French Artillery during the Battle of Auerstadt
14 October, 1806
French artillery assigned to the III Corps (commanded by
Marshal Davout) of the French Grand Army on 14 October 1806
was divided into divisional batteries and the corps
artillery reserve. Although the details on the infantry and
cavalry order-of-battle are fairly well known, until
recently the exact order-of-battle for the artillery was
difficult to find. Sources are contradictory and few even
agree on the number of guns. Even Marshal Davout's
Operations du 3e Corps 1806-1807, which contains the
official report from him to Napoleon, provides few details.
The best source is David Chandler's Jena 1806 which is
highly detailed but also leaves some gaps. This paper is an
attempt to fill those gaps by examining both works and then
reconciling the two. It will also briefly examine the role
of the artillery batteries during the battle.
The artillery order-of-battle for the III Corps was not
uniformed from division to division, nor were the batteries
the standard eight gun batteries. Most batteries were only
six guns, while at least one battery was divided between two
of the infantry divisions. The order-of-battle was:
1st Division Artillery (Chief of Artillery: Major
11th Company, 7th Artillery Regiment (5 eight-pound guns,
1 six-inch howitzer, and 1 gun of unknown size) 
1st Company, 5th Horse Artillery Regiment (6 four-pound
guns) (Commanded by Captain Seruzier)
1st and 6th Detachment of the 1st Battalion of the
Artillery Train 
2nd Division Artillery (Commander: Chef de Bataillon
2nd Company, 7th Artillery Regiment (5 eight-pound guns
and 1 six-inch howitzer)
Detachment from the 2nd Company, 5th Horse Artillery
Regiment (2 four-pound guns)
3rd Detachment of the 1st Battalion of the Artillery
Either part of the 4th or 5th Detachment of the 1st
Battalion of the Artillery Train 
3rd Division Artillery (Commander: Chief d'Esquadron
3rd Company, 7th Artillery Regiment (5 eight-pound guns
and 1 six-inch howitzer)
Detachment from the 2nd Company, 5th Horse Artillery
Regiment (2 four-pound guns)
4th and 5th Detachments of the 1st Battalion of the
Corps Artillery Reserve (Commander: Colonel
2nd Company, 7th Artillery Regiment
3rd Company, 7th Artillery Regiment
15th Company, 7th Artillery Regiment
2nd Detachment of 1st Battalion of the Artillery Train
1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6thDetachments of the 3rd Battalion
(Provisional) of the Artillery Train
- The III Corps' Chief of Artillery was General de
Brigade Hancique; Colonel Charbonnel was the Artillery
- Chandler reports that there was a horse artillery
company assigned to the 1st Division but does not provide
unit identification. He lists under the Corps artillery
the 1st Company of the 5th Horse Artillery Regiment, but
in his list of artillery pieces, there are no light guns.
The 1st Company was most likely assigned to the 1st
Division. Chandler also lists that there were 7
four-pound guns assigned to the division. Davout,
however, lists the light company as having only six guns,
while the other company had seven guns. Unfortunately he
does not list the size of the guns. It was probably
another eight-pound gun or a six-inch howitzer.
- The assignment of the artillery train detachments is
suspect. Colonel Etling, in his book Swords around the
Throne, states that each battalion of the artillery train
was organized into six detachments, five organized to
support foot artillery companies, while the sixth would
support a horse artillery company. Each detachment was
commanded by a sergeant major. Unfortunately he does not
state which detachment supported the horse artillery.
Davout does not mention specific detachments other than
that each division had two detachments from the 1st
Battalion of the Artillery Train. However,
Chef-de-Bataillon Villeneuve, Commander of the 2nd
Division's Artillery, specifically states in his
after-action report to his division commander on the
night after the battle that his division had only one
detachment, from the 1st Battalion.
- The 3rd Division had assigned to it the 2nd Company
of the 5th Horse Artillery Regiment. This company had 4
four-pound guns. Prior to the battle, half the company
was attached to the 2nd Division prior to the battle.
Villeneuve reports that they returned to the 3rd Division
the night after the battle.
- The Corps Artillery Reserve had 17 artillery pieces
and was commanded by Colonel Geoffroy. Although the
Chandler states that these 17 pieces included 6
twelve-pound guns of Austrian origins, 8 eight-pound
guns, and 3 six-inch howitzers, he does not list which
company had which guns. The most likely organization was
one company had the twelve-pound guns and one howitzer,
while the other two had four eight-pound guns and a
howitzer each. The Austrian twelve-pound guns are
interesting. Colonel Etling says that Napoleon began to
equip his units with captured Austrian guns in 1806,
while Terence Wise in his book Artillery Equipment of the
Napoleonic Wars, says that in 1807 of the 48 guns in
Soult's Corps 42 were Austrian pieces. So it is possible
that these guns were Austrian guns. (Davout does not
- It is unclear which of the five detachments of the
artillery train assigned to the Corps Reserve (2nd of the
1st Battalion and the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th Detachments
of the 3rd Battalion (Provisional)) supported which
company. Most likely two of them carried the equipment of
the artillery artificers and pontoons of the bridging
Artillery Operations during the Battle of Auerstadt
Few accounts of the battle of Auerstadt provide detailed
and accurate information on the deployment of the French
artillery. Even Davout's report contains inconsistencies.
The following is gleamed from several sources.
About 06:30 hours on the morning of the 14th of October,
the lead brigade of the III Corps crosses the Saale River on
the bridge at Kosen. This brigade, from the 3rd Division, is
commanded by General Gauthier and consists of the 25th and
85th Infantry Regiments, plus two eight-pound cannons from
the 3rd Company of the 7th Artillery. The 25th Regiment
leads the march. In the vicinity of the town of
Hassenhausen, the brigade engages the Prussian Advance
Guard, consisting of about 600 cavalry. The French deploys
with the 85th Regiment on the left, the 25th Regiment on the
right, and the two eight pounders along the road between the
two regiments. Soon the Prussians are re-inforced with five
squadrons of cuirassiers and a battalion of grenadiers. The
cavalry is placed under heavy fire by the eight-pounders.
The Prussians attempt to silence the guns by bringing up
Captain Graumann's eight gun horse battery, but it is
quickly scattered by the French fire. The battle rages for
about ninety minutes as both sides continues to feed in
arriving units. By 0800 hours, the rest of the 3rd Division
artillery (3 eight pound-guns, a howitzer, and two
four-pound horse guns) arrives and Gudin collects all of
them and prolongs them forward on the right of the 85th
Regiment. There he directs them to support the 85th
Regiment. Soon the Prussians amass 25 squadrons of cavalry
and make a furious charge, forcing the French to form
squares. They are repulsed with enormous casualties.
About 8:15 the 2nd Division, commanded by General Friant,
begins to arrive. Davout places them on the right of Gudin's
Division. Although the Division has only eight guns, the
commander divides them into three batteries. The first is
commanded by Captain Chemin, of the horse artillery, and
consists of two eight-pound guns. The second is commanded by
Lieutenant Jaulte, and has two four-pound guns. The third
has three eight-pound guns and a howitzer, and is commanded
by Captain Jarry. The artillery fires in support of the
division's attack against the village of Spielberg.
About 0930 hours, the seventeen guns of the Corps
artillery reserve arrives and Davout places them on the
heights between Speilberg and Hassenhausen, in expectation
of a Prussian attack in this area. He also shifts the 3rd
Division to the right leaving the 85th Regiment and two
eight-pound guns to defend Hassenhausen.
The Prussian attack is made about 1000 hours with two
divisions (Schmettau's and Wartensleben's). Schmettau
attacks north of Hassenhausen and is unsuccessful.
Wartensleben attacks south of the village and all but
crushes the 85th Regiment and the two guns, which are forced
to fall back. The French are in danger of having their flank
turned when the 1st Division, commanded by General Morand,
arrives. The 13th Light Infantry Regiment, which has two
four-pound guns attached to it, moves in support of the 85th
Regiment. The rest of the Division moves to support the two
regiments. The Division's eight-pound battery is split, with
a section on both flanks of the Division. After beating off
five cavalry charges the flank is finally secured. Davout
then orders the artillery to be placed in the center of the
About 1130 hours elements of the Prussian 1st Reserve
Division, commanded by General Von Kalkreuth, attacks the
French left flank again. Davout sees their movement and
orders Morand to move the 30th Regiment and his foot battery
to support the 17th Regiment. The combined fire of the two
regiments and the artillery are too much for the Prussians
and they begin to fall back.
About 1230 hours Davout orders his Corps to attack.
Morand places his artillery at the base of a windmill that
sits on the high ground overlooking the battlefield. This
allows them to catch the retreating Prussian infantry in the
flank. On the right flank of the French line, Friant sets up
his forces to pound the other flank. Soon the Prussian crack
under the pressure and their lines disintegrates. For the
artillery the battle is over. Towards the evening, the Corps
artillery chief orders the detachment of the 2nd Company of
the 5th Horse Artillery, which supported the 2nd Division
during the battle, to re-unite with the rest of its company
in the 3rd Division.
Artillery casualties are fairly light. In the 1st
Division, Captain Seruzier, commanding the horse artillery,
was wounded twice. In the 2nd Division, the foot battery had
five soldiers wounded, mostly from small arms fire.
Additionally one eight-pound gun was dismounted. The two-gun
horse artillery detachment had two men lightly wounded by
musket fire, while two horses were wounded and one killed.
The artillery train suffered more, with three soldiers
wounded and twenty-one horses killed. In the 3rd Division,
one artillery lieutenant was killed and one wounded.
(Interestingly, Martinien's Tableaux Par Corps et Par
Batailles des Officiers Tues et Blesses Pendant les Guerres
de L'Empire (1805-1815) does not list them as
Ammunition expenditure was heavy. The 2nd Division
reported that by the end of the battle it had fired
two-thirds of its ammunition.
In his report to Napoleon, Marshal Davout specifically
mentions several of the artillery officers. " . . . General
Hanicque, commandant of the artillery of his corps, whose
excellent dispositions contributed much to the success of
the battle." Davout also mentions Colonel Charbonnel and
each of the divisional chiefs-of-artillery by name. The
exploits of Captain Seruzier, of the 1st Division, must have
been superb, because he was mentioned twice and called
The organization of the 3rd Corps Artillery assets seems
to be unorthodox, but yet it allowed the commanders immense
tactical flexibility. Both the Corps and Division commanders
organized them to be the most effective. The designation of
batteries appeared to be an administrative label, rather
than a tactical organization. Guns were maneuvered by
two-gun sections and attached or detached to a unit as
necessary. For example, in the 3rd Division the lead brigade
had a section of eight-pound guns attached to it. (In a way
this made sense, since it gave the brigade some heavy
firepower, while at the same time would allowed Gudin to use
the more mobile four-pound guns as an artillery reserve.) In
the 2nd Division, Friant completely ignored the
administrative organization of the batteries and divided the
guns into three tactical "batteries". He even ignored the
horse and foot artillery distinctions and had the horse
artillery detachment serve as the crew for two eight pound
guns, under the command of the horse artillery commander.
Likewise, the four-pound horse guns were crewed by the foot
artillery and commanded by a lieutenant. There is no record
why he did this, however it may have been to place the
heavier guns under a more experience officer. In the 1st
Division, at the beginning of their counter-attack to
relieve the pressure on Gudin's left flank, the Division's
eight-pound battery was split in two and placed on both
flanks of the attack. (Davout eventually ordered it to be
consolidated in the center.) Although these practices were
unusual, they worked and thus contributed immensely to the
The following is the after-action-report submitted on the
night of 14 October by the 2nd Division artillery commander
to his division commander.
Report by Chef de Battalion Villeneuve, Commander of
the Artillery of the 2nd Division, to General Friant. 14
The division artillery was divided into three batteries;
the first of two pieces of eight served by the horse
artillery and commanded by Captain Chemin; the second of two
pieces of four served by the foot artillery and commanded by
Lieutenant Jaulte; the last of three pieces of eight and a
howitzer, commanded by Captain Jarry.
These batteries were placed in the front, on the orders
of the commanding general and they had to change their
positions to follow the enemy movements and occupy
successive positions that they were obliged to abandon.
Towards the end of the combat, the light artillery pieces
were reunited, by the order of the general-in-chief, with
those of the 3rd Division and did not return that evening to
the park of the second.
Captains Chemin and Jarry conducted and directed their
batteries with much sangfroid, intelligence and bravery that
one would expect from old soldiers. Lieutenant Jaulte
conducted and directed with the same and same success and
deployed on this occasion a zeal for his duties to the same
degree. He had his horse killed under him.
The 2nd Company of the 7th Regiment of Artillery had a
sergeant and four cannoneers wounded as much by the fire of
the musketeers as the cannons. This NCO, named Claret, is
recommended in all the reports.
The 2nd Company of the 5th Regiment of Horse Artillery
had two men lightly wounded by the musketeers, two horses
wounded and one killed.
The detachment of the 1st Battalion (Principal) of the
Artillery Train had a marechal-des-logis and two soldiers
wounded; twenty-one horses killed and two that were sent to
The foot artillery lost sixteen muskets and eight
One must commend in general all of the personnel of the
artillery who did well in these circumstances.
One piece of four and one of eight was dismounted, and
two-thirds of the ammunition was consumed. An officer has
gone to the park of the reserve to obtain spares and
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Prussia Osprey Military Campaigns Series #20; Osprey
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Maison Michel Levy Freres, Paris; 1896.
Etling, John R.: Swords around a Throne: Napoleon's
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Griffith, Patrick: French Artillery; Almark,
Haythornthwaite, Philip: Napoleon's Specialist
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Hourtoulle, F.G.: Davout le Terrible; Editions
Copernic, Paris; 1975.
Martinien, A.: Tableaux Par Corps et Par Batailles des
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(1805-1815); Editions Militaires, Paris.
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