Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

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huevans07
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Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by huevans07 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:53 pm

http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Destruct ... ack/p/7907

Destructive and Formidable (Hardback) British Infantry Firepower 1642 - 1765


In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the British Army's victories over the French at battles such as Blenheim in 1704, Minden and Quebec in 1759, and over the Jacobites at Culloden in 1746, were largely credited to its infantry's particularly effective and deadly firepower. For the first time, David Blackmore has gone back to original drill manuals and other contemporary sources to discover the reasons behind this.

This book employs an approach that starts by considering the procedures and practices of soldiers in a given period and analyses those in order understand how things were done and, in turn, why events unfolded as they did. In doing so, he has discovered a specifically British set of tactics, which created this effectiveness and allowed it to be maintained over such a long period, correcting many of the misconceptions about British infantry firepower in the age of the musket and linear warfare in a major new contribution to our understanding of an important period of British military history.


Thought I would mention my Facebook pal, David Blackmore's just published book, which seems right on point for this discussion group.
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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by maciek » Wed Nov 05, 2014 8:53 am

Hmmmm...
Does the author really believe that British (I would rather say - Allied) army won the battle of Blenheim thanks to those 8000 English infantrymen (merely 15% of the total troops), two-thirds of them locked against fortified village, they never seriously assaulted ... ?
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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by Churchill » Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:26 am

Hi Guy's,

I have to agree with Maciek on this, first of all only 14 British battalions were at the Battle of Blenheim out of a total of 75 battalions.
Out of the 14, 10 battalions were in two brigades attached to Lord Cutts command facing Blenheim village.
The other four battalions were positioned in the centre as Maj.Gen.Webb's brigade under the overall command of Lt.Gen.Lord Orkney & Maj.Gen.de Luc.
Lord Cutt's had 20 battalions (4 brigades), 2 British, 1 Hessian and 1 Hanoverian and had the orders to take the village.
The first assault made by Brigadier Rowe's British brigade was a failure largely due to French cannon fire and then musketry coming from a well defended position and support from French cavalry.
Brigadier Rowe himself was K.I.A. as he reached the palisades and the defending musketry took a heavy toll on the British battalions forcing them to retire. This was then turned into a rout as eight squadrons of French Gendamerie charged the survivor's and were only saved when the Hessian brigade fired a well aimed volley into the said squadron's.
The second assault, again by a British brigade commanded by Brigadier Ferguson met with the same result although this time they did have the support of some of Lt.Gen.Lumley's Horse squadron's.
A third assault was planned by Lord Cutts until orders from the Duke of Marlborough who was keeping a close eye on what was happening, ordered Cutts to surround the village keeping the many French battalions trapped inside.
The British battalion's were no different from the other Allied battalion's or indeed their enemies.
I think tactic's played a part in that the British used Platoon fire whereby a faster rate of fire compared to the French firing in Rank's where one rank exchanges with another.
Another tactic used by Horse squadron's was charging in with the sword, where as the French Horse advanced to within pistol shot halted to fire and then advanced into combat with sword.
I would not class in most cases that the British soldier of this time was formidable!!!

Regards,

Ray.
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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by lee sherman » Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:12 am

Throughout the periods I believe the English or British army were more disiplined, in drill, moral and holding fire until much closer ranges?. Higher proportion of regular professional soldiers rather than conscripts drafted in to the ranks?. French troops during napoleonic times comment on how fire was held by the British in total silence until orders were given to present arms and they fire at point blank range. The French troops moral would waver as they new the volley would cause maximum damage to the ranks.... So during the 1700s was this the case, just better fire discipline and professional full time soldiers??

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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by Friedrich August I. » Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:43 pm

I think the only difference on the the battlefields at this time was, like Ray stated, not to be counted in terms of discipline and firepower but in Battle tactics. And the only Nation that made a difference to the western Art of Warfare have been the Swedes!
All western type Nations fought along the same textbook as they took their lessons from the outcome of the 30-Years War. The development of differnt styles to fire was only a small step and not that significant as some like to believe.
To bring more muskets to bear you have to remove the pikes and by doing that you are getting a more tempting target for attacking Cavalry.
The time when British Infantry showed their Discipline in firing at close ranges was far in the future.

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"Sort your filth out by yourself!" The King of Saxony Friedrich August III., at his abdication 1918, referred to the quarrels in the parliament and the squabbling within the provisional government.
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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by lee sherman » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:51 pm

Maybe firepower was terrible back in the 1700s so much so that troops would stand in lines at 100yrds or less knowing they were really unlucky to actually be hit in the fire fight?. Was the vast majority of causulties sufferered when troops went in with the bayonet in cold steel and then ridden down by the cavalry?. Fire fights perhaps disordered the rank and files allowing cavalry and bayonet charges in amongs the ranks?

Lee
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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by jean1951 » Wed Nov 05, 2014 10:44 pm

Hello,

I do not believe in British Infantry Firepower. I do believe in the discipline and steadfastness of the troops. At Québec the British held their fire until the french were on them. There are sources that says the British loaded their muskets with multiple shot (musket balls). I would imagine this would have the effect somewhat to a shotgun multiply that by men firing.

Best regards,

Jean
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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by barr7430 » Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:23 pm

Lee,

I would caution against falling into some of the common cliche thinking about British troops being hugely disciplined before the mid 18th century at least. During the Nine Years War they were often exactly the opposite. At the time of the WSS their standards of professionalism were improving but the benchmarks were with their contemporaries such as the Danes, Dutch, French not the British. As previously stated British troops rarely if ever formed more than 33% of larger coalition armies. Often The commanders of wings/brigades etc were not even of the nationality of the troops therein. Soldiering was much less a matter of nationality then than it became. Officers had often served in the armies they were fighting against and commanded the regiments they were now shooting. The tactics were transferred from side to side with the frequency of the senior officers moving allegiance (very often for money).

War was a profession to make rich men richer and poor men get a foot on the ladder. A commander would often be indifferent to the nationality of the men under his command as long as they knew what to do!
"If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you are probably right"

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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by lee sherman » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:52 am

Still must have took a lot of nerve to stand in a line while say 60+muskets per rank opened fire then another 60+ and so on. So the troops must have know the vast majority of musket balls would miss them?. Don't know if it's true some officers would invite the enemy battalions if they would care to fire 1st! that to me seems complete madness!! If true that is??

Lee
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Re: Destructive and Formidable: British Infantry Firepower

Post by Adam Hayes » Fri Nov 07, 2014 4:13 pm

So.... Who has actually read the book then?
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