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  • Napoleons Artillery

    What were the changes made to the Gribeauval guns, carriages, wheels
    &c...coming into the Napoleonic era. My main interest are 12pdr. and the
    horse artillery 6pdr.







    Yes Mr. Kiley right up your alley.

  • #2
    Oh no, Marshal M's an expert on artillery, he's going to lecture us like we're idiots again... I can feel it in mi' water!

    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


    • #3
      Well VR since your the expert and you know all lets here it....
      Like I always say, put your money your big mouth is.

      Comment


      • #4
        The Gribeauval System

        That's OK, VR, I'll pass on this one.

        However, for your sake I'll entertain questions until the end of the class period.

        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


        • #5
          There is one question, the answer to which, eludes even my giant interlect... who's artillery fire was the more effective at Waterloo?

          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


          • #6
            That's not the question and if you can't answer it then let
            someone with expert knowledge do it for you, instead of criticizing
            them, who knows you might even learn something...

            Comment


            • #7
              'Emmeroids troubling you again General, you seem a tad niggly today?
              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


              • #8
                Originally posted by Massena View Post
                That's OK, VR, I'll pass on this one.

                However, for your sake I'll entertain questions until the end of the class period.

                Sincerely,
                M
                Kevin,

                Please, don't mind Von Richter. Just ignore him.

                General Brock asked a legitimate question and I, for one, would like to hear your input on the subject.
                My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Exactly that's what I just did, I could have retaliated for the
                  comment above but "take it for what it is." Nothing. There are a
                  lot who value your input Kevin.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Artillery Systems

                    Dear All,

                    I hope this answers the mail. If not, please ask specific questions and I'll answer them if I can. Much has been made lately here and there about Gribeauval and the later AN XI System. I have found that Gribeauval, his artillery system, and how the French operated have been gravely misunderstood. That is both in recent books and on the forums. Perhaps this will start the study on a different tack.

                    In the development of European artillery systems there was much cross-fertilization of ideas. The French had a field/light artillery system as early as the 1720s, but it went by the wayside in favor of a heavier one because of the emphasis on siege warfare and of imperfections in the field artillery system, such as violent recoil when firing. The Swedes were artillery innovators, much of what they did being a great influence on the Prussians, French, and Austrians. The practical Prussians developed the screw quion (later copied by both the Austrians and Russians) as well as the limber with attached ammunition chest.

                    The Prussian artillery clearly was better organized, trained, and had a much more maneuverable field artillery than the Austrians during this period, whose artillery arm was still a guild in the 1740s. Based on those lessons, learned in combat in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) Prince Wenzel Lichtenstein developed a new artillery system, Europe's first integrated one, by 1753 based on the Prussian field calibers of 3-, 6-, and 12-pounders. The Austrians surpassed what the Prussians had done and surprised them in the next go round (1756-1763). Their excellent system lasted until the mid-nineteenth century when it was becoming somewhat long in the tooth. Lichtenstein's reforms were thorough and far-reaching, but he was to be outdone by a French 'competitor.'

                    Gribeauval designed, tested, and fielded his system by 1765. He was influenced by the Swedes, the older French Valliere System, the Prussians and Austrians. He had served with the Austrians in the Seven Years War, inspected the Prussian artillery before that, and already had an established reputation as an artillery innovator and developer of ordnance as early as 1748. He also took plans of both the Prussian and Austrian field pieces back to France with him, and had them constructed and tested.
                    As an innovator, he developed the bricole, prolonge, a new 'cat' or searcher (called the etoile mobile), the iron axel for gun carriages and ancillary vehicles, an adjustable rear sight that was attached to the breech of the gun tube and did not have to be removed during firing, and an elevating screw and quite literally remade the French artillery from 'muzzle to butt plate.' Further, his construction standards were strict, usually about 1/50 of an inch in tolerance, and he reduced the windage in the new gun tubes, cast his gun tubes solid to be scientifically and accurately bored out along the center of the piece, and he also introduced the screw-in vent for easier replacement because of wear. He bettered Lichtenstein and the Prussians in the reforms he made, affecting every aspect of his country's artillery, stopping just short of complete innovation by refusing to introduce horse artillery into the French service, stating that they might have gone far enough to an assistant, as they were in a life and death struggle for whose artillery system would be France's-his or Valliere's. Further, he did not militarize the artillery train.

                    However, his new system emphasized field artillery for a war of maneuver in the future and was not based on past wars, merely the lack of performance of the French artillery in the Seven Years’ War. Doctrine, formal education for both officers and NCOs, infantry/artillery cooperation, and artillery command and control in the field were hallmarks of the new system and surpassed every other artillery system in Europe and by 1789 French artillerymen were again regarded as the best in Europe.

                    Gribeauval made his field artillery tubes (using Valliere's standardized calibers of 4-, 8-, and 12-pounders) longer than either Prussia's or Austria's, and much stronger so to have a longer service life before being replaced. His gun carriages were shorter and better designed than Lichtenstein's, the gun tubes having a fixed front and adjustable rear sight. These, combined with a mandatory reduction in windage and the elevating screw, made the guns inherently more accurate than the Austrian.
                    It should also be noted that the Gribeauval System was not a copy of the Lichtenstein System, the gun carriages, gun tubes, and ancillary vehicles being different in appearance, along with the Gribeauval gun tubes being entirely redesigned and constructed that the Austrian.

                    Gun tube design was set at eighteen calibers in length (compared to 16 calibers for the Austrian and 14 for the Prussian gun tubes). Tube design weights were set at 150 pounds per pound of the round fired by the piece. The Austrians had set theirs at 120 and the Prussians at 100. What this did was prolonge the life of the gun tube and set them as better constructed and designed than their Austrian and Prussian equivalents. Instead of the 3-, 6-, and 12-pounders that both the Austrians and Prussians used, Gribeauval stayed with the standards set by Valliere: 4-, 8-, and 12-pounders. Initially for siege guns, Gribeauval retained the older Valliere pieces, but these were later redesigned and simplified. For the first time, a howitzer was used for field artillery by the French, a 6-inch model being used, initially with the Prussian/Austrian screw quoin, later to be fitted with a Gribeauval elevating screw. A gun carriage was specifically designed for the howitzer.

                    The new gun tubes and carriages were tested at Strasbourg in 1764 in a series of firing tests in which the lighter Gribeauval tubes were seen to have the same ranges as the heavier, longer Valliere gun tubes. Based on the tests, the Gribeauval System was officially adopted by the French on 17 August 1765, though from 1772-1774 the Valliere System was 'readopted' for service because of political infighting. In 1774 a committee of four marshals proposed that the Gribeauval System be again officially adopted, and this was codified with the 3 October 1774 ordinance. After Valliere the Younger's death in 1776, Gribeauval was finally named inspector general of artillery and his system was permanently in service until replaced by the Valee System in 1829.

                    The French 8-pounder, unless it was being used by horse artillery units, was pulled by a four-horse team, the same as the Austrian 6-pounder and the French 6-pounder. In the French service, horse artillery, the 12-pounder, and some caissons (assigned to 12-pounder companies) were pulled by six horses. Everything else normally had four horse teams.
                    It should also be noted that weight is a little over emphasized. The Gribeauval gun carriages may have been heavier than the Prussian, Russian, and Austrian ones, but with the introduction of the iron axel and brass wheel housings, the resultant friction was greatly lessened which gave a decisive mechanical advantage to the Gribeauval pieces, thus allowing them to be maneuvered on the field, especially when manhandled, easier than the older design of gun carriages. Gribeauval designed his system to emphasize mobility and firepower. At that, he succeeded. Further, there was detailed doctrine to go along with it, and as such was taught in the excellent French artillery schools post 1763.

                    It should be noted that an artillery system is much more than merely the guns and ancillary vehicles. It is an entire entity that covers the artillery arm in every aspect of design, employment, tactics, command and control, and doctrine as well as training and manufacturing standards. It was here that Gribeauval’s system became dominant and was considered the ‘most perfect to date, even getting praise from its enemies as late as 1800.
                    However, Napoleon (who was brought up in the system) wanted it simplified. General Marmont, another artillery officer, chaired an artillery committee that considered improvements, modifications, and change to the Gribeauval System in 1802-1803. What they came up with was a new artillery system based on Gribeauval’s and it only covered the material, not the education system, command and control, or tactics and doctrine.
                    The Systeme AN XI was approved by a 'split vote' amongst the artillery committee that approved it. Apparently, only the 6-pounder and 5 1/2-inch howitzer were ever produced in large numbers. The 5 1/2-inch howitzer was also known as the 24-pounder howitzer. Apparently a new 6-inch howitzer was also produced and employed with Guard 12-pounder companies.
                    The 6-pounder was apparently a compromise between the 4- and 8-pounder, designed to replace them both. Apparently there were design problems with the 6-pounder gun carriage, and it was finally replaced with older Gribeauval designs that stood up to campaigning much better than the new equipment. The 8-pounder wasn't obsolete, merely replaced, and the French 6-pounder had a much more modern appearance, the reinforcing bands being abolished as redundant, giving the gun tube a much cleaner lines.

                    I have a study done in December 1814 by General Ruty arguing for the replacement of the 6-pounder with the older 4- and 8-pounder gun tubes which is very enlightening.

                    The 6-pounder was produced with a lighter shot to weight ratio than the older Gribeauval tubes (130 pounds per round vice 150 pounds per round), still making it heavier and more robust than the Austrian 6-pounder (it should also be noted that the term ‘pound’ can be deceiving-the French pound was heavier than either the English or Austrian pound and ‘equivalent’ calibers did not throw the same round). The older 8-pounders could be found in Spain, where in many cases they replaced the heavier 12-pounders which were unsuitable because of the terrain and the lack of remounts for the larger gun teams required for the 12-pounder. The 4- and 8-pounders were either put into the arsenals or still used in the field, especially in Spain. There was also an overabundance of captured ordnance which was also used. Additionally, it took time to 'tool up' for the new ordnance which may be one of the reasons only two of the gun tubes were produced.

                    The Systeme AN XI was designed to replace the Gribeauval System and an entire range of artillery vehicles, new gun carriages, a 6-pounder, 5.5-inch howitzer, a new 12-pounder, three pieces of mountain artillery designed to be broken down into mule loads (a 3-pounder, light 5.5-inch howitzer and a light 6-pounder), and a new 24-pounder siege gun were recommended and designed.

                    In reality the Systeme AN XI equipment and gun tubes merely enhanced the existing Gribeauval System and didn't replace it. After the wars in 1815 with the recommendation of some of the senior artillery officers, the 6-pounder was taken out of service and the older 4- and 8-pounders were brought back in.

                    There was considerable argument and disagreement among the artillery committee which 'recommended' the newer system. General Gassendi was one of the senior officers on the Committee which opposed the new ordnance. Contrary to opinion expressed by one poster, the 8-pounder was not 'too heavy' for field use (nor was the excellent 12-pounder-Napoleon's favorite) and the 8-pounder was recommended for use by horse artillery. According to Tousard, the 12-pounder could also be used by the horse artillery if it had to be. Another incorrect comment that has been floated is that the Gribeauval gun tubes were '10% overweight' which is nonsense. Overweight as compared to what? All indications and comments that I have found regarding the weight of the Gribeauval pieces is that they were light, maneuverable, and had considerable throw weight per tube. They were all excellent, well-designed pieces that more than proved themselves on the battlefield.

                    There was much argument over the introduction of the 6-pounder, many of the artillery generals didn't like it. Ruty did a study of it comparing it to the 8- and 4-pounder, and the 8-pounder was readopted as the standard after the wars.

                    The French horse artillery arm liked the 8-pounder and considered it their standard field piece. Apparently there was opposition to the new 6-pounder even though it was lighter but had less throw weight. In the American Artillerist’s Companion, Tousard states that ...'the horse artillery was formed, and, in order to give it the advantage of a superior fire to that of the other powers, eight pounders and six inch howitzers were adopted. These two calibers appear to have, hitherto, completely answered every object which was expected from them, and the ammunition required for these dimensions did not occasion an excess of wagons, or an embarrassing weight, which, in bad roads, would follow very tardily the rapid movements which this kind of artillery is constantly performing.'

                    Finally, with regard to both the 8- and 12-pounders as being suitable not only for field but for horse artillery: 'Though the 8-pounder be the most preferable caliber for the general service of the horse artillery, still the twelve pounder may be employed very advantageously; for it is equally susceptible of celerity in its motions. Its weight is only 1800 pounds [gun tube only], consequently six or eight horses, if the ground be difficult, are more than sufficient to execute, in conjunction with the cavalry or chasseurs, the most prompt and decisive maneuvers.'

                    It should be noted that the French 8-pounder was the equivalent of the American 9-pounder in throw weight.

                    Gun tube design was set at eighteen calibers in length (compared to 16 calibers for the Austrian and 14 for the Prussian gun tubes). Tube design weights were set at 150 pounds per pound of the round fired by the piece. The Austrians had set theirs at 120 and the Prussians at 100. What this did was prolonge the life of the gun tube and set them as better constructed and designed than their Austrian and Prussian equivalents. Instead of the 3-, 6-, and 12-pounders that both the Austrians and Prussians used, Gribeauval stayed with the standards set by Valliere: 4-, 8-, and 12-pounders. Initially for siege guns, Gribeauval retained the older Valliere pieces, but these were later redesigned and simplified. For the first time, a howitzer was used for field artillery by the French, a 6-inch model being used, initially with the Prussian/Austrian screw quoin, later to be fitted with a Gribeauval elevating screw. A gun carriage was specifically designed for the howitzer.

                    The new gun tubes and carriages were tested at Strasbourg in 1764 in a series of firing tests in which the lighter Gribeauval tubes were seen to have the same ranges as the heavier, longer Valliere gun tubes. Based on the tests, the Gribeauval System was officially adopted by the French on 17 August 1765, though from 1772-1774 the Valliere System was 'readopted' for service because of political infighting. In 1774 a committee of four marshals proposed that the Gribeauval System be again officially adopted, and this was codified with the 3 October 1774 ordinance. After Valliere the Younger's death in 1776, Gribeauval was finally named inspector general of artillery and his system was permanently in service until replaced by the Valee System in 1829.

                    The French 8-pounder, unless it was being used by horse artillery units, was pulled by a four-horse team, the same as the Austrian 6-pounder and the French 6-pounder. In the French service, horse artillery, the 12-pounder, and some caissons (assigned to 12-pounder companies) were pulled by six horses. Everything else normally had four horse teams.
                    As an addendum to the earlier posting, it should also be noted that weight is a little over emphasized. Gribeauval designed his system to emphasize mobility and firepower. At that, he succeeded. Further, there was detailed doctrine to go along with it, and as such was taught in the excellent French artillery schools post 1763.

                    Gribeauval's gun carriages were designed to take in both axes of recoil-backward and downward, hence the characteristic bend in the carriage that is more pronounced than on any other continental gun carriage. Further, two handspikes were used on the trail to aid in forward movement by the 'man team' when using the bricole. It is interesting to note that with the double handspike arrangement, one man could use it when pointing (aiming) the piece when it is in battery and preparing to fire. This was because of the excellent balance of the carriage which was taken into consideration in the design of the gun carriage (see Alder, Engineering the Revolution).

                    The AN XI 6-pounder was taken out of service after Waterloo and replaced with the Gribeauval 8-pounder. This was partially based on General Ruty's study (of which I have a copy) done in December 1814.
                    Regarding the use of traveling and firing trunnion plates (the AN XI 6-pounder didn’t have them, another advantage to the new field piece-the AN XI 12-pounder did), according to Tousard's American Artillerist's Companion, changing from traveling to firing trunnion plates took no longer than limbering or unlimbering the piece, so it took no time at all-unless some thirteen-thumbed conscript dropped the gun tube. It is quite a simple procedure and I was quite surprised how they did it. To put it very simply, they use handspikes to lift the gun tube, put another one underneath to either roll the tube forward or backward, and the gun tube slips into place quite nicely. It was one of the most interesting drills I found while doing artillery research a couple of years ago.

                    Contrary to opinion, the Gribeauval 12-pounder gun tube was not that heavy that it couldn't be lifted by the gun crew for moving the trunnions or as a mobile field piece.

                    As the French 12-pounder could be used as a horse artillery weapon, I don't see any problem moving the piece on the battlefield. The nod to the heavier weight of the 12-pounder was a six horse gun team, vice four for the other French calibers. It should be remebered that the 12-pounder was a field piece, and hence could be moved on the battlefield quite easily. It wasn't a 'monster.' Since 12-pounder companies were usually foot artilery and the gunners walked, that is the mobility factor, not the weight of the piece.
                    The possible use of a 12-pounder as horse artillery is mentioned in Tousard's American Artillerist's Companion. As a primary source reference, and one of the best artillery manuals of the period, written by a French artillery officer for American use, I would tend to take it seriously.
                    Further, in the same manual, where the drill to move the gun tube from the travelling to firing trunnion plates (or back again) is described in detail, it is remarked that this evolution takes no more time than to unlimber the piece. And that is for both the 8- and 12-pounder.

                    Whether it was used or not as a horse artillery weapon is irrelevant. It was a viable and useful field piece, Napoleon's favorite by the way, and it was not too heavy for field use. It was not replaced by any piece in the Systeme AN XI, as the only pieces of that system that were produced in any quantity were the new 6-pounder and the 5.5-inch howitzer
                    The Systeme AN XI, as far as it was implemented, was taken out of service in 1815 after the shooting stopped and replaced with the older Gribeauval 8-pounder. General Ruty did a comparison study of them and the 8-pounder won out. When the new Valee System was put into service to replace the Gribeauval System in 1827-29, the two gun tubes designed were an 8- and 12-pounder.

                    General Ruty did a study in December 1814 comparing the 4-, 6- and 8-pounders and recommended that the 8-pounder was a better and more utilitarian gun tube than the 6-pounder. The artillery committee that recommended the use of the new Systeme AN XI was split in its support of the new system. Many French artillerymen, General Gassendi among them, voted against the adoption, believing the Gribeauval gun tubes were better. They undoubtedly supported Ruty in late 1814 and were instrumental in getting the 8-pounder reintroduced to replace the 6-pounder.

                    Sincerely,
                    M
                    Last edited by Massena; 02 Apr 10, 10:14.
                    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


                    • #11
                      What was the distance "in a straight line" between each gun so
                      that they would be worked without interference from the next
                      crew. Such as a Grand Battery and not staggered 'straight' and
                      from were would this be measured. Barrel, wheels, axle housing
                      &c...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Field Piece Intervals

                        A good rule of thumb is twenty yards between pieces. This would be dictated by terrain and the available space, of course, but 20 yards is a good indicator.

                        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


                        • #13
                          A very important factor to the efficiency of the French artillery was the introduction of the metric system.

                          kelt

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Metric vs Older French Measurement

                            I don't think so. If you take a look at the older French artillery manuals of the period, such as d'Urtubie, in 1794 you'll find the older French system of lines, feet, etc. Gribeauval designed his system before the advent of the metric system, and I don't think it caught on in the army until after the period. I could be wrong, and will stand corrected if that would be the case, but my experience with the French artillery of the period says no.

                            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


                            • #15
                              I noticed "M" that you mention General Ruty, was he not at Waterloo in the
                              forward position when the Scot Greys attacked and was the first to be
                              encountered by them on there famous gallop across the central plain. If so
                              how many guns did he have in this position a battery was it not or more.
                              Last edited by General Brock; 25 Apr 10, 15:49.

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