Differences between 18th century warfare and Napoleonic wars?

Dec 2016
107
Spain
#21
Which were the differences between European wars warfare tactics and American Revolution war warfare tactics? I guess that American rebels fought with guerrilla tactics to fight the British launching raids and ambushes but in which extent guerrilla warfare was used during American Revolution war? and British army fought in the same way that in Europe?
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,319
Dispargum
#22
Incidence of guerilla warfare tactics in the American Revolutionary War tends to be exaggerated by American pop cultural history. Washington hated what today would be called guerilla warfare. He wanted his army to fight using conventional tactics. One reason we Americans lost so many battles in the early years is because our army had not yet learned to fight like a European professional army. For instance, Washington's army only learned to march in formations at Valley Forge during the winter of 1778. (The war started in the spring of '75)

That said, yes, in some battles the Americans did use guerilla tactics. We also employed a guerilla strategy in the sense that we won by outlasting the enemy's morale or his will to fight. In the end the British gave up out of frustration, kind of like the Americans later pulling out of Vietnam. Napoleon preferred to defeat his enemies quickly in one quick, sharp campaign. One could argue the Peninsula War in Spain was a guerilla war (in fact, I think that's where the word guerilla came from, Spanish for little war/people's war). Napoleon's armies slowly bled to death in Spain because his quick strike tactics didn't work there.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,382
#23
Which were the differences between European wars warfare tactics and American Revolution war warfare tactics? I guess that American rebels fought with guerrilla tactics to fight the British launching raids and ambushes but in which extent guerrilla warfare was used during American Revolution war? and British army fought in the same way that in Europe?
Austria used large numbers of irregular skirmishes both mounted and foot in the seven years war, often raiding and harassing line of communications. Which influenced other powers to adopt their own versions. Before the American War of Independence.
 

Mangekyou

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
7,952
UK
#24
The main difference was maneouvre.

in the 18th century, maneouvre warfare was used to flank, bypass or dislodge armies out of position. If this was done, the battle was usually won. Set-piece battles were not as common as siege warfare, and even then, it very rarely led to the destruction of the opposition army or with annihilation of said army, in mind.
 
Nov 2011
4,767
Ohio, USA
#25
The main difference was maneouvre.

in the 18th century, maneouvre warfare was used to flank, bypass or dislodge armies out of position. If this was done, the battle was usually won. Set-piece battles were not as common as siege warfare, and even then, it very rarely led to the destruction of the opposition army or with annihilation of said army, in mind.
Yeah, Blenheim might have been the closest thing to that last scenario, as far as the 18th century is concerned.
 
Sep 2016
1,218
Georgia
#26
The main difference was maneouvre.

in the 18th century, maneouvre warfare was used to flank, bypass or dislodge armies out of position. If this was done, the battle was usually won. Set-piece battles were not as common as siege warfare, and even then, it very rarely led to the destruction of the opposition army or with annihilation of said army, in mind.
I would also add that the nature of theatre was important as well. Theatre along the Rhine allowed for more maneouvres, while in Flanders warfare was mainly about sieges. Southern Netherlands had much more fortresses and bastions, plus it isn't really big area. Which is why Turenne and Monteccucoli were able to engage in ,, maneouvre duel '' or such campaigns like Blenheim and 1675 Turenne's campaign could happen in Alsace or Bavaria.

Armies were also hindered in their ability to march deep into enemy's territory by Logistics of the time. Introduction and adoption of potatoes was one of the most crucial things in that regard. France and Germany government officials and noble landowners promoted the rapid conversion of fallow land into potato fields after 1750. The potato thus became an important staple crop in Europe. Famines in the early 1770s contributed to its acceptance, as did government policies in several European countries. At times and places when and where most other crops failed, potatoes could still typically be relied upon to contribute adequately to food supplies.

Frederick the Great strove successfully to overcome farmers' skepticism about the potato, and in 1756 he issued an official proclamation mandating its cultivation. This Kartoffelbefehl (potato order) termed the unfamiliar tuber "a very nutritious food supplement." Frederick was sometimes known as the Kartoffelk├Ânig ("potato king").

Not to mention, the Europe has never seen such big armies before and even France had a difficult time sustaining 200 000 men.
 
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