Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Re: French infantry in 3 or in 2 ranks in 1813-181

I do understand your reasoning, but my motivation is not reasoning but how did they fight? Did they fire as we understand from our very limited experience of 18th / 19th century musketry - or how they describe it and did it.
What we might consdier a waste of ammunition - was maybe regarded as acceptable effect. Demian who wrote a handbook for Austrian officers of the Napoleonic time - regards the firing of a skirmisher 4 times as effective than those of rank and file.

Also - maybe the units opened at those distances on their own and broke fire discipline - because their own morale forced them to do so.
Fire fights lasted for hours, in case under ideal circumstances they would be over in 5 minutes.

First I was very sceptical about long range firing, but then I stumbled across a lot of interesting quotes describing them, any yes, they had a moral effect, and yes it forced the opponent to take some tactical measures to counter it - unless he was willing to get a dent in his own morale.

According to Clausewitz - to beat an enemy - you have to kill his morale or his "Mut" (with whatever reasons).

Gneisenau mentions in a report to the king, at the 27th of February 1807 as an experience, which he made with a company of fusiliers at Saalfeld, “that those unaimed arc shoots : rarely hit, but by their sheer numbers wounded many, though not seriously and made our man nervous.”

Kleßmann (editor) : Deutschland unter Napoleon in Augenzeugenberichten, pocket book edition, München 1976
Leutnant von Borcke (Koprs Rüchel, 14. Oktober 1806) berichtet

„Dagegen erreichten uns in einer sehr großen Entfernung schon die Kugeln der feindlichen Tirailleurs, die in dem vorliegenden Feldgestrüpp und hinter einzelnen Deckungen, ohne daß wir sie sahen, so vortrefflich aufgestellt waren, daß uns Unkundigen die Kugeln aus der Luft zu kommen schienen. So beschossen zu werden, ohne den Feind zu sehen, machte auf unsere Soldaten einen üblen Eindruck, denn, unbekannt mit dieser Art des Gefechts, verloren sie zu ihren Gewehren das Vertrauen und fühlten die Überlegenheit das Feindes sofort. Sie büßten daher in dieser ohnehin schon bedenklichen Lage schnell an Mut, Ausdauer und Ruhe ein und konnten die Zeit nicht abwarten, wo sie selbst zum Schießen kamen, was sich bald zu unseren Nachteil zeigte.
S. 136
However (before that he noticed that the enemy artillery was overshooting them) the bullets of enemy tirailleurs reached us from a very big distance, who were placed with advantage in the field brushes and single cover before us, so that we couldn’t see them, that for us ignorants it seemed that the bullets come out of the air. To be under such a fire, without seeing the enemy made a bad impression at our soldiers, because – ignorant with that kind of fighting, they lost trust in their own guns and felt immediately the superiority of the enemy. The suffered quickly therefore, in this by all means bad situation in courage, endurance and composure und couldn’t wait the time to also start shooting, which soon showed to be of our disadvantage.

The same could be said maybe at line infantry opening up at 600 paces.

According to the sources I read it was seemingly acceptable to inflict out of 36,000 shots - 60 casualties.
I don't know what in modern time the shoot per casualty ration is??

Some nations, here Great Britian, somehow broke this endless firing by a combination of superb fire discipline with shock tatics.

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French infantry in 3 or in 2 ranks in 1813-1814
Re: French infantry in 3 or in 2 ranks in 1813-181
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Reference
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*NM* Great stuff; thank you *NM*
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An Interesting Quotation...
Re: French infantry in 3 or in 2 ranks in 1813-181
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