circled each other for days or weeks, not because they were trying to avoid one another, but because they couldn't find each other.

It struck me how similar this style of manouver warfare is to what is described in T2K canon. The U.S. 5th & 8th ID's operations in the summer of 2000 are prime examples. Canon is pretty clear that "fronts" existed only in a very loose sense, much like during the ACW. Both the 5th & the 8th IDs are operating, essentially on their own, deep inside enemy territory. This indicates to me that their own supply lines were basically being ignored by the division commanders. Like Civil War armies, they must have been carrying enough food, ammo, and fuel for at least a few weeks of independent operations, with in-the-field replenishment almost entirely up to the division. Foraging (for food, fodder, and fuel) would be an essential part of military operations again. They must have been counting on finding and making use of enemy supply depots.

As I dive into the next two volumes of the series, I will probably come across more correlates, and I will continue to post them here for discussion. Your observations are, of course, welcome.
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:34 PM
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Your observations are, of course, welcome.
Careful what you wish for

But seriously, aside from the things you cited, I'd also point out that in the Twilight War of 2000, air power is effectively nonexistent. And of course, during the American Civil War, they were decades away from the invention of aircraft, and the natural thoughts of air power as a military tool.
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Old 12-25-2012, 10:04 PM
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The American Civil War has been called the first modern war by many military historians. ...The more I think about it, the more the American Civil War seems like a good model for warfare in the later years of the Twilight War.

...The scale of fighting in 2000 would more closely resemble the scale of warfare during the ACW than it would that of WWII. The parallels that I see have mostly to do with warfare on a strategic and operational level (the latter moreso than the former). ...

Second, during the ACW, there wasn't much of a front line in a modern sense- at least not a continuous one. The country was simply too big and the relative armies small in relation to the territory being contested. Units tended to congregate near major, strategically important population centers (i.e. cantonments, in T2K parlance) but units could range far and wide while on campaign. ...
The ACW has also been referred to as the last Napoleonic war, and I think that speaks more to what you are seeing. Armies didn't use to have the ability to cover entire theaters with manpower, such as in WW1 & WW2, so they concentrated to fight. Somewhere after the ACW, armies got that big (the Russo-Turkish and Russo-Japanese Wars were close, but not there yet).

The "operational" level of war emerged as a concept around WW1 in Russian (later Soviet) thinking-- before that, marching one's army around was part of strategy.

Anyway, yes, I agree with your thought that 2000 armies will be more concentrated, leaving more gaps between them.
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:52 PM
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Yes, the ACW, manouvers were often strategic in nature, but that's because there was little, if any, concept or understanding of the operational art of war at that time. In the Twilight War, such sprawling, more or less independent manouvers by divisions (or corps, on a larger scale) would not necessarily be strategic in nature, but I see your point.

Another similarity between the ACW and the TW might be the subsistance economy that developed in the South as the war wore on. Rampant inflation and shortages of many basic consumer products led to skyrocketing prices. In a similar vein, Confederate military supply problems (caused in large part by their relatively small industrial base) meant that many of their soldiers had to be equipped with captured Union gear, if it was available, or, from time to time, do completely without. At one point during the first two years of the war, up to a third of the Army of Northern Virginia was shoeless.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:27 AM
Neal5x5 Neal5x5 is offline
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Another aspect of the ACW that compares well to T2K is the treatment of civilians. Although there were notable acts of chivalry by both sides on occasion, looting and pillaging were common. The capture of depots were important but much of the goods armies survived on were taken from civilians. Moreover, the Union recognized the Confederacy's weakness regarding industrial output and specifically targeted civilian production with the Anaconda blockade and Sherman's March. I can't help but think that the 5th ID's drive into Poland was much like Sherman's March, at least until the end.

BTW, if you get the opportunity, I highly recommend getting Foote's work The Stars in Their Courses as an audio book. Foote reads it himself and he reads it with a fantastic voice. It must have been at least fifteen years since I listened to it and I still think of his description of the "butternut gray" uniforms of the Confederate troops.

Last edited by Neal5x5; 12-28-2012 at 10:49 AM. Reason: adding comment regarding audio version
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:31 PM
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I'll have to see if I can score a copy of the audio versions on the cheap. Foote's prose is so beautiful, though, I'm not sure that I want to deprive myself by listening instead of reading.

Just started volume 2 of the trilogy and read about a couple of long-range Confederate cavalry raids in the Tenessee theater late in '62. The purpose of these raids was to disrupt the predicted offensive operations of superior Union forces by disrupting thier lines of communication and supply, and generally cause as much havoc as possible in the enemy's rear. They were very successful. I could see similar operations late on in the Twilight War, conducted by units of Rangers, divisional cavalry squadrons, proper horse cavalry, or perhaps...

http://forum.juhlin.com/showthread.p...uder+companies

In my mind, the 5th ID is conducting a similar operation on a divisional scale.
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Last edited by Raellus; 12-31-2012 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
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In my mind, the 5th ID is conducting a similar operation on a divisional scale.
Hmm, a spoiling attack against the Soviet counter offensive....
Could work!

Makes more sense than a lot of other theories presented over the years.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:10 AM
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At one point during the first two years of the war, up to a third of the Army of Northern Virginia was shoeless.
This was one of the reasons for the importance of Gettysburg... the shoe factory.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:13 AM
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"General Early passed through the town of Gettysburg on June 26th, after running off the local militia, Early demanded from the town council, the sum of $10,000 in cash or 1,000 pairs of shoes, 500 hats, 1,200lbs of salt, 7,000lbs of bacon, 10 barrels of onions and 10 barrels of whiskey. When he was told that the townsmen were poor and could furnish no supplies, Early caused the town to be searched and succeeded in finding only a small quantity of articles suited for commissary supplies, which were taken"

Source is "Gettysburg, July 1" by David G. Martin

Salt, bacon, onions and whiskey....now them's fighting rations!!!
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:39 AM
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Salt, bacon, onions and whiskey....now them's fighting rations!!!
Except for whiskey, they are the staples of MY life lol. And I use to think the whiskey was too lol.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:39 PM
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Hmm, a spoiling attack against the Soviet counter offensive....
Could work!

Makes more sense than a lot of other theories presented over the years.
Ironic, considering that Russian operational theory has embraced the "Amerikanski reyd"-- a deep cavalry strike intended to disrupt the enemy-- since after the ACW. It reappeared in Soviet writings, sometimes as the "forward detachment."
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