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Kellerfox 07-15-2021 11:09 PM


Originally Posted by cdcox (Post 15741364)
Ok, let's estiguess the shit out of this one.

American Revolution.
There were about 265 notable battles.
The most number of American Soldiers on the battle field at any time was about 13,000. Most battles would have far fewer. Let's call it 2500, with another 2500 British.
Soldiers typically carried 20 to 30 rounds, but a typical battle using tactics at the time would consist of a few volley exchanges, followed by bayonet/hatchet charges. Let's call it 10 rounds fired per combatant per battle.

Max upper limit might be 265 battles*5000 combatants per battle*10 rounds per combatant = 13M rounds

American Cinema
Estimates of the number of American movies range from 50,000 to 500,000. Assuming Rain Man is referring to the narrower range of movies (defined as having an MPAA release number or appearing on IMDB) there have been around 50K movies made.

So taking our 13M rounds and dividing by 50,000 movies gives us a break even of 265 rounds fired per movie. As a reference point, The Matrix (a movie with above average automatic weapons fire) had around 2000 rounds fired. Clearly it is on the high end of distribution of all American Movies.

On average, I'm fairly confident that there are less than an average of 265 rounds fired per American movie, but it is in the ball park. The number of rounds fired in the American Revolution is probably a high estimate. Still, I am going with the estimates here, and going to say more rounds were fired in the American Revolution, but would not be surprised either way.

Great analysis! I like your train of thought, but my initial reaction is that a few of your assumptions might be off? I could also be wrong as I did not do any research to back up my claim and it appears you did some Googling (making you more credible).

Where I think you may be off:
  1. I think an overwhelming majority of the 250+ battles were fought between combined forces of 1,000 or less. Many were as small as 200-300… especially some of the naval battles. Statistically, I’m not sure the 10-15 large battles of 20,000+ are enough to pull the combined war average up to 5,000. Pulling a number out of my a**, I’d personally roll with 1,000 or 1,500.
  2. I also think 10 volleys is a bit high for field battle. I once read that American militia were only expected to fire two or three times before retreating. Regulars would presumably get more shots in, but I think in field combat each side loses 20-30% of their front line to injuries after each volley. So the number of total shots for each volley decreases as the battle progresses (ie most soldiers wouldn’t reach that 10th shot). Thus, I’m thinking that maybe 5 shots per soldier per battle may be may be closer?
  3. Offsetting that last statement, I think a LOT of rounds were fired off “aimlessly” during sieges by both sides. For example, let’s talk Fort McHenry (I visited the fort/museum January 2020 so some metrics are fresh on my mind). The British had around 20 ships. The largest ships had roughly 20 guns - 10 per side (so only half used at once). Each gun could fire every 2-3 minutes. The siege lasted 24 hours. That could be 400-500 shots per canon in that battle. The Good Guys had a couple dozen canons too… and thats not even counting the musket rounds exchanged. Some of the sieges lasted weeks if not months (Boston, Yorktown, etc.). Are the siege statistics enough to pull up the total war time average? I’m thinking yes… so maybe your 10 bullets per isn’t a bad metric. In fact… I might even argue that it’s low!

So I guess my thinking on your methodology would be…

265 battles x 1,000 soldier average x 10 shot average = 2.65 million rounds

You called yours an upper end, so maybe this is the lower end giving us a range? Regardless, that’s still a lot of bullets!

Kellerfox 07-15-2021 11:32 PM

Going down the rabbit hole…

I’m seeing a couple websites citing David McCullough (arguably the foremost expert on American History alive today) saying that there were closer to 1,500 total engagements during the Revolutionary War. The ~250 number would be major battles, so these other 1,250 would be much smaller…. But as a whole they would still add up!

Let’s say each had an average of 100 total combatants. Using our 10 shot average that would be another 1.25 million shots!

oldman 07-16-2021 06:49 AM

Again, the question was more bullets, not gunshots. Since movies rarely use live ammo, it has to be the Revolution.

As described in my many times great grandfather's memoirs, a lot of the fighting in the south was quick ambushes by a few Americans, where they only fired 1 round at a column of Brits and then disappeared into the woods. The remaining Brits would fire everything they had at trees, birds, and other suspicious forrest creatures. After all the excitement, they'd gather up their dead and wounded, reload, and march on, only to fall prey to another rebel volley a few miles away.

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