What Modern Weapons Would Have Aided CSA Most? -1 reply

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jumjum

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#1 9 years ago

Meadow had a comment in the sexed-up teacher thread which got me thinking about those alternative-history questions such as "What if the South had Godzilla?" and such. And I've thought from time to time about whether any 20th-century small/light weapons system (no ships, aircraft or tanks), in a very small number, could have turned the tide for the South.

Harry Turtledove is famous for his alternative history of the US, and several other "alt history" novels (there are several authors regularly contributing to the genre - who knew it was big enough to be called a "genre?"). He did a moderately interesting book called The Guns Of The South, about 15 years ago. I quit after reading only about 25% of the book because, as much of a genius as some claim the man is when it comes to his time-shifting insight and conceptual powers, I just can't help it: I think he is an absolute cretin with character and dialogue. But he's rich, successful and well-known, even loved by thousands...and I'm not. And in reading later summaries of the book I missed some stuff that could have been really exciting. Oh, well. But on with my point.

The story involved a time-slip which enabled some evil racist South African military-industrial complex-ers to travel back to the early-Civil War-era US and secretly establish contact with high political figures in the Confederate States of America. The modern Afrikaaners want slavery to continue to exist into the 20th century for application in diamond- and gold-mining. They figure if they change history and help the Southern states win, slavery would still exist and be useful to their client companies in keeping labor costs at a miraculously low level even as late as the 1990's. So they supply the South thousands of....AK-47s....which does help them win the war. But then new problems arise, as they always seem to do.

But that idea makes me wonder: could AK's,- not thousands, say a few hundred - really be enough to turn the tide? I like to make it interesting and severely curtail the amount of magic Marse Robert would have access to. For fun I put some kind of transport-related limits on the weapons: say all equipment must fit in one rail car similar to the WWI and II infamous "Hommes 40, Chevaux 8" rail cars. (A reference to the sign stating that 40 men or 8 horses could - theoretically! - fit in them.) Or something roughly equivalent, such as 6 two-horse wagons. And then limit the entire trained manpower allowed to something like 50 - to handle the weapons and maintenance as well as provide their security in the field. Maybe a gross weigth limit if things get too easy. Oh, and the weapons can't be used or exposed in such a way that they are necessarily revealed as wepons from the future. So toss the LRDG jeeps bristling with mgs.

So that starts to get interesting. To have everything - weapons, including all ammunition you'll ever get for the entire war, related equipment and all maintenance and repair items - in 6 wagons of a size that two horses can pull them when they're loaded begins to be something you have to really noodle out.

The obvious biggest weapon under my parameters, if we're being generous and allow their own wheels to be utilized, would be a small battery 75mm howitzers. I'm thinking that's got to be the absolute upper destructive limit or it just get ridiculous. As it is a 75mm can wreak terrible carnage.

But the weight and manpower restrictions get to be a problem. Think you're going to wheel four 75's in to support Pickett on July 3rd? Well, only if you were planning on firing for a no more than a couple,of minutes, because that's all the ammo you'd have available. Let's assume that two horse can actually haul a hard-rubber-wheeled 75mm - which I think is reasonable assuming the right rig for hooking to the trail can be put together with available materials fairly quickly. But there are no roads like we think of them. These 75's would ber turned into horse artillery, and would have to hauled over fields or through forests to be used, so bad surfaces would reduce the maximum weight the horses could pull.

But then there's no way those two horses - or a total of 8 for a 4-gun "short-battery" - can haul anything else but the gun alone. That means everything else for the guns, including ammunition, must be carried on two wagons hauled by two horses each. Each 75mm round weighs about 45 pounds, so just one salvo by the battery weighs 180 pounds. The maximum rate of fire by competent gunners is about 6 rounds a minute, or 24 rounds a minute for the battery, or 1,080 pounds a minute.

I'm thinking the maximum wagon load to be hauled all day by the horses would be somewhere between one and 1½ tons, or 2,000 - 3,000 pounds per wagon. Say 6,000 pounds for the two wagons needed to haul everything else but the guns. Even if you didn't carry anything else to maintain, clean or repair the guns, that would be just barely over 130 rounds of 75mm ammo...total...for the entire time of battle.

So would less than 35 rounds per gun be enough to win a war? Would you gamble it all on one or two battles, hitting just one key point in the enemy's line?

I don't like the way the numbers crunch for the 75's. Machine guns then? You could haul a bunch of them, plus plenty of ammo. With 50 men you'd be able to field between 12 and 25 guns. Could be devastating. But you can't be out front to be seen - you'd have to be back several hundred yards, concealed. For offensive use you'd have trouble supporting the troops without hitting them as they neared the Northern lines. And how many times of having entire battalions cut to shreds would it take before the Yankees quit charging at all and just waited for Lee to attack? Where is your machine-gun god now?

Mortars? I think I might go with four 81mm mortars. You could haul a bunch of all kinds of ammo, weighing between 5 and 12 pounds per round. Because of the greatly reduced weight of the mortar tubes and plates, and the rounds themselves, you would have maybe a few thousand rounds available. And with Willy Pete and flares, you could use the tubes in night attacks. Yep, the mortar for me.

Small arms like the AKs? You could have a ton of them. 50 trained snipers with Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifles? That'd put a hole in the command and control. A small regiment equipped with M-16s? Stretch the "rules" a little and let yourself use one M-8 Greyhound - could you haul enough gas, oil, tires, parts and ammo to win a war with one armored car? And what about its vulnerability to cannon of the day? I'm thinking it could be taken out too easily to make it worth the risk.

Here's a twist: 50 medics, including a few surgeons, with 6 wagon loads of modern medicines needed on a battlefield: antibiotics, anesthetics, painkillers, aspirin, anti-diarrhea meds (far more important than we might think since so many soldiers died of dysentery), Atabrine for malaria, and modern instruments and an autoclave to sterilize them. How many hundred units of whole blood or plasma would you risk? Just imagine how many thousands of lives they could save...before the supplies ran out. But what if Stonewall Jackson was saved with these and healed quickly enough that in 7 weeks after being wounded he could return by July 1st as Gettysburg began - and with two arms?

Or if we loosen up the "rules" more, do you want to optimize command and control ability? Do you load up generators and batteries, radios and walkie-talkies? What if we give General Lee a jeep to go all over the field in a matter of minutes, or give his aides and messengers a half-dozen all-terrain vehicles or even dirt bikes to get messages to commanders in 2-3 minutes instead of an hour or more? To keep the top commanders from being exhausted do you load up generators and three or four air conditioners for them to get some blessed sleep and comfortable rest? (There's a thought: you can follow Lee with a huge RV that becomes his field headquarters, and he and a few lucky subordinates sleep every night in cool, soft comfort.)

It's fun and cheap. See what you can do.




stylie

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#2 9 years ago

Airplanes.




jumjum

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#3 9 years ago

"You must spread"......




Meadow

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#4 9 years ago

Funnily enough, I've thought about this myself a little bit and have generally come to the conclusion that semi-automatic rifles, either SKSs or M14s, would be the way to go. Easy to compress into rail cars as well as their ammo, but most importantly it would be compatible with contemporary tactics. Imagine a Confederate firing line, given an hour's training with these new super-muskets, deploying on the field and opening up on a Union column. They fire once - with passable accuracy, then fire again, as one once more... then again, and again, stil there's barely a blue uniform still standing. If the Union haven't broken and run by that point at the sight and sound of men firing muskets that don't need to be reloaded, another massed volley, followed by 19 more in quick succession, should do the trick.

Then, over time, as accuracy improved, sniping and long range fire could develop - perhaps give the Rebs some tripod-mounted Vickers guns or, dare I say it, a Lafette with an indirect-fire sighted MG34. Firing at ranges the Union muskets cannot possibly match, battles would quickly be a one-sided slaughter.

The only problem would be ammunition supplies (the South's supply infrastructure was hardly famous for its capabilities) and the risks of any weapons falling into enemy hands. However, with luck, the Union would have run back to Washington long before that became a problem.




jumjum

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#5 9 years ago

No mortars to drop right on top of a Yankee position when the boys in gray are just 100 yards away? Perhaps just 10-15 rounds to blow the waiting massed ranks of bluecoats to atoms in less than 30 seconds, and terrify the survivors into immediate panic and rout?

I also like the touch of putting up a parachute flare round at midnight and then driving what is left of a sleeping regiment into the night.

Oh, I forgot a possible bit of equipment: a few nightvision goggles.

Hmm, all seems too easy. I may have to tighten the restrictions.




Meadow

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#6 9 years ago

I think any sort of surface-launched Smart Bomb or hellfires would be viewed as fire from heaven itself, bringing a new element to warfare - theological!




jumjum

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#7 9 years ago

Ooooh! Ooooh! Hand grenades!




[130.Pz]W.Fuchs

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#8 9 years ago

Imagine the Southern commander having UAV's. I am sure that would help him alot. And yes, machine guns, back to the original concept: 1 weapon that fires like 100 so you need 1 instead of 100.




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#9 9 years ago

Tankettes, maybe? You might be able to get a couple with some supplies, I'm thinking of the smaller ones, i.e. Carden Loyds and the like.

Edit: Ooh, ooh! Maybe a midget submarine, the Confederates already had their own, they could break the blockade with a modern one.




jumjum

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#10 9 years ago

'[130.PzW.Fuchs;4904390']Imagine the Southern commander having UAV's. I am sure that would help him alot. And yes, machine guns, back to the original concept: 1 weapon that fires like 100 so you need 1 instead of 100.[/QUOTE]

That's good enough to go to sleep by (oh, man, I gotta take a break from this stuff)

[QUOTE=Captain Pyjama Shark;4904422]Tankettes, maybe? You might be able to get a couple with some supplies, I'm thinking of the smaller ones, i.e. Carden Loyds and the like.

Edit: Ooh, ooh! Maybe a midget submarine, the Confederates already had their own, they could break the blockade with a modern one.

Heh heh. Tankettes is almost cheating it's such a disparity in power.

But the Confederates loved your idea about the midget sub! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._L._Hunley_(submarine)

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