Re: Theory vs HE
The military and those who fund them, are usually driven by their experience in the "last war". Even with tech improving, the mind set is the "last one". Firearms changed warfare, but for how many decades it was the "form up the line of battle" and then open fire across the field at the other side done? Or the massive human wave (a variation of what happened after the opening volleys)?
Not this again.
The first practical man-portable firearms were matchlocks. They were big, they were heavy, they required walking around with a lit length of slow match, basically cord with gunpowder mixed in. They fired by slamming the lit end of the slow match into loose gunpowder which then fired the main charge and, with luck, the bullet. They had a rate of fire of something like one round per minute if you were good, more like one round every two minutes if not. A good man with a matchlock might, just might, be able to hit a large target, such as a horse, at 50 meters. At 100 meters he wasn't hitting anything, save by sheerest luck. Matchlocks and rain didn't go well together; the rain would put the matches out, and would we the powder in the pan so even if the matches stayed lit the only result would be a fizzle. This meant that matchlocks also didn't do well at sea. Night attacks with matchlocks meant showing your position.
Wheellocks, basically clockworks, eliminated a lot of the problems with matchlocks. The pan was covered, so rain and spray from the sea couldn't get in. There was no lit match, so night attacks were at least possible. However... you had to wind the weapons before each shot, reducing the rate of fire considerably. And wheellocks were as complicated as clocks, and so were hideously expensive... and fragile. Very few military men used wheellock should arms. Some of the richer soldiers might have wheellock pistols, but in the main the military used matchlocks.
Flintlocks were almost as reliable as wheellocks, and worked by putting a piece of flint in the hammer instead of the slow match. The flint would be struck against steel, creating a spark; at the same time, the hammer would slap the cover of the pan, allowing the spark to hit the loose powder in the pan and fire the weapon. It was considerably more water-resistant than a matchlock, and faster to fire, and more reliable... and still didn't work well in rain or at sea. If you were good, you might get two or three rounds per minute with a flintlock musket. Very good musketeers might get four shots in a minute. They were still extremely inaccurate.
Now, some problems. Throughout the black powder era (that is, until 'smokeless' powders arrived at the end of the 19th century) firing firearms generated vast clouds of smoke. There was a reason why military uniforms of the 15th through early to mid 19th centuries were so bright: it was the only way to be able to be seen, once the fighting started, by either side. Worse, until the invention of the bayonet, musketeers would completely helpless while reloading. Throughout the late 15th to the 17th centuries, musketeers had to be paired with pikemen. It was the pikes which made the mass charges, moving as quickly as possible while the opposing musketeers tried to reload. The pikes also kept hostile cavalry, armed with sabres and lances for the most part, off of the musketeers while they reloaded. The first form of the bayonet was the plug bayonet, in which the hilt of the bayonet (or just a handy knife) would be forced into the muzzle of the musket. This, of course, means that the musketeers can't reload. Only after the development of the socket bayonet could musketeers defend themselves against hostile pikes and cavalry while still being able to reload. Once the socket bayonet became common, pikes faded and were gone from European battlefields by the early 18th century. Further, because of the extreme inaccuracy of the matchlock and the flintlock smoothbore musket, firearms where not point weapons, where the musketeers aimed for a particular target. Most muskets didn't even have sights. No, the entire musket regiment was an area weapon, designed to throw a lot of fast-moving metal at the opposition in the hopes that something would hit. Mostly nothing did. Up until the French Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars, most infantry battles were decided by bayonet charges. (Pike charges back in the days of pikes, of course.) The Crimean War, the Sepoy Rebellion, and the American Civil War were all fought with muzzle-loading rifled muskets and all had heavy casualties because now the prime killers were rifles, accurate to long range, able to be reloaded fairly quickly (one round every 10 to 15 seconds). By the end of the American Civil War, magazine-fed, metallic cartridge, breech-loading rifles and the first machine guns, plus the primitive ancestors of modern artillery, ruled the battlefield. At Little Big Horn, the Indians had magazine rifles and Custer's troops had single-shot rifles (the American War Office felt that giving troops a lot of ammunition would cause them to waste it) and the results spoke for themselves. Around the same time, two battalions of British infantry with artillery support were overwhelmed by a mass human wave charge at Isandlwana; one company held out against mass attacks at Rorke's Drift. Zulu casualties were extremely heavy. In all the world only the Zulu, or, possibly, the Japanese, would have pressed home a charge with what amounted to short pikes into the teeth of rifle fire supported by field artillery. Any European army would have broken. Once the Zulu got into effective range, it was game over. Mass charges work... if allowed in close enough.