Use of bows around the time of the American civil war

Jun 2018
4
England/Australia
#1
I am fully prepared for this to be a stupid question, however my brief forays into Google have not helped me with the specifics I am after.

I come across this question by watching the History Buffs Gettysburg video, however it would apply to many situations in this era. Muskets are superior to bows, I understand this. They can effectively puncture simple armour, they can be used as clubs, and most importantly any person can be trained to use them relatively well in the space of a few days compared to the training required to use bows.

HOWEVER. Cannons would be used to soften up the enemy before a musket charge, yet (unless you have the high ground) they are unable to continue shooting once the charge is in motion, unless you want to destroy your own forces. This is a situation in which I find bowmen would be absolutely amazing, as you can theoretically continue arched volleys of arrows over your troops as they charge, causing more damage to the enemy and most importantly, providing a modicum of cover for your advancing troops.

I understand the logistics of training a portion of your troops in this way, but is it really not viable at all to put it into play? The ability to launch missiles over the heads of your allies seems tremendously beneficial to me.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,517
Dispargum
#2
One does not need bows to cover advancing troops. Basic fire and maneuver tactics will accomplish the same thing. American Civil War is a little early for true fire and maneuver, but I understand that James Longstreet was already thinking of something similar - divide the attack force into thirds with one third advancing, one third firing, and one third reloading at any given time. Other ways to provide covering fire would include using howitzers instead of direct fire cannon.

Another advantage of firearms over bows is range. In your scenario above, your archers would have to get pretty close to their target (~100 yards), exposing themselves to counter-fire. Cannon and even muskets can reach a target from much farther way. The more range between shooter and target, the greater the chance of finding covering terrain for the shooters to shelter behind.
 
Jun 2016
1,748
England, 200 yards from Wales
#4
One does not need bows to cover advancing troops. Basic fire and maneuver tactics will accomplish the same thing. American Civil War is a little early for true fire and maneuver, but I understand that James Longstreet was already thinking of something similar - divide the attack force into thirds with one third advancing, one third firing, and one third reloading at any given time. Other ways to provide covering fire would include using howitzers instead of direct fire cannon.

Another advantage of firearms over bows is range. In your scenario above, your archers would have to get pretty close to their target (~100 yards), exposing themselves to counter-fire. Cannon and even muskets can reach a target from much farther way. The more range between shooter and target, the greater the chance of finding covering terrain for the shooters to shelter behind.
That's all true, though I would suggest that, if they were shooting with a high trajectory, 200 yards would be quite reasonable even with fairly light (modern weight) bows (ie not Mediaeval warbow weights).
Of course that is still quite close range in musket/rifle/cannon terms.