Napoleon Series Archive 2010

A Question or Two...
In Response To: bavarian artillery ()

’Originally Westphalia used the French 1791 d’Urtubie drill manual and regulations, but these were replaced by the ‘Collections des lois arêtes, et reglements actuellement en vigeur, sur les differents service de l’artilleire’ which was puiblished in Paris in 1812.’

What is the d’Urtubie ‘drill manual’? Do you mean the artillery manual (properly Manuel de L’Artilleur)? As the 1791 edition of d’Urtubie had already been surpassed by other editions of the artillery manual (the 1794 edition was the fourth) and Gassendi’s Aide-Memoire was the current manual in 1808, why did Westphalia initially use a manual that was already considered obsolete?

‘The guns of previous systems were taken from the field army and placed in the arsenals. Under the new system construction of the guns was simplified, and abolished all excess adornments on both the gun tubes and carriages. So successful were these reforms that the gun carriages of Arakcheev system was in service to 1845.’

As Westphalia ceased to exist in 1813, with whom were the modified gun carriages in service after 1813 and until 1845?

’Kleve-Berg's contingent was 5,000 (4 infantry and one cavalry regiments and a artillery/engineer battalion), but Napoleon repeatedly called for extra levies-possibly a total of 40,000 men served 1807-1813’

Do you have a source for the figure of 40,000? Further, how many were required by the allies for service in 1813-1814?

‘It was re-raised in January 1813 and took part in the 1813 campaign in the Imperial Guard Artillery pool.’

What was ‘the Imperial Guard Artillery pool’? Do you mean the army parc? Or do you mean attached to the Guard artillery. There was no ‘artillery pool’ Imperial Guard or otherwise. The Grande Armees artillery parcs were well-organized and distributed from army-level down to division.

‘French caissons carried far more ammunition than those of other nations, and as such could not manoeuvre at anything faster than the walk, the caissons also tended to sink in muddy conditions, overturn on un-even ground and were deemed to be too cumbersome for use with horse artillery, whilst the horse artillery of other nations, not being encumbered by caissons could move at the gallop.’

Do you have a source for this? I sincerely doubt that French caissons could not maneuver with their companies at any speed above a walk. If that were so, there would be myriad instances of that being mentioned at the very least in the memoirs of French artillerymen. And the caissons were also employed with French horse artillery. British horse artillery certainly employed caissons, and the point is moot with the Austrians as their cavalry batteries were not horse artillery. They were slowed because the gunners rode on the gun carriages.

’There were a number of circumstances during the Napoleonic wars where the gun mounted ammunition boxes of the French could not be re-supplied with ammunition (Dennewitz and Katzbach for example).’

Source? There is only one major battle where the French artillery was in danger of running out of ammunition that I’m aware of and that is Leipzig. There were two reasons for this. First, the expenditure was unusually heavy and, second, the French army’s trains had been cut of in Eilenberg to the north of Leipzig.

‘Without ammunition the artillery was paralysed or delayed in its movements. At Vauchamp in 1814 during the winter campaign, the French army surprised the Prussians, commanded by Blucher, and the cavalry attack was to be supported by horse artillery, but the battery could not move the caissons over the rough ground, and so did not advance, the artillery officers knowing to well that with the limited amount of ammunition available to them on the gun, going into action would have been fool hardy.’

At Vauchamps, Grouchy’s horse artillery could not keep up with the cavalry because of
the conditions of the muddy roads. It wasn’t just the caissons. Grouchy’s route taken to get in front of the Prussians as the retreated from Napoleon were side and back roads to the north of the Prussian retreat route, which were not improved roads, and the weather was terrible and the gun companies were bogged down-guns and caissons.

French guns were always used aggressively during the wars. If an advantage was to be gained, and the cost of that advantage was losing guns, the French considered that a fair trade. If Grouchy’s artillery, if only the guns could move, could have kept up with the horsemen, they would have and undoubtedly would have gone into action with just their coffrets (trail chests) for ammunition.

Saxony:
‘This alliance came to an end at Leipzig in October 1813, the same year that the Saxon Guard Grenadiers became part of the French Imperial Guard.’

The Saxon Guard Grenadiers were never ‘part of the French Imperial Guard.’ They may have been attached to it, but the term ‘attached’ does not mean ‘part of.’

Württemberg:
‘The disadvantages of this concept are obvious. The mounted crew-members will have to find themselves a safe spot to dismount before they arrive at their position, but they cannot leave their horses before the cannon has halted at the right position, the horse-holder has jumped down from the limber, and has walked to the horses to take over the reins. When limbering again, the cannon has to stop, until the crew has mounted again, and the horse-holder is then seated on the limber.’
‘This was changed in 1808 when a new wurst ammunition wagon was adopted which allowed all the gun crew to ride on it, as well as two further gunners being able to ride on the semi wurst gun carriage, inspired by the Austrian system.’

Faber du Faur, a Wurttemberg horse artilleryman, depicted Wurttemberg horse artillery in action in 1812 with the gunners mounted and the horse holder was also mounted on a horse, not on the limber.

‘The French looked on Württemberg as military equals, Marshal Ney noting in 1812 that the Horse Artillery was as good as French Horse Artillery, and probably better than some companies.’

Agree. Where did you find this information?

Austrian Lichtenstein System M1753
‘Between 1745 and 1750, Lichtenstein and his staff led by his chief designer Andreas Franz Feuerstein (1697-1774) ran tests and the system was officially introduced in 1753. The key objective was to produce light and manoeuvrable pieces for field warfare. His system was so successful that it remained in service until 1859 and can be considered one of the first unified systems of field artillery in the world.’

I would submit that the Liechtenstein artillery system was the first unified artillery system employed by anyone. While much of what they employed in their system was taken from the Prussians (the gun carriage design, the screw quoin, the standard calibers), it was much more thorough than what the Prussians had developed and why the Austrian artillery arm was superior to that of Prussia, and everyone else, in the Seven Years’ War. It took Gribeauval’s more thorough reform of the French artillery to surpass it and maintain that advantage through the wars.

‘To do this Lichtenstein employed Jaquet (a Swiss carpenter) and Berliner Schroder to work at the Ebergassing foundry near Vienna on the new carriage and gun tube designs. Some say that he invented horizontal boring,’ although normally attributed to the Swiss Maritz,[4] but either way, Jaquet was using this technique in Austria.’ Lichtenstein also employed on his staff, Ignaz Walther von Waldenau (1713-60), Major Adolph Alfson from Norway and Joseph Theodor Rouvory lured from the Saxon Artillery in 1753 to accept a captaincy in the Austrian service. It was also Rouvroy who introduced horse artillery into the Austrian Service in 1762 after some experiments in 1759.[6] All these men were paid by Lichtenstein who spent lavishly but wisely on his new ideas on artillery, making the Austrian Artillery material the best in Europe at the time.’

Do you have a reference for this material? I have seen no evidence that anyone but the Maritz family developed horizontal boring for solid cast gun tubes.

Gun Carriages:
‘The gun carriages were built from the best quality oak or elm, and retained the overall shape of the earlier system in Austria but were significantly lighter. The carriage cheeks were reduced in thickness, and bound with iron to reinforce them. In addition were three iron cross ties towards the lower part of the carriage and a complete metal strap around the edge of each cheek.’

Do you have a reference for this material?

‘Lichtenstein introduced the metal trunion plates, which reduced the shaking of the carriage, and they were then lengthened to go round the carriage walls/cheeks, which could then be lengthened into straight sides.’ At the same time, these were made thinner and so reduced the weight.[9] This suggests that the old 3-angle shorter shape of trail was made like that to take the force of the firing.’

I have references in my library from primary source material that clearly show Dutch gun carriages with iron trunnion plates from 1720 and 1730 as well as a Prussian gun carriage with iron trunnion plates from 1678, 1717, and 1745, all of which predate Liechtenstein’s system of 1753. If you're interested, I could send them to you.

‘The carriages had a distinct advantage over previous designs allowing for a howitzer up to 30.5degree elevation and 6degree declination. Smola observed that for bouncing shot, elevation should not exceed 4degrees.’

For ‘bouncing’ shot don’t you mean ‘ricochet’?

‘French Guns (M1808).
‘These French guns were of the M1808 system.’ Artillery in France had undergone major changes since 1803, which were not the benefit of the artillery. The new artillery of 1803 in France was based on Bavarian designs of Manson, but were an un-happy compromise between Bavarian designs, Gribeauval designs and Piedmont designs.’

Do you have a reference for an ‘M1808 System’? I haven't found one in any period reference.

Rene Chartrand has expertly described the modifications to the Gribeauval System, the limitations of production of the proposed AN XI System which is both logical and easy to follow. I have not seen a reference to an ‘M 1808 System.’
Would you also supply a reference for the idea that the Systeme AN XI was a cross between Bavarian and Piedmont designs as well as that of the Gribeauval System?

‘It is equally necessary that the existing 12-pdr should have an increased range, not that changes in the gun are necessary, but in the carriage, which should admit of greater elevation being given to the gun. Parks should also have 12-pdr Grenades to be used with the 12-pdr Every wagon should contain some of these grenades in place of common shell.’

Are you referring to a howitzer or a cannon in this paragraph? Weren’t grenades to be used with howitzers?

‘This is contrary to Gribeauval's principle, which however is false. There are a thousand circumstances in war where it is requisite to open fire at a very long range, whether from one bank to the other of a wide river, or to hinder the enemy from encamping and occupying a position which can only be attacked from a distance. Finally, it is a real disadvantage not to reply to an enemy's fire. We look however to artillery officers not to fire uselessly, for we pretend in no way to attack the fundamental principal that to open fire at a long range under ordinary circumstances are to burn ammunition and to destroy its effect. Guns of higher calibre than 12-pdr are very useless. We have acted wisely in suppressing the 16-pdr that the Prussians and Austrians still drag about.’

Where did you find this material? And which principle of Gribeauval’s is false? Du Teil in his manual definitely stated that field artillery should not open fire beyond 1050 yards. Further, it was not French doctrine to engage in counterbattery fire, which I assume that is what you’re referring to when you state ‘it is a real disadvantage not to reply to an enemy’s fire.’ The French generally would not engage in counterbattery fire unless the enemy’s artillery was hurting their own infantry worse than the French were hurting the enemy’s.

‘Gribeauval’s sieges guns, relying on designs of 1732 were less obviously superior to the system that they replaced, when compared to the modifcation’s to the garrison and field artillery, and performed little better than their predecessors. Few of these guns were produced until further tests were carried out in 1786, but the guns performance was very unsatisfactory, the gun tubes lasting some 100rounds.
The gun carriages were similar to those of 1732, retained the wooden axel, but the wooden wedge for aiming the piece was replaced with a richstmachine of Austrian inspired designs.’

Gribeauval’s siege guns were lighter than the older ones of the Valliere system. And while the quoin was still used for elevation (because the elevating screw didn’t work well with the heavier pieces), the wheel housings were fitted with brass for easier movement and the axles were covered in iron to increase sturdiness. The gun carriages were redesigned if you look in the period manuals.

Tertiary Sources:
What is your definition of a tertiary source? Some of the material you listed in that section of your bibliography were primary sources-the rest were secondary. I have found this definition of a tertiary source:

Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources.

Almanacs;
Bibliographies (also considered secondary);
Chronologies;
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias (also considered secondary);
Directories;
Fact books;
Guidebooks;
Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources;
Manuals;
Textbooks (also be secondary).

Sincerely,
K

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