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How loud was a Civil War battlefield?

This is a discussion on How loud was a Civil War battlefield? within the Military History forums, part of the Armed Services category; Imagine how it must have been for Chamberlain in the center of the line in the safe zone, the morning of Picket's charge. Remember, Lee ...


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Old February 7th, 2017, 06:37 PM   #16
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Imagine how it must have been for Chamberlain in the center of the line in the safe zone, the morning of Picket's charge. Remember, Lee was going to soften up the center of the line for Picket,s 15,000 men.
Chamberlain and his 20th Maine earned some rest after Hood went around to the right the day before.
Chamberlain couldn't hug the ground any closer, the cannon balls were thankfully going long after the initial barrage.
How can any human being be normal after being in the middle of an artillary massacre?
July 3rd 1863 right?

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Last edited by janderso57; February 8th, 2017 at 02:20 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old February 8th, 2017, 08:37 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by janderso57 View Post
Imagine how it must have been for Chamberlain in the center of the line in the safe zone, the morning of Picket's charge. Remember, Lee was going to soften up the center of the line for Picket,s 15,000 men.
Chamberlain and his 20th Maine earned some rest after Hood went around to the right the day before.
Chamberlain couldn't hug the ground any closer, the cannon balls were thankfully going long after the initial barrage.
How can any human being be normal after being in the middle of an artillary massacre?
July 3rd 1863 right?
You must have watched "Gettysburg." The 20th was actually still on LRT during Pickett's charge.

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Old February 8th, 2017, 08:50 AM   #18
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Thumbs up 1861-1865 CANNONS

I THINK I WILL CHIME IN ON THIS ONE!!!

When you talk about those types of artillery pieces you really have to take in to consecration the technology and tactics of the time. In our modern military the artillery are in the rear firing with indirect fire, in support of the Infantry. In those days the Artillery was in the front firing with direct line of sight, as counter battery fire and softening up the Enemies battle lines, the Infantry would move thru the Artillery line and form up to advance to the enemy. This was done when the Limber Box's shells where gone, unless the ammo supply wagons allowed for the resupply of the limber box's.

This can be found in two main books that were used by both armies during the conflict. Barry Hunt's Field Artillery Manual and the Patten 1861 Drill Manual.

Now in the Re-enactment world were are regulated by two different drill manuals that we follow, The US Field Artillery Association out of Fort Sill, and the National Civil War Artillery Association. I will follow up later on with some of the other questions asked later on.

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Last edited by AMS 41; February 8th, 2017 at 08:52 AM. Reason: wording
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Old February 8th, 2017, 11:01 AM   #19
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I bet there were a lot of deaf soldiers. I also wonder what some of the more inventive guys did to combat this. It's not like Home Depot was selling buckets of earplugs on every corner like today so perhaps they talked about cotton balls or something.....or maybe you were considered a wuss if it hurt?

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Old February 8th, 2017, 11:05 AM   #20
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Acoustic Shadows and the Civil War.



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Old March 7th, 2017, 07:07 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Samuel Seeley View Post
(I'm just talking round numbers here - not trying to do an exact computation. Be gentle.)

Assume a man could fire a sustained three rounds per minute.

A Civil War regiment typically was formed with 1,000 men so that would mean one full regiment could fire 3,000 rounds per minute. So roughly equivalent to a .58 caliber mini-gun firing 500 grain bullets (over 200 pounds of lead going downrange each minute).

The XII Corps at Gettysburg had about 17,000 men present for duty there. So maybe they had only 10,000 combat soldiers on Culp's Hill (where the real fighting was - not Little Round Top). That would be 30,000 rounds per minute. According to after action reports Geary's 2nd division (the smallest of the three in XII corps) fired 227,000 rounds just on the 3rd day.

Multiply that by all of the Corps at Gettysburg, and add in artillery. And Confederate fire.

Loud enough?
I was re-enacting at Gettysburg for the 135th anniversary in 1998. It was arguably the largest military re-enactment EVER for any time period, anywhere. Approximately 32,000 uniformed reenacts present.

On the third day Pickett's charge was larger than the original battle.

We were in the Union artillery line with about 50 other cannons and there were about 10,000 infantry about 50 yards ahead of us lying down in a line across the 1/2 mile width of the field.

The battle started with a 45 minute artillery duel. Not too bad. Not painful but a lot like the most intense thunderstorm you could imagine. When the Cornfeds got within about 1/4 mile the arty shut down the infantry formed two ranks and started firing. 10,000 muskets at 3-4 rounds per minute sounded like canvas treating or mini-guns going off.

All in all the noise level was intense but not painful. Live rounds are obviously much louder. IMO a re-enactment that size gives a reasonable clue as to what the real thing would have sounded like.

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Badger

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Old March 7th, 2017, 07:09 PM   #22
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The rifles were not that loud compared to the concussion of artillery fire. Now there is something that will make you flinch
Personally I find artillery less painful on the ears than firing a musket. Black powder arty is more like a thunderclap than a crack.

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