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I said, 'When you look through that scope, I want you to see a head blowing up.'"Grossman spends an entire section detailing the plight of the Vietnam veteran, trained in these methods and killing at a rate unparalleled in human history.
The human revulsion for killing is not conditioned away in these men, merely suppressed.
Averages and estimates suggest that during Napoleonic and Civil War times, an entire regiment, firing from a range of thirty yards, would hit only one or two men a minute.
Let's break down the numbers: - a regiment contains between 200 and 1,000 men - a soldier operating at peak efficiency could get off 1-5 shots per minute - during training, these soldiers were 25% accurate at 225 yards, 40% accurate at 150 yards, and 60% accurate at 70 yards Taking the most modest of these estimates - a 200 man regiment shooting once per minute with 25% accuracy - you would expect to see about 50 hits, more than 25 times that which was generally observed.
Soldiers were resorting to a number of options, anything that meant that they didn't have to kill. When the fighting at Gettysburg was over, 27,574 muskets were found on the battlefield. Given that loading a weapon took roughly twenty times as long as firing it, the chances of these muskets representing mostly soldiers cut down just as they intended to shoot are slim.
But then how do you explain the 12,000 multiply-loaded weapons, with 6,000 of them loaded with 3-10 rounds apiece?
As one officer observed, "It seems strange that a company of men can fire volley after volley at a like number of men at not over a distance of fifteen steps and not cause a single casualty. In Civil War times, conscience-stricken soldiers also had the option of pretending to fire - that is, loading up their muskets, mimicking the movements of a firing soldier next to them, and pretending to recoil.
Yet such was the facts in this instance."What was happening? These soldiers would then be carrying loaded weapons or would have loaded their weapons multiple times.
He theorizes that psychiatric trauma is due primarily not to incredibly high levels of physical stress and constant fear, but to the moral strain of overcoming one's instinctive revulsion towards killing.
The idea that psychiatric casualties - henceforth abbreviated PCs - are due to fear of death is pretty intuitive.
However, none of this means that Grossman doesn't have some incredibly thought-provoking things to say. These results can be found throughout time and across cultures, from Alexander the Great who lost only 700 men in years of fighting, to tribesmen in New Guinea who remove the arrows from their feathers before going off to war, to the soldiers at Rosebud Creek in 1876 who fired 252 rounds for each Native American they hit.
This book was written to explain a startling fact: throughout most of military history, up until the end of World War II, the vast majority of soldiers (between 75 and 95%) have refused to kill. The Battle of Gettysburg is considered one of America's bloodiest battles, but as Grossman shows, it could have been a great deal bloodier.
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