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"artillery effects" Topic

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MichaelCollinsHimself18 Jul 2014 2:41 a.m. PST

Hi All,

I`m looking for examples of artillery effectiveness in battles of the late 1860`s to early 1880`s.

As I need them to test some game rules, it would be ideal if these examples took place at the start of an engagement, rather than halfway through, when casualties had already eeen sustained and/or troop morale might already have been damaged.

LORDGHEE18 Jul 2014 10:26 p.m. PST

You should get a copy of kriegspiel form


it has a copy of the 1862 rules and you get to see how the men with the equipment expected to perform.

MichaelCollinsHimself19 Jul 2014 3:47 a.m. PST

Thanks Ghee, but what I`m after are historical examples of artillery fire and known effects/casualties that I can measure my rules against.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP19 Jul 2014 4:47 a.m. PST

Did they stop and take casualties count in the middle of battles? ;)

maybe look at battle of Plevna? Krupp vs columns stopping attacks

16-1866 you get some estimates from the great Austrian battery at Sadowa.

1870 in the German official history.
Afraid you only get stuff like "heavy casualties" or they were stopped or pushed away etc…

Can't remember anything more specific.
You will find that there is no need of heavy casualties to have people get pinned which is easier with loser order than before (and explosive/shrapnells).

Got somewhere some article that states 1800-1918 the artillery century.

Martin Rapier19 Jul 2014 10:31 a.m. PST

As above, casualty effects are largely secondary, just as with modern artillery, the principal effect is neutralisation.

I did have a look in Du Picq to see what he had to say, but again the actual effects were very vague (ironic considering what killed him!), his observations were mainly around artillery manouvre and the steadiness of artillery crews compared to infantry and cavalry – an early observation of the cohesive effects of crew served weapons as well as weapons pull on unit psychology.

All you can really do is look at combat outcomes as described by contemporaries – which are mainly in terms of units pinned/halted. There is an extensive discussion of artillery tactics and effects in the '1870' rules including extracts from the 1877 Prussian artillery regulations.

The suggestion to look at contemporary wargames such as Kriegspiel is also sensible, as it is based on what the people at the time thought would happen. Along with Kriegspiel you may want to look at the 1896 British Army wargame rules, republished by the History of Wargaming project (included in the book on Verdy's Free Kriegspiel).

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP19 Jul 2014 11:22 a.m. PST

what you need is post 1880 analyses. Not before; they just guess.
As usual ready for the last war.

Lion in the Stars19 Jul 2014 1:02 p.m. PST

Artillery in the 1860s is an interesting time. Rifled muskets or breach-loaders outranged canister fire (or were sufficiently spread out that canister was not effective), so snipers or skirmishers could devastate an artillery unit.

Then you get rifled artillery pieces, which allowed the artillery to reach far beyond smoothbores with much greater accuracy. This meant that rifled artillery could be well behind the infantry lines, which protected the artillery crews and horses from skirmishers (which the artillery still couldn't engage effectively).

The reason Kriegspiel is useful is that it tells you what was expected to happen with average die rolls. Sure, you could get some oddities in real war, but Kriegspiel gives a chance to understand the 'typical' events.

MichaelCollinsHimself20 Jul 2014 3:23 a.m. PST

Thanks Gents for the examples.

Actually effects like "pinned", "halted" & "suppressed" are exactly what I`m looking for as my rules use these states.

I have three editions of KS rules: 1824 (and the 1828 supplement), 1872 and 1884… although I`ve not played any of these, I have looked into these before, the latter two could perhaps be of particular use?

Ratbone31 Dec 2014 12:47 p.m. PST

Artillery was not much for casualties in the 19th century. It was more for morale effects. I can't remember where, but I read some years ago about how in the 20th century artillery caused 90% of casualties, while before that the rifle/musket/whatever caused most. I don't remember the numbers, but it was a ridiculous ratio that almost made one wonder.

NickinRI Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2014 3:04 p.m. PST

Look for Field Artillery and Firepower by JBA Bailey. This is probably the best overarching study of artillery and its effects. Also look at On Artillery by Bruce Gudmundsson, not quite as comprehensive but also very good.

I don't have my copies here, but the former has a detailed section on the wars before WWI.

Also, on Google books you can find a History of Modern Explosive by Eissler. It was written in the 1880s and contains an overview of the major changes.

There were three major itechnological changes for artillery in the late19th century: the Bessemer steel process, the development of modern high explosives and propellants, and the 1897 recoil mechanism. For the same weight, guns will triple or more in range and shells will become vastly more lethal.

Shameless plug: This covers some of the main changes, albeit the emphasis is on the response: link

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2015 11:45 a.m. PST

Thanks Ghee, but what I`m after are historical examples of artillery fire and known effects/casualties that I can measure my rules against.

To dismiss the wide range of Kriegspiel games developed from 1860 on is to ignore a great deal of collected wisdom by the men facing those guns. There are two US games, and several post-1860 European wargames. These are the military men of the time taking their experiences and condensing them into game effects which were then vetted by other military men. Not the final word, but as good a set of specific views from the men who were there as you are going to get anywhere. If your rule dynamics end up being significantly different from the wargames of the period, I'd be wondering about your rules.

Actually effects like "pinned", "halted" & "suppressed" are exactly what I`m looking for as my rules use these states.

You may be looking for a long time because I don't find 'pinned' and 'suppressed' used in any uniform fashion when they were used at all during the period.

Finding a few examples won't do it because they are simply a few examples, possibly inaccurate, commented on because they were unique or unexpected. Men of the time did pay attention to such things and wrote extensively about the very issues you are asking about… they just won't have the same POV or mindset in presenting their information.

There are a number of period books discussing the changes in technology and warfare… If you are interested, I can recommend some when I get back to my home computer.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2015 12:12 p.m. PST

Artillery was not much for casualties in the 19th century. It was more for morale effects. I can't remember where, but I read some years ago about how in the 20th century artillery caused 90% of casualties, while before that the rifle/musket/whatever caused most. I don't remember the numbers, but it was a ridiculous ratio that almost made one wonder.

I think that the ratios during Napoleonic wars usually touted concerning the musket/artillery/melee casualties are way off. The increase in first rifled muskets and then artillery made those ratios highly variable in the latter half of the 19th Century. Most ratios are based on limited counts of the types of wounds inflicted, but not the dead. If artillery and bayonet wounds have a higher fatality rates, then that would throw off the ratios.

MichaelCollinsHimself07 Jan 2015 12:22 p.m. PST


If you`d like to recommend more books with combat examples, then thanks, that`ll be useful.

Actually, I haven't dismissed KS rules at all, but the terms for troop reactions in those rules are rather limited from what I recall – they don`t quite sum up the range of troop reactions that I have read about.

Essentially, I am trying to do in all this is to model the behaviours of the troops under fire.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2015 5:22 p.m. PST

Essentially, I am trying to do in all this is to model the behaviours of the troops under fire.


Well, there are a wide range of 19th Century KS games that were trying to do that to. grin

To name a few that are available on Google:
W.R. Livermore's "American Kriegspiel" 1872 was a version of the mid-century German Kriegspiel

One which might be of more interest in the terms of troop reactions is Artillery Lt. Charles Totten's "Strategos" 1880. Vetted by a panel of veteran U.S. officers. It has a very detailed set of unit reactions to combat as well as more detailed artillery processes.

There is also the "British Krigspiel" and Colonel Charles Richardson's American "War Chess: Game of War" 1866.

German General Julius v. Verdy du Verois' "Betrag zum Kriegspiel" 1875 translated in 1884 by J.R. McDonald is also a German interpretation of the combat experiences of 1866 and 1870.

I'm not suggesting that you concern yourself with the rules themselves, but rather how they quantify artillery, infantry and cavalry combat strengths and effects. The changes from von Riesswitz's Kriegspiel over the seventy years of the 19th Century are enlightening as military men tried to cope and interprete the technological and tactical changes.

I think you have already know about May's book and von Moltke's debate after the 1866 war, Balck's two volumes on tactics and Boguslawski's book on the tactical deductions from the 1870 war.

Best Regards, Bill

zoneofcontrol07 Jan 2015 6:34 p.m. PST

My first thought was Day 3 at Gettysburg, Picket's Charge. Rather a long opening barrage from both sides. The rebels stepped off and became disjointed because of the ongoing artillery fire, both the actual effect of the shot but also because of the smoke. The undulating ground and intervening farms didn't help either. It took a while until they advanced into effective musket range.

The recent awarding of the Medal of Honor to Lt. Cushing is what made me think of this first. He was an artillery commander near the point of focus of the charge. His battery was reduced to one gun during the assault and he continued to fire while fresh troops were brought in to plug and bolster the Yankee line. He died at his gun.

MichaelCollinsHimself07 Jan 2015 11:43 p.m. PST

Downloaded "War Chess", but my search for "Betrag zum Kriegspiel" drew a blank however.
I found "Strategos" to read online, but no ability to download.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2015 8:44 a.m. PST


Verdy's "Betrag zum Kriegspiel" was translated as "The Tactical Wargame" by Captain Spenser Wilkinson. I have a PDF of it, which I can send to you. Google is sooo bizarre. I can't find it either, though that is where I got the PDF.

The German "Betrag zum Kriegspiel" is:


I forgot to mention Verdy's Tactical Study, which will have the examples you are looking for.

"A Tactical Study, Based on the Battle of Custozza, 24th of June, 1866" By Julius Adrian Friedrich Wilhelm von Verdy du Vernois


The "War Chess" rules are interesting, not in the rules, but in the comments the author makes, such as his statement that when doing counter-battery fire, artillery would move into close range.

I will look for the google PDF of Strategos. Yep, here it is:


Another one that is interesting is:

"Rules for the conduct of the war-game on a map."
1896. By authority. Published 1896 by H.M. Stationery off. in London

For instance, on page ten it gives instructions for Umpires. The author has repulse, retreat and total retreat as reactions to combat. A repulse requires a half an hour to recover from, a retreat one hour. Total retreat has the unit taken off the table.

You can download the pdf here:


MichaelCollinsHimself08 Jan 2015 11:04 a.m. PST


I`m having difficulty getting the googlebooks links – on…
I need a proxy to get the downloads I think – I had one saved on my old machine. I`ll have to sort that later!

In the meantime if you could mail me a copy of "The Tactical Wargame" translation that`d be great!


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2015 11:05 p.m. PST


I have sent several PDFs to IF that doesn't work, let me know.


MichaelCollinsHimself09 Jan 2015 11:58 a.m. PST

Thanks Bill.
I got all the files just fine !

Tac Error11 Jan 2015 8:03 a.m. PST

Have you read E. Hoffbauer's "The German Artillery in the Battles Near Metz"? This version on Google Books includes the folded maps at full resolution, but you're going to need a program like Photoshop to extract them from the downloadable PDF:


MichaelCollinsHimself11 Jan 2015 9:06 a.m. PST

Thanks for that…
I had to copy the full text though – due to a UK limitation on google books.

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