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US versus European Powers in the 1800s?


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#41 67th Tigers

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 1530 PM

So the US forts are all magically worthless, the veterans experienced in littoral combat choose to stay home, and the thousands of men with a great deal of experience in mine warfare (with the recent invention of the Hertz horn making them far more lethal) make no use whatsoever of their talents?


Yes, the Third System Forts are hopelessly weak against modern warships, a fact impressed upon US planners when the British smashed the defences of Alexandria to rubble in a day, and Alexandria was much more strongly defended than any US port.

The "infernal machine" is hardly new, and the US are hardly at the head of the curve. In fact I'd be at a loss to remember whether the Union ever deployed any, the Confederacy certainly did, and their effect was hardly spectacular.

Because of course there shall be no mobilization prior to or during a war crisis :rolleyes:


Oh, give the US six months and they'll have 200,000 men under arms, which is enough to man the coastal defences...

Given six months lead in the British can still mobilise a force of well equipped regulars to meet any US mobilised militia with their civil war era rifles, guns &c. We forget that not much later the British sent 12 divisions (what the US would call an Army Corps) for the defence of a colony. Put another way, the British of 1899 put more troops into South Africa than the US was able to muster in a full mobilisation in 1898.
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#42 Mote

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 1634 PM

Yes, the Third System Forts are hopelessly weak against modern warships, a fact impressed upon US planners when the British smashed the defences of Alexandria to rubble in a day, and Alexandria was much more strongly defended than any US port.

What were Alexandra's defenses and how badly damaged were they (and how competently were they manned)? One old account I just read states that the damage was slight and the British ships had exhausted their magazines to do so.

The "infernal machine" is hardly new, and the US are hardly at the head of the curve. In fact I'd be at a loss to remember whether the Union ever deployed any, the Confederacy certainly did, and their effect was hardly spectacular.


Their effect was fairly significant, especially bearing in mind the technical limitations of early mines (solved with the Hertz horn). Remember, you're the one making statements about sailing up the Potomac or the Chesapeake.

And if you seriously think that 1898 is more representative of a full mobilization than the ACW, you've got a distinctly wrong impression of life.
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#43 JOE BRENNAN

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 1659 PM

What were Alexandra's defenses and how badly damaged were they (and how competently were they manned)? One old account I just read states that the damage was slight and the British ships had exhausted their magazines to do so.

Right, "Though the forts from the water appeared a mass of ruins, when they were examined closely the damage was found to have been very much less than supposed...If the Egyptian commander had continued his defense the works were capable of much further resistance. The quality of the British ammunition was undoubtedly unsatisfactory; many of the shells failed to burst on impact, others exploded prematurely in hte air." from Wilson "Battleships in Action" written in the 1920's but I don't think any basic revision has ever occurred. It was another lesson in difficulty of ship v fort even with apparent firepower and technological advantage. The action also occurred in midst of a revolution in Egypt, it wasn't the regular military force of fully intact govt manning the defenses. The works were abandoned but nowhere near physically knocked out as a whole.

The vulnerability of 3rd system forts to ships* very much depends what particular year you choose. The capabilities of ships varied greatly over 1865 to 1890's, even from early 80's to some years before or after. Also it depends on the location, some areas were upgraded with large (though still obsolescent) guns in earthen batteries outside the forts, and with any time to mobilize that measure would have been widely undertaken based on ACW experience, time of mobilization is another variable. By the early 1890's some new and completely modern installations had been completed. Making a blanket statement 'free to enter any port at will' shows a lack of knowledge of the topic, and/or jingoistic conclusion reached first, then searching for evidence to back it up. It's the internet, what else is new? ;)

*ones in the South were proven vulnerable to rifled land siege artillery in ACW, much like naval bombardment was a lot less effective per round than siege guns in the Crimean War.

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#44 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 1843 PM

That'd be the one (ed War of 1812) the British achieved most of their war aims and the US achieved none of theirs?


Brtitish War Aims:

1. Establish an "Indian Territory" as a buffer state between the US and Canada. This buffer state would comprise most of Ohio and Michigan and all of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. FAIL

2. England must control all military installations on the Great Lakes. FAIL

3. England must have the right to navigate the Mississippi River. FAIL

4. England to acquire enough of Maine to have a land route from Halifax to Quebec. FAIL

5. Adjust the US/Canada boundary to make it more defensible. FAIL

US War Aims:

1. Freedom of the seas and freedom from impressment. OBE and not part of the peace treaty.

2. Take upper Canada. FAIL


By the way, in 1827, Britain paid the US $1.2 million for 3,600 slaves carted off during the war.
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#45 R011

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 1956 PM

Brtitish War Aims:

1. Establish an "Indian Territory" as a buffer state between the US and Canada. This buffer state would comprise most of Ohio and Michigan and all of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. FAIL

2. England must control all military installations on the Great Lakes. FAIL

3. England must have the right to navigate the Mississippi River. FAIL

4. England to acquire enough of Maine to have a land route from Halifax to Quebec. FAIL

5. Adjust the US/Canada boundary to make it more defensible. FAIL

British aims waxed and waned with the fortunes iof war and negotiations. The only consistent British war aim was to prevent the United States from achieving its war aims. This they achieved.

Do recall that the UK wasn't demanding or working towards any of these things from the United States before the US declared war. In June 1812, the UK was happy enough with the status quo.
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#46 FlyingCanOpener

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 0104 AM

What were Alexandra's defenses and how badly damaged were they (and how competently were they manned)? One old account I just read states that the damage was slight and the British ships had exhausted their magazines to do so.


Ten of her forty-four modern guns were knocked out, and a dozen or so obsolete smoothbores were taken out also. This of course was done by eight battleships shooting over three thousand rounds in ten hours from either an anchorage or sailing at less than five knots against a gaggle of rebels who had taken control of the fort less than a fortnight earlier. Thankfully the Americans would be equally skilled at their defences in our hypothetical conflict here.

And if you seriously think that 1898 is more representative of a full mobilization than the ACW, you've got a distinctly wrong impression of life.


Sssh. Let him continue the story about those 200,000 Imperial troops. You know, the part where said troops got bogged down into a guerrilla war against a force a quarter of its size and only won three years later after it starved an entire nation into submission. Fighting natives with spears and the odd musket is one thing; fighting an actually organized army armed with rifles and modern tactics is something completely different. Or so I'm told.

Of course, bringing up a conflict twenty years after the supposed one in our discussion may seem a bit gauche considering reforms in the British Army between the 1870s and the Second Boer War, but what would we expect from pfcem-with-a-monocle-and-handlebar-moustache?
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#47 ickysdad

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 0202 AM

The Boer War,
didn't the area fighting the British in that war equal about just 30,000 square miles? That' compares to over 3,000,000 square miles for the US. The UK in 1899 had about 18% of the world's manufactoring capability and how much did the Boers have? In this scenario the UK in 1875 had around 23% of the world's output the US about 15%. Anybody that doubts wether or not Americans can take it in a war has just to look at the South in the ACW. I mean how much of an advantage did the Union have against the CSA in industrial output? GNP/GDP? Population? and it still took 4 years to beat them down .
One poster mentioned the British threw almost 200,000 troops at a force a fourth it's size in an area 1/100 the size of the US ,an area made up almost entirely of farms not an immense almost totally self-sufficent industrialised nation . I think the British also built immense blockhouses and encircled the towns with barb-wire in that war can you imagine trying that in the US?


edit...
Doesn't the mere fact that there were two Boer Wars along with other Imperial Committments mean that the UK could only bring to bear a fraction of it's might against the US in any unlikely war between the two? How many other wars or possible conflicts could the UK have had become embroiled in if a good portion of her military might was concentrated against the US at this time? Somebody might just have seen a chance there.

Edited by ickysdad, 19 July 2009 - 0214 AM.

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#48 67th Tigers

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1144 AM

Hertz Horns

A moderate improvement in detonator, the naval mine wasn't a real threat until HE replaced gunpowder. The 3 warships the Russians mined in 1855 suffered no catastrophic injury. USN minesweeping procedures were copied off RN procedures.

Invading the US

Again, this is a strawman. I, for one, haven't suggested invading and occupying the US. Nor would such a thing be needed to win. As I've said, the British would operate against the coasts and against the Canadian frontier where their naval power could sustain major combatants. Conveniently all the major US war industries are within striking distance of naval forces.

Alexandria

Some major reaching occurring here. Alexandria's defences were utterly smashed, even with the fact that many shells didn't explode (because they were Armour Piercing Shells designed to be detonated by the friction of piercing armour). What the shells didn't destroy the landing parties finished.

War of 1812

There was no such thing as "impressment", the RN chased deserters onto civilian ships and took them (and paid compensation when they took off non-deserters). The practice was stopped 3 weeks before the the US declaration of war. The British had no designs of the sort ascribed to them above.

Mobilisation potential

In 1898 it was found that of the 106,000 National Guardsmen 40% had never held a gun or done any military training. The fact that the US managed to expand to 275,000 (inc. regulars) in such a short period of time is amazing, but this was stretching their capabilities. The volunteer infantry had to be equipped with Trapdoor Springfields, there was precious little modern field artillery (without knowing the number of M1885 RBL available I'd have to speculate they were equipped with ACW era artillery) and no modern machine guns. This late they'd have been smashed by any European army, although of course their equipment becomes more acceptable as we move backwards.
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#49 Old Tanker

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1243 PM

Hertz Horns


Invading the US

Again, this is a strawman. I, for one, haven't suggested invading and occupying the US. Nor would such a thing be needed to win. As I've said, the British would operate against the coasts and against the Canadian frontier where their naval power could sustain major combatants. Conveniently all the major US war industries are within striking distance of naval forces.

[



The major supply centers of U.S. arms included inland Hartford Ct ( Colt and Gatling gun). Springfield Armory , inland about 30 miles north of Hartford. Cannon mfg was possible and ongoing at inland Pittsburgh Pa. area and the Rock Island Arsenal in Davenport Iowa. The Picatinny arsenal est 1880 was located inland in N.J. The only coastal city producing arms to any extent was New Haven -Bridgeport Ct. area requiring any fleet or fortilla to operate deep in Long Island Sound trapped on 3 sides in a 10-15 mile wide cul-de-sac and probably 50-60 miles from its' throat.


As to modern machine , or lack of , the Brits bought Gatlings from the U.S. and used them in Eygpt. Gatlings were the modern machine gun of 1870-80-90.

Your bombardment of major arms producing centers doesn't pass the truth test.

P.S. The dumb Americans built their arsenals away from the coasts . That shows how naive we are.

Edited by Old Tanker, 19 July 2009 - 1253 PM.

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#50 Mote

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1256 PM

Hertz Horns

A moderate improvement in detonator, the naval mine wasn't a real threat until HE replaced gunpowder. The 3 warships the Russians mined in 1855 suffered no catastrophic injury.

And was that because the charge was gunpowder or because the charge was only around eight pounds? :rolleyes: Mines deployed in the ACW had up to 2,000 pounds or more of gunpowder, equivalent to half a ton of TNT, enough to do major damage to even modern combatants.

USN minesweeping procedures were copied off RN procedures.


Source?

Invading the US

Again, this is a strawman. I, for one, haven't suggested invading and occupying the US. Nor would such a thing be needed to win. As I've said, the British would operate against the coasts and against the Canadian frontier where their naval power could sustain major combatants. Conveniently all the major US war industries are within striking distance of naval forces.

And again, how do you propose to get within striking distance when facing large modern forts and minefields? Remember, you insisted: "There is basically nothing the US can do to stop the British steaming into the Chesapeake, up the Potomac and taking Washington; or anywhere else they choose." Now, I think that it must be admitted that, at the very least, the Potomac would be quite amenable to having mines placed in it (as in fact the Confederates attempted) and thus being impassable to British forces.

Alexandria

Some major reaching occurring here. Alexandria's defences were utterly smashed, even with the fact that many shells didn't explode (because they were Armour Piercing Shells designed to be detonated by the friction of piercing armour). What the shells didn't destroy the landing parties finished.


And what is your source that the Alexandrian batteries were modern, well-crewed, fought back, and were in fact smashed? Others have provided sources indicating precisely the opposite.
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#51 Sparviero

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1343 PM

The Brits tried three last times to teach the US a lesson. Invasion from Canada called back after supply lines couldn't be secured. Capture of Baltimore fizzled out. New Orleans, Post treaty, launched a future presidency. So how again did the Brits win when they failed in their last three major exploits of the war?
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#52 R011

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1535 PM

The Brits tried three last times to teach the US a lesson. Invasion from Canada called back after supply lines couldn't be secured. Capture of Baltimore fizzled out. New Orleans, Post treaty, launched a future presidency. So how again did the Brits win when they failed in their last three major exploits of the war?

On the other hand, US maritime trade was shut down except when licensed by the RN, Washington DC was captured, the British showed that they could perform desants almost unopposed all along the American coast.

Is Canada part of the United States? Did the British change their impressment policy due to American demands? Did the US stop the blockade of France or get the UK to agree not to conduct such a blockade again?

The British succeeded in thwarting those US goals and as I said before, were working towards nothing more when the US declared war. In 1814, the UK had everything they had before the war, adn the people who stared hostilities gained none of the things for which they fought.
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#53 Sparviero

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1546 PM

On the other hand, US maritime trade was shut down except when licensed by the RN, Washington DC was captured, the British showed that they could perform desants almost unopposed all along the American coast.

Is Canada part of the United States? Did the British change their impressment policy due to American demands? Did the US stop the blockade of France or get the UK to agree not to conduct such a blockade again?

The British succeeded in thwarting those US goals and as I said before, were working towards nothing more when the US declared war. In 1814, the UK had everything they had before the war, adn the people who stared hostilities gained none of the things for which they fought.


It was a draw, a victory for no one. Only the warhawks had territorial aims in Canada and even then they were not very serious just the bravado of prewar rhetoric. DC was not the aim, Baltimore was the aim. Once again was Baltimore captured, was a sustained push from Canada mounted?

Did Britain wind up recognizing the issues of what it considered an annoying pipsqueak, yes.

The war was a draw grow up already and admit it. :D
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#54 Old Tanker

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1551 PM

Is Canada part of the United States? Did the British change their impressment policy due to American demands? Did the US stop the blockade of France or get the UK to agree not to conduct such a blockade again?



They didn't officially change it but the practiced stopped. American ships were no longer stopped at sea and searched.
The war was a draw . Nobody won , nobody lost and some unofficial conditions were put into affect.
The British no longer kept their unofficial anchorage near Hampton Roads which created the ship jumping conditions for many Brit sailors.

Edited by Old Tanker, 19 July 2009 - 1551 PM.

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#55 R011

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1552 PM

War of 1812

There was no such thing as "impressment", the RN chased deserters onto civilian ships and took them (and paid compensation when they took off non-deserters). The practice was stopped 3 weeks before the the US declaration of war. The British had no designs of the sort ascribed to them above.

In fact, nearly any British born seaman could be impressed,. even if serving on a foreign fladgged vesel and even if a naturalized US citizen. Nor were RN captains always scrupulous abut accepting the protestations or paperwork of natural-born US citizens. At the time war was declared, Congress did not know the British had changed policy. The US certainly had a grievance. Going to war to resolve it was counterproductive, however. Any American sailor, not just presumed British citizens, then became liable to becoming a POW under rather worse conditions than serving as an Able Seaman in His Majesty's Navy.

1812-14, though, was not 1860-1899. For one thing, an American Army much larger than any British forces could field could be easily deployed to the Canadian borders. This was due to the rail; canal, and road nets that had been built in the half century since Queenston Heights and Crysler's Farm.
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#56 R011

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1602 PM

They didn't officially change it but the practiced stopped. American ships were no longer stopped at sea and searched.

Stopping US ships and impressing or capturing members of their crews was a wartime only measure. The UK had been at war with the French Empire almost continuously since 1792. Once that war and the one the US began stopped, those things stopped too, and not just for US ships but for all other countries. If anything, the US war extended this treatment for Americans by several months as the French had surrendered in March 1814.

Notably, the next times the British thought extensive, distant blockades were required again, in 1914 and 1939, they did not hesitate to re-impose them and stop US ships. By then, they had switched to a more modern enlistment system and also had no serious desertion problem.
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#57 R011

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 1615 PM

DC was not the aim, Baltimore was the aim. Once again was Baltimore captured, was a sustained push from Canada mounted?

Ah yes, the historic pre-war British cry for the restoration of fabled Baltimore to British rule.

Not buying it. The US started it, they failed to gain any of their objectives. That was pretty much all the UK really cared about. Had they done better, there would have been mission creep, and indeed there was until Lake Champlain and Baltimore.

Did Britain wind up recognizing the issues of what it considered an annoying pipsqueak, yes.

Perhaps, and perhaps not. Relations with the US were so far down the priority list it's a bit hard to say. It may well have brought home some geopolitical facts. Then again, that assumes that future British administrations would not be able to do the cost-benefit analysis for themselves. As King has said, later British studies of war with the US showed that the UK would probably lose.
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#58 FlyingCanOpener

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 2244 PM

Alexandria

Some major reaching occurring here. Alexandria's defences were utterly smashed, even with the fact that many shells didn't explode (because they were Armour Piercing Shells designed to be detonated by the friction of piercing armour). What the shells didn't destroy the landing parties finished.


Well, you are correct about one thing in that nonsense posted above: my copies of Dreadnought and Send a Gunboat: The Victorian Navy and Supremacy At Sea are a major reach from my computer chair here in my office, considering they're sitting on a bookshelf on the other side of the room.

BTW, the landing parties didn't come ashore until 48 hours after the bombardment ceased (Which sinks your "The British smashed the forts in a single day," which is a change in tune from your statement quoted above; I wonder why?) and within a week the fort was declared operational again (Which sinks the fact that the landing parties "finished" anything, much less the fact the Royal Navy actually destroyed the forts at all.)

I hate when the facts get in the way of a good delusion.

Edited by FlyingCanOpener, 19 July 2009 - 2246 PM.

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#59 ickysdad

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 0009 AM

Ah yes, the historic pre-war British cry for the restoration of fabled Baltimore to British rule.

Not buying it. The US started it, they failed to gain any of their objectives. That was pretty much all the UK really cared about. Had they done better, there would have been mission creep, and indeed there was until Lake Champlain and Baltimore.

Perhaps, and perhaps not. Relations with the US were so far down the priority list it's a bit hard to say. It may well have brought home some geopolitical facts. Then again, that assumes that future British administrations would not be able to do the cost-benefit analysis for themselves. As King has said, later British studies of war with the US showed that the UK would probably lose.


Another admission to US paramouncy in the Western Atlantic/North America/Carribean was that by around 1900-1905 the garrisons in Bermuda,Port Royal, Port Castries,and even Halifax were practically nill while the security of Esquimalt raised concerns during some turbulent times with Russia in the late 1800's due to it having basically no garrison. . The Biritsh seemed to think the US could seize all of their(the RN's) bases in the Western Atlantic anytime it wished to do so, at least in the era of 1900 & thereafter . In essence the RN once the US siezed these bases figured there wasn't much that could be done since they needed bases to re-capture the above mentioned bases.
Now this being said the US being the 800 lb. gorilla in North America, the Carribean,Western Atlantic ,North-Eastern Pacific and perhaps as good part of South America is far different then being a Power Projector world wide. All in all IMHO the US can resist any country(or maybe even 2) in it's own backyard around the period of 1875 and quite possibly be a match for any 2-3 countries there in the era around 1910-1920 however the US can't seriously threaten anybody in their own home turf.

Edited by ickysdad, 20 July 2009 - 0012 AM.

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#60 EchoFiveMike

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 0026 AM

Post ACW Anglo-America strife would have done wonders for Bismarck and possible alignment of America with Germany vice our historical association with the UK. Would have made WWI much more interesting. At the very least, would have done wonders for Von Spee :)

I still doubt the Brits(or anyone else) had shit that was resistant to 440lb 15" Rodman fire at 1700fps until the use of steel vice cast iron. S/F....Ken M
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