Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics



Napoleonís Foot Gunners: The Guard Foot Artillery


By Paul Dawson

The artillery reforms of Marmont, coupled with the tactical genius of Napoleon and his artillery commander Drouot, demonstrated that massed artillery was a potent offensive weapon, which could win battles.

In the latter battles of the 1st Empire, the Guard artillery , especially the foot batteries, had perfected the technique of acting en masse, at the decisive point in a battle after this had been identified in the preliminary outpost battle. This was a tactic which demanded good weather conditions as well as the close support and cooperation from other arms. The use of artillery en masse was a technique that was far from universal in its success; but when massed artillery with close infantry support to exploit any gains would be totally paralysing to the enemy. At Belchite, the French bombardment of the Spanish line was so heavy that after some caissons had exploded, the Spanish army routed.

Perhaps one of Napoleonís greatest failings as a general was his lack of ability to effectively coordinate massed artillery with infantry and cavalry support.




Placed on the Napoleon Series: October 2003


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