Civil War Strategy & Tactics

Major developments:
Gradual evolution by troops in the field of tactics better suited to terrain and new weapons
Armies responded slowly to weapons changes which demanded battlefield dispersion since they feared this would lead to loss of control
Imbalance between infantry weapons of greater potential lethality and tactics better suited bo earlier weapons sent casualty rate soaring
Had to adapt to weapons becoming progressively longer ranged, more accurate, and capable of much greater rates of sustained fire
Increased firepower drove infantry, artillery, and calvary from open field of battle
Railway and telegraph lead to the development of deep raiding operations and increased emphasis on attacking communications and logistics

Reduced to defensive role

Rifled weapons making old kind of cavalry warfare impossible, traditional battlefield charge disappeared
Calvary acted as mounted infantry, using their horses to carry them rapidly to the scene of an action and then dismounting and taking cover to fire
New roles in attack and defense of communications & reconnaissance
Cartridge cases and rifle designs in infancy
Came to depend on pistols and carbines rather than swords

Classical line and column faded; the classic frontal assault doomed by the rifle
Developed extension of skirmish order and assault by rushes

Seek cover from increasingly lethal rifle fire
Improved field fortifications
Digging in on offensive as well as defensive anticipates trench warfare in World War I

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Last update:  May 12, 2000