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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; (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 ...


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Old February 6th, 2017, 05:33 PM   #1
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How loud was a Civil War battlefield?

(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?

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Old February 6th, 2017, 05:51 PM   #2
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hard to see thru all that smoke also.
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Old February 6th, 2017, 06:14 PM   #3
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Along with cannons and mortars firing, the shriek of incoming shells and rifle fire, I can imagine it was deafening.

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Old February 6th, 2017, 06:16 PM   #4
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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

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Old February 6th, 2017, 06:34 PM   #5
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Can't be any worse than someone on a battleship with those long guns. That must be something to behold.

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Old February 6th, 2017, 11:06 PM   #6
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If they still do them - go to a Civil War reenactment in Virginia, or at Gettysburg. That will quickly answer your question. Been there as a participant, it IS Loud!!!
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Old February 7th, 2017, 05:09 AM   #7
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Let's not forget about the screams of agony and death. Add to that the screams of encouragement and orders to advance or retreat. Surely the entire field of combat was one of confusion and turmoil. But most of us have endured our own experiences in the fog of war, though not to the degree I suspect of those in such large formations.

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Old February 7th, 2017, 06:02 AM   #8
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The battle of Gettysburg, Pa. could be heard as far south as Westminster, Md.

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Old February 7th, 2017, 06:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
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If they still do them - go to a Civil War reenactment in Virginia, or at Gettysburg. That will quickly answer your question. Been there as a participant, it IS Loud!!!
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Just curious about cannons at reenactments - how loud are the blanks they fire compared to actual?

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Old February 7th, 2017, 06:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Just curious about cannons at reenactments - how loud are the blanks they fire compared to actual?
The charge is the same and gives a very loud report, the only thing missing is the projectile.

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Old February 7th, 2017, 06:45 AM   #11
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To roughly answer Samuels question. Blank charges are usually about half as loud as live fire, the reason is a lighter powder charge and no projectile. I will say that the big howitzer up at Fort Meigs in Ohio can set off car alarms at 200 yards with just a blank charge. In battle artillery lends class to what otherwise would be a common brawl.

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Old February 7th, 2017, 12:57 PM   #12
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My dad ,rest his soul. Was at Gettysburg for the 150th the year they actually had the reanactment on the field. He said he couldn't hear anything over the cannon fire it was so deftening.

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Old February 7th, 2017, 03:11 PM   #13
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I have done a few reenactments with only a few hundred reenactors and some cannons. It is loud and I can only surmise what a real battle would be like, but it sure would have been loud. Even with blank charges you can really feel the concussion from the cannons.

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Old February 7th, 2017, 04:23 PM   #14
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It is only loud for 5 minutes. Then all you hear is ringing...

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Old February 7th, 2017, 05:41 PM   #15
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Having crewed on a 3" Parrott rifle and a 12lb Napoleon cannon for 4 years I can attest to the noise level of both. When you have battery fire the noise is deafening.

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