Napoleon vs Hannibal - Page 2




 
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February 20th, 2008  
perseus
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarsh
One final point, both leaders final defeat was by their own hand. Both leaders had so far over-extended themselves that their armies had simply become skeletons of their former selves and that they were simply beaten by exhaustion. Napoleon was permanently weakened by the Russian Campaign, and similarily Hannibal by his endless campaigns in Italy.
Wasn't Hannibal betrayed by his own government refusing to send supplies and help? The lack of supply across the sea was also a serious limitation, since the Romans 'ruled the waves' by the later stages.
February 20th, 2008  
mmarsh
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perseus
Wasn't Hannibal betrayed by his own government refusing to send supplies and help? The lack of supply across the sea was also a serious limitation, since the Romans 'ruled the waves' by the later stages.
Betrayed is perhaps too harsh, abandoned is a better term. The reason for the abandonment was twofold, jealousy by certain members of the ruling Carthaginian nobility as well as logistics problem due to the fact he was overstreched. Those who wanted to aid him simply couldn't reach him.
March 16th, 2008  
AussieNick
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perseus
Interesting point. Although I'm changing the subject a bit, I have often wondered whether ancient/medieval weapons would have been superior to early 19th century weapons in practice.

First of all we have the cannons as you say whose purpose was partly to shock the enemy (like Hannibal's elephants) but most effective practical effect was to shower grapeshot or shrapnel on the enemy. However few infantry wore armour in the 19th century yet quite a few of Hannibal's men must have had armour protection which would have provided some protection against low velocity projectiles.

Secondly we have the effectiveness of the slow firing musket against the fast firing bow and arrow. Consider again the lack of armour in the 19th century.

Thirdly we have he effectiveness of 19th century cavalry against the phalanx type structure prevalent at the time of Hannibal.

I would guess that Hannibal would wait until a time when the cannon and muskets may be ineffective, do they work when raining? is range important in fog or the dark? how long does it take to set up cannon, what about guerrilla warfare?

I doubt if in a 'head to head' of technology the result would have been inevitable.
First point. The cannon was of most effect with round shot against infantry, not canister, which was effective only in the last moments of an advance. Round shot would smash through the ranks and could kill and maim many men at a time. Secondly, they weren't low velocity at all, even the canister. The balls in canister rounds could punch through armour plate easily. A good example is the effect of canister on the French Cuirassiers and British Life Guards (who both wore armour) at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The range of a musket was reduced in comparison to a long bow, therefore it dictated the tactics used. It would be a case of moving to close the distance as quick as possible. Once the distance was closed to approx 60 yards the rate of effective musket fire from a well trained unit (eg. British line infantry) would have overwhelmed archery easily. Plus you need to also account for the accuracy and range of riflemen (eg. 95th Rifles).

Cavalry could not break an ancient "phalanx".... Horses won't charge into an obstacle like that. Just as 1800's cavalry would not charge an infantry square. Simple

Cannon would still work in the rain, and muskets could be used if they had percussion caps.

Look at it this way, technology would not have evolved unless it was an improvement. Something worse does not replace something better.


Note: I've addressed my answer towards the British Army of the Napoleonic era as I'm not a great devotee of the Napoleonic army, but the issues remain the same.
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March 16th, 2008  
perseus
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieNick
First point.

Once the distance was closed to approx 60 yards the rate of effective musket fire from a well trained unit (eg. British line infantry) would have overwhelmed archery easily. Plus you need to also account for the accuracy and range of riflemen (eg. 95th Rifles).

Cavalry could not break an ancient "phalanx".... Horses won't charge into an obstacle like that. Just as 1800's cavalry would not charge an infantry square. Simple

Cannon would still work in the rain, and muskets could be used if they had percussion caps.

Look at it this way, technology would not have evolved unless it was an improvement. Something worse does not replace something better.

Note: I've addressed my answer towards the British Army of the Napoleonic era as I'm not a great devotee of the Napoleonic army, but the issues remain the same.
AussieNick

Muskets would have a loading rate of around 3 shots per minute verses, an experienced military longbowman that was expected to shoot 20 aimed shots per minute. It is difficult to see the musket prevailing in this situation unless the arrow wounds were relatively insignificant. Perhaps more lines of 'infantry' could be set up as well in the case of the bow due to the plunging nature of the projectile.

The percussion cap was only introduced around 1830, although I think damp also rendered the twine on bows less effective as well.

I agree the use of shot from cannon would be devastating, but cannon could be rendered ineffective by a simple nail, or even towed away. If Ney had used cavalry correctly he could have charged and rendered the Allied canon useless whilst the infantry were congregated in squares. I am surprised that a mobile directional fragmentation device wasn't used in the Napoleonic era (like a Claymore mine that could be moved).

My understanding is that bows were replaced by muskets in view of the improvement in armour in the 15th century. However, then armour is rendered redundant, so bows become effective again. I think this is an interesting situation analogous to natural selection in nature where a population can oscillate. Perhaps the optimum weaponry is a mixture of muskets and bows, at least until the fast breech loading weapons became available?
September 26th, 2008  
hubaj
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perseus
AussieNick
My understanding is that bows were replaced by muskets in view of the improvement in armour in the 15th century. However, then armour is rendered redundant, so bows become effective again. I think this is an interesting situation analogous to natural selection in nature where a population can oscillate. Perhaps the optimum weaponry is a mixture of muskets and bows, at least until the fast breech loading weapons became available?
The main reason why muskets displaced bows is that it takes a lifetime to train a good archer and you need to be fairly strong to use it effectively. Musket training is easy and it doesn´t matter at all how strong you are.
September 27th, 2008  
perseus
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hubaj
The main reason why muskets displaced bows is that it takes a lifetime to train a good archer and you need to be fairly strong to use it effectively. Musket training is easy and it doesn´t matter at all how strong you are.
This article would agree with this view

The development of gunpowder, muskets, and the growing size of armies (and their consequent demand for less-trained levies) slowly led to the replacement of bows as weapons of war, supplanted by firearms, which were simpler for conscripts to learn and use, causing bows to be relegated to sport and hobby use.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bow_(weapon)

The article of the musket is interesting as well, since it sounds complex

The initial role of the musket was as a specialist armour piercing weapon .....

(Procedure)

Upon the command "Prime and load", the soldier would make a quarter turn to the right at the same time bringing the musket to the priming position. The pan would be open following the discharge of the previous shot, meaning that the frizzen would already be up.
Upon the command "Handle Cartridge", the soldier would draw a cartridge. Cartridges consisted of a spherical lead bullet wrapped in a paper cartridge which also held the gunpowder propellant. The other end of the cartridge away from the ball would be sealed with a twist of paper.
The soldier then ripped off the paper end of the cartridge and threw it away, keeping the main end with the bullet in his right hand. (The idea that the ball itself was somehow bitten off the top of the cartridge and held in the mouth is a myth invented by modern historical novels).
Upon the command "Prime", the soldier then pulled the dogshead back to half-**** and poured a small pinch of the powder from the cartridge into the priming pan. He then closed the frizzen so that the priming powder was trapped.
Upon the command "About", the butt of the musket was then dropped to the ground and the soldier poured the rest of the powder from the cartridge, followed by the ball and paper cartridge case into the barrel. This paper acted as wadding to stop the ball and powder from falling out if the muzzle was declined. (The myth of spitting the ball into the end of the barrel from the mouth is easily disproved - as soon as it is fired, the barrel becomes extremely hot; it would be extremely painful to place the lips anywhere near the hot metal.)
Upon the command "Draw ramrods", the soldier drew his ramrod from below the barrel. First forcing it half out before seizing it backhanded in the middle, followed by drawing it entirely out simultaneously turning it to the front and placing it one inch into the barrel
Upon the command "Ram down the cartridge", he then used the ramrod to firmly ram the wadding, bullet, and powder down to the bottom followed by tamping it down with two quick strokes. The ramrod was then returned to its hoops under the barrel.
Upon the command "Present", the butt was brought back up to the shoulder. The soldier pulled the **** back and the musket was ready to fire, which he would do on hearing the command "Fire". When the men fired they usually didn't hit a specific target, but the volume of fire was deadly within 20 meters.
This process was drilled into troops until they could do it by instinct and feel. The main advantage of the British Redcoat was that he trained at this procedure almost every day using live ammunition. A skilled unit of musketeers was able to fire three rounds per minute. This was the limit whilst loading to order as above, however an experienced individual could manage four rounds a minute if firing at will, such as in a skirmish situation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musket

Another interesting afterthought, if you can fire a bow 7 times as fast as a musket does this mean you need to train only 1/7th of the men?
 


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