When the war started, many British troops in the army were cavalrymen, and depended on their skill on horses to win battles. But because of the trench warfare that started, they were demoted to fight as “stopgap infantrymen”. Their classic style of fighting was downgraded into a defensive tactic and this frustrated many of the soldiers.Another reason to support this statement was that a French inventor had created a new way of artillery being fired more rapidly and dangerously than ever.
This meant that both sides were not only just defensively waiting for the enemy to attack, but their machine guns could target them “…with a merciless precision”. This new bombardment forced both sides to react, and so they dug trenches to provide protection. This meant both sides smartly defended and so “the revolution in firepower helped produce a stalemate”.In addition to this revolution in guns, was the artillery, barbed wire, mines and the flamethrower. This meant that both armies were stuck in the same position for very lengthy periods of time.
All of these accounted for the defensive methods of warfare the armies took up and therefore helped create stalemate.This ‘stalemate’ was worsened by the impossible task of ‘generalship’, meaning that no tactics could be put into action and if one side tried to manoeuvre they would be cut down by enemy machine guns. This meant that generals ended up with the duty of hoping to “…breakthrough using brute force”.The fact that many of the military did not learn from previous wars also made the stalemate worse.
Many from each military studied past wars (such as the American Civil War or the Boer War) and did not take into account the mass number of casualties, uselessness of cavalry and taking cover in trenches. Not learning from these helped produce a stalemate.One of the worst factors in producing stalemate was the production of prototype tanks later used on 15 September 1916, as they were expected to surprise and defeat the enemy easily.
In fact, the new tactic backfired as “…many tanks broke down or got stuck..
.were used prematurely and in insufficient numbers”. Therefore, the tank produced a further stalemate as it failed to “live up to expectation” and failed in its objectives.The final reason why a stalemate emerged was poison gas, which at first proved effective, but in the end “did not prove to be a decisive weapon”. This was because of many reasons. Firstly, the tactic required the perfect direction and speed of the wind and this could backfire and even get allied troops. Also, both sides figured out ways of protecting themselves against and eventually stopping it.
The tactic also hindered both sides’ attacking infantry, as their movement / visibility were hindered from the respirators they had to wear.