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"Polish artillery, Napoleon, Prussian guns" Topic


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1,223 hits since 5 Aug 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Osage201705 Aug 2017 1:23 p.m. PST

I remember reading somewhere in Dawson/Summerfield's and George Nafziger's books, that the Polish artillery was pretty good in terms of training, quality etc. The problem, however was they had not enough artillery pieces.

Thus Napoleon after crushing the Prussians in 1806 strengthened the Polish artillery with captured Prussian guns.

My question is how good were the Prussian cannons and howitzers in 1806-7 ? Was it some really cool stuff, or they were considered as being outdated and much worse than French guns ?

Le Breton05 Aug 2017 3:51 p.m. PST

Osage, let me try some data and comparisons and then you can ask for more or maybe be ready to form your own opinion. I give mine at the end.

All measures in French inches and pounds, from the "Tables" of the general de Morla 1827 French edition.

6-pounder gun
French (an XI) bore is 16.6 calibres, weight 800 pounds, carriage weighs 1050 pounds
--- ball round, distance to the first graze, standard 2.0 pounds of powder, 1 ligne d'hausse of elevatoin : 664 paces
--- 12 rounds on the limber, 72 rounds per caisson
--- total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 2775 pounds
Prussian bore is 16.4 calibres, weight 925 pounds, carriage weighs 1225 pounds
--- ball round, distance to the first graze, standard 2.2 pounds of powder, no elevation : 800 paces
--- 21 rounds on the limber, 100 rounds per caisson
--- total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 3700 pounds
Compare : Russian 6-pounder of bore 16.3 calibres total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 2150 pounds

lighter howitzer
French 24-pounder howitzer calibre is 5.60 inches (an XI), bore without the breech is 5.0 calibres, weight is 600 pounds, carriage weighs 1150 pounds
--- 6 rounds on the carriage, 75 rounds per caissson
--- total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 2575 pounds
Prussian 7-pounder howitzer calibre is 5.45 inches, bore without the breech is 4.5 calibres, weight is 670 pounds, carriage weighs 1350 pounds
--- 30 rounds on the limber, 124 rounds per caisson
--- total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 3300 pounds
Compare : Russian 1/4-pud unicorn for foot artillery of bore 8.8 calibres total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 2100 pounds

12-pounder gun
French bore is 16.5 calibres, weight 1800 pounds (Gribeauval) or 1550 pounds (an XI), carriage weighs 1400 pounds
--- ball round, distance to the first graze, standard 4.0 pounds of powder, no elevation : 664 paces
--- 9 rounds on the limber, 140 rounds per caisson
--- total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 3225 pounds
Prussian bore is 16.4 calibres, weight 1650 pounds, carraige weighs 1650 pounds
--- ball round, distance to the first graze, standard 3.8 pounds of powder, no elevation : 800 paces
--- 60-70 rounds on the limber, 192 rounds on the caisson
--- total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 4650 pounds
Compare : Russian longer 12-pounder of 15.8 calibres total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 3375 pounds
Compare : Russian short 12-pounder of bore 12.3 calibres total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 2500 pounds

heavier howitzer
French 6-inch howitzer calibre is 6.13 inches (Gribeauval), bore without the breech is 3.0 calibres, weight is 650 pounds, carriage weighs 1225 pounds
--- 6 rounds on the carriage, 58 rounds per caisson
--- total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 2800 pounds
Prussian 10-pounder howitzer calibre is 6.28 inches, bore without the breech is 4.4 calibres, weight is 1150 pounds, carraige weighs 1650 pounds
--- 10 rounds on the limber, 86 rounds per caisson
--- total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 3900 pounds
Comment : The French liked the Prussian 10-pounder howitzer design and essentially copied it starting in 1810 to provide a large caliber, longer barrelled howitzer for the Guard 12-pounder companies.
Compare : Russian 1/2-pud unicorn of bore 8.3 calibres total weight of the piece, carriage and limber fully equipped 3150 pounds

Opinions :
Overall the French and Prussian systems seem very very similar.
The Prussian pieces strike me as more modern than Gribeauval, but less modern the the An XI French designs.
The Prussian system seems to put rather many rounds on the limber and in each caisson, which might impair mobility a bit – but with the benefit of having more rounds "up".
Personally, I would prefer the Russian system over either the French or Prussian : lighter equipment for same throw weights – and much much more of it.

===================

I struggle with the Polish language (also Croatian) – it feels like I am reading Russian with mangled transliteration to Latin characters. I have a similar "block" with Dutch : it is not English and it is not German and I just can't manage to think in Dutch when reading it.

So, this is a question I have not researched enough, but maybe a Colleague knows the answer :
--- Which Polish artillery units recieved which and how many Prussian guns?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 6:34 p.m. PST

There is an excellent volume on the artillery and engineers of the Duchy of Warsaw, Wojsko Ksiestwa Warszawskiego by Ryszard Morawski and Andrzej Nieuwazny. While it is in Polish, it has both a French and English summary at the end of the book. Half the book is on uniforms and equipment of the Polish artillery and engineers.

The Army of the Duchy of Warsaw was formed initially in 1807, with the exception of the Polish units already in French service, and the artillery and engineers were relatively small.

Their initial issue of field pieces, as well as siege and garrison pieces, was captured Prussian material, but they also used French and Austrian material, the latter being captured in 1809.

The Polish artillery was excellent and served will eventually reaching a strength of a foot artillery regiment and a horse artillery regiment. They also fielded a company of artificers, pontonniers, and an artillery train battalion. The Polish horse artillery regiment was considered an elite unit.

It should be noted that whatever field pieces the Poles used, they were manned by well-trained and skilled artillerymen.

The Polish engineer arm consisted of one engineer battalion.

It should be noted that an artillery system is more than just the guns and vehicles. It is also the organization, tactics, command and control, training and education as well as the doctrine and ammunition resupply system.

The French artillery schools were recognized as the best in Europe with the British and Austrian schools being modeled on them. The Russian artillery education 'system' is less standardized, and from 1800-1807/1808 there was no formal education system for Russian artillery officers. Both Wilson and Langeron remarked on the poor level of education of Russian officers, artillery officers in particular. That being said, that also amounted to their skill level being less than their opponents and allies. The Prussians didn't have an artillery school until 1791 and that was abolished in 1808.

It should also be noted that although it was designed and intended to replace the Gribeauval System, the Systeme AN XI was never fully implemented and only augmented the existing Gribeauval System, and didn't replace it. The British artillery officers Ralph Adye remarked on the efficiency of the Gribeauval System ca 1800.

Le Breton05 Aug 2017 8:03 p.m. PST

"The Russian artillery education 'system' is less standardized, and from 1800-1807/1808 there was no formal education system for Russian artillery officers."
Untrue

The former artillery and engineering school was not closed down, it was just re-named 2nd Cadet Corps, which accounted for about 70% of the cadet corps graduates that entered the artillery. The senior classes were 3 years of study, commencing upon successful examination and personal reccomedations, beginning at age 17, 18 or 19. The senior years' course of study was 12 months per year, 6 days per week and 12 hours per day. Of the 12 hours, 8 were devoted to academic study and 4 to military drill and practice. After Divine Serivces, the cadets were given "free time" on Sundays. The classes were small, typically about 8 cadets in each, to allow personal attention to each student. Note that the cadet graduate needed also to serve for 2 years as a non-commissioned officer, then pass a commissioning examonation, before gaining his officers' commission.
For the 3 years of higher education :
-- religion : 3 units
-- French : 7 units
-- German : 7 units
-- Russian language & literature : 7 units
-- mathematics : 9 units
-- physical science : 6 units
-- geography & statistics : 6 units
-- political history : 9 units
-- law & jurisprudence : 3 units
-- engineering drawing : 3 units
-- military science & theory : 15 units
Total : 76 units
The textbooks were usually in their original language, so that in the "Fortifications" unit, the students were required to read Vauban in German. The "Artillery Practise" textbook from 1806 was actually as compilation of design information from Graf Arakcheev's design team, numerical look-up tables tables, and practical notes from recent battlefield experience. Of course, there was also the addtional 4 hours/day of practical military activities while in school. Overall, the whole thing looks alot like the course of study at the US Military Academy at West Point, where the specific unit to which the students are assigned is also called the Corps of Cadets.

The AIShKK/2nd KK sent an average of about 55 graduates/year to the artillery and engineers over the years 1797-1825. The peak years were 1811 and 1812 with 75-80 graduates to the artillery and engineers, when selected students were graduated 1 year early. Because of this, there were no graduates in 1813. The other Cadet Corps sent and average of about 25 graduates/year inot hte atillery and engineers.

Counting graduates of the other Cadet Corps, at the beginning of 1812 some artillery brigades had only about 55% of their officers having graduated from a Cadet Corps (incidentally, this included the Guard brigades). In some brigades, all the officers were Cadet Corps graduates. Overall, about 75% of artillery officers were Cadet Corps graduates. The remaining 25% were composed mostly of long-service officers that gained their commissions before the reign of Emperor Pavel and the wave of artillery reform in 1797 plus a tranche of long-service non-noble NCO's that had been granted commissions (and hence personal nobility) in the years 1808-1811.

================================

"Both Wilson and Langeron remarked on the poor level of education of Russian officers, artillery officers in particular."
Untrue

Langeron wrote "most officers were not well educated and trained and that the three cadet corps were too small to provide the number of junior officers needed for the army." Not particular to artillery. And also he was talking about the late 1780's/early 1790's [!!!].

This is what he wrote in particular about Russian artillery, in his "Memoires de Langeron, general d'infanterie dans l'armee russe. Campagnes de 1812, 1813, 1814":
"General Blücher always gave me evidence of his satisfaction with the material perfection of my artillery and the intrepidy of the artillerists. Never did they show a more brilliant bravery and such great talent than on that memorable day [at Leipsig]. The company commanders [named] acquired the most justly deserved right to the greatest praise in my view. General Veszeliski (who throughout the campaign had commanded my artillery and whose zeal and care had contributed so effectively to bringing it to a state of perfection), despite substantial losses that had been suffered, merits also the same praises for his personnel courage and his talent in placing the batteries. During the four days of the battle of Leipsig, my 175 canons had fired 12,500 rounds"

Wilson wrote more about the social class problems facing artillery officers than their education. With reference to 1807 he wrote:
"The Russian artillery is of the most powerful description. No other army moves with so many guns, and with no other army is it in a better state of equipment, or is more gallantly served. The piece is well formed, and the carraige solid, without being heavy. The harness and rope-tackling is of the best quality for service. …. The artillery-men are of the best description, and the non-commissioned offices equal, but the artillery officiers of inferior rank have not the same title to estimation as in other European services, for their education is not formed with the same care, and their service does not receive the same encouragement. To them is toil and responsibility, but the honour is by no means assured them. Some favorite officer, completely ignorant of the science and practise of the artillery, is frequently in the day of action appointed for the day to command the batteries, and the credit is in the dispatches given to him. …. The horse artillery is no less well appointed, and the mounted detachments that accompany the guns ride excellent powerful horses, and form both in real character and appearance, a corps not inferior to any in the European services."

To address this social class issue, the reforms of Graf Arakcheev from 1805 included the granting of an elite status to artillery officers, up to colonel, – one step higher in seniority than regular Army officers in both military and nobilary rank. For example, the artillery company commander billet was changed from captain to lieutenant colonel, and this officer would have the social seniority as a ful colonel in the Army infantry. This reform coincided with a greater effort to promote non-noble artillery enlisted personnel and other technical government employees to officer candidate rank.

Le Breton05 Aug 2017 8:07 p.m. PST

"Their initial issue of field pieces, as well as siege and garrison pieces, was captured Prussian material, but they also used French and Austrian material, the latter being captured in 1809."

Yes. Hence my question :
Do you know which Polish artillery companies had how many of which pieces?

====================

Nice overview of Polish artillery by Paul Dawson:
link

Le Breton05 Aug 2017 9:31 p.m. PST

"The French artillery schools were recognized as the best in Europe"
Maybe

I suppose that you do *not* have several contemporary sources that show this recognition. I won't bother to ask.

But, there is still an issue : not all that many of the French artillery officers actually went to these schools.

Looking at the État militaire d'artillerie 1811 ….
--- out of 1487 serving artillery officers (not counting cannoniers sédentaires, gardes-côtes, vétérans, écôles or train d'artillerie) – only 49% had attended a higher level school of any type, including the Polytechnique, foreign universities, etc.
--- adding the train d'artillerie officers, to make the comaprison to the Russians who had this function in their artillery units, lowers the percentage of French officers with higher educaton to only 41%
--- this should be compared to about 75% of the Russian artillery officers having graduated from a cadet corps

"Best in Europe" does not get you that far, even if it is true, if 6 of 10 of your officers didn't even attend.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 4:50 a.m. PST

Where did you find the Dawson paper? I looked on the Napoleon Series and it is no longer there or I just can't find it.

Le Breton06 Aug 2017 5:16 a.m. PST

"Where did you find the Dawson paper?"

At the linked website address.

http

://

napoleon-series.

org/

military/organization/Poland/Artillery/c_polisharty.

html


(remove carriage returns to make the url correct)

Does the link not work ?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 5:36 a.m. PST

The link worked, and the article came up. However, I went to the Napoleon Series and could not find the article listed.

Suggestions?

Did you access it on the Napoleon Series? It isn't under Poland…

Le Breton06 Aug 2017 6:40 a.m. PST

Yes, I did access it there. How else? The doman name is


napoleon-series.

org

If you can't find it any other way, and it works, why not bookmark if you think you will return some time? I did, likely 11 years ago when it was published.

Le Breton06 Aug 2017 7:06 a.m. PST

"French artillery schools …. with the British …. schools being modeled on them"
Unsupported and likely Untrue

An interesting, and well-sourced, overview of the content and methods of artillery instruction for the British by Donald Graves:
link

*Nowhere* does it say anything about modelling anything on the French artillery schools. On the contrary, in several places the British practise is *contrasted* as being different from that of the French.

So, can you provide any contemporary or first hand evidence that the British modelled their artillery education on that of the French?

I *am not* asking for more assertions, secondary sources, or areas where the practises were merely similar. I *am* asking for contemporary or first-hand evidence for your assertion.

For @ Mr. Brechtel:
I am sorry, and do not wish to offend, but you seem to make lots of assertions that we are repeatedly told "should be noted". These are presented as "facts" and not qualified as your "opinions" or "conclusions".

You also seem to have lots of trouble providing contemporary or first-hand evidence for your assertions. Perhaps it would be well for you to be either less strident in your assertions or more diligent in supporting them.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 11:47 a.m. PST

Your link for the article goes nowhere.

And the article itself is not listed on the Napoleon Series.

You can find it on Google, however. Is that where you found it or did you actually find it on the Napoleon Series.

If you have time, go to the Napoleon Series and see if you can find the article.

Oliver Schmidt06 Aug 2017 2:39 p.m. PST

For me, both links given by Le Breton work well: just by left-clicking on them, a new tab in my browser opens.

Maybe it works for you, if you copy-paste the links:

http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/Poland/Artillery/c_polisharty.html

http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/Warof1812/2006/Issue2/c_arty3.html

Bagration181207 Aug 2017 3:32 a.m. PST

Interesting. Thanks for posting this link guys. It might be a browser issue as I get a 404 error on my phone. I'll try later on my Mac.

4th Cuirassier07 Aug 2017 6:24 a.m. PST

What I find a bit odd is why we spend so much time discussing which was presumably only the second-best artillery system of the era. The best hardware was evidently the British, because everyone else eventually adopted or closely copied its block-trail carriages and various standardisations.

If it was not in fact the best, why was it adopted so widely?

eg, systeme Vallee:

En 1827, le système proposé par le Maréchal VALEE est adopté par la commission créée par CHARLES X. Ce système s'inspire des matériels anglais qui ont montré en Espagne une très grande mobilité. Il se caractérise par sa simplicité de construction, l'uniformité des trains-rouleurs et sa mobilité grandement accrue.
link

ACW limber:

picture

The British system seems to have been about 50 years ahead of its time.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 7:17 a.m. PST

Excellent question and idea. The Royal Artillery was always considered an elite arm, though it was never very numerous in the field.

The new block trail carriage and the new limber and ammunition caisson were excellent artillery vehicles and the French admired them greatly, which is why Valee, who was Suchet's artillery chief in eastern Spain, adopted them for his new artillery system.

Ralph Willett Adye greatly admired the Gribeauval System and that admiration may have prompted the Royal Artillery to develop what they did.

Both the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers greatly improved during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, though they had to play catchup to start.

4th Cuirassier07 Aug 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

I wonder if the reason the superiority of the Congreve system was not noticed until after the era was because most armies hadn't been defeated by an army using it.

Foreign observers would not have been looking particularly to the British army for smart tips on how to defeat the French, because not until the later years did the British army regularly do so in engagements on a comparable scale to those fought elsewhere. Defeating the Mahrattas, or winning with divisional-sized forces like at Maida, were not obviously instructive to modern European armies fighting other modern European armies in numbers of 100,000 or so.

In other words, mainland European armies were basically unaware that there was a better system in use, and confined themselves to incremental, mutually imitative improvements.

Of course the effectiveness is more than just the hardware, but was Britain's system markedly better? I have seen contemporary data (but I forget where) that suggested the advantages, in terms of weight, were marginal or non-existent.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 1:07 p.m. PST

For the development of military and civilian technical training in France, Frederick Artz's book, The development of technical education in France 1500-1850, is excellent.

'The French, in the three and a half centuries between about 1500 and 1850, developed all, or nearly all, the basic forms of modern technical education. And in the course of time, from Russia across western Europe and the United States to Japan, all countries modeled their technical schools on those of France. So, in the gradual transfer of technical training from an apprenticeship system where one learned much of his technical profession in a school, France played the dominant role.'-vii.

Regarding the Gribeauval System of 1765, Captain Ralph Willett Adye, the author of the Bombardier and Pocket Gunner, wrote ca 1800:

'The French system of artillery was established as far back as the year 1765, and has been rigidly adhered to through a convulsion in the country which overturned everything like order, and which even the government itself has not been able to withstand. We should, therefore, conclude that it has merit, and, though in an enemy, ought to avail ourselves of its advantages. At the formation of their system, they saw the necessity of the most exact correspondence in the most minute particulars, and so rigidly have they adhered to this principle that, though they have several arsenals, where carriages and other military machines are constructed, the different parts of a carriage may be collected from these several arsenals, in the opposite extremities of the country, and will as well unite and form a carriage as if they were all made and fitted in the same workshop. As long as every man who fancies he has made an improvement is permitted to introduce it into our service, this cannot be the case with us.'

According to Jean Duteil, French artillery officer and author of the doctrinal publication De l'Usage de l'Artillerie Nouvelle dans la Guerre de Campagne, Gribeauval 'rendered the artillery more scientific.'

And although Gribeauval was a school-trained artillery officer, Frederick the Great in his memoirs called him 'one of the greatest military engineers of all time.' Frederick made this comment because of Gribeauval's expert defense of Schweidnitz in 1762 (see Franz Graf le comte de Guasco, Relation de la defense de Schweidnitz commande per le general feldmarechal lieutenant comte de Guasco et attaque pay le lieutenant-general Tauenzein, depuis le 20 Juilllet jusqu'qu 9 October 1762. Tauenzein referred to the French artillery general as 'That Devil Gribeauval' for his epic defense.

Albert Duruy in his L'Armee Royale in 1789, stated that only Vauban, the great military engineer from the period of Louis XIV, 'has left a work comparable to that of Gribeauval,

Jean Colin stated that 'Gribeauval gave France a truly offensive artillery…an essential arm in the Napoleonic victories.'

I don't see any problem when either discussing military history or writing about it using both primary and secondary source material. Using historical inquiry as well as a valid historical methodology, secondary source material can be very useful and definitely support any and all arguments.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 1:54 p.m. PST

The British system seems to have been about 50 years ahead of its time.

The new British vehicles didn't really make an impact until the Peninsula campaign, and they still used the split or bracket trail gun carriage for the heavier 12-pounder and the howitzer. Those were the last two pieces to get the block trail gun carriage.

And the number of British field artillery batteries (brigades of foot artillery and troops of horse artillery) were limited in the Peninsula which was one reason the British trained and equipped Portuguese artillery batteries for employment with the field army. These turned out to be a great asset. I include the KGL artillery as British as they were part of the British Army and not an independent organization.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 2:42 p.m. PST

The poor education of Russian army officers, engineers and artillery included, is clearly demonstrated by the percentages of those officers who were educated, and in what disciplines.

In 1812, only 50% of Russian officers could read and write. 2.9% studied the military sciences and .3% were taught tactics. 23% demonstrated competence in arithmetic, 10.6% in geometry, 6.5% in algebra, and 3.5% in trigonometry. This included artillery officers.

Generally speaking, the quality of Russian military school graduates was poor and most of that problem was because the instructors were poor.

Compare those percentages already posted regarding French artillery officers, and the French look very well educated. You could not get a commission in the Grande Armee without being able to read and write. Coignet could not accept his promotion to officer rank, for example, until he became literate.

I don't see why Coignet's comments should be suspect. There has never been any proof of that assertion.

Some French artillery officers were promoted from the ranks and were already proficient in artillery practice and gunnery, for example, without attending the artillery schools for officers. And it should be noted that during the Gribeauval reform period, schools for NCOs were founded.

There was a situation with some Guard artillery officers who had not attended an artillery school, and some officers wanted them to be put into another arm. The situation was put before Napoleon, who was not only a school-trained artillery officer, but an excellent one, and he found in favor of the non-school trained Guard artillery officers as they had already proven themselves in the field and under fire.

And it should be noted that including French artillery train officers in the group that attended or didn't attend an artillery school is wrong. They weren't artillerymen, they were train troops, their assigned duties being the moving of artillery vehicles and artillery pieces, not in employing them. The French artillery train was a separate organization.

Regarding the previously cited article on Polish artillery, the gist of the article is taken from the previously cited excellent volume on the artillery and engineers of the Duchy of Warsaw, Wojsko Ksiestwa Warszawskiego by Ryszard Morawski and Andrzej Nieuwazny. Unfortunately, it was not listed in the article's bibliography. I highly recommend the volume even if you don't read Polish.

It should also be noted that the artillery training in the Russian Second Cadet Corps was abolished in 1800 and formal artillery training for officers was not reinstated until 1808. The Russians did learn from the repeated defeats at the hands of the French and studied what the French artillery did much better than they did. The Russians never reached the level of artillery expertise and sophistication of the French above the battery level, but they did improve.

Finally, the Arakcheev artillery system of 1805 was not the technological equivalent of the French Gribeauval System. The gun carriages were similar in design to those of the Austrians and Prussians, and they copied the screw quoin as the elevating device, which was definitely inferior to the French and British elevating screw. The Russian sights were also inferior to that of the Gribeauval System. The Gribeauval adjustable hausse sight was simple, effective, and remained on the piece during firing. Those of the Russian system were somewhat fragile and had to be removed during firing as they were not robust enough to endure both the shock of firing and the recoil of the piece.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 7:12 a.m. PST

Regarding artillery mobility, the British block trail carriages had a shorter turning radius than the pieces of the other artillery arms which was a great aid in both emplacing and displacing.

The French Gribeauval pieces might be heavier overall in gross weight, but their mobility was enhanced because of the brass wheel housings which greatly reduced friction during movement. And the iron axle was heavier than the older wooden one. Both of these innovations put the Gribeauval gun carriages head and shoulders above those of Austria, Russia, and Prussia.

The design of the gun carriage itself also reduced the recoil of the piece, the energy produced by firing and causing recoil not only went to the rear as it did for the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian carriages, but also downward, thus reducing the rearward movement of the piece when it recoiled.

Osage201709 Aug 2017 7:25 a.m. PST

thank You Brechtel198 (and Le Breton), that's a lot of fascinating info ! Have a nice day.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

You're very welcome.

Le Breton09 Aug 2017 12:43 p.m. PST

"In 1812, only 50% of Russian officers could read and write."
Wrong
I think you may be mis-quoting. About 50% of Russian officers in 1812 could only read and write, and had no additional education.
Russian Officer Corps of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars
Alexander Mikaberidze
El Dorado Hills, California : Savas Beatie LLC, 2005
page xxvii and the following tables.
As nobles, essentially all Russian offices could read and write. There were exactly 2 officers, in Grenadier regiments, promoted from the ranks for outstanding bravery against the Turks, who could not (yet) read and write in 1812. Illiteracy among non-Russian officers (such as in irregular or "national" troops such as Cossacks or Kalmyks) was more common.

"This included artillery officers."
Blatant Mis-use of Statistics
The artillery and engineer officers were the most educated among Russian officers. 75% had completed higher (university-level) education. Applying overall statistics to them is utterly mis-leading. The curriculum was posted above.

"quality of Russian military school graduates was poor and most of that problem was because the instructors were poor"
Unsupported Personal Opinion
There is no reason to assert this. It is not too likely to be true given the experience of the instructors (many were leading academics).

"Compare those percentages already posted regarding French artillery officers, and the French look very well educated"
Untrue
Russians : 75% of artillery oficers had higher education, which inlcude the equivalent of the French artillery train
French : 49% *not* counting the artillery train had higher education, only 41% including the artillery train
The comparison is *not* favorable to the French.

"during the Gribeauval reform period, schools for NCOs were founded"
Not Unique to the French
Also true in Russia : the one, later two Reserve/Instructional companies of the Life Guards Artillery.

"including French artillery train officers in the group that attended or didn't attend an artillery school is wrong."
Says Who?
The Russians had the officers performing this function in their artillery service. A fair comparison would be to also include them for the French. In any case, I reported the count of educated French officers both with and without the train officers. Either way, the comparison is *not* favorable to the French.

"artillery training in the Russian Second Cadet Corps was abolished in 1800 and formal artillery training for officers was not reinstated until 1808."
Untrue
See the curriculum posted above. In addition, the graduate served 2-3 years as an Officer Aspirant NCO in an artillery company and then had to pass a commissionig examination (which had both written and practical test elements).

"copied the screw quoin as the elevating device, which was definitely inferior to the French and British elevating screw. "
Says Who?
The Russian tested both methods of elevation. They thought the qouin was more reliable.

"Russian sights were also inferior to that of the Gribeauval System …. somewhat fragile and had to be removed during firing"
Untrue
The Russians used two field exchangable sights (they were affixed with three large screws), The first, "standard" one was similar to the French and nothing needed to be removed. The second, which corrected for a piece placed on un-level ground, had a short of hanging weight that swung to show the real vertical direction. This hanging piece was removed for firing.

"[French] brass wheel housings"
Not Unique to the French
Used by Russians, likely as far back as 1750's. To metallize the wheel housings was a pretty standard thing to do for wheels of heavy-load equipment (military or commercial).

"[French] iron axle"
Not Always an Advantage
Tested by Russian in late 1790's and found to be subject to catastrophic failure, especially in very low temperatures. They decided wooden xles were better as they could be easily made/repaired in the field (by the craftsmen that were included ina russian artillery company.)

"Gribeauval gun carriages head and shoulders above those of …. Russia"
Untrue
Not true – the Russian carriages were much lighter carriages for equivalent pieces, used fewer horses and managed to survive the Russian campaign of 1812 essentially 100% intact. The French "system" ended the campaign with essentially no pieces remaining outside the French guards. That does not argue well for the French being "head and shoulders above" the Russians.

Opinions
Gribeauval was a great contributor to artillery development (especially in France and the USA) but his "system" was by no means so unique as to be "head and shoulders" above other nations' systems post 1800. By then it was getting a little aged – hence the French themselves developing the AnXI system.

For Osage : don't thank Brechtel too much – much of what he posts is wrong or incomplete. He appears very biased, completely unfamiliar with non-French/Engliah sources and over-reliant on modern secondary sources.

Bagration181209 Aug 2017 2:22 p.m. PST

Haven't we trod this ground before? I seem to recall a similar exchange with un ami several years ago.

Le Breton09 Aug 2017 4:09 p.m. PST

"It should be noted …."

Not only was there academic study of artillery in the Russian Cadet Corps, but the best set of surviving drawings for the obr. 1796 Russian system was made in the 2nd Cadet Corps in 1801, in Captain Yefimov's class on artillery design. Drawn from life, they show the changes that were included in the proposals of 1802/3 and the approved system obr. 1805.
Отдел рукописей Российской национальной библиотеки – Фонд Эрмитажного собрания № 139. – Л. 44-45, 72-73, 81-82.
nlr.ru/coll/manuscript

The section of the "standard work" by Krylov on Russian Cadet Corps and Artillery:
history.scps.ru/cadet/04.htm

I see that I am adding rather little new here. It seems that for some *years* Mr.Brechtel has not liked to respond when his assertions are questioned, nor does questioning them have any impact on the positive and sure tone with which he informs us of what "should be noted".

Bagration181210 Aug 2017 4:33 a.m. PST

Please continue, Le Breton. Good stuff.

summerfield10 Aug 2017 8:06 a.m. PST

Dear Le Breton
I have been trying to finish my Smoothbore Ordnance Journal on the Russian Artillery for the last 5 years. So many things have got in the way. The ignorance of eminent writers upon artillery let alone Russian astounds me.

It would be good to confer notes.
Stephen

summerfield10 Aug 2017 8:26 a.m. PST

Dear Le Breton
Much of what you have repeated here has been stated before by me and in various articles in the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal on the Napoleon Series. Various translations by Digby Smith showed this clearly in SOJ Volume 1.
Stephen

Osage201710 Aug 2017 6:15 p.m. PST

Hello Le Breton,
IMHO you should write a book, or series of articles, because your knowledge on artillery is amazing.

Le Breton11 Aug 2017 2:43 a.m. PST

Thanks Osage, but I am just a gamer who like to do research and I know some foreign languages. Dr. Summerfield is the real academic – his books and articles are really great : excellent research, well organized and illustrated, and intelligently organized. (Reasonaly priced too.)

Check out the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal on the Napoleon Series, where Dr. Summerfield and others have some great (free) articles :
link

von Winterfeldt11 Aug 2017 6:39 a.m. PST

I agree with Breton's assesment

Brechtel claims

""Compare those percentages already posted regarding French artillery officers, and the French look very well educated"!

I ask – does he read basic sources.

in 1801 a memorandum about the quality of artillery

"Les régiments d'artillerie ont été dissémiés pendant le temps de la guerre, en conséquence, l'instuction est perdue"
Alembert et Colin, La Campagne de 1805 en Allemagne, volune 1, page 188

"et les deux tiers des éléves, a été si mal suivi qu'aujourd'hui, sur 1408 officiers, 375 suelement sortent de l'école et 1033 de sous-officiers"
Alembert et Colin, p. 189

"Après avoir fait de calculs les plus rigoureux sur le personnel du corps, it est démontré que, sur 57 chefs de brigade, il en existe 15 mauvais; que sur 87 chefs de bataillon, le en existe 27 mauvais, et qu'en enfin sur 948 capitaines ou lieutentant sorts des sous-officiers, 208 doivent être placés ailleurs."
Alembert et Colin, p. 189

An artillery inspection regarded the Gribeuaval system obsolete, and propsed an overhaul, which couldn't be realized due to constant war and lack of funds.

von Winterfeldt11 Aug 2017 6:48 a.m. PST

here from Saroga of 2013 –

"Seroga
19 Feb 2013 4:34 a.m. PST


Dr. Summerfield,
I think we are most interested in the senior years' classes in the Cadet Corps, especially the 2nd Cadet Corps, which accounted for about 70% of the cadet corps graduates that entered the artillery. The senior classes were 3 years of study, commencing upon successful examination and personal reccomedations, beginning at age 17, 18 or 19. Some students had been either 2 or 4 years in junior classes at these schools. Others entered only for the senior years.
The senior years' course of study was 12 months per year, 6 days per week and 12 hours per day. Of the 12 hours, 8 were devoted to academic study and 4 to military drill and practice. After Divine Serivces, the cadets were given "free time" on Sundays. The classes were small, typically about 8 cadets in each, to allow personal attention to each student. Note that the cadet graduate needed also to serve for 2 years as a non-commissioned officer before gaining his officers' commission.
For the academic instruction's details, I found a beakdown of the curriculum from after the peace, but it seems representative. For the 3 years of higher education :
-- religion : 3 units
-- French : 7 units
-- German : 7 units
-- Russian language & literature : 7 units
-- mathematics : 9 units
-- physical science : 6 units
-- geography & statistics : 6 units
-- political history : 9 units
-- law & jurisprudence : 3 units
-- engineering drawing : 3 units
-- military science & theory : 15 units
Total : 76 units
The textbooks were usually in their original language, so that in the "Fortifications" unit, the students were required to read Vauban in German. The "Artillery Practise" textbook from 1806 was actually as compilation of design information from Graf Arakcheev's design team, numerical look-up tables tables, and practical notes from recent battlefield experience.
Of course, there was also the addtional 4 hours/day of practical military activities while in school, not to mention the 2 years' service as an artillery NCO, and then passing the commissioning examination with the Artillery Committee.
Overall, the whole thing looks alot like the course of study at the US Military Academy at West Point, where the specific unit to which the students are assigned is also called the Corps of Cadets.
The AIShKK/2nd KK sent an average of about 55 graduates/year to the artillery and engineers over the years 1797-1825. The peak years were 1811 and 1812 with 75-80 graduates to the artillery and engineers, when selected students were graduated 1 year early. Because of this, there were no graduates in 1813. The other Cadet Coprs sent and average of about 25 graduates/year inot hte atillery and engineers.
Counting graduates of the other Cadet Corps, at the beginning of 1812 some artillery brigades had only about 55% of their officers having graduated from a Cadet Corps (incidentally, this included the Guard brigades). In some brigades, all the officers were Cadet Corps graduates. Overall, about 75% of artillery officers were Cadet Corps graduates. The remaining 25% were composed mostly of long-service officers that gained their commissions before the reign of Emperor Pavel and the wave of artillery reform in 1797 plus a tranche of long-service non-noble NCO's that had been granted commissions (and hence personal nobility) in the years 1808-1811.
history.scps.ru/cadet/04.htm
history.scps.ru/cadet/063.htm

von Winterfeldt11 Aug 2017 6:53 a.m. PST

I agree also with Bagration 1812 that we had already endless discussion about this topic – maybe Brechtel did not read all the competent responses of Seroga, here again an example were Saroga demolished the opinions of Brechtel – or whatever name he used in 2013

""The Prussian, Russian, and Austrian gun carriages were an older design, as was the rechtsmachine they all used."
- The Russians tested the French style elevating system and decided it was not robust and reliable enough. Similar to the question of metal axles, which were are tested and found lacking, I believe the Russians were more concerned about field repairability and operations in extreme cold temperature than were the French.
- The Russians made redesigns of the carriages from 1796 and again from 1805. The latter was fully in use for 1810-1815. They were thus not "older" than the French. As the were lighter than the French carriages, more standardized and exceedingly reliable, I do not know how one could think of them as not as useful, unless one just assumes "French=Better" and does not care to look further.
"Further, French gun sights were simpler, easier to use, and remained on the gun tube during firing."
- Russian guns 1810-1815 were equipped with 2 sights : a basic one that could remain on the gun when firing (essentially the same as the French, and in use since before 1800), the other for high-accuracy shots (introduced after 1807, it compensated for un-level ground beneath the piece). You could adapt from one to the other in about 90 seconds (3 rather large screws were used to bolt on the base of the more accurate sight – the mobile part of which was removed for firing). Both sights were stored in little compartments in the brackets of the carriage. You can tell pieces adapted for the pair of sights because the top the cascabel has been flattened to receive the bases of the sites and there are the three rather large screw holes above that flattened area, in back of the breech ring.
Seroga

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2017 8:51 a.m. PST

The French artillery schools of the ancien regime divided their formal instruction into two type: the ecole de pratique which consisted of military maneuvers, gunnery, and siege craft. The other was the ecole de theorie which included instruction in the science of fortification and sieges, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, planimetry, and mechanics. Stereotomy, which is the use of geometric drawings to plan constructions of both fortifications and artillery construction plans was taught by a full time drawing master.

The officer-students were tested every six months by the professor of mathematics in the presence of senior artillery officers. The expenses of the artillery schools during the ancient regime came to one-eighth of the artillery annual budget.

‘The artillery officer who knows his profession must not be ignorant of details, but he must know them, as an architect must know more than the stone mason,'

‘No subordinate, no matter what seniority he possesses, may be promoted without a demonstration of intelligence and his capacity to perform the functions required of the artillery.'-French Ordonnance of 1729.

‘Seniority must be reduced to next to nothing, favoritism abolished, and superior talents given every reward and these initiated before the age when the body begins to lose [its force] and the mind ceases to acquire [knowledge].-Gribeauval.

After 1756 students entering the artillery school at La Fere had to pass a stringent mathematics exam and to graduate the newly minted officers had to pass an exit exam of advanced mathematics.

After Gribeauval's final ascendency after Valliere fils' death and his new artillery system finally officially adopted without reservation, his impact on artillery and scientific education reform was pronounced. He insisted on a uniform education for the student officers and the curriculum was improved and expanded. Mathematics was still heavily emphasized and it was noted that French artillery officers needed ‘a singular aptitude for study.' One French artillery senior officer remarked that ‘We must regularize instruction [for officers] and render it uniform so that NCOs and soldiers do not execute a single movement that has not been foreseen and so that it is given in the prescribed form by their commanding officer.' While mathematics was necessary for the proper education of an artillery officer, it was not seen as an end in itself, but was ‘intended to train the judgment of young officers and orient their approach to practical problem solving. In short, artillery officers were not trained to be theorists or mathematicians, but combat officers in a branch of the army that had the capability to deal death in large doses.
Gribeauval divided the student officers into two groups-those less advanced in mathematics studied algebra and geometry; the advanced students infinitesimal calculas as well as rational mechanics, hydraulics, the principles of machines as well as physics and chemistry. Theorietical discussion was intermixed with practical problems.

Shortly thereafter, ballistic science became part of the artillery curriculum as well as applied mathematics and descriptive geometry. Technical drawing was directly applied to the production of gun tubes, gun carriages, and ancillary artillery vehicles. The plans that resulted were uniform in design and parameters and were sent to all of the arsenals and foundries which resulted in uniform construction of the tools of the artillery arm.

Finally, the artillery school curriculum included a year of ‘prescribed drawing' that were coordinated with mathematical theory. The students were ‘encouraged' to draw the various pieces of artillery equipment ‘with a great deal of exactitude and care, so that they are rendered in the most exact proportions.

This curriculum and practical training ‘highlighted the [artillery] corps status as expert managers of battlefield firepower and industrial production.' And as a footnote, Gribeauval and his subordinates formed a group of artillery inspectors, 177 veteran artillery officers, who were responsible for ensuring the standards of production were followed in the arsenals and foundries.

Gribeauval also instituted formal schooling for French artillery NCOs. Classes in mathematics and technical drawing were provided. And Ecole des Sergents met three times a week and as they progressed in mathematics they advanced to study practical geometry which made them fluent in the ability to teach the artillery plans to their subordinates.

They also studied simple machines and the measuring of distances with technical instruments. Some were also given instruction in the skill of neat penmanship, if necessary, in order that their written instructions and reports could be easily read.

Napoleon himself summed up the skills of the young artillery officer after completing the course of instruction in the French artillery schools:

‘If there is no one to make gunpowder for cannon, I can fabricate it; gun carriages I know how to construct. If it is necessary to cast cannon, I can cast them; if it is necessary to teach the details of drill, I can do that.'-Napoleon.

It should also be noted that the professors in mathematics in the French artillery schools were some of the best in Europe at the time and included Belidor, Camus, Bezout, Laplace, as well as respected artillery officers such as Du Puget and Lombard.

The comments on Russian artillery officers' education, and Russian officers' education in general by Wilson, Langeron, and being noted by such historians as Duffy in his work on the Russian army are all noteworthy and leave the definite impression that Russian artillery education for officers was both lacking and the training that was given was substandard compared to that of the French artillery arm.

Alexander Mikaberidze makes the definitive comment in his book, The Russian Officer Corps in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792-1815, that ‘Despite the increasing number of cadet corps and other institutions, the quality of the graduates remained poor. The curriculum emphasized general subjects that broadened students'horizons and made them fit for civil service…The quality of the instructors was also low. Many officers could barely read and write when they entered the army. Military subjects were taught briefly and erratically…'

In Tactics of the Russian Army in the Napoleonic Wars, Alexander Zhmodikov and Yurii Zhmodikov make the comment that:

‘As has been said, in 1800-1806, there was no military educational establishment in Russia that provided any special artillery education, except for a class at the Guard Artillery. In 1806 a training company was organized for the rank and file (210 men) in the Guard Artillery and, in 1811, an officer class (48 men) was added to it. In 1812 another artillery training company of the same strength was organized.'-63.

So, effectively, artillery training in the Cadet Corps was abolished for at least 6 years. Russian artillery did not do too well from 1805-1807, but they did learn from the French in that most difficult of schools, the battlefield. While three large Russian artillery batteries destroyed Augereau's VII Corps at Eylau in February 1807, that was the exception and not the rule for the Russian artillery.
As for horse teams, the French used four-horse gun teams for the 4-, 6-, and 8-pounders and six for the 12-pounders. Six horse teams were also used for horse artillery units and four for howitzers unless they were part of a horse artillery company.

So, the Russians did not have smaller gun teams to pull their artillery.

The idea that the wooden axel was superior over the iron axel is incorrect. And if the iron axel had trouble in cold weather, the French always carried spares for their gun carriages and other vehicles. Wooden axles needed tar on them for the wheels to rotate freely, but this material hardened from use, which increased the friction and decreased mobility, and tar would freeze in the winter. The iron axel was greased with suet which didn't harden.
And I have seen nothing to indicate that the Russian artillery, even their ‘new' system of 1805 was superior to the Gribeauval Sytem. The idea that was proven because of the losses in Russia makes absolutely no sense-the losses were caused largely by the weather and the horse teams wearing out at the end of the retreat, not by any action of the Russian artillery. In the only artillery battle of the campaign, Borodino, the French and allied artillery clearly outfought, out shot, and generally outperformed the Russian artillery. In point of fact, it dominated the field.

The use of the screw quoin with the Russian system of 1805 was the use of 1740s technology and the elevation screw was clearly superior and easier to use. Further, the Russian gun carriage designs were coped from the older designs of the Austrian and Prussian systems, while the Gribeauval gun carriages were of a new and more scientific design. The trails of the gun carriages were constructed with a definite ‘crook' in them so that the recoil of the piece would not only go backwards, but also into the ground in order to lessen the recoil as well as the stress on the gun carriage.

The Russian sights for the period had some problems. Once again from the Zhodikovs' excellent books on Russian tactics:

‘The aiming devices used in Russian artillery in 1805-1807 had significant disadvantages. Markevich's diopter produced significant errors when an artillery piece was placed on uneven ground, because the system could not take into account the angle between the axis of the trunnions and the horizon [trunnions had initially to be level with the ground for accurate fire]. The quadrant used to [point the piece] at a range beyond the effective range of the diopter was difficult to use: an artilleryman had to keep the quadrant inserted into the barrel during the aiming procedure. Markevish proposed a new quadrant, which had to be set up on a flat, horizontal surface, parallel to the axis of the barrel (starting from 1808, artillery pieces were produced with a platform at the cascable knob). In 1809 [Lieutenant Colonel] Kabanov proposed proposed a new [sight], which was hung on a pin inserted into a special bracket screwed on the top of the breech. The [sight] had a weight at the lower end, so it was always in a vertical position, irrespective of the angle between the axis of the trunnions and the horizon. Kabanov's [sight] had two disadvantages: it was difficult to use in a strong wind, and it had be to removed before each shot and to be set up again after the shot. It was adopted in 1811, but not all artillery companies were supplied with it in 1812-1814.-57.
Once again, the French elevating sight was simpler and much more effective. It was also easy to use. There is a useful publication by SS Smirnoff, Arakcheev's Artillery, which has drawings of the Russian optics.

Taking a look at the Tables of Construction, of which there were only 104 copies produced (first produced in 1767, but not published until 1792, three years after Gribeauval's death) the insistence on uniform construction so that parts could be readily interchanged in an achievement that was unique at the time. All of the arsenals received copies of the drawings when they were produced and followed the production standards to the letter.

I have four Gribeauval technical drawings in my collection, that have been torn out of some publication. I seriously doubt that they are from the Tables of Construction, but they could be from Diderot's Encyclopia, though I cannot prove it. They are larger spreads, two normal pages, and are excellent examples of the detailed technical drawing of the period, and the skill that was required to draw them.
In summary, the Russian artillery arm is probably the most improved of the period, technically speaking. But for tactics, employment, command and control as well as gunnery, they still lagged behind the French.

There is a 1/8 scale model of a ca 1850 Russian artillery piece in the Musee de l'Armee at the Invalides. It was given as a present to the French. The limber is quite modern, but the piece still has a bracket trail and the screw quoin as an elevating mechanism, so they are still technically behind the French and British artillery arms, as well as that of the United States.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2017 11:49 a.m. PST

Just as a minor point-French artillery train officers were not artillery officers. Consequently, they didn't attend an artillery school.

And while the Russian army did not have a separate artillery train organization until after the wars were over, they did have train personnel who were part of the artillery batteries they hauled.

There is a definite difference between artillery train personnel and artillery personnel.

The British artillery did have a separate artillery train organization. Those that were assigned to the foot artillery brigades were not integral to the brigades themselves and their officers were not highly thought of (see the Dickson Manuscripts). However, those assigned to horse artillery troops were integral to those units and were therefore better trained and led.

In the Grande Armee artillery train companies assigned to artillery companies were usually assigned on a permanent basis. The officers commanding French artillery train companies were lieutenants, and so were subordinate to the artillery company commanders.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2017 1:39 p.m. PST

The advent of the French Revolution, along with nearly everything else, put the French military education system into turmoil. The Ecole Militaire, from which Napoleon had graduated, was closed in 1787. The excellent engineering school at Mezieres and the artillery schools were combined into one at Chalons-sur-Marne. When most of the military schools were closed by order of the Convention in 1793, the artillery school at Chalons remained, as did the Ecole de Mezieres, although the engineer school was later transferred to Metz. In 1795 both schools were combined and became the Ecole du genie et d'artillerie at Metz. All of the advanced artillery and engineering training was now conducted at Metz in the new, enlarged school. This took place in 1802 and in 1804 Napoleon formed the excellent Ecole Polytechnique which was to produce artillery and engineer officers. The best of those graduates went on to further their professional education at Metz.

Other specialized schools for infantry and cavalry officers were established by Napoleon as the needs arose and the artillery and engineer school at Metz was an excellent, well-served school that provided excellently trained engineer and artillery officers. The school also trained NCOs who wanted to become officers in the artillery and engineers.

The following might be useful. Napoleon was excellently educated as well as self-educated and his impact on French education, both civil and military, was immense.

This is from Notes on a Plan of Regulations for the Artillery and Engineer School, 27 June 1801:

‘The total length of the course at the school being fixed at two years, we must divide the course into four parts, each comprising six months of study. Students in the first class will learn:

1.The infantry maneuvers of the platoon and battalion.
2.The maneuvers of field and siege artillery as well as those of mortars and howitzers.
3.Mechanical maneuvers, the composition of explosives…
4.The principles of the attack of fortifications.
5.The entire portion of the aide-memoire pertaining to firing.
6.Everything necessary to the gunner and the engineer in the field.

Students will be led to the target range; they will lob bombs into the target barrel, fire blank cartridges, etc., and construct every kind of battery. They will continue their course of instruction.

In the third class students would pursue their studies in hydraulic architecture, civil and military. They would busy themselves with the most complicated part of construction and learn everything necessary to direct and superintend the construction of a fort.

They would take cognizance of the details of foundries, mines, etc.

The fourth class would be dedicated to perfecting the students in the different subjects that they have been studying. They would go over all of the details of arsenals, mines, galleries, etc.-in brief everything that would complete their instruction as engineers and gunners would belong to the curriculum of this class.

In general, in the establishment of a school for engineers and artillery one should consider the knowledge of the maneuvers of all the guns and the tactics of infantry as the principal object. When a student is admitted to the School of the Battalion, he would be forced to perform the manual of arms and the maneuvers of the battalion at least three times every ten days.

It is important for the maneuvers of artillery to keep in mind that nothing is more important than the art of firing. This portion of the military art is classified among the physio-mathematical sciences, yet its results are dubious; those of practice are certain. Students having completed one course in mechanics know nearly everything that they must understand and apply.

It is appropriate therefore to strive above everything else, and not as one of the foremost foundations of the instruction, to see that each student executes the manual of arms and all of the maneuvers of artillery better than a veteran soldier, that he is skilled in large practice and has perfect knowledge of the employment of artillery. No one can be considered a good student if, upon graduation, he cannot go immediately to a battery or a siege. It is proper that upon joining his unit he should instruct a class of recruits in the maneuvers of artillery and infantry and in the mechanical maneuvers. How often do you not see officers unable to place a gun carriage, direct a mechanical maneuver, fashion explosives, and forced to take lessons from old sergeants?

When a student can aim a gun better than the soldier, no one will question either his right to advancement or the other advantages of his education. Old sergeants will not be jealous of these young officers when they never have to teach them anything.'

-Correspondence VII, Number 5621, 183-185, ‘Notes sur un projet de reglement pour l'ecole d'artillerie et du genie.'

It is interesting that Napoleon emphasizes training in both artillery and infantry which alludes to the French practice in their artillery schools of stressing during instruction infantry/artillery cooperation.

John Miller12 Aug 2017 2:34 p.m. PST

Brechtel198: Thank you very much for posting your information, insights, and opinions. I find them both interesting and thought provoking, as usual. John Miller

Osage201712 Aug 2017 3:02 p.m. PST

I love this part:
"Seniority must be reduced to next to nothing,
favoritism abolished, and superior talents given every reward … " – Gribeauval

von Winterfeldt13 Aug 2017 4:33 a.m. PST

""Seniority must be reduced to next to nothing,
favoritism abolished, and superior talents given every reward … " – Gribeauval"

Reality was different expecially under Napoleon who put the most inept persons into positions of great responsibility – members of his family – back to favoritism and family connections.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 4:53 a.m. PST

That was nothing in comparison with the Hapsburgs who gave army commands to chuckleheaded archdukes, Charles excepted, who had no idea how to command.

And Francis discharged Charles with insult after 1809-a war that Charles had advised against.

Regarding Napoleon's promotion policies in the army, which is what Gribeauval was referring to (in this case the artillery which required both an excellent education and competence, both tactical and technical) overall they were both fair and competent as is seen by who actually was promoted and who was not.

It was Napoleon who established the non-artillery military schools and who improved and expanded the artillery and engineer schools.

Regarding his brothers, Louis was considered a good king by his Dutch subjects, Jerome was put in the position of King of Westphalia to teach him some responsibility and to grow up, which is not a bad motivation for doing what Napoleon did. Napoleon also gave Jerome competent subordinates, such as General Eble as Minister of War, to assist Jerome in maturing as a ruler.

As for Joseph, if he didn't have a position of some prestige and authority, he was capable of getting his hands dirty in various schemes that were not in the nation's or the Empires best interest. Further, he was Napoleon's elder brother.

The Romanoffs had the same problem. Alexander's baby brother Constantine, though promoted past his level of competence, did not demonstrate any great level of competence as a general and commander.

Frederick William was a dullard and the Spanish Royal family was degenerate and corrupt.

And then we have the Hanoverians…

The charge of favoritism against Napoleon does not hold much water either in the French diplomatic service and the ministries. There are scores of competent civil servants who did their duty, and did it well and loyally, and made the Empire work. And if you look at the general officers of the Empire, generally speaking the overwhelming number of them were good soldiers and competent commanders. There were exceptions where Napoleon made errors of judgment such as with Bernadotte, Marmont, and Oudinot, but there are exceptions to every rule.

Le Breton13 Aug 2017 7:01 a.m. PST

"Alexander Mikaberidze makes the definitive comment in his book …."
Quote Out of Context
The author is here writing about all officers, of all branches.
He goes on, "During the Napoleonic Wars, the artillery received the most qualified and educated officers. By 1812, 67.6% * of the artillery's officers were graduates of the cadet corps …. 52.1% …. came from the 2nd Cadet corps, where curriculum focused on technical subjects." (page xxix)
*another 7.5% had other higher education (foreign universities, Noble Regiment, Page Corps), per Krylov, cited above

==========

"Alexander Zhmodikov and Yurii Zhmodikov make the comment …. "there was no military educational establishment in Russia that provided any special artillery education, except for a class at the Guard Artillery"
Quote Out of Context
The authors are not talking about university-level higher education for officers They are talking about formal specialist in-service training for NCO's.

"So, effectively, artillery training in the Cadet Corps was abolished for at least 6 years."
Incorrect
See prior posts. The former "Артиллерийский и Инженерный Шляхетский кадетский корпус " was just *re-named* "2-й кадетский корпус". The key driver for the re-naming ws to reduce the social difference (even stigma) of an ethnic Russian noble studying a "trade" or "science" like artillery. Prior ot the name change, it was thought that the AIShKK was more or less a preserve of non-ethnic Russians as 35% of it graduates had been Baltic Germans or other "nationalities". This social status problem was what Wilson was writing about in 1807. It was a real problem for the Russian artillery, whihc received much attention in the years 1803-1808 – unlike the "fake news" that Mr. Brechtel is trying to peddle here.

==========

"the professors in mathematics in the French artillery schools were some of the best in Europe at the time a"
Not Unique to the French
Russian instructors at the cadet corps was just as distinguished in Russia and included Euler, Melissino, Vel'yashev-Volyntsev, and Arakcheyev.

==========

"the Russians did not have smaller gun teams to pull their artillery"
Strawman
This assertion was never made. The assertion was that the Russians' equipment was in general lighter. And this would ease the load on the horses.
Examples for the barrel+carriage+limber for foot artillery:
French Gribeauval 12-pounder : 705 French livres per horse
Russian standard 12-pounder : 565 French livres per horse
French Gribeauval 8-pounder : 803 French livres per horse
Russian short 12-pounder : 421 French livres per horse
Actually, if the Russian's had an advantage in the number of horses : it was for caissions. The French Gribeaval system used a caisson that was 4-wheeled – actually composed of a 2-wheeled limber the same as for a piece + a 2-wheeled towed section.

picture

The Russians used a simple cart and three horses. But these were smaller, and carried less per caisson. So the total horses needed to lift the same amount of munitions was essentially the same.

picture

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"The idea that the wooden axel was superior over the iron axel is incorrect"
Strawman
It was never argued that the wooden axles were superior. It was argued that iron axles were well-known to the Russians and no technological innovation or or clear advantage for the French. Actually the Russians, Austrians and Danish used wood. The French per Gribeauval, Saxons and Prussians used iron. The British and French An XI used a composite assembly of both materials.

From Dr. Summerfield's excellent article in the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal, we see that the French themselves also were of mixed minds on this topic, and Gribeauval's iron axles were rejected by Vallière (jeune) in 1772, for the following reasons:
"Particularly for the gun carriages, for they cost far more than wooden ones, especially with copper fittings, without which they quickly destroy the wheel hubs. They also require frequent replacement as a result of their construction, causing extreme difficulty in repairing them in camp. By comparison, wooden axles can be replaced by means of a tree found en route or by an axle from another carriage if circumstances are pressing. With iron axles it is impossible to use ‘false axles,' whereas one always retains this possibility with wooden ones. Finally, because they are significantly hampered by the increased recoil when the cannon has to be fired. To all these objections should also be added the fact that the friction of the stub axles is reduced, and that while this does facilitate manoeuvring on horizontal ground, there is a risk that the piece may be carried away by its heavy weight when descending, or even that the proposed method of controlling it may dislocate the wheels."

See : PDF link

"Wooden axles needed tar"
Russians used pig fat/grease …. which I imagine the lower ranks would have probably preferred to eat.

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"the elevation screw was clearly superior and easier to use"
Says Who?
The Russians thought it delicate, heavier and hard to field repair. The two elevating mechanism were used exactly the same way : one turned a crank.
The real benefit of the elevating screw was precision. But given all the variables effecting the fall of shot, the Russians thought it un-useful precision.

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"And I have seen nothing to indicate that the Russian artillery, even their ‘new' system of 1805 was superior to the Gribeauval Sytem. The idea that was proven because of the losses in Russia makes absolutely no sense-the losses were caused largely by the weather and the horse teams wearing out at the end of the retreat."
Strawman – and Logically Inconsistent ?
No one asserted that the Russian system was better – only that your personal opinion/assertion that the Gribeauval system was "head and shoulders above" was not well supported by comtemporary sources.
The weather and distances were the same for both sides. The Russians specifically designed there system to lighter and hence more mobile and moreeasily repaired in the field. They had essentially no losses of equipment in the campaign. the French, outside the Guard, lost virtually all their artillery due to "the weather and the horse teams wearing out". I do not think this is grounds for supporting your assertion that the Gribeauval system was "head and shoulders above" the Russian system – in fact it supports just the opposite conclusion.

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" the French elevating sight was simpler and much more effective."
Untrue
The Gribeuaval hausse sight worked on *exactly the same principal* as the Markevich sight (without the correcting quadrant) : it did not take into account uneven ground. The Gribeauval sight was further limited to 3 degrees of elevation (18 lignes d'hausse) and the Markevich worked to 30 degrees of elevation. So using the Gribeauval on slopes of more than 2 degrees was impossible. So you had to either construct a flat space to locate the gun, or shoot without using the sight.
The benefit of the Gribeuaval site was precision : each linge d'hause was 1/6th of a degree of elevation. The Markevich sight was graded to 1/2 degree. But given all the variables effecting the fall of shot, the Russians thought 1/2 degree was sufficient precision. In the rare cases where it mattered, one could switch to the higher precision Kabanov sight.

"The Gribeauval hausse, good for pieces on platforms, is a horrible instrument for field artillery; not only because, in most cases that are enountered in war, it gives the aimer a false line of sight and thus an elevation in discord with the data in the tables, but moreover because there does not really exist any practical means of correcting with sufficent approximation the inaccuracies of its readings. …. It is the Russian artillery that invented first the graduations on the sight made in such a manner as to account for the [uneven] elevation of the piece."
Essai sur les principles de la Hausse
Capitaine L. Delobel
Revue Militaire Belge – T. III
Liége, 1845
link
(my translation)

Images of the Gribeauval hause, the Markevich sight and the Karbanov sight

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"gun carriages were constructed with a definite ‘crook' in them so that the recoil of the piece would not only go backwards, but also into the ground"
Not How Physics Works

French and Russian axles were essentially the same height off the ground, and the length of the brackets essentially the same. The force of the recoil is not applied in thin air, part way along the bracket where there is a "crook". It is applied against the friction/resistance provided by the wheels and the trail on the ground. This "footprint" was the same for both French and Russian pieces. If anything, such a "crook" would be only a weak point where the bracket might break. It is absent in more modern designs such as the 1810 Saxon pieces and those of France in the 1830's.

Below are Gribeauval, Saxon 1810, Russian, French 1830 carriages :

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"French artillery train officers were not artillery officers. Consequently, they didn't attend an artillery school.And while the Russian army did not have a separate artillery train organization until after the wars were over"
Repetitive
The whole question was which nation had more higher educated artillery officers.
French officers involved in moving or firing artillery : 41% with univeristy-level education (État-militaire d'artillerie 1811)
Russian officers involved in moving or firing artillery : 75% with univeristy-level education (Mikaberidze, Krylov)
Also, the "train organization" formed after the war by the Russians had nothing to do with moving the artillery. It was not the same as the French train d'artillerie (never a separate function for the Russians). This later Russian "train organization" was for moving *supplies* – it would be like a dedicated artillery section of the French train d'équipages militaires.

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"In the Grande Armee artillery train companies assigned to artillery companies were usually assigned on a permanent basis."
Unsupported
Can you support this?
I just checked the 1ere & 2e compagnies du 1er bataillon principle du train d'artillerie and your assertion did not seem to apply to them.

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For John Milller : I will say what I said to Osage, don't thank Mr. Brechtel too much – much of what he posts is wrong or incomplete. He appears very biased, completely unfamiliar with non-French/English sources and over-reliant on modern secondary sources.

Le Breton13 Aug 2017 7:15 a.m. PST

"Regarding Napoleon's promotion policies in the army, which is what Gribeauval was referring to"
What?
Gribeauval died on 9 May 1789.
Napoléon was then a 19 year old subaltern, returned from almost 2 years of leaves at home on Corsica, to the régiment de La Fère artillerie in garrison at Auxonne.
Napoléon did not have any "promotion policies in the army" during Gribeuval's lifetime.
Actually, the quote about Seniority is from a marginal note scribbled on a report written 1762, before Napoleon was born, and found among Gribeauval's papers. I do not know if he ever in his life publically advocated for the end to preferment based on seniority and influence.

Le Breton13 Aug 2017 8:05 a.m. PST

Aleksandr Zhmodikov himself repsonded to Mr. Brechtel's quoting out of context in 2009. Aleksandr Leonidovich writes as "we" since was actually co-author of the work with his brother.

On page 62 of volume I it reads 'The military educational establishments in 1800-1808 did not provide any special artillery training.
We mean that in that period there were no military educational establishment in Russia, which was specifically aimed at the preparation of artillery officers. Any officer graduated from any cadet corps could choose to serve in the artillery. This does not mean that all artillery officers were not well educated.

On page 26, as a precursor to the above, it reads, 'What is surprising, Paul reorganized the Artillery and Engineer Cadet Corps into the Second Cadet Corps, which now gave no special artillery education; its program of education became similar to that of the Land Cadet Corps.'
Yes, in 1798 or 1799 Paul ordered to change the educational programme of the Artillery and Engineer Cadet Corps to the same pattern as in the Land Cadet Corps, but it doesn't mean that the officers graduated from any of these cadet corps were educated not well enough to serve as artillery officers.

also reads in the same paragraph that 'The artillerymen were mainly trained in their companies.' This says to me that formal artillery training was almost nonexistent during this period except for one class in the Russian Guard artillery and training was done in the companies.
Under the word "artillerymen" we here mean the NCOs and privates.

On page 2 of Volume I it reads that 'Langeron also wrote that most officers were not well educated and trained: there were three cadet corps preparing young men to be officers in the army, but the number of men in these establishments were limited, too small for the army, and the usual way for young nobles to become officers was to enlist in the army as NCOs and wait for commission.'
Langeron wrote this in 1796, when he was the commander of the Little Russia Grenadier Regiment. He had served in the Russian army since 1790 – six years. He had never served in the artillery. So he was not qualified enough to judge whether the Russian artillery officers were good or not. He obviously mean the Russian officers in general, not specifically the artillery officers. His words about the enlistment of young nobles to the army as NCOs and waiting for commission strongly suggest that he mean infantry and cavalry officers.

I am not trying to argue that the Russian artillery officers in Napoleonic period were as well educated and trained as the French artillery officers. But it seems to me that the Russian artillery officers were educated well enough to inflict significant casualties to Napoleon's troops and sometimes even to destroy his plans.

See : link

von Winterfeldt13 Aug 2017 9:58 a.m. PST

So Brechtel was pointed out about his out of context quotes already in 2009 and he still uses those out of context quotes in 2017 ? Well, that speaks for itself.

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