Artillery Hell

English: "Battle of Antietam. Army of the...

English: “Battle of Antietam. Army of the Potomac: Gen. Geo. B. McClellan, comm., Sept. 17′ 1862. – 1′ 2′ 4′ 6′ 9′ 12′ Corps & Pleasanton’s cav. div. engaged.” Color lithograph. Français : « La Bataille d’Antietam (17 septembre 1862). Armée du Potomac: Le général B. McClellan, commandant les 1 er , 2 e , 4 e , 6 e , 9 e et 12 e divisions de cavalerie de Corps & Pleasanton. » Lithographie en couleurs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every American opponent in battle from the Confederates on, have come away from the battle in awe of American firepower, and by extension, airpower. That tradition started 150 years ago this week in a Maryland cornfield. This battle included the single bloodiest day in American history.  Here’s what General Hooker (and yes, gentle reader, hookers are named after him) had to say about what his artillery did

Instructions were immediately given for the assemblage of all of my spare batteries, near at hand, of which I think there were five or six, to spring into battery, on the right of his field, and to open with canister at once.In the time I am writing every stalk of corn in the northern and greater part of the field was cut as closely as could have been done with a knife, and the slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks a few moments before. It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battle-field”   Maj. General Joseph Hooker, Commanding, First Army Corps

Thus opened the battle of Antietam. My friend at Practically Historical is doing a series on the battle that I recommend. It’s here, and here. I would warrant that more are coming since these two article take us all the way to 10:00 AM.

The battle was the end of The Army of Northern Virginia‘s first invasion of the north, and the marker that caused the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. The official Confederate name was Sharpsburg. It was the first notice to the world that American Artillery would become a force to be reckoned with.

Of course artillery on its own is pretty helpless and there were plenty of brave men at Antietam including John Gibbon’s Iron Brigade and Francis Meagher’s Irish Brigade and many others on both sides.

After the war, the American (as well as most European) army would adopt the Corps artillery developed by Porter Alexander of the Confederacy and death in wholesale lots would take another step forward. It should also be noted that Aerial spotting, and rifled guns for artillery were also developed in the Civil War, these things would continue to develop together.

Other enhancements have been developed such as the Time on Target barrage in World War II where the firing of each gun is timed so that all of the shells fall on the target at the same instant.

Airpower has extended the reach and power of artillery to intercontinental range and magnitude.

Related to this story of destructive forces, this week marks the 65th Anniversary of the United States Air Force, which separated from the Army in 1948

The real mission of all this firepower ? This

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One Response to Artillery Hell

  1. Pingback: 150 years « nebraskaenergyobserver

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