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Old November 5th, 2012, 04:56 PM   #61
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My question is, why didn't they get this idea before? That camos work better than bright and colorful clothes?
Very simple: 1) blackpowder; 2) prevalence of smoothbore musketry. Both meant that if you were more than 50-100 yards away you were relatively safe and further, couldn't tell who was who. The "fog of war" was a literal thing. It was only the advent of the minie ball and then smokeless powders that made the battlefield truly dangerous.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 05:14 PM   #62

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Very simple: 1) blackpowder; 2) prevalence of smoothbore musketry. Both meant that if you were more than 50-100 yards away you were relatively safe and further, couldn't tell who was who. The "fog of war" was a literal thing. It was only the advent of the minie ball and then smokeless powders that made the battlefield truly dangerous.
The minie ball didn't cut down on the smoke on the battlefield. The rifled muskets of the American Civil War still pruduced a great of smoke when fired. The minie ball increased the effective accuracy of weapons, but because of the smoke the rifles still produced, the bright uniforms were still necessary to identify friend from foe. The appropriate changes to make tactically because of the minie ball would be to increase the ranges that units engaged each other in.

It's your second point on smokeless powder that was the clincher. Because once the weapons used produced less smoke, it didn't matter how far apart they were.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 01:53 AM   #63

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Well, it happened round about the time that Generals finally realized that the brighter the uniform that a soldier wore, the easier a target that soldier became...
But wrong.

Officers had long realised they had become targets in the era of gunpowder weapons, which was why in some conflicts they took to carrying rifles rather than swords or other obvious seniority indicators. As aimed fire improved in accuracy, so the courage to stand in formation under fire became less desirable than the need to preserve troops. tactics changed before uniforms did, with the arrival of rifled weapons meaning that ducking under cover was becoming advisable. Dull coloured uniforms then emerged due to issues of practicality (trenches tend to muddy) and obscurity (mud coloured uniforms make less obvious targets with rifles capable of hitting a man a mile away by the Edwardian period).

True camouflage was experimented with in WW2. British paratroops, Russian infantry, and of course a strong contribution from Wehrmacht and SS troops made camouflage a feature of the battlefield. The US gave camouflage issue to forces in the Pacific (not sure - I think it was the Marines only) and to Ranger units prior to D-Day (who quickly dropped it because friendly units assumed they were SS)
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Old November 8th, 2012, 07:21 PM   #64
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The Confederacy pioneered this in a way with the use of grey uniforms.
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Old November 8th, 2012, 08:19 PM   #65

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The Confederacy pioneered this in a way with the use of grey uniforms.
The Confederate Gray was not for purposes of camoflouge. If they were, they would have standardized the uniform for the entire Confederate army in 1861. However, that did not happen, as individual states would put together their own uniforms. Some weren't even gray. Units of the 1st Special Battalion Louisiana Infantry (Wheat's Tigers) wore a red shirt with a brown jacket (with red trim) along with white zouve pants that had blue vertical stripes.

In addition, when you look at the ornate gold decoration on the sleeves of Confederate officers, you have to know that that was not for camoflouge. And as the war went on and the South's economy failed to produce uniforms in large numbers, the Confederacy turned to butternut colored uniforms because they were cheaper, or men simply wore the same clothes they wore at home. Not a camoflouging effort.

To my knowledge, the only experiment from the American Civil War in "camoglouging" men were the 1st Regiment US Sharpshooters (Berdan's Sharpshooters) who were issued largely dark green uniforms. Whow well they worked I don't really know.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 03:12 AM   #66
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The Confederate Gray was not for purposes of camoflouge. If they were, they would have standardized the uniform for the entire Confederate army in 1861. However, that did not happen, as individual states would put together their own uniforms. Some weren't even gray. Units of the 1st Special Battalion Louisiana Infantry (Wheat's Tigers) wore a red shirt with a brown jacket (with red trim) along with white zouve pants that had blue vertical stripes.

In addition, when you look at the ornate gold decoration on the sleeves of Confederate officers, you have to know that that was not for camoflouge. And as the war went on and the South's economy failed to produce uniforms in large numbers, the Confederacy turned to butternut colored uniforms because they were cheaper, or men simply wore the same clothes they wore at home. Not a camoflouging effort.

To my knowledge, the only experiment from the American Civil War in "camoglouging" men were the 1st Regiment US Sharpshooters (Berdan's Sharpshooters) who were issued largely dark green uniforms. Whow well they worked I don't really know.
True that. However many of the "uniforms" were really just kit dyed in butternut. Thats a pretty good khaki like color.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 04:47 AM   #67

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Green uniforms were occaisionally tried by various armies (and for specialist units, almost always light infantry of some kind - interesting coincidence eh?). However this was not intended as camouflage to render the soldier invisible, since he still had decorative aspects to his uniform, but instead the colour was chosen to denote role.

Before formations of soldiers routinely hid from sight, colour and srtyle were recognition factors that allowed for morale, sighting, communication, tactical oversight. You would be shot at anyway so it didn't matter if the enemy could see you standing there in plain view.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 05:05 AM   #68
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The bright decorative uniforms might have made it harder for soldiers to run away from battle or desert.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 06:25 AM   #69

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Right up until they threw it away. It made no difference to rout in any case, because at that stage the individual isn't worried about his clothes but rather more concerned with saving his life.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 06:44 AM   #70
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The Confederacy pioneered this in a way with the use of grey uniforms.
As "uniform," undyed cloth - purchased cheaply in bulk and then made up into garments - had been in use at least since the 16th century. Very frequently this was wool. The color, also very frequently, was some shade of grey or brownish grey, depending on the location and the animals it came from. Sometimes they were quite plain, sometimes color was added in seams and other trim.

When European armies went more into uniform (later 17th century), the French, Dutch and Austrians clothed most of the infantry in their very large armies in grey. Smaller powers with sizeable armies like Bavaria and Denmark did much the same.

How the CSA decided on grey ("cadet gray" as worn at West Point), I don't know. Maybe someone else does. In the event, it was a contrast to US Army blue and had nothing to do with visibility.

The importance of less visibility in the field does not seem to have been well recognized by miltary technocrats until they understood the lethal effects of high explosives and rapid fire weaponry. Those effects were seen in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904/05 and in the Balkan Wars, 1912/13.

Last edited by pikeshot1600; November 9th, 2012 at 06:57 AM.
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