The American civil war was an intresting war tactics wise. With the recent invention of the reapeating rifle, new strategy need be developed. Lee often followed the teachings of napolean and attempted to get the better ground and hold it. however he also utilized napoleanic charges. a great example is the failure at Gettysburg with pickett's charge. Northen generals were also educated in a napoleanic matter, an example is the right wheel forward used by Col. Chamberlain on Little Round Top at Gettysburg. WWI was much different. With the innovation of the tank,chemical warfare and ultra-effective machine guns WWI was a war fought mainly in trenches.
I would like to improve the answer stated above as follows:
the American Civil war was mainly a "war of movement";
the WWI was mainly a "war of position".
In my opinion, also the WWI could had mainly been a "war of movement" as actually it had commenced or, at least, had not the belligerent Nations forgotten the "lessons" given and the "experiences" made during the American Civil War, the "war of position" would have been less predominant, probably lowering the terrible losses and shortening its duration.
Here is a striking example:
during the batlle of Spotsylvania, Col. Upton (then General), endorsed by Gen. Grant,
put into practice an idea of his: how to get through a strong line of entrenchments by
a little task force "perforating" the same in a certain, chosen, point , making then
able to following greater units to attempt a large scale breakthrough of the whole enemy front. The experiment had been successful although only in its first phase. It was reiterated with other variants during successive phases of that campaign. The failure of the fully exploitation of the success was due to lack of experience but I do think that it should have been worth the be studied and performed
at least by all the General Staffs of the Western Country.
But we have to wait until the year 1917, to see the same principles put in practice in their full strategical meanings when, during the WWI, a young German Lieutenant, Erwin Rommel leading some 120 shocking troopers succeded in "perforating" the Italian Front at Caporetto, action which, well exploited led to the whole collapse of the 1st and 2nd Italian Army's front, with acceptable losses for the attackers.
Now I would like to draw the readers and contributors' attention upon following deeds:
1) all the most important Nations which, then, were among the belligerent of the WWI,
sent military observers to witness, embedded in both, Union and Confederate
Armies the Civil War military events;
2) the acquaintance they acquired, in terms of military tactical and strategical
innovations, worth to be reported to their governments should have been but a
very poor one if:
a) during the wars of: 1866, 1870, Zulu, Dervish, Boer and so forth, Austrian, German,
French and English troopers were sent to fight most in flamboyant uniforms, in thick
lines, most the cavalry provided with breast armours and lances, the outcome of a
battle depending on the impact of the mass and the use of the "sacred bayonet"
b) none of them adopted the repeating rifle until the last 15 years or so, of the century; the Prussians fighting the crucial war of 1870 against the France using the somewhat defective one shot breach-loader rifle "Dreyse"
c) also the great von Moltke, Chief of Staff of Prussian and then of German's Army, commenting the American Civil War said about : "it was a series of disordered fighting carried on by disorganized masses of poor skilled and undisciplined men, ready to flee and to desert".
3) or wasn't it rather a matter of old fashioned outlook of the European Military Establishment towards all the Armies outside Europe, which have been considered
(at the time but also until the WWII) worth but of scarce military competence?
In my opinion, yes it was, and it was inherited by all generations of rank officers who
succeeded to them in studying, developing and updating the tactical and strategical
doctrine of war among their General Staffs. So that the American Civil War remained
a thing of but a little more than insignificant event, leading to erase from the memory
all the useful "lessons" which that event had at the cost of huge losses but in vain taught.
The outcome was that all Europeans Armies entered the WWI quiet keeping a somewhat outdated and crazy "mentality", of which please find some examples of the beginning of the war:
The French Infantry wore red trousers and kepis, by that way making easier the enemies to shot them. Their attacks were carried on by masses aiming to solve the situations not by the fire and manoeuver but mainly by the impact.
On the Eastern Prussia, the Germans although being aware they were going to be greatly outnumbered but confident in their supposed moral and professional superiority neglected to cover themselves effectively before to be invested by the coming up Russians armies.
The Austrians who, at the same day of the breakout of the hostility, launched 9 or so
cavalry divisions into Russian territory without infantry support, with no useful task.
No wonder, therefore, if after having exhausted all possible mean to maintain a "fluid"
way of carrying on the operations, the belligerents of each side being not able to prevail upon their enemies, they both had no other alternative but to get buried in a net of endless entrenchments which led to a stalemate destined to endure until the last months of the war. But worse, they hadn't foreseen such a situation of stalemate and so, they couldn't get ready effective countermeasure to get through within a reasonable lapse of time not only because of the reckless and arrogant mentality of their own but also that of their predecessor military leaders formerly on charge.
To conclude I do think that, both the American Civil War and the WWI have not had great difference in their general global strategy. Both of them were wars of attrition which ended with the total collapse, moral and material of one of the fighting party,
although, in my opinion, the first one was carried on with more cleaverness and more
sensible tactical and strategical skill, which must be considered astonishing when we have to think that their military leaders were mainly not "military professional people" in the true sense of the word.
The US Civil War consisted largely of two types. The Union, aka the US, put together a set of offensive strategies designed to prevent the Confederacy from being able to place an army on the battlefield.This meant a destruction of the South's government and any ability to carry on an armed conflict on any level that would change the outcome of the conflict.
The major strategy of the Rebels, aka the Confederacy was to fight a defensive war that would secure a victory by having the Union grow tired of the war and the cost of it in terms of lives and property.
In World War One there were a variety of of strategies used and used for one purpose. To cause enough damages in lives and property to disable each side from conducting the war. For Germany, a successful invasion of France and its occupation would end the western front of the war. The two other major western powers need not to have been invaded or occupied.
For France, Great Britain and the US was to construct a strategy to cause enough damage to germany that it would be forced to sue for peace. This happened in 1918.
On the Eastern front, Germany's goal was an invasion that cost so many losses in life and the destruction of property that Russia would sign a peace treaty giving great advantages to Germany. This goal happened in 1917.
Conversely, Russia's strategy was to invade Germany and force a surrender.
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There is no difference.
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Ask Dr Alex bananas and he will answer you
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