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  • Artillery Or Musket Fire

    What do you think caused more casulties on the battlefield?

  • #2
    I seem to recall, from an earlier age, the 17th c., Lennart Torstensson observing that two guns well positioned would be of infinitely greater use than twenty guns badly positioned.

    So that's probably an "it depends", and bearing in mind by the early 19th c. not only had the guns become better, but the level of professionalism in their handling much more so.

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    • #3
      I would put my money on Artillery as the leading
      cause of most casualties on the field.

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      • #4
        Musketry by far.
        First Counsul Maleketh of Jonov

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        • #5
          Well, it seems like one of these classic debates.

          English Civil War? Was the artillery really much use beyond making smoke and going bang?
          While at the same time on the continent, accounts of the "rolling pin" of the Swedish artillery fire at the 1645 Battle of Jankow was circulating (Torstensson's finest).

          Come the 18th c., and we get acknowledged military genious of his day Frederick II the Great talking dispargingly about the relative lack of usefulness of artillery. (Move your infantry fast and decisively to hit hard, and how the artillery is to keep up is anybody's guess seems to have been something like his recipy.)

          While somewhat earlier in the 18th c. the young artillery genius Cronstrand had invented the artillery-shell and developed a doctrine for cannister "fast-shot" (gesvinda skott), allowing the field artillery a rate of fire far superior to the infantry. (Late Great Nordic War Swedish victories at Helsingborg, Gadebusch et al. mostly due to the artillery under "little Cronstrand", the protegée of Stenbock).

          On balance you get different artillery traditions in different armies, and as a result also differencies in efficacy. Sweden in it's great power period was a definite artillery-tradition-army. Going down from that position, it would meet the Russians on their way up as another nation with a powerful artillery tradition.

          While it seems the Prussians wouldn't be quite the artillerists?

          The French otoh would be, but then again the French were sort of playing all angles simultaneously. The British seem somewhat similar, even if artillery isn't really what the British army is MOST famous for at least.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Delenda estRoma View Post
            Musketry by far.
            Definitely. I remember seeing a graph of casualties over time and artillery started to be important but didn't take over till WWI. Hand to hand weapons caused very few casualties by the Napoleonic Wars, so most would have been caused by musketry.

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            • #7
              I can recall reading that a volley from the Guard at Waterloo knocked over nearly 200 men of the 52nd?
              The long toll of the brave
              Is not lost in darkness
              Over the fruitful earth
              And athwart the seas
              Hath passed the light of noble deeds
              Unquenchable forever.

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              • #8
                I seem to remember reading years ago John Keegan remarked that the most common wound during black powder warfare was caused by fragments of bone striking soldiers. One would assume only a canonball fired into close formed ranks could cause such damage.

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                • #9
                  From 1792-1807 I would agree with musket fire being the biggest killer.

                  From 1807 French artillery tactics underwent a radical change-the massing of artillery at very close range to destroy sections of the enemy line.

                  Competent generals had massed their artillery for years prior to this, Napoleon being an excellent example. His first large artillery battery being at Lodi in 1796. However, it was the French artillery generals who used artillery as an offensive arm to both dominate and destroy on the battlefield.

                  So, it would seem to me to depend on the situation, how artillery was employed and how much damage it did.

                  Sincerely,
                  M
                  We are not now that strength which in old days
                  Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                  Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                  To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Muskery.........

                    "The Fusilier battalions, struck by an iron tempest, reeled and staggered like sinking ships; but suddenly and sternly recovering, they closed on their terrible enemies, and then was seen with what strength and majesty the British soldier fights. In vain did Soult with voice and gesture animate his Frenchmen; in vain did the hardiest veterans break from the crowded columns and sacrifice their lives to gain time for the mass to open up on such a fair field; in vain did the mass bear up, and fiercely striving, fire indiscriminately upon friend and foe, while horsemen hovering on the flank threatened the advancing line. Nothing could stop that astonishing infantry. No sudden burst of undisciplined valour, no nervous enthusiasm, weakened the stability of their order . . .In vain did the French reserves joining with the struggling multitude endeavour to sustain the fight; their efforts only increased the irremediable confusion, and the mighty mass giving way like a loosened cliff, went headlong down the ascent. The rain flowed after in streams discoloured with blood and fifteen hundred unwounded men, the remnants of 6,000 unconquerable British soldiers, stood triumphant on that fatal hill!"

                    The long toll of the brave
                    Is not lost in darkness
                    Over the fruitful earth
                    And athwart the seas
                    Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                    Unquenchable forever.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ya ! the battle that should never have
                      happened as it accomplished nothing.

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                      • #12
                        Good example of the effectiveness of musket fire though innit!? It happened because Soult started it... the Redcoats finished it and won an ascendancy over the French Infantry that they never lost.

                        The long toll of the brave
                        Is not lost in darkness
                        Over the fruitful earth
                        And athwart the seas
                        Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                        Unquenchable forever.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by General Brock View Post
                          Ya ! the battle that should never have
                          happened as it accomplished nothing.
                          Oh but it did! It enhanced even further the reputation of the British infantry in a standup fight and was still a part of the reason that the French were kicked out of the peninsula.

                          Would it have accomplished nothing if the French had won?

                          Paul
                          ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                          All human ills he can subdue,
                          Or with a bauble or medal
                          Can win mans heart for you;
                          And many a blessing know to stew
                          To make a megloamaniac bright;
                          Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                          The Pixie is a little shite.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Would it have accomplished nothing if the French had won?
                            No! Badajoz would have goten re-enforced if they won "but they lost"
                            and Badajoz got re-enforced anyway at a loss of upwards 6000
                            men, What a waste.

                            As towards the British standup there is no question about that.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by General Brock View Post
                              No! Badajoz would have goten re-enforced if they won "but they lost"
                              and Badajoz got re-enforced anyway at a loss of upwards 6000
                              men, What a waste.

                              As towards the British standup there is no question about that.
                              You should think of wider ramifications of a French victory.

                              No land battle is really pointless, unless that is, it is fought after hostilities have ceased. Even then a nation can make it a good fillip to their nations history.

                              Paul
                              ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                              All human ills he can subdue,
                              Or with a bauble or medal
                              Can win mans heart for you;
                              And many a blessing know to stew
                              To make a megloamaniac bright;
                              Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                              The Pixie is a little shite.

                              Comment

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