Friday, April 8, 2011

WI Artillery Issue: ACW to WWI

cover WI 281
Neil Smith fires a couple of impressive salvos in the WI artillery issue, covering the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, and the edge of World War I.

"Bridge to the Future" reviews the industrial capacity and tactical impetus that put artillery firmly in the American arsenal during the Civil War. Beyond that, we get some down-to-earth advice on wargaming applications for such topics as smoothbore v. rifled cannons and differences in artillery organization/utility between the North and the South. A very good point was made in regards to how Confederate command ability, the changing nature of the war (entrenchments v. open field battles) and terrain considerations in general could offset the the Union Army's superiority in number and quality of artillery. A scenario based on the encounter at Brawner's Farm (at Second Manassas) helps bring it all home to the tabletop.

Neil's second artillery article is "Imperial Long Shots," which gets to grips with the Franco-Prussian War, demonstrating how the differences in doctrines served the Germans well (massed artillery) and not so well for the French (artillery reserves). Yes, there's more to it than that - differences in range, accuracy, and the like. It's on these principles - tactical and technical - that see the evolution of artillery as a truly overpowering combat arm not long into the Great War. For me, the icing on the cake was the sidebar 'The British Detour', which expounds upon the lessons learned in the Boer War. The article really helped me to understand the how's and why's artillery made the leaps it did between the American Civil War and the First World War.

For those interested in the rest of the WI Artillery Issue theme, check out the Napoleonic, Medieval, and Ancient article reviews on this blog.


  1. You write a damn good synopsis!

  2. Thanks! I have Dr. Clark Chism to thank for that; he had me put my book reports into proper shape shortly after joining his English class nearly 30 years ago. He was a WWII navy man, a great journalist, and thought-provoking mentor.