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 Post subject: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:28 am 
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Trying to find information on how effective rifle fire was during the Civil War is one of my side hobbies (I have a boring life). I came across this reference while reading "Faieful Lightning: A new History of the Civil War and Reconstruction" which touches on the question of do our games have to high a casualty rate?

The author is discussing the training and lack of of the volunteer soldier and mentions that almost none went through any target practice. Then mentions a couple of tests practice that were made.

The first was the 14th Illinois. They fired at a barrel set up 180 yards away from the firing line. The author didn't say how many men were involved but out of 160 tries only four shots hit the barrel.

The second reference was to the 5th Connecticut who had 40 men fire at a barn fifteen feet high from a distance of one hundred yards. They managed only four hits of which only one was at the height of a man.

Mostly proving the safest place to be on the battlefield was where the enemy was trying to aim. Most of the casualties were apparently due to all those random bullets flying around that were shot at someone else. I am beginning to suspect any regiment more than 100 yards from the enemy was perfectly safe from fire unless there were sharp shooters, who did train on how to fire, out there.

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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:25 pm 
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Just out of interest - have you fired any civil war era weapons - orignal or reproduction?

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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:35 pm 
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General Whitehead <salute>

Suh, my compliments!

A couple of interesting bits of information presented, and when doing the math I found that the percentage of hits was the same in both examples: 2.5% of rounds fired.

I suppose I have no life either, as I decided to do a little experiment with 10 pairs of units (A & B quality) in a few situations using HPS Gettysburg.

1) Units were placed adjacent to each other (125 yards), with the following results:
4035 "attackers" fired without moving for 258 hits - 6.4%
1731 "defenders" returned fire for 53 hits - 3.1%

2) Units were placed 2 hexes apart (250 yards), with the following results:
4035 "attackers" fired without moving for 206 hits - 5.1%
876 "defenders" retured fire for 24 hits - 2.7%

3) Units were placed 2 hexes apart (250 yards) with the "attacking" forces advancing to the adjacent hex (125 yards):
2516 "defenders" fired during movement for 80 hits - 3.2%
3955 "attackers" fired after movement for 138 hits - 3.5%
533 "defenders" returned fire for 15 hits - 2.8%
A total of 3049 "defenders fired for 95 hits - 3.0%

4) Units were placed 3 hexes apart (375 yards), with the "attacking" forces firing without movement:
4035 "attackers" fired for 113 hits - 2.8%
919 "defenders" fired for 18 hits - 2.0%

5) Units were placed 3 hexes apart (375 yards), with the "attacking" forces advancing to the adjacent hex (125 yards):
1264 "defenders" fired during movements for 42 hits - 3.3%
3993 "attackers" fired after movements for 149 hits - 3.7%
330 "defenders" returned fire for 7 hits - 2.1%
A total of 1594 "defenders" fired for 49 hits - 3.0%

If I understand the modifier correctly, units are rewarded for firing without previously moving and whatever disorganization or disruption might occur. "Defending" units also have not moved, yet obviously don't benefit from this modifier, and in every instance the attacking unit enjoyed a higher return on their fires even after having moved. I might add that these fires were between individual units, not a combined "mass firing" of "attacking" units in a hex.

From the numbers observed during my experiment it seems that the return of fires is within a reasonable range of the 2.5% from you examples, however the "attacker" seems to enjoy a considerable and unrealistic advantage from not having moved.

I would argue that the "attackers" should fire with the same rate of return as the defenders if they haven't moved, and any penalty for having moved prior should be deducted from the base calculation.

I look forward to comments on this little experiment,

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General Neal Hebert
Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:51 am 
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Another approach that may seem rather simplistic, and could certainly be more refined:
Take a battle, Say Gettysburg?
Number of Union riflemen--75,000 x 40 rounds per man = 3,000,000
Number of Confederate killed and wounded = 25,000
Number of rounds fired to inflict one casualty 3,000,000 /25,000 = 120
Simplistic in that artillery fire is not taken into account, but it is a small percentage
Also that the yanks may have fired an average of more than 40 rounds per man
Numbers involved and casualties off the top of my head--a precarious perch.
I have always the felt that the casualty rates in almost all war games are too high, by a factor of from 2 to 5 in some cases.
respectfully submitted
J.Ferry
2LT USA


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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:52 pm 
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Lieutenant Ferry <salute>

Suh, my compliments!

25,000 casualties inflicted by 3,000,000 rifle rounds fired would come out to a little under a 1% return, lower than the base established by General Whitehead's two accounts of tests conducted. You'd have to also assume that all 3,000,000 rounds were fired with no artillery contribution, which I don't believe would be accurate especially considering the Day Three actions.

Staying with General Whitehead's original thread, I'd be curious how games would differ without the bonus of having fired without moving during the Offensive fire phase. The rate of return in every instance of my little experiment (6.3% at 1 hex, 5.1% at 2 hexes, 2.8% from 3 hexes) is significantly higher at ranges of up to 250 yards when compared to his information from fires at 100 and 180 yards; only at 375 yards is it comparable.

In another light, consider the following:
Offensive fires:
Fires at 125 yards without moving: 6.4%
Fires at 125 yards after moving 1 hex: 3.2%
Fires at 125 yards after moving 2 hexes: 3.3%

Defensive fires at 125 yards:
Attacking unit did not move: 3.1%
Attacking unit moved 1 hex: 3.2%
Attacking unit moved 2 hexes: 3.3%

The Offensive fire bonus for having not moved results is twice the number of hits as the defensive fires, even though the defenders have also not moved yet enjoy no such bonus. Negating the bonus by moving simply reduces offensive fire to even terms.

I don't offer that this will reduce casualty numbers to what might be historical, however the higher rate of hits given the offensive fires conducted without movement may cause:
1) Disruptions to units which may not have had the fires been equal, reducing their effectiveness during their Offensive fire phase.
2) Routs to units which may have only disrupted, effectively eliminating them from participating during their Offensive fire phase.

While I enjoy pouring into a unit in either offensive or defensive fire without having moved as much as the next officer, I'd be curious to see how things changed with all things being equal.

Highest regards,

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General Neal Hebert
Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
II Corps, Army of the West
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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:15 pm 
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As I said, a rather simplistic approach. A little research would probably produce the correct figures for my example, including the amount of ammo expended at Gettysburg. Artillery fire would be well under 10%. I would lower casuaty rates and raise fatigue effects.


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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:11 pm 
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Lieutenant Ferry <salute>

Your contribution is appreciated, whether you consider it simplistic or not.

Conventional military thinking is that a 3:1 advantage is the minimum to ensure the best possibility of success (last I heard). An offensive fire bonus for not having moved of twice the effect of the defender could be seen as providing a 2:1 advantage even if forces are equal.

I'd like to see how battles might progress without this one modifier.

Highest regards,

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Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
II Corps, Army of the West
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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:36 pm 
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Gentlemen,

I just spent an hour typing a response to this post, only to have the server log me off for some reason. I lost everything entered.

But to the point: Brent Nosworthy's 2003 book The Bloody Crucible of Courage provides the answer. He chronicles primary source accounts from battles such as Stones River, Gaines Mill and The Wilderness among others. Lt. Ferry, your calculations simplistic or not are right on. The hit ratio -- wound or kill -- for the rifle in the Civil War was 1.0 - 1.1%. On page 584 in the last sentence of a rather unremarkable paragraph is the following: "On average, therefore, a 500-man regiment would have inflicted somewhere between 3.4 and 7.5 casualties per volley." Gold mine! This allows a comparison with an HPS regiment to determine the actual effectiveness of the rifle in these games. From a statistical standpoint it should be 2.5. Given the vagaries of the game system, I calculate -- not estimate -- it to be 2.9.

This is a summary of what I had previously written. I am preparing documentation -- including my calculations and rationale -- for eventual posting.

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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:58 pm 
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Sometimes it is hard to be humble. Looking forward to more data.


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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:20 pm 
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:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:05 am 
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cameronm wrote:
Just out of interest - have you fired any civil war era weapons - orignal or reproduction?


Yes, Springfield. The gun is accurate without a lot of compensation to about 50 yards. After that you have to start allowing for the 14 foot drop over 300 yards the gun has. And that is where the CW soldier gets into big trouble. Not trained on how to adjust the sights and never being allowed to shoot individually at a target he never gets a feel for just how bad it is. I believe the sights came adjusted for 300 yards which is why the officers keeping having to tell them to aim low. Rarely would a regiment deliberately waste ammo shooting at something at 300 yards.

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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:17 am 
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General Frost <salute>

Suh, I had the same thing happen to me in my original reply lol. I ended up typing it up in a document and then copy/paste to the forum. I look forward to your data once it's prepared.

I still see an uneven result from units enjoying a 2:1 advantage in the offensive fire phase if having not moved, and even enjoying a 1:1 exchange ratio even after marching 250 yards under fire. As the units used in the "experiment" were all A and B quality, perhaps this also inflated the casualties; perhaps I'll try it with C units.

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Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
II Corps, Army of the West
CSA Cabinet Secretary


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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:57 am 
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Forgive me, but the last few posts prompted some thoughts, and also some memories. Years ago I was hunting with a replica Enfield and I saw a buck coming straight at me thru open woods, well over 100 yards away. So I aimed, compensated a bit for the distance, and fired. That buck went down like a stone--THEN up like a rocket and off through the woods he did go, me in pusuit. I heard a shot over by a dirt road, and when I got there, there was a guy standing over the deer and muttering about the eight-point that I had just converted into a four-point. I never found the other antler.
Used to hit a man-sized plywood target pretty consistently at about 75 yards. Now I have two Enfields--neither is the same as the one I hunted with. One is a replica, but the other is a well-used original with the rifling all shot out. I had a smithy put a new nipple on it--the original had been smashed flat and had been in the gun for 150 years-- but now it will be a good reenactment gun or a wall-hanger. I also have .44 caliber pistols--a Colt's and a Remington.
I have not studied, game-wise, the effects of fire in any depth. My favorite peeve is when the opponent shoots at me and kills forty guys and I shoot back and get three. Yet I rarely get to do that to him. That thar is too much of a discrepancy which I have never understood.
Overall, casualties are too high in most all computer games, as I said. Reason is, even if the programmer models things accurately, the "optempo" of our games are several times real life, producing way too many losses, up to five times what they should be. The answer would be to reduce casualty rates, but maintain or raise fatigue losses.
J


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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Gentlemen <salute>

I repeated the experiment using C quality units (2937 attackers, 2934 defenders) and provide the information from both tests.

The A and B quality results:

Offensive fires at 125 yards:
without moving: 6.4%
after moving 1 hex: 3.2%
after moving 2 hexes: 3.3%

Defensive fires at 125 yards:
Attacking unit did not move: 3.1%
Attacking unit moved 1 hex: 3.2%
Attacking unit moved 2 hexes: 3.3%

Fires at 250 yards with no movement:
Offensive fire: 5.1%
Defensive fire: 2.7%

Fires at 375 yards with no movement:
Offensive fire: 2.8%
Defensive fire: 2.0%

The C quality results using the same format:

Offensive fires:
Fires at 125 yards without moving: 6.0%
Fires at 125 yards after moving 1 hex: 2.9%
Fires at 125 yards after moving 2 hexes: 3.1%

Defensive fires at 125 yards:
Attacking unit did not move: 0% (no units returned fire)
Attacking unit moved 1 hex: 2.4%
Attacking unit moved 2 hexes: 2.5%

Fires at 250 yards with no movement:
Offensive fire: 5.2%
Defensive fire: 0.7%

Fires at 375 yards with no movement:
Offensive fire: 2.5%
Defensive fire: 1.2%

The results are mostly down a bit, with a couple of discrepancies due to low or no defensive fires. It still shows a significant advantage for the offensive fires conducted without movement up to 275 yards.

Highest regards,

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General Neal Hebert
Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
II Corps, Army of the West
CSA Cabinet Secretary


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 Post subject: Re: Effectiveness of the Rifle
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:30 pm 
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Gentlemen <salute>

My final set of numbers to offer up, and while casualties would probably still be higher than historical it could possibly cut them by approximately 50% by eliminating the modifier for firing with movement in the offensive fire phase:

Using roughly the numbers observed during my experiments (6% offensive fire without movement, 3% return fire with 35% of units reacting) I expanded the engagement to 1 hour (3 turns) with the following results assuming no units disrupted, routed or ran low on ammunition:

Side 1: 543 casualties of 2937 or 18%
Side 2: 575 casualties of 2934 or 20%

Using the 2.5% as posted by General Whitehead for all fires with 35% of units reacting during defensive fires:

Side 1: 283 casualties of 2937 or 10%
Side 2: 285 casualties of 2934 or 10%

Using the 1% as posted by General Frost for all fires with 35% of units reacting during defensive fires:

Side 1: 116 casualties of 2937 or 4%
Side 2: 117 casualties of 2934 or 4%

Perhaps this could be tested out in an actual scenario with and without the offensive fire modifier?

Highest regards,

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General Neal Hebert
Edward C. Walthall Division (2nd aka "Gator Alley")
II Corps, Army of the West
CSA Cabinet Secretary


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