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  •  I thought previous wars also had some of that ... (11+ / 0-)

    the US civil war featured an 8-month trench warfare period at Petersburg. That followed a pointless Union charge at Confederated defenders at Cold Harbor.

    My understanding is the soldiers realized they had to dig in, on account of the longer range of fire ... even though their commanders didn't always.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:05:08 AM PST

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    •  I was thinking tanks broke the stalemate. (4+ / 0-)

      The development of the tank late in the war gave the advantage back to offense, I thought. The Allies had tanks at the Germans didn't, so the Allies won.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:09:26 AM PST

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      •  not a military historian here (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, ybruti, NearlyNormal, Jay C, NYFM, devtob

        my layman's understanding is that learning how to use tanks was part of it ( I think that by the end some decent commanders finally emerged, maybe an Australian? [WWI is the poster child of bad generalship]).

        Also the Germans had come to the conclusion that THEY had to end the war soon, so earlier in 1918 they left their trenches and launched an initially successful offensive that took them close to Paris, using the famous "stormtrooper" tactics ... however they ran ahead of their supply train, and the offensive put greater toll on their forces. That combined with other factors (like the arrival of US troops) enabled the allies to push them back, and basically they never got back to their defensive positions. It was a more mobile war from there on out.

        In other words, it was the Germans that abandoned the stationary war.

        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:21:52 AM PST

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        •  Their attack on Paris (12+ / 0-)

          originally designed as a feint, which is what lead to the lack of supplies, was blunted by the arrival of Pershing and the Marine's.  The bitter battle of Belleau Woods/ Chateau Thierry blunted the German drive and their bayonet drive took the German positions finally, and the outstanding marksmanship of the Marines shredded the German counter-attack.  It was this battle that earned the Marines the German sobriquet of, Teuflehunden, or Devil-Dogs.  This was the first battle that a numerically inferior force won a victory against the Germans, and the initial advance across the open wheat field was the most deadly day for the Marines in their history until the capture of Tawara in WWII.

          "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man.'" J. R. Robertson.

          by NearlyNormal on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:04:05 AM PST

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        •  The initial development of the Tank (6+ / 0-)

          was pushed by Winston Churchill.  He wanted to amass a large number of them and push through the German lines.  He was over-ruled and they tried a small scale experiment which was a great, but localized success, and which taught the Germans a lesson they quickly learned.

          "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man.'" J. R. Robertson.

          by NearlyNormal on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:05:50 AM PST

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      •  The Germans did have tanks. The allies had more. (5+ / 0-)
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        murrayewv, eztempo, NYFM, devtob, HeyMikey

        While not all republicans are bigots, all bigots are republicans.

        by Maximilien Robespierre on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 08:10:15 AM PST

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      •  WWI tanks were too slow and unreliable (8+ / 0-)

        to be a major operational factor, since they couldn't really keep up with a sustained infantry advance.

        What led to the German defeat in the end was starvation and attrition.

        The Germans never could break the British sea blockade, which led to the German population being pushed to the brink of starvation by the the winter of 1917-1918.

        The Germans temporarily got a respite when Russia collapsed in 1917 and they were able to shift troops from the East Front to the Western Front, but given that they were trying to win a war of attrition against countries with superior populations, that strategy was doomed.

        Sure, Germany bled France white, but they weren't able to bleed the UK, the British Commonwealth, the French colonies, and the U.S. without being bled out themselves.

        By Fall of 1918, Germany was facing revolution and starvation at home and they had to sue for peace.

        •  The tank didn't need to keep up with the advance, (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse, NYFM, magnetics, devtob, HeyMikey

          what they needed to do was to blast a hole in the lines big enough for the infantry to pour through.  In later conflicts there was a need to have them with greater range, but at this stage a rupture in the lines that allowed penetration and disruption of the communications would have been sufficient.  This point was not understood by the leaders of the armies since it was new and armies are not good at doing new things.

          The larger communications problem caused by the blockade did take its eventual toll.

          "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man.'" J. R. Robertson.

          by NearlyNormal on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 10:12:32 AM PST

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    •  Civil War was a rehearsal in some respects for WW1 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, magnetics, devtob

      Troops moved by rail, armies having to deal with supply lines instead of living off the land, developments in ordnance, even aerial recon by balloons. A lot of European generals studied the Civil War. Pity they didn't learn enough from it.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 10:09:43 AM PST

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    •  Petersburg, etc. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jay C, PrahaPartizan, devtob, mightymouse

      This is true. I live in Richmond, VA, and Petersburg (about 25 miles south of Richmond), was besieged for six months or so in a successful move to cut the Confederate capital's supply lines and end the war.

      As the campaign drew on, trenches extended on both sides west from Petersburg.  Some are still visible today, especially at a location called Pamplin crossroads.  Covered with grass and amongst trees now, those trenches look a lot like those at Verdun.  When I saw the photos in this post, Petersburg was the first thing I thought of.

      Cold Harbor looks almost sinister by comparison.  It was, as M'mouse said, a massacre of Union troops charging Confederates protected not by trenches, but low berm-like mounds.  The trees are the same size there, too, (it was farmland for some time after the battle). The land is flat.   Through the woods to this day run those low  earthworks, in straight lines.  So easy to imagine soldiers running across the field into the fire of Confederates safe behind their earthen barrier.  No Union artillery, apparently.

      The biggest difference at Petersburg over CH, other than trenches on both sides, was that the South had run out of troops, so the Union had only to lengthen its trenches until the Southern lines were thinly manned enough to punch through.  Having already bled the South white, Grant just stretched the line till it broke.

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