Short Takes

by Fred Ray on November 15, 2008 · 0 comments

Many Civil War histories sort of assume that tactics developed in a vacuum, without antecedents. In a previous post I mentioned that both sides used tactics developed by the French chasseurs. Here I’ll point those who are interested in light infantry tactics toward some resources on the web.

We hear a lot about “Napoleonic warfare” but see few definitions of what it exactly is. A great place to start your education is the massive Napoleon, His Army, and His Enemies site. Chock full of information about the French army and that of the various allied armies, the weapons, the politics, and much, much more. I particularly recommend the page on infantry tactics, which contains a great deal of info on light infantry and skirmishing. One thing that I hadn’t thought about is that the French term for skirmisher is tirailleur, which translates literally as “sharpshooter.” This tracks pretty well with Confederate usage of the term, which leaves me wondering if that was where they got it from. It certainly makes more sense that seeing them as snipers, which is quite popular today.

If you’re interested in taking a look at the Revolutionary War (which after all took place less than 80 years prior, much of it on the same ground), I recommend Americanrevolution.org. The home page is rather garish, but there’s a lot of good original source material there. Of particular interest is the full text of J. F. C. Fuller’s British Light Infantry in the Eighteenth Century, which is hard to find and pricey on the used market. It’s an excellent overview over the deveopment of light infantry up to the Napoleonic era.

Should you want to look at the American tactical manuals, go to the US Regulars site, which has the complete text of Silas Casey’s Infantry Tactics.

If you’re looking for something to hang on the wall, old-print.com has original Victorian era prints, mostly from newspapers and magazine, for sale. I bought a few of the chasseurs.

If you like miltary art, take a look at Croatian artist Velimir Vuksic’s site. Images of fighting men from all periods, including the Napoleonic and American Civil War.


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