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 (???? - 1799 AD) Pre-19th Century Battles
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john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/14/2019 10:42:05 AM
I am reading Richard Holmes' Marlborough and have just completed the part on the Battle of Malplaquet. This was not the Duke's finest hour. That said I found that this battle can be compared to a battle that took place nearly a 150 years later, the Battle of the Wilderness in the American Civil War.

1. Marlborough's Army numbered 110,000, the French 85,000 close to the Union/Conf numbers
2. Marlborough was determined to bring the French to battle, no matter the ground, much like Grant
3. The fighting in the Sars Wood was much like the fighting in the Wilderness
4. The attacking forces became disorganized in the woods
5. The attacking forces took tremendous losses
6. Artillery was useless in this section of battle
7. It was a pure infantry fight
8. Heavy fighting took place along the breastworks, much hand to hand

For a battle fought in 1709, Malplaquet was really a quite modern battle

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/14/2019 3:01:28 PM
John,

Richard Holmes’s book on Marlborough is one of the best biographies in military history, IMHO.

Malplaquet was very significantly bloodier than the Wilderness : more men cut down in one day in 1709 than in two days in early May 1864....although , one must hasten to add, the Wilderness battle was just the opening dance in a thirty day killing fest.

In what sense do you impart modernity to Malplaquet ?

In one sense, I suppose, it had a modern aspect, in so far as it had significant political ramifications .

I would be tempted to liken Malplaquet to Spotsylvania rather than the Wilderness.....but I’m splitting hairs. Don’t mistake my comments for disdain : far from it....I like the cut of your jib !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/14/2019 4:46:13 PM
I think of battles of the 18th century (Before Nap.) not to be the bloodbath Malplaquet was. Battles of the American Rev except Bunker Hill tended to be an offensive push, exchange of volleys, and then withdrawal. (Making it over simple). Not until Napoleon, think Borodino, do we see the huge casualties.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/14/2019 6:37:40 PM
Not when one considers the slaughter in the Seven Years War - Hochkirch, Prague, Kolin, Zorndorf, Kunersdorf.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/14/2019 9:24:32 PM
Not sure if they were slaughters on terms of Malplaquet.
Malplaquet had larger armies involved so larger casualties numbers
The battles you mentioned were smaller on both accounts.
My feelings on Malplaquet being a modern battle is the size of the each army (110,000/85.000) and the number of casualties (24.000/13,000)

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/15/2019 2:45:24 AM

Quote:
I think of battles of the 18th century (Before Nap.) not to be the bloodbath Malplaquet was. Battles of the American Rev except Bunker Hill tended to be an offensive push, exchange of volleys, and then withdrawal. (Making it over simple). Not until Napoleon, think Borodino, do we see the huge casualties.
--john hayward


Take a look at Blenheim, John.

I think you’ll find that, though victorious, Marlborough took casualties every bit as heavy as McClellan at Antietam, and from a smaller force. The French lost many more. In the prelude to Blenheim, there was a necessity for Marlborough to capture a Franco Bavarian redoubt at a place called The Schellenberg. It was carried by direct frontal assault , and the attacking columns, although successful, sustained casualties that were heavier than those taken by Pickett’s division at Gettysburg .

Trevor is right : the carnage in some of the battles of the Seven Years War was staggering : Zorndorf especially .

Editing : Just looked at some figures for Kunersdorf, 12 August 1759 . God ! What happened ? Prussians : 49,000 engaged; 6,048 killed, 11,101 wounded and 1,354 missing. Russo-Austrians : 98,000 engaged, with 16,061 killed or wounded. The appallingly high ratio of killed on the Prussian side suggests massed firepower backed up by hand to hand slaughter. Mass formation, a lot of lead flying and some cold steel being put to deadly use.

Please let me invite you to reconsider, John !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/15/2019 7:33:51 AM
I took a look and I stand corrected. If you compare numbers I think Malplaquet comes out ahead but overall using % of casualties those battles mentioned certainly were no walk in the park. At Kolin the Prussian Army stood at around 34,000 and lost almost 13,000.

At Malplaquet the description of the battlefield especially in Sar Woods or in the works where vicious hand to hand fighting occurred seems more gruesome than in those battles. It is from these that I felt like this battle stood out.

Major John Blackader wrote
"I went to view the field of battle...in all my life I have not seen the dead bodies lie so thick as they were in some places among the retrenchments...for a good while I could not go among them, lest my horse should trend on the carcasses that were lying, as it were, heaped on one another."

In no way am I down playing those other battles.

My wife is related to the Major

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/15/2019 12:08:41 PM
This thread has excited my curiosity, and I began to think about some horrific nbattles that were fought in the earlier centuries.

I remember once taking a brief holiday on the Adriatic coast of Italy, and I spent some time walking along a huge seaside resort near the town of Ravenna.

I was made aware of a huge battle that had been fought there in 1512. I don’t have the numbers to hand, but the slaughter was prolonged and reflected a closely fought and intense engagement. The size of the armies was only about 25,000 on each side, but the number of deaths was appalling. This was in rather an obscure conflict known to history as the War of the League of Cambrai. The same war entailed an extension of fighting to warfare between the English and the Scotts, and, in September 1509, the Battle of Flodden was fought. An especially nasty affair, with the issue being decided by pike and halberd. Artillery also wrought dreadful damage. The number of Scottish dead was staggering - more than ten thousand, including their King. English dead numbered “ only” 1,500...but they lost several thousand wounded. In those days, to a large degree, victory or defeat decided whether wounded would live or die. It’s apparent from the numbers that Scottish wounded were dispatched on the field.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/15/2019 12:27:18 PM
“I’ve heard the lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Lassies a-lilting before dawn o’ day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away”.

Dool and wae for the order sent oor lads tae the Border!
The English for ance, by guile wan the day,
The Flooers o’ the Forest, that fought aye the foremost,
The pride o’ oor land lie cauld in the clay.

I’ve heard the lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Lassies a-lilting before dawn o’ day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away”

— Extract from “The Flowers of the Forest”, Jean Elliot, 1756


[Read More]

Regards

Jim

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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/15/2019 3:15:53 PM
Flodden can truly be called a bloodbath for the Scots. King James killed which leads us the the tragic Mary Queen of Scots.

Many ancient battles had huge casualties but mostly happened when one side was routed. The Battle of Marathon comes to mind

Perhaps I should have qualified Malplaquet as opening the door to modern warfare...large armies, black powder and a huge casualty list

phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/16/2019 6:50:04 AM

Quote:
Flodden can truly be called a bloodbath for the Scots.


Heavens, yes ! And a horrifically fatal one.

This brings me to a point I wish to emphasise : Flodden was a bloodbath for the English too....there was a great deal of bloodshed by the English, but this was due to men being wounded rather than being killed.

What determined the fate of men who were cut down in battles ; why did one side suffer a disproportionately high number of killed, while the other escaped with relatively few killed, but with great numbers of men suffering from wounds, many of which, we must assume, were to prove fatal ? Does the era of " modern warfare" mark a difference here ? To illustrate my point, look at the casualties we've been discussing. Blenheim, 1704, cost the victors very similar casualties to those suffered by the Union army at Antietam in 1862 : about 12,000 in both cases. At Blenheim, Marlborough's allied loss is recorded as 4,500 killed and 7,500 wounded. At Antietam, McClellan's army reported 2,108 killed and 9,549 wounded. At Malplaquet, 1709, Marlborough's forces lost more than twenty thousand killed and wounded, of whom 6,500 are said to have been killed and 14,000 wounded. Another 4,000 are said to have been missing, with participants reporting that there was a remarkable paucity of prisoners being captured. For the Union army in the Wilderness in May 1864 the figures, officially returned, were 2,246 killed, 12,037 wounded and 3,383 missing.

How might we account for these very different ratios, that imply a far more lethal aspect to the earlier battles ? Does it imply a greater meticulousness in accounting in more modern warfare ? Might it simply be a function of closer combat in the eighteenth century fighting, in which cannon balls smashed whole ranks of men and cavalry charges trampled, hacked and skewered men to death, while the infantry slaughtered each other with bayonets after discharging their musketry at point blank range ? Then there is, of course, the obvious feature of medical care, which afforded the wounded better prospects in the Wilderness. Not that it was much fun there, especially when the woods caught fire.


I wonder if the wounded at Blenheim and Malplaquet were more likely to be conflated with the killed, with so many of them left dying on the field, and large numbers of those that were recovered being bound to die, that it was thought more expedient to allow for their fate by categorising them as killed. In the battles in America a century and a half later, such men were counted as wounded, even if they died shortly thereafter.


There is also the probability that the battles of Marlborough's era entailed deliberate killing of the wounded, with plunder and vengeance being accepted as the recourse of a brutalised soldiery.


Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/16/2019 1:40:48 PM
"Then there is, of course, the obvious feature of medical care, which afforded the wounded better prospects in the Wilderness."

Not sure if there was much difference in medical care. There were more doctors in the field, ambulances to remove the wounded to field hospitals, and then general hospitals by 1864. But medical knowledge was much the same in 1864 as 1709 esp in the US. At least Europe had learned something from the Crimean War and Joseph Lister's germ theory. The US doctors were way behind the curve on this. Even as late as 1881 when Garfield was shot, the doctors treating him had little regards for this theory.

Marlborough wrote after Malplaquet...."There was never a battle in which there has been so many killed and wounded as this, for there are very few prisoners, considering the greatness of the action." This was because "in the heat of the battle there was little quarter given on either side...Most of the officers we have taken were wounded, who had been left on the field of battle."

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/16/2019 4:39:27 PM
John,

Are you convinced that soldiers wounded in the Wilderness in May 1864 suffered an ordeal comparable with that of the wounded at Malplaquet in 1709 ?

I would be surprised, to say the least, if that were so.

Regards, Phil




---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/16/2019 8:07:00 PM
Only to the point that medical science had not solved the germ problem. Also many of the surgeon tools were still the same. Amputation was the answer to most wounds. Any wounds to the head or torso meant death unless one was lucky

The addition of regimental surgeons and ass't surgeons who were doctors as civilians was a plus. Organized ambulance corps, field hospitals where many lives saved because of quick actions all added to the odds increasing for the wounded to survive.

A soldier in the 5th NJ was wounded in the hand, mangling two of his fingers. They were removed. Less than two weeks his hand was amputated due to gangrene. Again in less than two weeks his arm was amputated at the elbow. So he survived his minor wound

To be wounded at either battle must have been a terrible ordeal. Many wounded were left on the field at Malplaquet while those left in the Wilderness burned to death.



Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/17/2019 4:27:33 AM
Amputation in the ACW at least afforded the wounded the comfort of anaesthesia .

I have learnt to be careful about wound mortality statistics. They can be misleading . A higher recorded death rate is sometimes attributable to better evacuation....a counter intuitive thing to consider ; but it becomes clearer under investigation. Faster and more comprehensive evacuation of wounded from the field means that very serious cases are taken into medical care who would otherwise be left to die where they fell. This has the effect of swelling the proportion of wounded who are recorded as died from wounds. Hence, the proportion of that category was higher among US wounded in Vietnam than it had been in Korea, not because medical care had deteriorated, but on account of the ability to bring dying men into hospital in 1968 whose counterparts in 1950 would have perished on the battlefield, and been recorded as killed in action.

Let me try and find out some stuff about this in the Crimea and the Napoleonic wars. I hope there is info about the War of the Spanish Succession . I would have thought that Marlborough might have been especially solicitous in the securing of medical care for his wounded, but I musn’t rely on assumption . Some of the best treatment of wounded soldiers was inaugurated by the French in the era of black powder warfare....but that spans at least a couple of centuries and there was a lot of variation.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/17/2019 6:43:56 AM
"Amputation in the ACW at least afforded the wounded the comfort of anaesthesia ." In theory yes. Not sure this was always true in practice

The 7th NJ at Gettysburg had 14 enlisted men listed as killed 77 listed as wounded. Of the 77, 8 died in hospital. The 5th NJ 11 enlisted men dead, 60 wounded of which 7 died in hospital. Very small sample but close to 10% of those reported wounded in this case later died

Each loss one officer who was listed as wounded but later died. The 7th's colonel was hit in the upper thigh on July 2 and died at home on July 16. The 5th's adj was hit in the knee on July 2. Leg was amputated but he died on July 8.

Of course one factor we have not included is the effect of smoothbore round of 1709 compared to a Minie bullet in 1864. A game changer

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/17/2019 11:18:39 AM
John, Thanks for those NJ Gettysburg stats. It’s been revealed that, at Gettysburg, the number of Union soldiers who died from their wounds equated to almost exactly two thirds of the number who were confirmed as killed in action : rather more than three thousand killed, and just over two thousand mortally wounded.
Those NJ figures are pretty consistent with that ratio. I find a remarkable similarity with the British experience in the Crimean War, which returned figures of 2,755 killed and 1,847 died from wounds : near as damn it that two thirds again. British soldiers in the Crimea were not exposed to the Minie bullet, although they enjoyed the advantage of using it against the Russians.

In order to develop this discussion to conform with the sector of the forum and the thread, I need to find out some figures for the eighteenth century warfare, which is going to be difficult . The battles that Marlborough fought did yield some precise figures for the individual contingents e.g. British, Dutch, Danish etc, but I doubt that I could find breakdowns for KIA and DOW. I do remember seeing something quite shocking about the fate of the English and Loyalist casualties from the Battle of Culloden, in which the mortality rate among the 260 wounded was so high that it exceeded the number who were killed outright. Many of these were wounded by cold steel, the Scottish Claymore being horrific in effect. A lot of the Highlanders who died at Culloden were bayoneted, with the Duke of Cumberland’s redcoats being specially drilled in how to spit the Jacobites when they raised their sword arms.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/17/2019 2:08:23 PM

Quote:


Of course one factor we have not included is the effect of smoothbore round of 1709 compared to a Minie bullet in 1864. A game changer

--john hayward


Much has been written about how the Minie bullet changed the face of battle.

I think that there is much to be circumspect about here.

Yes, there’s no doubt that range and accuracy was very significantly increased thereby.

Yet, in the battles of the American Civil War, soldiers still tended to fire the great preponderance of their rounds at ranges of one hundred yards or less : it’s as if the muzzle loading black powder nature of battle still defined the combat as a close quarters affair.

As to the nature of the wounds inflicted, there is too much conflicting evidence to allow for firm conclusions. Smoothbore muskets seemed to have been just as good at inflicting lethal damage. It’s hard to make sense of it. I wonder if the answer lay in the greater prevalence of killing by cannons in the old battles ; or, perhaps, in the greater use of cold steel. I’m sure that the huge cavalry charges that were used in the early eighteenth century unleashed a murderous fate on the hapless infantry who were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of them. In the ACW, such episodes seldom if ever happened, and, as for artillery, the hospital records indicate that it was the musket, rifled or otherwise, that caused the overwhelming majority of casualties. I suspect that the heavily wooded nature of many of the American battlefields tended to diminish the incidence of artillery wounds.

At Waterloo, there were 29 British soldiers killed in action for every 100 wounded ; at Gettysburg, the Federals lost 22 killed for every 100 wounded. OTOH, eleven per cent of the redcoats wounded at Waterloo died, compared with fourteen per cent of the yankee wounded at Gettysburg. Hard to discern the impact of rifling here.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/18/2019 7:18:08 AM
The biggest difference between the roundball and Minie is the type of wound each caused.

A roundball punched a hole while the Minie tore one. If you were hit in the forearm with a roundball, odds were you would suffer a broken arm. If you survived the Dr. cares and no infection set in, your arm would set in cast.

If you were hit by a Minie in the forearm, your bones would be shattered from wrist to elbow, making amputation the only answer.

Again using an example from a NJ regiment at Gettysburg
A Sergeant in the 7th NJ was struck in the head by a .69 cal. roundball on July 2. The round entered his head just forward and above his ear. On July 4 he was found dazed and sitting up by his comrades. Brought to a field hospital, a surgeon probed the wound using his middle finger. The Dr could feel the man's brain above his finger and the brain pan below but couldn't find the round. Left to die, the Sergeant survived and in 1888 applied to the Gov't complaining of headaches, vertigo and unable to sleep on his back. The wound was still open and drained at times. The Gov't gave him 1/4 pension.

If he was struck with a Minie he would have been killed

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/18/2019 9:11:48 AM
Always keen to discuss Gettysburg, John. Thanks for that revealing example.

In an attempt to find evidence about the difference between the smoothbore of 1709 and the rifled musket one hundred and fifty plus years later, the best I can come up with at present is a striking example from Wolfe’s Quebec campaign in 1759. His great achievement at the Plains of Abraham came at the cost of his own life ; but the total British casualties that day included only 60 killed in action from a total of 650 killed and wounded : fewer than ten per cent of the redcoats who were hit were killed outright. I suppose that a significant number of the wounded died later , but the figures certainly demonstrate how, in certain circumstances, the old smoothbores were deficient in killing power. There is, however, a strikingly different example from the same campaign : the Battle of Beauport in July 1759. This was a sharp repulse for the British, and this entailed a loss of 210 killed and 233 wounded. This was a grotesquely high proportion of killed, and might be attributable to some of the Odawa allies the French deployed who were keen to collect scalps. It might also have testified to the lethal effect of musketry - albeit smoothbore - in the hands of resolute troops in prepared positions .

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/18/2019 11:54:32 AM
I read some where a long time ago that the reason smoothbores fired buck and ball was that wounding a soldier actually removed 2 from the firing line. One being the wounded soldier the other being a comrade helping him to the rear

I own a 1842 Springfield musket .69 cal. I have fired it with buck and ball. At 35 yards I hit a basketball with one of the rounds. Firing at a well formed line of men I would have hit someone.


Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/18/2019 12:33:35 PM
John,

Here’s something I’ve chewed on.

That horrific fight when Marlbough’s forces stormed the Schellenberg occurred on 2 July 1704. I took note of the date, and sought to compare casualties with those suffered by Longstreet’s Corps at Gettysburg exactly 159 years later.

In a single day in 1704, Marlborough and his allies deployed 22,000 men in this direct frontal assault. Longstreet likewise had 22,000 men in his command, also deployed in head on attacks, although these took place over two days. Very similar numbers : what of the casualties ?

Schellenberg cost the attackers 1,342 killed in action and 3,699 wounded ( source, I’m afraid, wiki ). Note that the killed equate to more than one third of the wounded. No figures for died of wounds.

Longstreet’s Corps , strength 22,353 : killed, 1,241 ; wounded, 5,276. Of the wounded, 696 ( 13.2%) died. Source, John and Travis Busey.

The disparity that catche my eye is the ratio of killed to wounded ; 1 to 2.75 on 2 July 1704 ; 1 to 4.25 on 2-3 July 1863.

The Schellenberg was the prelude to Blenheim, and it was nowhere near as big a battle as Malplaquet ; but, in terms of sheer intensity and horror, it was second to none.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/18/2019 4:01:33 PM
I agree. Marlborough was under the gun so to speak. He couldn't afford to waste time at The Schellenberg and conduct the usual approaches to fortified works He needed a quick victory to force the campaign in his favor. He didn't have time or even the opportunity to move his forces into a more favorable attack position.

The British 1st Foot Guard lost 12 officers and 217 men. 2 battalions of Orkney's Reg't 30 officers and 418 men. The Royal Welch Fusiliers 16 officers and 228 men

A French officer claimed that the Allied dead were piled so high that they topped the fascines protecting his trenches.

The descriptions of this battle rival those of other battles fought a century or 2 in the future

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/18/2019 5:34:52 PM
Its close parallel is Badajoz, in the Peninsular War, fought just over one century later, under circumstances that are uncanny in some similarities . Like Marlborough , Wellington needed to take a strong defensive position from the enemy in order to secure his lines of advance and communications, and this entailed a horrible frontal assault with terrible casualties, including the use of that dreadful mission “ The Forlorn Hope “. Like the Schellenberg, the attack at Badajoz resulted in a nightmare of close quarters fighting as troops stormed the breach on 6 April 1812. The Anglo Portuguese storming parties took 3,704 casualties, many of them sustained in a dry moat filled with mines and combustibles that were detonated as the Allied troops took a French bastion. There were 806 killed, 2,846 wounded and 52 missing among the four divisions deployed by Wellington. The subsequent behaviour of the victorious soldiers was simply atrocious, with rape, murder and pillage making the name rather shameful in British military annals. Likewise, after capturing the Schellenberg, Marlborough participated in the harrowing of Bavaria, which he was not at all proud of.

Both these actions reveal that even the most successful commanders sometimes resort to direct frontal assault and subject their men to slaughter.

Grant and Lee would have sympathised.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/18/2019 6:33:15 PM
Yes sometimes a general needs to lose men to save men

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/19/2019 3:46:46 AM

Quote:
I read some where a long time ago that the reason smoothbores fired buck and ball was that wounding a soldier actually removed 2 from the firing line. One being the wounded soldier the other being a comrade helping him to the rear

I own a 1842 Springfield musket .69 cal. I have fired it with buck and ball. At 35 yards I hit a basketball with one of the rounds. Firing at a well formed line of men I would have hit someone.


--john hayward


John,

That .69 calibre catches my eye. That’s a big lump of lead, and must have weighed more than the .57 Enfield minie ball. Am I right in stating that muzzle velocity was roughly the same in both cases, at about one thousand feet per second ? What imparted the more shattering effect to the minie when it hit a bone ?

Can that be attributed entirely to spin ?

Forgive my ignorance : Earl J Hess and Alan (?) Guelzo have challenged the historiography about the impact of the minie, and we’re being made very aware of the close range of ACW firefights, which must have negated the range advantage of the rifled muskets.

Anecdotal evidence from the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny battles , however, emphasise the advantage that the minie bestowed over the smoothbore.

Does the ACW furnish any examples of engagements in which one side prevailed because it possessed more rifles than the other ?

This is rather a long way from Malplaquet , but I think our discussion is too interesting to abandon !

Editing here : something troubles me, and I would welcome your comments. Take a look at the early battles of the ACW : First Bull Run, Wison’s Creek, Belmont and one or two others ( I think Williamsburg in early May 1862 is the last example ), and you’ll notice something about the ratio of killed to wounded. The proportion of killed is much higher, with the wounded outnumbering them by a much smaller margin than was to be the case later. This might be due to different criteria that were used to classify, but I can’t help wondering whether it had something to do with old fashioned smoothbores doing some especially lethal work.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/19/2019 11:45:04 AM
Low muzzle velocity, the spin, large caliber .57 or .58, soft lead that mushroomed on impact made the Minie a horrendous round


This article is interesting
https://taskandpurpose.com/civil-war-reenactor-minie-ball

john hayward
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/19/2019 2:11:32 PM
2nd NJ Brigade at Williamsburg, located on Union left w/ Hooker's Division, astride the Williamsburg Rd

5th NJ armed with Austrian Lorenz rifles .54 cal- 9 KIA 63 W 27 MIA
6th NJ armed with Springfield rifles .58 cal- 39 KIA 74 W 26 MIA
7th NJ armed with 1842 Springfield smoothbores .69 cal- 24 KIA 90 W 7 MIA
8th NJ armed with Springfield rifles .58 cal- 35 KIA 122 W 4 MIA

Of the 4 regiments the 5th suffered the smallest number of casualties being on the Brigade's right across the road. The 8th was located on the Brigade's left which was open for a large part of the fight until the NY Excelsior Brigade came up

Difficult to find the exact numbers/arms for the Confederate units

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/20/2019 4:00:43 AM
John,

Thank for that array of statistics . You clearly have a profound interest in New Jersey’s civil war.

Those figures speak loudly to me : I wish I knew how to interpret their story.

Was this coincidence, the exigencies of battle ; or was it a reflection of tactical planning ?

The regiments with the rifles lost so many more men killed than the regiments armed with the smoothbores. Each rifle equipped regiment lost more than the two smoothbore regiments combined. In the case of the 6th NJ the proportion of killed is grotesquely high : do you have any suggestions as to why ?

Did commanders survey the weapons of their troops, and select those with the better weapons to be paced in the hottest spots ? Or did the enemy, receiving the impact of the minie balls, turn their attention on the soldiers who were delivering that fire ?

At that stage of the war, there were still plenty of smoothbore regiments in the line....at least, that’s apparent from the example you cite.

Editing : To make matters worse for the 6th NJ, the total of killed and died of wounds was, according to Fox, 59. That implies that either a very high percentage of the wounded were so badly hurt that they died , or that many of the missing men had been killed, or were left dying where they fell. Incidentally, were the “ Jersey Blues “ initially overrun and pushed back in this engagement ? I believe that this might account for the high proportion of men posted as killed compared with the number of wounded brought in....they had been shot down and left to die where they fell.

Reverting to times nearer Marlborough’s era, I have found out that the 260 English and Loyalist wounded at Culloden fared very badly. In one regiment, Barrel’s 4th Foot, of 104 wounded only 29 survived to claim pensions. All six of the artillerymen reported as wounded also died from their wounds.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/20/2019 8:31:06 AM
The 2nd NJ Brigade fought a stand up knock down battle at Williamsburg. It was their first action so there was little finesse. The 8th NJ was on the Brigade's left so they were subject to front and flank fire. There was hand to hand fighting just before the men broke. The major of the 7th mentioned clusters of men around the flags fighting this way

All the Brigade's wounded were recovered and brought in by nightfall except those captured. Those were found the next day in Williamsburg.

Interesting enough it is the only battle of the Brigade where bayonet wounds are recorded At least 3 such wounds. All were found on men killed early in the fight when some were deployed as skirmishers and had gunshot wounds

Born and raised in NJ. 3 relatives in 7th NJ one killed at Williamsburg. Have published two books, one on the 7th the other on the 5th.

At Culloden didn't the Scots fire one volley, throw away their guns then charge with swords flashing?

Phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/20/2019 8:48:46 AM
Thanks so much, John. It’s wonderful for me to have such an authoratitive and enthusiastic contributor to learn from. The reference to bayonet wounds is very pertinent as testimony to the fury of early battles, when, as you say, little “ finesse” was displayed.

You state that the men broke . That is so often a moment of extreme peril. We’re supposed to be discussing Malplaquet ,but this is so darned interesting that I can’t resist pursuing the thing with you !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

phil andrade
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/20/2019 10:05:17 AM

Quote:
2nd NJ Brigade at Williamsburg, located on Union left w/ Hooker's Division, astride the Williamsburg Rd

5th NJ armed with Austrian Lorenz rifles .54 cal- 9 KIA 63 W 27 MIA
6th NJ armed with Springfield rifles .58 cal- 39 KIA 74 W 26 MIA
7th NJ armed with 1842 Springfield smoothbores .69 cal- 24 KIA 90 W 7 MIA
8th NJ armed with Springfield rifles .58 cal- 35 KIA 122 W 4 MIA

Of the 4 regiments the 5th suffered the smallest number of casualties being on the Brigade's right across the road. The 8th was located on the Brigade's left which was open for a large part of the fight until the NY Excelsior Brigade came up

Difficult to find the exact numbers/arms for the Confederate units
--john hayward


John,

Another observation : the 5th suffered the lowest casualties, with only 9 men killed : but Fox tells us that its total fatality rose to 24, after the died of wounds ( and maybe some missing) were allowed for. A good indication of how severe the wounds must have been for many of the 63 reported as wounded.

New Jersey lost 2,548 soldiers killed in action or died from wounds in the entire war, 165 of them at Williamsburg. Nearly one quarter of all the yankee troops posted as killed in action in that battle were NJ men.


I get the impression - and this is controversial - that the impact of the minie ball tended to isolate individual units for extreme loss, while earlier battles of the " Brown Bess " smoothbore era tended to spread the loss more evenly throughout an army. For example, at Waterloo, no single British regiment suffered a percentage rate of killed and wounded as high as those of the worst hit Union regiments at Gettysburg : yet, the overall rate of loss in the British army on 18 June 1815 was higher than that of the AOP at Gettysburg.


Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
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E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 487

Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/20/2019 12:35:25 PM
The numbers I quoted you came from the OR. looking thru my notes I found that the official number of dead was 24, 2 officers killed, 1 MW and 21 enlisted men dead. All the men captured were wounded.
Col Samuel Starr commanding the 5th listed 11 officers and 103 men killed, wounded or captured

Half of the wounded were discharged as results of their wounds

Priv George Belt Co K 5th NJ was wounded in the upper right arm. Instead of amputating the arm the doctors removed the upper third of the bone, leaving the arm.

The 5th NJ was on the right of the Williamsburg Rd in support of an artillery battery. A large number of killed and wounded came from counter battery fire that came their way. Col Starr stated that his regiment withdrew in good order as they were not as hard pressed as those across the road

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/21/2019 6:18:35 AM
John,

A large number of killed and wounded came from counter battery fire that came their way.

That’s another feature of the earlier battles of the war that might explain the composition of their casualty lists : the greater incidence of artillery fire represented therein.

Maybe the rifled muskets kept the cannoneers further away from the infantry than had been the case in battles dominated by smoothbores. Might this alllow me to suggest that Williamsburg had more in common with Malplaquet than the Wilderness ? Lee himself remarked that the lack of artillery fire in the Wilderness accounted for a greater preponderance of slight cases among his wounded.

I note that the confederate casualties reported from Williamsburg displayed a similarly high ratio of killed to wounded : 288 killed and 975 wounded, a proportion of 1 to 3.4, compared with the yankees’ 1 to 3.0. The usual ratio was close to 1 to 5. Two years later, in the Wilderness, the ratio for the confederates was to halve the proportion of killed, with six or seven being wounded for every one killed.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

john hayward
Allenstown, NH, USA
top 25
E-6 Staff Sergeant
Posts: 487

Re: Malplaquet
Posted on: 3/21/2019 6:50:21 AM
Except for the size/number of men involved the two could be compared

I understand that at Malplaquet the French sighted a grand battery near Laniere Wood that tore whole holes in the Dutch as they advanced against Boufflers' position. The result was that Prince of Orange's Brigade took huge casualties

Because of the heavy rain at Williamsburg Col Wainwright, Union artillery commander, complained that his batteries could not find suitable dry ground to unlimber. he lost a number of guns (2-4) because they were stuck in the mud. The Conf. guns were located in fixed positions, Fort Magruder for example and suffered less because of this

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