Spanish War 1898
Member of the U.S.A.W.S.
1890s INFANTRY TACTICS
The breech-loading rifle had three times the fire-power of the old
muzzle-loaders and the new magazine rifles were faster yet, Because a
formed body of men could not survive in the zone of fire a single rank
with 3' to 6' between men was the basic company formation. Widely
spaced skirmishers were placed to the front and flanks of the formation,
relying upon the range and firepower of their rifles to cover the gaps.
The degree of emphasis upon maintaining the line or using cover varied
from army to army. The British and Americans preferred small groups
using cover while the French and Germans used a main line and reserve
line behind their skirmishers. With units covering a wider front
command depended more upon the company officers as a mounted
regimental commander would not last long. Cavalry was confined to
scouting or flank protection or used as mounted infantry as in the U.S.
or Russian armies. Since there were few rapid fire weapons and quick
firing artillery was just being introduced this system lasted until the
opening days of WW1.
The U.S.Army stressed the use of cover and individual
marksmanship. The Krag rifle was slow to reload as it was intended to
be fired singly with the magazine held in reserve. At Fl Caney U.S.
soldiers were ordered to cease fire to allow the sharp shooters better
aim!. However, the purpose of aimed fire and "Indian Tactics" was to
allow sufficient numbers to assemble to take the objective by assault.
U.S. artillery was outdated and ineffective and the success of the Gatling
gun detachment was only due to the efforts of its commander. U.S.
infantry was quick to dig-in and rapidly took over Spanish trenches in
addition to extending their own. It's worth noting that dirt was put to the
front of the trench as the weapons of that time were mostly direct-fire.
The Spanish Army put greater emphasis upon maintaining the
infantry formation and a high volume of fire. Although the Mauser was
a very accurate rifle, its cliploaded magazine allowed the Spanish
infantry to produce a very fast rate of fire. Because of their experience
in Cuba, the Spanish made wide use of skirmishers and utilized very
effective snipers. At long range the Spanish infantry was trained to fire
by volley and were able to harass approaching U.S. columns at distances
of up to 3000 yards!
The Spanish Army had Maxim machine-guns but there is no record
of their use in Cuba Spanish artillery was used effectively and a pair of
modern Krupp field-guns were able to outshoot two U.S. batteries. The
Spanish used extensive field works with trenches, blockhouses and
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