Civil War Redux

During the American Civil War, could the South have won if they’d had one Apache Helicopter and one M1 Abrams tank? Assume fully trained crews and support personal and unlimited fuel and amo. Would that have been enough to turn the tide of the war in their favor?

Dumb question maybe, but I think about these type things. :stuck_out_tongue:

Fully trained crews aren’t enough to exploit that firepower to the maximum extent, though. The generals will take a while to understand what they do, what situations they work best in, and where they should put the one tank and one helicopter at what point in the various campaigns.

I don’t think that one enormous chunk of power could have saved the South. Give them several weaker vehicles, and then it might be possible.

Or a bevy of AK-47s…

Considering that the North didn’t have anything that would do much more than scratch the paint on an M-1 (taking down an Apache would’ve been extremely difficult, but possible, if the pilot ever made the mistake of getting too close to the Union line), I think that the answer to your question would be an unqualified “Hell yeah.”

The Union’s only hope of defeating those weapons systems would’ve been to somehow interdict the logistical support line keeping them in operation, and then letting them “wither on the vine” so to speak.

Yes, how about if one in every twenty Southern soldiers had an AK?

I agree: one tank, what’s that gonna do other than perhaps blow a hole in one line? Now if they’d had that tank at Little Round Top then perhaps, but not at most of the battles. Hand grenades or machine guns (ala Harry Turtledove) or even better submarines than The Hunley would have made more of a difference. (Lee’s plans early in the war to equip sharks with laser firing hats would definitely have thinned the Union blockade a bit, but the closest they ever got to the laser was a really concentrated phosphorous lamp and that just pissed off the sharks.)

Pardon the hijack, but I’ve read that Lee and other Confederate leaders disliked repeating rifles. Does anybody know what their justification was?

Would the Apache helicopter come with full modern firing capability or would it have just been a chopper with Civil War era weapons?

What I’ve wondered before, since we’re on the subject of “impossible what ifs”, is “what if” you dropped an automobile- one made before computers, from the 1920s perhaps, or a 1920s tommy gun, into 1864. Would they have been able to reverse engineer and replicate it?

That can only lead to more terrible prose from Harry Turtledove.

Generally they thought that soldiers would fire willy nilly and waste a ton of ammo. If a soldier can fire 10 bullets a minute instead of 1 that’s 10 times as many bullets you need to make and transport. We know now that it was stupid, but with the strained infrastructure of the South it’s easy to see why it would hold appeal.

Thanks. (Continuing the hijack) Did the Union’s repeating rifles turn the tide at any Confederate defeats?

Well, that and the Generals basing their thinking on the tactics they’d learned as junior officers in earlier wars.
The image of an Apache hovering 1500 feet over the White House and firing 1200 30mm rounds into it while Union soldiers fire back futilely with their Springfields is a pretty compelling one, I admit. The Union would probably hastily hire and train sharpshooters and experiment with armor-piercing bullets in hopes of getting lucky. I suppose the only thing likely to down the Apache is the lack of spare parts (the 30mm cannon barrel life is around 10,000 rounds) or a spy assassinating the pilot. In fact, attacking the crew is the best way to take out an Apache or an Abrams.

Now, if the Nazis got a stealth fighter or FDR had a nuclear aircraft carrier…

If they used that Apache to break the union blockade and destroy the US Navy, then attack and destroy union supply depots around Washington,perhaps. The Abrams would have been less usefull IMO.

I don’t think the Union had repeating rifles in any significant quantities during the war. The most they had was a small quantity, very late in the war when the outcome was already decided.

What if the Union had Batman? And he was prepared?

I think they both would be extremely useful. For one, the Abrams has a machine gun on it. If the Union Generals were dumb enough to attempt a front assault in a close knit formation a machine gun could easily kill 1000+ soldiers in under 10 minutes.

What if that one tank drives right into the capitol building and starts lobbing shells into the Senate chamber?

The Abrams and the Apache both have to refuel sometime, and when they do, they are vulnerable… In fact, given the state of the roads in 1862 America, I’d bet the Abrams would become useless rather quickly. It could quickly be overwhelmed by infantry in close quarters, and they would find something to jam the tracks. The Apache would be more of a problem, but then, it can’t be everywhere. If it’s attacking Washington, Grant is still reducing Vicksburg. The Apache doesn’t have the range to control all theaters of the war. Eventually the Union would strangle the South.

Far better to use AKs.
Oh, and Batman isn’t needed…the Union had Joshua Chamberlain.

I look at it this way. For years the Confederacy had a weapon that the North couldn’t beat, R.E. Lee’s army. Eventually they found a way to do that.

One tank couldn’t be everywhere and sooner or later someone would have sneaked up and planted a big mine under it.

The tank’s vulnerability is mobility. There are plenty of places to force a battle where the tank would be at a disadvantage or could be attacked via pre-placed mines (blackpowder in sufficient quantities would still work I’d bet) or incindiery devices (molotov cocktails even). The Apache on the other hand would be pretty hard to stop if it maintained altitude and refueled only in secure locations. In fact, I would use the tank to help secure the Apache’s ground base. A fully loaded Apache longbow with exterior fuel tanks and a full ground support load out would give you a 30mm chaingun with 1200 rounds of ammunition and 38 2.75" rockets with a comfortable range of over 1000km. From a base outside of Richmond you could hit DC, Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia… just about anything in the mid-Atlantic. I would imagine a direct hit by even one rocket would be the end of any wooden sailing vessel of that time. If the ironclads proved more robust, you could load out 8 hellfire missiles to take them on and they wouldn’t stand a chance. I would imagine that if the Confederacy obliterated the US navy, destroyed enough material and word got out that they had this wonder weapon, Britain and France would recognise them very quickly if only to try to get access to some of the technology for themselves.

You ever notice there are no photographs of the two of them together? :dubious: