Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Friday, March 05, 2004

This is coolbert: De Puy has some definite opinions on the three to one ratio [3:1] as a predictor of battlefield outcomes. One is that this was not a widespread concept prior to the advent of the conoidal bullet in the rifled musket. The concept only developed in the years just prior to and after the American Civil War. Prior to this, the side on the defensive was not said to have a substantial advantage. During the American Civil War it became apparent even to the uninitiated that improved weaponry now gave a substantial advantage to the defender and this had to be taken into account when making strategic calculations. Here is what De Puy says about Lincoln and the latter's intuitive appreciation of military concepts, such as the three to one ratio:

"his logical and intuitively strategic mind could grasp and deal with
strategic problems better than most of his generals, and as well as
the best".

De Puy then says that even thought Lincoln possessed an unmilitary mind, he did understand the fundamentals of strategy and the basic principles of war. Lincoln did understand that changing technology had created a new factor in war that could well predict in a very general sense the outcome of battles based upon force ratios. Again in a very general sense.

Now, in further evaluating the three to one concept as a predictor of battlefield outcome, De Puy concentrates on examples of where the attacker held an advantage of three to one numerical superiority and still failed. This in my opinion is a poor way to illustrate the concept. Rather it would have been more effective to find examples of where the attacker succeeded even when not possessing a three to one numerical advantage. This De Puy does not do.



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