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"heavy howitzer of Old Guard (Waterloo)" Topic

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Osage201712 Aug 2017 3:08 p.m. PST

Hello Friends,

This time my questions are about the French heavy howitzers at Waterloo. The howitzer had 167 mm caliber and was based on the Prussian 10pdr howitzer.

How much larger was her crew comparing to the medium howitzer's crew ?

Was the number of ammo caissons for the heavy and medium howitzers was the same ?

Brechtel19812 Aug 2017 3:59 p.m. PST

What is your reference for it being a 'heavy howitzer'?

If it was a field piece, and at the time of Waterloo there were two field howitzers in use by the French: the 5.5-inch howitzer of the Systeme AN XI and a new 6-inch howitzer that was used by the Guard.

Neither was a 'heavy' howitzer.

The gun crews were undoubtedly the same for both and there were either three or five caissons assigned per howitzer, depending on the reference.

summerfield18 Aug 2017 5:29 a.m. PST

The difference in the caisson was the ammunition loadings for the 10-pdr Howitzers was about a third less than the 24-pdr howitzer shells.

Le Breton18 Aug 2017 6:34 a.m. PST

Brechtel's right – no field piece would be best termed "heavy". If you had written "heavier" [than the 24-livre], you could have eased by without a correction.

It seems that they started making a run these in 1810, to go with the Guard's 12-livre canons. Brechtel or Dr. Summerfield may tell more/better, but I assume that they were in use in Russia and 1813/1814. Hellish big "punch" for field artillery, with especially long range. Not small or light, but an interesting piece for reserve artilllery.

summerfield18 Aug 2017 6:48 a.m. PST

The Prussian 10-pdr howitzer copy was first cast in the 1795 and one example is in the Royal Armouries collection. The Gribeauval Howitzer was considered too short and only 80 had been cast by the mid 1790s. Most of these had been lost by the 1805.

von Winterfeldt18 Aug 2017 11:54 a.m. PST

"no field piece would be best termed "heavy".

Really, so my literatures saying heavy guns, heavy six pounder, heavy 12 pdr – are all nonesense??

Brechtel19818 Aug 2017 12:03 p.m. PST

Does your 'literature' designate them as field pieces?

Isn't that nomenclature designate them as such because there are two of that caliber?

The French artillery had both two pieces each after 1765 of 4-, 8-, and 12-pounders, and one of each was the older Valliere pieces, which were not field artillery, and the others were light, or field, artillery of the new Gribeauval System.

There were two types of land artillery in use during the period concerned. Heavy artillery was used for sieges, garrison artillery, and for coastal defense (the latter also used naval guns). Light artillery was field artillery of which there were three types-foot, horse, and mountain artillery. Field artillery pieces were no larger than 12-pounders.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP18 Aug 2017 12:19 p.m. PST

Forgive a totally ignorant input here. I know as much about French artillery calibres as you would about Cholesteatoma staging.

But could this all be a translation problem? You are all relying on primary sources in a language other than "English" and communicating with each other in what is not then your first tongue.

The English speaking nations (in order of importance, the Irish, The Loyal British North Americans (AKA Canadians), the Rebel Colonies, the UK) assume everyone will speak what is still called English. But for Wolfe's victory at Quebec, the lingua franca might still be other than "English".

Brechtel19818 Aug 2017 12:34 p.m. PST

The material is also in English, as in Tousard's 3-volume American Artillerist's Companion.

And that is available on Google Books.

From Volume II, page 1:

'Under the name of light artillery are comprehended field, horse, and mountain artillery; the guns with their ammunition and appendages; horses for drawing them; drivers for the care of the horses; and finally the regiments of foot and horse artillery, and battalions of the train. As the field artillery is entirely different from besieging pieces, it will not be altogether foreign to my subject, nor uninteresting to the reader, to introduce a short sketch of the improvements which have taken place in that important branch of the military art.'

Field and light artillery are used interchangeably from time to time.

Brechtel19818 Aug 2017 12:42 p.m. PST

But for Wolfe's victory at Quebec, the lingua franca might still be other than "English".

It still is in the Canadian province of Quebec…

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP18 Aug 2017 1:07 p.m. PST

The Occupied zone? (How my mother always called the six counties of Northern Ireland…and I am serious. Insane, but not to her generation)

C'est vrai. Vive Quebec Lib…summat…now what did he say? Silly chap. Let us all live together and speak "English" even with a West Coast accent.

Brechtel, forgive me, I did say I was speaking from total ignorance, but love to learn such things. The input from the experts is what makes this forum

Brechtel19818 Aug 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

I'll disagree on your last point from two aspects:

First, I believe that all of the posters here make this forum whether or not anyone agrees with them.

Second, I was once told by a superb military historian of the old school, with whom I was fortunate to have as a close friend, that in military history there were no experts-only those who try to keep learning.

Le Breton18 Aug 2017 4:51 p.m. PST

This is one of those "uselessly pedantic" precisions, but really Brechtel is right. I think that the idea of no "heavy" field pieces dates from the move to more mobile artillery for field forces in the early 18th century.

One may notice the idea in the nomenclature of the Russian artillery : the 12-pounders for field artilllery are called малой пропорции (small/short) and средней пропорции (middle/standard). The heavier field artillery, 12-pounders and 1/2-pud unicorns are called батарейные орудия (battery pieces) not "heavy", and the 6-pounders and 1/4-pud unicorns are called легкие орудия (light pieces). These are all in bronze. The unit nomenclature for the artillery companies track this nomenclature : battery, light (and horse).

The Russian artilley "system" of 1805

----- light -----

3-pounder bronze unicorn for mountain artillery
6-pounder bronze cöehorn mortar for mountain artillery

6-pounder bronze canon for light and horse field artillery
12-pounder short bronze canon for battery field artillery
12-pounder standard bronze canon for battery field artillery
[3-pounder bronze unicorn for field artillery – former regimental pieces for jäger]
1/4-pud bronze unicorn for horse field artillery
1/4-pud bronze unicorn for light field artillery
1/2-pud bronze unicorn for battery field artillery

----- heavy -----

18-pounder bronze canon for siege artillery
24-pounder bronze canon for siege artillery
1-pud bronze unicorn for siege artillery
2-pud bronze mortar for siege artillery
5-pud bronze mortar for siege artillery

12-pounder long iron canon for fortress artillery
18-pounder iron canon for fortress artillery
24-pounder iron canon for fortress artillery
1/2-pud iron unicorn for fortress artillery
1-pud iron unicorn for fortress artillery
2-pud iron mortar for fortress artillery
5-pud iron mortar for fortress artillery

24-pounder iron canon for naval artillery (frigates)
36-pounder iron canon for naval artillery (ships of the line)
24-pounder iron carronade for naval artillery (brigs, luggers, etc. and upper decks)
3-pud iron howitzer for naval artillery (bomb vessels)
5-pud iron mortar for naval artillery (bomb vessels)

30-pounder iron canon for coast defense
36-pounder iron canon for coast defense

von Winterfeldt18 Aug 2017 11:09 p.m. PST

the M 1744 Linger and M 1754 Dieskau 12 pdr were called légèr – the 12 "Brummer" heavy.

we heave heavy six pounders in contrast to light ones, e.g. Saxon army.

pedantic discussion yes indeed, I will used the terms the contemporarys used.

Le Breton19 Aug 2017 4:44 a.m. PST

This is really pedantic, but ….

The nomenclature for the "Brummer" may have been "an exception that proves the rule". But I hesitate to write more as I am moving out of the era and nations I have stidied most (and my German is not on the level of my French, English and Russian). It is quite possible that the Prussians did not follow the naming convention that seems to have been common to the French and Russians. And why should they, right ?

If the kronoskaf authors can be trusted (and they seem to be careful reaseachers), the story of the "Brummer" nomenclature traces to the war-expedient use of M1717/M1723 12-pounder siege artillery – with bore length of 24 calibres – in 1757-1759.
"The Brummer (Growler) was mainly used in battery and for siege. By the time of the Seven Years' War, this heavy 12-pdr was still part of the siege artillery. In November 1757, in preparation of Frederick's campaign to repulse the 1757 – Austrian invasion of Silesia|Austrian invasion of Silesia, 10 such pieces were mobilized to reinforce the artillery park of Frederick's depleted army. …. The nickname Brummer derives from the distinctive dead or growling sound when firing. They were employed with such great effect that they continued to be part of the Prussian field artillery in growing number. Initially in 1757, civilians, assembled from hired peasants were responsible for their draught. This practice continued through 1758. During the preparations for the 1759 campaign, Dieskau arranged for a regular military draught. From now on they were found under the name Brummer rather then ‘heavy' in distinction to the 1759 fielded ‘medium' and ‘light' 12-pdrs."

For the M1761 Brummer 12-pounder – bore length of 22 calibres : "This barrel was designed by Dieskau in 1761. According to Schöning (Historisch biographische Nachrichten zur Geschichte der Brandenburg–Preußischen Artillerie, vol. ii, Berlin 1844, pp. 206 ff.) 16 to 20 barrels were cast in 1761 and 1762. The piece was designed to replace the older M1717 Brummers after the Seven Years' War. It was fielded till around 1796 when it was eventually removed from the army's field inventory."

The authors go on to describe the occasional use as field artillery of even larger pieces desinged as fortress or siege weapons.

See : link

At 22-24 calibres bore length, these Prussian pieces were both quite "long" canon, whether or not they are correctly termed "heavy". They also appear to have been made in rather small numbers.

For comparison :
----- light -----
French Gribeauval 12-pounder for field artillery : bore length of 16.5 calibres *
French An XI 12-pounder for field artillery : bore length of 16.7 calibres
Russian short 12-pounder for field artillery : bore length of 12.2 calibres
Russian standard 12-pounder for field artillery : bore length of 15.8 calibres
----- heavy -----
French Gribeauval long 12-pounder for siege artillery : bore length of 23.2 calibres
French An XI long 12-pounder for siege artillery : bore length of 22.3 calibres
Russian long 12-pounder for siege artillery : bore length of 21.1 calibres
Russian iron 12-pounder for fortress artillery : bore length of 20.9 calibres
* 1.00 calibre = diameter of the bore

Brechtel19819 Aug 2017 6:39 a.m. PST

The Prussian artillery 'problem' began with Frederick the Great who didn't understand artillery in any appreciable form, and along with the Prussian engineer arm, their importance was minimized and the officers, who were largely middle class, were denigrated as mere technicians. This hurt the artillery arm immeasurably, and accounts for their poor performance in 1806 and the problems they had afterwards through 1815 even though there were improvements to the arm during the reform period (1807-1813) such as a new artillery regulation and a new 'system', though that system wasn't fully implemented until after the wars were over.

When Frederick came to the throne he had an excellent engineer arm, and it was the Prussian artillery that first instituted valuable reforms for field artillery in the 1740s. The Prussian artillery's performance shocked the Austrians in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) which prompted Prince Leichtenstein's much needed artillery reforms of the 1750s which in turn shocked the Prussians in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). The Prussian artillery never recovered until after 1815.

Le Breton19 Aug 2017 7:06 a.m. PST

I do not know about the Prussians. But for the Russians ….

There was certaily a social class/status issue effecting Russian artillery and engineers in the reign of Paul and the first years of Alexander's reign. There was also an ethnic/"national"("narodny") issue – as many of the "technical" officers were from Baltic states and other ethnic minorities : not "Russian" ethnically, and sometimes not Orthodox in religion.

Paul's "disinterest" in the technical services was a typical for him denial of Catherine's policy – he rather systematically tired to undo whatever Catherine had supported. But the reform movement that would be led by Arakcheyev, paradoxically, started in Paul's own personal demonstration corps at Gatchina in the early 1790's. The reforms first applied to the equipment, and less to the underlying social issues.

Starting in 1803, the Russian artilllery and engineers started substantially gaining in social status – higher pay, selection of recruits and officers, removing the artillery from attachment to infantry regiments and putting it under separate artillery brigades commanded by artillery generals (of which Russian had quite a few more than France by 1812), creating an autonomous directorate in the war ministry, and so on.

But Wilson could still, in 1807, feel the lingering effect of social inequality on the artillery officers.

The real "kicker" was in 1810-1811 – the ranks of artillery and engineer officers up to colonel were given the pay and nobilary rank one higher than infantry and cavalry. Parallel to this, the billet for commanding an artillery or engineering company was upgraded from captain to lieutenant colonel. Thus the technical company commanders held equal social and military rank to army colonels commanding regiments. And perhaps more importantly, the holders of company commands were now graded as hereditary nobles, when previously their captaincies conferred only life nobility.

The performance of the artillery and engineers (including the lines-of-communication engineers) in the years 1810-1815 cemented the view that these were elite arms of service in the Russian military – a view that remained consistent thereafter under the Empire, the Soviet Union and now the Russian Federation.

Brechtel has opined that the Russians were "most improved" of the years of Napoléon's reign. I do not know if this is apt – the Saxons may have done better with far smaller resources. But while the Russian equipment was of quite modern and functional design even in 1800, their social system (always an issue in Russia) lagged other nations in the treatment of technical services until later in the period …. but their reforms had become quite effective by 1812, perhaps to the surprise of their French opponents.

von Winterfeldt19 Aug 2017 8:04 a.m. PST

". From now on they were found under the name Brummer rather then ‘heavy' in distinction to the 1759 fielded ‘medium' and ‘light' 12-pdrs."

OK now we see even medium and light 12 pdrs – there Brechtel uses usually English secondary sources I cannot share any of his assements about any artillery topic of any nation.

For exsmple the Austrian artillery was excellent, why otherwise did the French include huge ammounts of Austrian artillery into their service??

Brechtel19819 Aug 2017 9:35 a.m. PST

If you're referring to Tousard as being an 'English secondary source' then you are wrong.

Do you not understand the difference between light (field) and heavy (siege) artillery?

Even the Prussians understood that, even though they didn't have an artillery school until 1791 and even then, they disbanded it in 1808.

Lastly, your disagreement on different aspects of artillery is incorrect. And in the long run that disagreement just doesn't matter.

Le Breton19 Aug 2017 10:19 a.m. PST

Whether or not he was a "secondary" source, one must say the de Tousard was a "contemporary" source. The question is, "contemporary to when?"

Anne-Louis de Tousard (1749-1817) emigrated to the USA in 1793. He returned to France to join the Santo Domingo expedition in 1802. By 1805 he was back in the USA. His Artillerist Companion published in 1809 was begun in 1795. It is as much a compilation than a new-authored work. The sources compiled for the most part date to 1775-1795, with more updated materials from Gassendi and Adye to just after 1800. So clearly de Tousard is a contemporary source for the Gribeauval artillery and the French artillery at the start of the revolution. His applicability to the French artillery of 1800-1815 is more debatable.

For an excellent (page by page) review of the compilation of the Artillerist's Companion, see :
"Louis de Tousard and his Artillerist's Companion : An Investigation of Source Material"
Donald E. Graves
Arms Collecting
Vol 21, No. 2 (May 1983), pages 51-60
PDF link

Brechtel19819 Aug 2017 12:02 p.m. PST

I've had a hard copy of the subject article for about 15 years.

Tousard is contemporary to the period and is a primary source.

And since the French still employed the Gribeuaval System with the Grande Armee through 1809 and in Spain until 1814, the data is applicable.

And it should be noted that the Systeme AN XI was never fully adopted for a number of reasons. It can be said to supplyment the Gribeauval System, but didn't replace it. And the Gribeauval System was fully reinstated by the Bourbons until replaced by the Valee System ca 1827-1829.

Le Breton19 Aug 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

Well, we cannot strictly say that de Tousard is a primary source for the extensive sections of his 1809 work which are copy/pasted from other authors. But, on the other hand, this just the nature of a compilation as opposed to a wholly new work, and should not undermine its value as long as we know where the copy/pastes come from. And thanks to Mr. Graves, we do know.

I am not sure if I can say that the AnXI supplemented the Gribeauval system (i) because the French thought the Gribeauval system was sufficient for their needs, or (ii) because by force of circumstance they were compelled to continue to use the Gribeauval system as they could not produce enough An XI pieces.

Does anyone know, for the field artillery :
--- when did the French cease to produce the Gribeauval pieces ?
--- when did the French begin to produce the An XI pieces ?
--- how many An XI 12-pounder barrels were cast in total ? and preferably by year?
--- how many An XI 6-pounder barrels were cast in total ? and preferably by year?
--- how many An XI 24-pounder howitzer barrels were cast in total ? and preferably by year?
--- did the French use An XI carriages with Gribeauval 12-pounder barrels, or other partial "upgrades" ?

Similarly, did the Bourbons use of the Gribeauval system result from (i) a preference for these designs evidenced by new production of them, or (ii) after the loss of many of the An XI pieces, they took Gribeauval pieces from storage to avoid the expense of new production ?

I think these elements of context would be useful in evaluating the Gribeauval system's rôle in the period 1800-1815 and thereafter.

Brechtel19820 Aug 2017 6:37 p.m. PST

From the linked article:

'The events of Tousard's life have secured him a lasting place in American military history but he also left an important printed monument entitled Americqn Artillerist's Companion, or Elements of Artillery which was published in 1809 and reprinted in 1969. [5] Tousard began this work in 1795 at the request of no less a person than George Washington who, lamenting "the absplute want of an elementary treatise on artillery," asked Tousard to compile such a treatise and to include in. it English translations of the best French authorities on artillery matters. t6l For fourteen years, Tousard worked on this project with three purposes in mind. He first wanted to demonstrate the necessity of formal instruction for those interested in a military career. Secondly, he wanted to demonstrate that, of all the branct es of service, the mastery of artillery required the most study. Finally, Tousard wanted to illustrate to the reader the Ldvantages of the Gribeauval system of artillery. [7] Tne finished work, consisting of two volumes of text totalling 1,197 pages and a volume of 67 plates, admirably accomplished all three purposes.'

Further, historian Rene Chartrand has stated that that Tousard's work is 'a most valuable account of the Gribeuaval System…'

The Systeme AN XI was designed, after a split vote for its adoption by the Artillery Committee, to replace the Gribeauval System, but only the new 6-pounder and the 5.5-inch howitzer were produced in any numbers. And it took awhile for the foundries to tool up for the new production, so the Gribeauval System remained in the field through 1809 in with the Grande Armee and with the French armies in Spain.

Having owned a copy of the two volumes of text of Tousard's work it is quite evident that it is a primary source for the Gribeauval System.

To evaluate the French artillery system in use through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, whether or not the Gribeauval or AN XI pieces were being employed is the success of the French artillery system.

In that context, it should be noted what an artillery system was composed of and actually was:

Howard Rosen has sagely stated:

‘Often obscured by the large number of changes it introduced, was the fact that the systeme Gribeauval was a genuine system, a thoroughly integrated blend of organizational principles, tactical ideas, and technology. Gribeauval conceived of the artillery as a system in which each part was designed in functional relation to the whole. Men and material were both viewed instrumentally, as elements of this system. From the details of equipment to its social organization, every aspect of the systeme Gribeauval was designed to achieve a specific purpose: to create an artillery force with sufficient mobility to participate in offensive field operations.'

‘The most important historical change which the systeme Gribeauval introduced cannot be found in any single detail, or in any one of the many shifts in underlying conceptions of artillery, war, technology or society. The most significant innovation one sees in the systeme Gribeauval was that it was indeed a system: a thorough synthesis of organization, technology, material, and tactics. Every aspect of the system, from the harnessing of the horses to the selection and organization of personnel, embodied a single functional concept. Utility was its principle, mobility was its goal. Every element of the systeme Gribeauval was designed to function in a particular way, in a particular circumstance. Men and technology were considered functional elements in a total system.'-Howard Rosen, The Systeme Gribeauval: A Study of Technological Development and Institutional Change in Eighteenth Century France.'

And that system that was developed by Gribeauval and his subordinates was continued with the proposed development and fielding of the Systeme AN XI, or those parts of it that were actually fielded.

From an Elementary Treatise on the Forms of Cannon & Various Systems of Artillery: Translated for the use of the Cadets of the US Military Academy from the French of Professor N Persy of Metz 1832:

'By virtue of a decree of the 12th Florial in the year XI, the system of Artillery was to be entirely changed. The new guns were 24's, 12's, and 6's long and short; 6's and 3's for mountain service. The lengths of the bore for the short 24's, 12's, and 6's were 16, 17, and 17; for the long 12's and 6's, 21 3/4 calibers; and 11 calibers for the 6's and 3's mountain service. The long 24 made a part of siege and garrison Artillery. The short 24, of 16 calibers, was only a modification of the other 24 of 12 calibers and then of 14, adopted a short time before.'

'The 12's and 6's destined for the field service, had 130 lbs of metal to every pound of the ball. The short 24 destined to follow in the train of Armies as moveable siege equipage, had but 120 lbs of metal to every pound of its ball. The long 12's and 6's belonged, with the long 24's to siege Artillery; 6's and 3's weighing 360 and 160 pounds, to mountain Artillery.'

'The 24 pdr Howitzer (5-7li.-2) being five calibers long replaced those of 6 and 8 in. and entered into the mountain artillery. Subsequently there was a 6 in. Howitzer of long range, admitted and called the Prussian Howitzer instead of the old one of the same caliber, which was found unfit for service.'

'The dimensions and proportions of the short 6 pdr and 24 pdr Howitzer were registered in a supplement to the tables of construction.'

'With a very few exceptions, all the innovations prescribed by the decree of the year XI, and those which came after it were abrogated, and the system of Gribeauval, exhibited in detail in the tables of construction, rigorously restored.'

Note the last paragraph.

Lastly, based on the posted definition of what a system was, the closest anyone came to that definition was the Austrian Liechtenstein System, which had the education system to support it.

The definition offered did not directly apply to the Russian System of 1805 which did not have the education system to support it as previously noted and shown.

Further, it should be noted that the only doctrinal publication that applied to anything artillery-wise above the battery level was DuTeil's Usage, which clearly demonstrated how the French artillery would be employed on campaign and in combat.

Le Breton20 Aug 2017 9:31 p.m. PST

"The definition offered did not directly apply to the Russian System of 1805 which did not have the education system to support it as previously noted and shown"

Please, don't.
You didn't show any such thing.

You adduced a quote from Langeron about the early 1790's and a quote from a foreign visitor, Wilson, who was not an artillery officer, had never seen the artillery instructional infrastructure, and was talking more than anythign about social "esteem". You quoted the Zhmodikovs out of context. You quoted statistics (incorrectly, actually) about all Russian officers education, and implied it applied to artillery officers. Then you piled on some non-Russian secondary sources and your own opinion.

In response, I posted the actual Russian training procedures and curriculum for officers and NCO's, Langeron's comments (very favorable) about the artillery serving under him in 1812-1814, and A. Zhmodikov's direct correction to you in his own words. I also added actual data (from Krylov, the standard work on the Cadets Corps and Mikaberidze) about the extent of Russian artillery officer training : fully 75% (including those with responsibility for what the French called "train d'artillerie) had higher education by 1812, compared to only 41% for the French (I actually counted them from the État-Militaire d'Artillerie 1811).

Why can't you please just stop repeating a statement which has been demonstrated several times over many years to be just plain wrong? It does not mean that the French did not have a "better" educational system for artillerists, only that the Russian's educational system existed and was not grossly inadequate.

Let us discuss in good faith, please. And not hold on to our previously conceived ideas. And let the actual sources (in full, in context, critically reviewed) guide us instead. Is that too much to ask, really ?

Le Breton20 Aug 2017 11:33 p.m. PST

the only doctrinal publication that applied to anything artillery-wise above the battery level was DuTeil's Usage

Can we go a little deeper into this assertion, please ?


Here are the 2 volumes of the "Aide-Mémoire ….", 4th edition of 1809. The next edition is well after 1815.
That is about 1700 pagesof technical details.
I just can't find "the only doctrinal publication that applied to anything artillery-wise above the battery level" in those pages.
Can someone please tell me which pages I need to look at?


I have some trouble with the word "doctrinal" applied to the era's military conceptions. Although of long standing use in the English language with regard to religious or legal doctrines, the earliest that I could find it used in the military context was in the US Army's "Command and General Staff School Military Review" of 1958. I this fear that the use of this word, and the concept that we have now of its meaning, may be an anachronism when considering the Napoleonic era. "Doctrinal" in this usage seems to be a product of the Cold War of the late 20th century. We might as easily try to measure the shell rounds fired at Waterloo in megatons of TNT.


The Russian method for communicating higher formation management and usage was not commentary in a privately published book. It was by imperial decree. The methodology used for imperial decrees typically split the topic into three pieces : material (amount/description of resources), structural (organization of resources), functional (use of resources). To the "doctrinal" topic at hand, the functional decrees are most relevant, but they meaningless in detaill without at least some understanding of structural decrees.

In some cases there was a degree of front-running : the relevant sub-unit(s) of the government might change function and (to a lesser extent) structure in advance of final decrees. This seems to have been the case with artillery under Arakcheyev.

I listed the latest main structural and functional decrees below, assuming that the material decrees are less relevant to the question of "doctrinal publication".
See : link

Structural regulations :

PSZRI 20.672 от 13.III.802
On Army Artillery Companies

PSZRI 22.545 от 1.VII.807
On Artillery Brigades

PSZRI 24.529 от 2.II.811
On the Life-Guard Artillery

PSZRI 26.121 от 21.V.812
On the Life-Guard Artillery [NCO] Schools

Functional regulations :

PSZRI 24.971 от 27.I.812
On the management of military administration
Ch.I, Gl.II – Organization and Function of the Artillery Department

PSZRI 24.975 от 27.I.812
On the management of large active military formations
Ch.IV, Gl.II – Field Artillery Operations
[One can also see the other side of the interface between related functions such as lines-of-communication engineering and supply in the other "Chasti"/"Parts".]

I know this is not how the French communicated "doctrinal publication". The Russian method was more like a military manual in the format of legislation, less of a discussion. I am sorry that it is differently formed, in three parts material/structural/functional, in a strange language and alphabet, and is not inclusive of lots of helpful prose. But it is "doctrinal publication that applied to anything artillery-wise above the battery level". And it is rather extensive and specific. Similar to the topic of military education, I do not propose to say that this Russian "doctrinal publication" was better than the French, merely that it existed and was not grossly inadequate.

Le Breton21 Aug 2017 12:05 a.m. PST

"but only the new 6-pounder and the 5.5-inch howitzer were produced in any numbers."

If you add the 12-pounders, that's about all there is – with the 6-pounder and the 5.5-inch howitzer being the pieces made in higher numbers. And the would that make the word "only" perhaps misplaced?

As to 12-pounders, they were not so many, of any design, and they were fired less often. Only 60 French 12-pounders made there way into the Kremlin arsenal collection, ou tof a total of 870 pieces captured from the French and their allies. Of these, they are about evenly split between Gribeauval and An XI.

To put it another way, out of 365 captured French pieces, only about 30 12-pounders and 25 4-pounders (from the canonniers-conscrits de la garde) were Gribeauval – so about 85% were An XI. I would suppose nearly 100% by Waterloo.

As far as I know, the first An XI piece made was a 12-pounder in Turin in 1803 – and I do not know of any Gribeauval 12-pounders made after that date.


"the innovations prescribed by the decree of the year XI, and those which came after it were abrogated, and the system of Gribeauval, exhibited in detail in the tables of construction, rigorously restored"

Was that not in 1827?
And did it not apply for only 2 years?
And was there any new production of the Gribeauval barrels in this period?

No one is denying how important de Tousard and Gribeauval were. But I think giving a fuller context can help us to understand of what that importance really consisted. Am I wrong?

4th Cuirassier21 Aug 2017 1:49 a.m. PST

the systeme Gribeauval was a genuine system, a thoroughly integrated blend of organizational principles, tactical ideas, and technology.

Or as I used to say when a management consultant (I'm better now), the three Ps: People, Process, and 'Puters (=technology).

As wargamers it's easy to forget the first two because the third, the technology, looks so damn cool on the table. But it is the combination really. British Napoleonic artillery was less effective than it should have been – despite having kit that everyone else eventually adopted – because it was not properly integrated doctrinally into field armies. Not enough of it, and it wasn't really used properly.

The Battle of Britain would still have been won even without Spitfires, because of the Dowding System and the Civilian Repair Organisation. 75mm Shermans were able to defeat superior German kit. And so on.

von Winterfeldt21 Aug 2017 2:07 a.m. PST

Toussard alone won't help us, but it is a convenient source for Brechtel, there it is in English, including some Translation Errors of those sources Brechtel claimed to have had read in the past – notably DeScheel, on the NSF Forum he was caught red handed of that – implying he had read de Scheel but cited in fact Toussard including Errors.

DuTeil, well I read it – tactical doctrine – nothing of great deatail – in fact nothing, in case Brechtel doesn't come up with a detailed Quote – conforming with Standards of history how to cite a source, we can burry this Argument as well.

Gribeauval – very important indeed, for the French – as was Liechtenstein for the Austrians – but the French gunners were clearly Aware that it did not any longer fullfill his requirement for their Needs.
Why otherwise the Investment in new material to replace

Brechtel19821 Aug 2017 4:10 a.m. PST

The main contribution Gribeauval did besides the System itself and finally give the French a field artillery system was that he institutionalized excellence-in design, production, quality control, production parameters, etc.

For Duteil, he put down for the first time artillery doctrine from which the French took direction in the field. French organization, tactics, command and control, a definite artillery chain of command, and artillery generals commanding artillery formations in the field all took form from Duteil's doctrinal publication and from the instruction in the excellent French artillery schools which emphasized infantry/artillery coordination in the field.

No other army's artillery arm of the period had those attributes, though some, such as the Russians tried and did not succeed in developing by 1815. The Russian use of artillery was defensive in nature and did not develop or allow the aggressive French tactics that won battles, such as at Friedland, Raab, Wagram, Lutzen, and Ligny.

Brechtel19821 Aug 2017 5:06 a.m. PST

As both Tousard and DeScheel were brought up, I have found Tousard to be more-than-helpful over the years since I bought a copy of the two volumes of text (the third volume of plates was sent to me by a friend). I refer to it frequently because it is both a valuable artillery manual of the period and it is in English. Not everyone can read French or other languages and its reference and use I believe can be helpful to others of the forums.

And it should be noted that DeScheel was one of the references that Tousard used, so some of the material will be the same. And DeScheel does note that Gribeauval had familiarity with both the Prussian and Austrian artillery arms, especially having served with the Austrian artillery in the Seven Years' War.

As Duteil is available in both French and English, it is readily available for any specific quotations needed.

Any reference to 'standards of history' if required of one poster, should be required of all, especially person(s) that refer to it.

Gribeauval's system was admired by many, if not all, of the French artillery arm and it should be noted that the vote in the Artillery Committee to replace it was a split vote-Generals Ruty and Gassendi voted against the new adoption, and the French horse artillery arm, an elite arm by the way, were loathe to give up their 8-pounders for the new 6-pounders.

Finally, the issue of 'weight' of field pieces is a non-issue. The 8- and 12-pounders of the Gribeauval field pieces were excellent weapons and were designed to be mobile and able to maneuver with the infantry. The French horse artillery arm had no problems pulling and serving the 8-pounder.

The mechanical advantages that Gribeauval designed into the field pieces, such as larger wheels and brass wheel housings for the new iron axel to reduce friction, offset any perceived 'weight problem.'

Le Breton21 Aug 2017 6:11 a.m. PST

"The Russian use of artillery was defensive in nature"
Do we now move the frame of reference?
Have we moved the discussion away from the assertion that "the only doctrinal publication that applied to anything artillery-wise above the battery level was DuTeil's Usage"? I would hope so, given that I provided just such publication for the Russian.

Do we now ask the question : In as much as both France and Russia had "artillery systems" and "doctrinal publication …. above the battery level", we may consider the French approach superior better because it was gave more emphasis to the offensive use of artillery, while the Russian system was more "defensive in nature"?


"For Duteil, he put down for the first time artillery doctrine from which the French took direction in the field. French organization, tactics, command and control, a definite artillery chain of command, and artillery generals commanding artillery formations in the field all took form from Duteil's doctrinal publication"
Perhaps you missed my prior question : which pages of the the "Aide Mémoire …." contain this?
I looked, and I did not find this. But the subject work is 1700 pages long and I may have missed it.
Please help us, Brechtel, to adopt your assertion as correct by telling where to find what you assert is there in the Du Teil.


"Gribeauval …. did not any longer fullfill his requirement for their Needs. Why otherwise the Investment in new material to replace"
Well, yes. This is a powerful argument, in my opinion.
But I am not unwilling to give our colleague Brechtel every opportunity to support his assertions.


"Not everyone can read French or other languages"
I can. Perhaps your misunderstandings about the Russian artillery stem from an inability to read such documents as the PSZRI ?
there is no shame in it. Some modern Russians would stumble over the archaic spelling, alphabet, vocabulary and syntax.


"Any reference to 'standards of history' if required of one poster, should be required of all"
If I fall short in this, please so let me know. I try to provide full documentation, and usually a link, to any work I cite. I also try to focus on contempoarary sources in the originallanguage of the author.


"the French horse artillery arm …. were loathe to give up their 8-pounders for the new 6-pounders"
Is there some contempoary source that indiccates that they were surveyed and expressed such an opinion as a group or by majority or some such?
I can imagine that some (one) horse artillerist had this opinion, but on what basis can we attribute this opinion to the whole arm of service?


"finally, the issue of 'weight' of field pieces is a non-issue."
The example that you give are with regard to tactical use of the pieces. Do you not think that in strategic terms the extra weight puts more burden on the logistical infrastructure : horses need more forage, horses die off easier, more and better roads/bridges are needed, etc. For example, the hill at Ponary near Vilna was essentally impassable to the French artillery in December 1812 – the artillerie de la garde and that of the IV corps (including the Italian royal guard) was essentially abandoned there. But the Russians came along shortly after and had to problems, even though the snow was by then deeper. Both required similar numbers of horses per piece, both had been on the move since late spring – but the Russian horses were in excellent condition, while the French teams were dying in their traces, with no replacements available. Is it not possible that the lighter Russian equipment had thus some advantage?

Le Breton21 Aug 2017 6:27 a.m. PST

It would appear that "doctrine" applied to the military did not exist in the French language of the era. So "doctrinal publication" is indeed an anachronism. Not that this implies we should not consider the question, but only that we should know we are to some extent applying a modern concept retroactively.

Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie française 1798
DOCTRINE Savoir, érudition. Grande doctrine. Profonde doctrine. Doctrine consommée. Cet homme a beaucoup de doctrine. Ce livre est plein de doctrine.
Il se prend aussi pour Maximes, sentimens, enseignemens. Bonne, saine doctrine. Doctrine orthodoxe, fausse, dangereuse. Il enseigne une bonne doctrine. Cela est conforme à la doctrine de l'Évangile. La doctrine de Platon. La doctrine d'Aristote. La doctrine de Saint Augustin, de Saint Thomas, etc.

Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie française 1835
DOCTRINE Savoir, érudition. Grande doctrine. Profonde doctrine. Doctrine consommée. Cet homme a beaucoup de doctrine. Ce livre est plein de doctrine. Il signifie plus ordinairement, Ce que l'on croit ou qu'on enseigne, les maximes, les opinions qu'on professe ou qu'on adopte sur quelque matière. On le dit surtout en matière de Religion et de Philosophie. Doctrine orthodoxe, fausse, dangereuse. Il enseigne, il professe une bonne, une saine doctrine. Doctrine religieuse. Doctrine théologique. Doctrine philosophique. Des doctrines impies. Comparer des doctrines. Cela est conforme à la doctrine de l'Évangile. La doctrine de Platon. La doctrine d'Aristote. La doctrine de saint Augustin, de saint Thomas, etc. La doctrine du concile de Trente. La doctrine de Luther. Un point de doctrine. La doctrine de l'immortalité de l'âme. La doctrine de la métempsycose. La doctrine de l'intérêt personnel. Doctrine chrétienne. Nom de deux congrégations religieuses, instituées, l'une en France et l'autre en Italie, pour enseigner la doctrine chrétienne et catéchiser les peuples. Congrégation de la Doctrine chrétienne. Les prêtres, les pères de la Doctrine chrétienne.

von Winterfeldt21 Aug 2017 8:33 a.m. PST

""finally, the issue of 'weight' of field pieces is a non-issue."

Says – who???

Weight of field pieces was of course an issue, why then got guns lighter and more mobil in the 18th century??

Weight is a big issue – also for other pieces of equipment

summerfield21 Aug 2017 9:19 a.m. PST

Dear All
The improvements in gunpowder permitted the use of shorter guns. Hence lightening

1732 – 20-24 calibres were required in the Valiere System (200-240:1)
1765 – 18 Calibres of the Gribeauval System (180:1)
1790 – 15 Calibres for the British Blomfield Sytem (105:1)

The improvement in gun powder also reduced the shot to powder ration.

1732 – 2:1 Valiere
1765 – 3:1 Gribeauval
1790 – 4:1 Blomfield and the AnXI system.

This has numerous effects. Improved burn, less heat, less remenants, smaller chambers, reducing breech thickness. Combined with a changed from cast bore to solid cast guns.

These are findamental to design. The heavier the gun, the less recoil, more robust etc… BUT you cannot more a 12-pdr Bummer (320:1) which was a fortress piece. Superb piece for static battlefield domination for Frederick. Not designed for the role but used out of necesity as Frederick the Great had nothing else.

Another area to look at for comparison is the fall of shot distances at zero elevation.

von Winterfeldt21 Aug 2017 1:36 p.m. PST

the an 9 system was not just of modified Gribeauval, it was a new system to improve grave shortcomings of the Gribeauval system, such as the ammunition waggon, in fact all waggons and guns of the Gribeauval system should be re-placed, in Paris in the archives there exist specific plans, blue prints for this new system – which couldn't be realized due to lack of money and constant warfare in France (what a contrast to Russia, who did just such a thing)
Also see the System Artillerie de Campagne du Lieutenant – Général Allix, Paris 1827 where the author discusses several artillery systems in great detail.

DuTeil provides nothing than a general ramble and there was of course much more detailed suggestions which of course you won't find in Toussard nor Elting.

Dr. Summerfield and Paul Dawson are the experts in that field of French artillery and could just tell much much more and indeed I am greatefull for both of them – that they generously answered some of my questions and shared their fruits of research, like the above mentioned detailed plans.

Brechtel19821 Aug 2017 5:59 p.m. PST

The following are the chapters and subjects of chapters in De l'Usage de l'Artillerie Nouvelle dans la Guerre de Campagne by Jean Duteil:


Introduction: Changes Made in Field Artillery/The Constitution of the Field Artillery.

Chapter I: The Composition of the field artillery/Dimensions of the guns/The facility that results from manually maneuvering the guns.

Chapter II: Changes relative to the operation of the field artillery.

Chapter III: Changes which have been made to munitions of the field artillery, relative to the powder, the shot, and the cartridges.

Chapter IV: On the placement and execution of the artillery-General Principles.

Chapter V: Dispositions of the artillery in the attack and defense of fortifications.

Chapter VI: Combats for fortified posts.

Chapter VII: The passage of rivers, relative to the artillery.

Chapter VIII: Descents or debarkations relative to the artillery.

Chapter IX: Mountain warfare, relative to the artillery.

Chapter X: The Science of movements, or the tactics of artillery.

Chapter XI: The relationship of the reconnaissance of terrain and the estimation of distances in the execution of artillery.

Chapter XII: The attack and defense of towns, relative to the field artillery.

This is a thorough doctrinal publication for the French artillery published in 1778. Reading the document in full clearly delineates how the French artillery arm would operate in various circumstances. This publication covers operations above the battery/company level and while the artillery arms of the other nations had doctrinal publications, none had them for above the battery level.

Brechtel19821 Aug 2017 6:05 p.m. PST

I don't believe that any artillery 'expert' would make the myriad errors that are made in the Dawson/Summerfield volume, especially regarding ammunition performance, horse artillery subjects, command and control, nomenclature of artillery systems, as well as various errors on who commanded French corps d'armee at various periods and the participation of units in actions where they were not present.

von Winterfeldt21 Aug 2017 11:14 p.m. PST

Paul Dawson wrote a series of excellent essays, to be found on – which clearly show that the discussion then as today was of political reasoning – notably Gassendi was against any change – in contrast to Napoléon himself.
All accusations against the an 11 crumble into dust when examined.
So deadhead in case you are looking for very good discussion read those articles as well as the Smooth Bore Journel edited by Dr. Summerfield

Brechtel19822 Aug 2017 3:55 a.m. PST

The comment on the Systeme AN XI might be accurate, except for the comment on the system by Professor N Persy from Metz, which sums up the system quite succinctly:

'With very few exceptions, all the innovations prescribed by the decree of the year and those which came after it were abrogated, and the system of Gribeauval, exhibited in detail in the tables of construction, rigorously restored.'

The bottom line is that the Systeme AN XI was never fully implemented, and, at best, supplemented the Gribeauval System rather than replaced it.

Persy's comment on the Gribeauval System:

'Such was the state of things, when M Gribeauval, surveying with the eye of a man of genius, all the branches of the Artillery, undertook to remodel the system; fulfilling the conditions of lightness, solidity, uniformity, and simplicity. The first condition, that of lightness, which was the main object, especially in relation to field artillery, required that the limit should be fixed at effects really indispensable…'

Jean Duteil reinforced this idea, stating that 'It is in consequence of this reduction in weight that Gribeauval found it necessary to make similar changes in the French artillery; but this was done with such intelligence that it now exceeds the models that one finds in Germany.'

Le Breton22 Aug 2017 6:10 a.m. PST

"[I]t should be noted that the only [sic] doctrinal publication that applied to anything artillery-wise above the battery level was DuTeil's Usage, which clearly demonstrated how the French artillery would be employed on campaign and in combat."

You didn't mean the work published in the middle of the 1er Empire, but some other work published almost three decades before Austerlitz?
Let's double-check, please. Do we have the right work now?

De l'usage de l'artillerie nouvelle dans la guerre de campagne, connaissance nécessaire aux officiers destinés à commander toutes les armes
[major d'artillerie Jean,] le chevalier du Teil [de Beaumont (1738-1820)]
Metz : Libraire [Pierre] Marchal, 1778
In-8°, VI-130 pages et planches
the book is here : link
bio of the author is here : link

The author's education and experience prior to writing the work :
--- age 9 : gentleman surnumaire (overcomplement), then cadet, then sous-lieutenant de canonniers (all before age 10)
--- age 18 : lieutenant en 2e de bombardiers
--- age 23 : lieutenant en 1er de canonniers, then lieutenant en 1er sous-aide-major
--- age 27 : lieutenant en 1er aide-major, régiment de Grenoble artillerie
--- age 30 : capitaine de sapeurs, régiment de Strasbourg artillerie
--- age 33 : capitaine de bombardiers
--- age 34 : chevalier de l'Ordre Royal de Saint-Louis for 25 years service [sic]
--- age 38 : major d'artillerie, régiment de Toul artillerie, then lieutenant-colonel

But his older brother, Jean-Pierre, le baron du Teil de Beaumontwas (1722-1794) a menotr to the young Napoléon.

He appears to have had no combat experience and no higher (university-level) education. It is not clear if his so-called service from age 9 to age 18 was real, purely educational, or utterly nominal. In my opiion, his book is an argument in favor of adoption of the Gribeauval system, and is "doctrinal publication" only incidentally or accidentally. And I can't find anything at all about larger formations of artillery than a battery or compagnie.

So, two questions remain :
1. Which pages have the parts about the employment of artillery above the battery level?
2. How do we know that this book was ever accepted by the French military as official "doctrine", not just the author's personal opnion? If it is supposed to be a "doctrinal publication", then the serivce employing the doctrine must issues orders to adopt it. When and how was that accomplished?


"Jean Duteil reinforced this idea, stating that 'It is in consequence of this reduction in weight that Gribeauval found it necessary to make similar changes in the French artillery; but this was done with such intelligence that it now exceeds the models that one finds in Germany.'"
But this was written in the mid 1770's !
Did Prussians make any changes in the models that they used from 1775 to 1815? If they did, then Du Teil's comment is irrelevant.


"With very few exceptions, all the innovations prescribed by the decree of the year and those which came after it were abrogated, and the system of Gribeauval, exhibited in detail in the tables of construction, rigorously restored."
That was in 1827, right?
And it applied for only 2 years, right?
And there no new production of the Gribeauval barrels in this period, right ?
So how is this relevant?


"The bottom line is that the Systeme AN XI was never fully implemented, and, at best, supplemented the Gribeauval System rather than replaced it."

That's not exactly "false", but it is misleading, and not a "bottom line". Counting the major guns and howitzers used in the field artillery (not regimental guns, not siege or fortress weapons, etc.), based on the listing of captures kept by the Russians as trohies in 1812, then over 90% of the French artillery was of the An Xi system. That is an aweful lot of "supplanting". Maybe you think that we need to get to 100% to have "replacing" – but the fact remains that Gribeauval pieces were being pulled out of service as fast as the An Xi pieces could be made. And I know of none, zero, nada, zilch new construction of the Gribeuaval designs after the An XI designs were approved. If thatdoes not count as "replacing", it is very very very close.

Brechtel19822 Aug 2017 6:25 a.m. PST

As the issue of gun carriage and field piece weight has once again come up, and taken out of context, the following might be helpful.

The new Gribeauval gun carriages for the 'three calibers' (4-, 8-, and 12-pounders) were fitted with iron axels instead of wood, larger artillery wheels, and the wheel housings, or naves, were fitted with brass in order that the friction was significantly reduced between the axle and the wheels which made movement both smoother and easier.

This is simple physics.

Therefore, any increased weight added to the gun carriages was negated by the mechanical advantage given to the movement of the gun carriage over gun carriages of the other armies' artillery arms.

Wooden axels were greased with tar, which hardened after a time and increased resistance and friction, especially in colder weather. The iron axels in their brass housings were lubricated with suet which did not have the adverse affects on mobility that tar did.

Considering the mobility and maneuver capability of the new field pieces, Gribeauval believed that even if 'the range of the new guns was less than that of the old, one could only claim that this advantage had been sacrificed for that of mobility, the most important [consideration] of all in battle.' (Jean Vaquette de Gribeauval, Idee generale sur l'artillerie, 1774, Depot de l'Artillerie).

From The Systeme Gribeauval by Howard Rosen:

'The Gribeauval System 'was designed in anticipation of a mobile and decisive war…Gribeauval and his supporters were convinced that the next war would be so different from past wars that old tactical ideas and artillery techniques would no longer be adequate.'

Further Rosen reinforces the idea that the new gun carriages 'in the Systeme Gribeauval were designed to be lighter, more durable, and easier to repair.

In short, because of design and mechanical improvements, the new Gribeauval gun carriages were both designed for a war of maneuver and were easily moved, by either horse or man-team, if not easier, that the gun carriages of the other armies' artillery arms. Four-horse teams would pull the 4-, 8-pounders and the howitzer, and six-horse teams would pull the 12-pounders.

von Winterfeldt22 Aug 2017 6:28 a.m. PST

"but this was done with such intelligence that it now exceeds the models that one finds in Germany.'"

DuTeil may have a glimpse about French artillery but about German artillery, I am surpised that Brechtel uses this word, or even DuTeil there according to Brechtel Germany did not exist.

Anyway, looking at the Austrian Liechtenstein system – I see no inferiority to that one of Gribeauval.

the bottom line is that the an 11 should have replaced the outdated Gribeauval system but due to political infights in the French artillery (the better for France's enemies) it did not fully.

In those days a system did not bang up replace another one, the change was graduall and over the years, the main French field guns in Central Europe were an 11 after 1809.

To add it is not my fault if Brechtel ignores to take on board all the fine articles of Dawson, Summerfield and others on the webside. I recommend all intrested to do so to gather unbiased and well re-searched essays.

Brechtel19822 Aug 2017 6:51 a.m. PST

What Duteil was referring to was the Prussian and Austrian artillery that Gribeauval was very familiar with. And you can read that in DeScheel.

If you take a close look at the Leichtenstein system, the gun tubes were not as robust as those of the Gribeauval System, meaning that they didn't last as long. Every gun tube has a service life based on the amount of rounds fired through it, and that is also true of artillery today.

The windage allowed in the Liechtenstein System was not uniform through the calibers as it was in the Gribeauval field pieces, nor were the tolerances as small.

The original Leichtenstein gun tubes were cast in the old way, around a core that was then bored out. The Gribeauval gun tubes were cast solid and then uniformly bored out with Jean Maritz's new technique with a horizontal boring machine.

The tolerances of every piece of equipment designed and manufactured with very little tolerance in their manufacture, in opposition to every other artillery system in Europe.

And those are not the only advantages of the Gribeauval System over the Leichtenstein System.

And it should be noted that the Liechtenstein System was ca 1753-12 years older than Gribeauval's designs and system. If the Gribeauval System was outdated, what do you believe the Leichtenstein System was?

The time it takes to 'tool up' for a new system has already been noted. It was also noted that the Gribeauval field pieces were still employed in 1809. It should also be noted that the artillery of the French Young Guard was still using the Gribeauval 4-pounder as late as 1811.

General Ruty, who had opposed the adoption of the Systeme AN XI on the Artillery Committee, wrote the following in December 1814:

‘The 8-caliber has, in all respects, an undeniable advantage of the 6-caliber. The use of the former, in preference to the latter, could not be put in doubt if we disregarded all economic considerations in the use of the resources. If, on the other hand, we proposed to coordinate with these last considerations, rather that with the first ones, the determination of the field calibers, the advocates of the old system would appose [sic] to the 6-caliber, the 4-caliber which, for the economy of the resources, obtains more advantages in relation to the 8-caliber. Yet, if the question was considered from only one of these points of view, it would be discussed in an incomplete and wrong way. In order to grasp the real point of view of the question, we must determine, in a more precise manner, the various purposes the cannon can serve in field warfare and then, examine if, for a definite sum or resources, the combination of the 8- and 4-calibers serves better these purposes than the intermediate 6-caliber.'

‘If the reasoning itself did not suffice to establish the advantages of the 8-caliber or the 6-caliber in the formation of the batteries…it would rely on the memories of the past to convey its undeniable advantages…Twenty years of brilliant success had sacrificed it. Nobody can feel more inclined than the artillery officer to grant the personnel a share of merit it has to claim in these successes; yet it is for the same officer to judge to what extent the nature of the weapon has played a part in obtaining these successes. It seems impossible to deny that the material and positive superiority of a caliber more significant than the usually weaker caliber, had a lot to do with the superiority of our horse artillery batteries generally accepted at the time of the war currently being discussed. This opinion was so widespread that the gunners brought themselves reluctantly to renounce a weapon that so many reasons of pride and trust made it precious to them. They seized with eagerness the opportunity to take it back, wherever the 8-caliber was still accepted in the composition of field companies, in competition with the 6-caliber, which has been introduced in our armies only successively.'

I haven't ignored what has been written by other authors as well as historians. I always take the time to read what has been written on the artillery of the period 1740-1829 and beyond. And it should be noted that all authors unfortunately make errors.

However, I have found it better to do my own research in credible primary and secondary material that to rely on authors that have made too many errors in fact over the years.

Le Breton22 Aug 2017 7:14 a.m. PST

In terms of higher level artillery formations ….

In 1806-1807, the Russians formed permanet artillery brigades, grouping several companies (which included within their establishment what the French would term as separate train d'artillerie and ouvriers d'artillerie) and assigning them with division-level formations of infantry.

By 1811-1812, the Russians futher had :
--- 27 Field Artillery brigades, one per each infantry division, each with 1 battery company and 2 light (foot) companies
--- 10 Reserve Artillery brigades, assigned at the corps and army levels and additionally inclusive of horse artillery and pontoon companies
--- 4 Artillery Depot Divisions, composed of Replacement Artillery brigades tasked with initial recruit training – and a major equipment depot, including reserve pontoon equipment – and a major repair/overhaul facility – at Pskov, Smolensk, Bryansk and Glukhov

In 1818-1819, the Russians formed the active field Brigades into Divisions
--- 10 Field Artillery Divisions – composed of 3 brigades and intergrated with the corps level of command (3 infantry divisions then making a standard corps) + enhanced logistics assets

(Plus Guards formations)

"[I]t should be noted that the only [sic] doctrinal publication that applied to anything artillery-wise above the battery level was DuTeil's Usage, which clearly demonstrated how the French artillery would be employed on campaign and in combat."

When did the French, who were the alleged benficiaries of du Teil's "doctrinal publication that applied …. artillery-wise above the battery level" in 1778 (not that I can find it there), actuallly create formations which went into the field and functioned above the battery level (realizing that a French compagnie d'artillerie did not even have its own organic transport or craftsmen). I know it was after 1815. But when?

Le Breton22 Aug 2017 7:14 a.m. PST

"iron axles ….. mechanical advantage given to the movement of the gun carriage over gun carriages of the other armies' artillery arms."
Every heavy cart or wagon used brass wheel housings. Wooden axles' ends were sheathed in brass.
There is no mechanical advantage to using iron, as the bearing surfaces are the same.
And if it were an advantage it is not unique to the French : Britain used a composite asssembly of wood+iron and Russia/Austria/Denmark used wood and Saxony/France/Prussia/Sweden had iron axles

"larger artillery wheels"
french wheels were not unique – wheels ranged in diameter very little – and the French had smaller wheels than most other nations.
12-pounder wheels carriages
Austria : 4.23 French feet
France : 4.17
Prussia : 4.51
Russia : 4.22
Saxony : 4.29
12-pounder wheels limbers
Austria : 2.92
France : 3.12
Prussia : 3.54
Russia : 3.75
Saxony : 3.34

"Wooden axels were greased with tar"
Not Russian ones. They used skimmed pig fat bought from each artel' (similar "ordinaire" for the French, but with a commercial side to it – the word derives from "cartel"). Tar is not a great lubricant – it is not liquid when not warmed (hence its use in macadam). Where did you get the idea that tar was used?
By the way, salted or smoked "suet" – lard, especially beef lard, is a Ukrianian (and to a lesser extent russian) food. It is OK with vodka, but disgusting without it.

"the mobility and maneuver capability of the new field pieces" "new gun carriages in the Systeme Gribeauval were designed to be lighter, more durable, and easier to repair."
Compared to prior designs, sure. But not compared to French An XI, and especially not compared to the Russian 1805 or Saxon 1810 designs. Let's be real here. Gribeauval's designs were super cool and innovative and great stuff when they were concieved. 50 or 60 years later, they were out-dated. That should come as no surprise.

"Four-horse teams would pull the 4-, 8-pounders and the howitzer, and six-horse teams would pull the 12-pounders."
For short distances, in good weather, with good feed or forage, for a few weeks' campaign ? Sure. Like around Paris in the spring, or maybe Germany in the summer. But for many months or possibly years campaigning deep into Russia (especially in winter) or Spain (especialy in summer) ? No, you end up with dead horses. The Russians (and the Saxons in 1812-1815, now that I think about it) did not have this problem, as they had lighter, more modern equipment.

Le Breton22 Aug 2017 8:44 a.m. PST

"French Young Guard was still using the Gribeauval 4-pounder as late as 1811."

Actually the first 3 compagnies were equipped with 6-pounders An XI, but exchanged them for 4-pounders for use in Spain, the 6-pounders were re-assinged. Upon leaving Spain, they kept the 4-pounders, as the intention was that they provide the artillerie régimentaire for the tirailleurs, voltiguers, flanquers and fusiliers de la garde. A fourth compagnie was raised in January 1812.
They were each equipped with 8 pieces. It was intended to field 2 pieces per regiment (1 per bataillon), plus some extras.
They had all 32 pieces as of 31 July 1812, but 2 of the compagnies were still in route from Spain.
In the end, the Russians made a clean sweep – all 32 pieces were in the Kremlin arsenal catalog of 1911 (8 Spanish pieces and 24 French-made, the most recent casting dated about 1793).
I have no indication that they ever fired a single shot "in anger".


"Liechtenstein System was ca 1753"
Did the Austrians use this system, unchanged, for 1800-1815 ?

von Winterfeldt22 Aug 2017 9:25 a.m. PST

"larger artillery wheels"

well you see how Brechtels opinions are just opinions they crumble into dust at le Breton's riposte.

"french wheels were not unique – wheels ranged in diameter very little – and the French had smaller wheels than most other nations.
12-pounder wheels carriages
Austria : 4.23 French feet
France : 4.17
Prussia : 4.51
Russia : 4.22
Saxony : 4.29
12-pounder wheels limbers
Austria : 2.92
France : 3.12
Prussia : 3.54
Russia : 3.75
Saxony : 3.34"

Acutally an 11 increased some of the artillery wheel diameters.

Brechtel fails to see the whole concept of the artillery, guns and waggones are an entity and a lot of French artillery officers complained immensely about the cumbersome ammunition waggons which could not keep up with the guns, see for example what Allix has to say on that.

So instead of the iron axles, the French officers whished to have a better and more mobile ammunition waggon.

From an article of Geert van Uythoven – providing the thoughts of a French artillery officer

Le trait caractéristique de ce système d'artillerie, est, principalement, de transporter séparément, dans des caissons, à la su ite de chaque bouche à feu, les munitions nécessaires à son approvisionnement. Sans son caisson la pièce est nulle et ne peut combattre ( car nous devons compter pour rien quelques coups renfermés dans les coffrets ) : de-là la nécessité de ne jamais s'en séparer et de le traîner partout à sa suite ; et sur un champ de bataille, le nombre de bouches à feu qui combattent entraîne immédiatement, sur le même terrain, au moins un égal nombre de caissons ; par conséquent une double ligne de voitures et de chevaux ; et celles-ci offrent par leur construction le plus d'embarras.

Toutes les artilleries étrangères, au contraire, étant organisées de manière à avoir, sur l'avant-train des bouches à feu, un coffret susceptible de recevoir un approvisionnement assez considérable pour pourvoir à un combat d'une certaine durée 3) ; les caissons de munitions nécessaires pour les compléter et les entretenir restent en réserve hors de portée, ne les gênent en rien dans leurs mouvements, et leur laissent ainsi toute la liberté de manœuvrer et de se porter où il est besoin. Une ligne de pièces seule combat ; tous les mouvements sont simples et faciles ; un moindre nombre d'hommes et de chevaux sont exposés, et les commandants de batteries, n'ayant à s'occuper que de leurs pièces, agissent avec bien plus de confiance et de sécurité. Bien entendu que cette disposition ne peut s'appliquer rigoureusement qu'aux canons de 6 ou de 8 ; l'avant-train des obusiers ou canons de 12 ne peut jamais contenir de munitions assez pour soutenir un feu de longue durée ; il faut nécessairement qu'il y ait à portée un caisson pour deux obusiers et un par pièce de 12.

Il en résulte que dans ces terribles combats d'artillerie dont les dernières guerres offrent souvent l'exemple, nous combattions avec un nombre à peu près double de voitures et de chevaux pour produire un feu égal ; et que dans les circonstances critiques et difficiles qu'offrent les batailles, soit pour y arriver ou en sortir, l'encombrement énorme de voitures a souvent accru nos dangers et nos pertes ; et il est à remarquer que, sous ce rapport même, nos caissons, si peu maniables, incapables de tourner, prêts à verser dans toutes les irrégularités de terrain, et qu'on ne peut relever sans des travaux qu'on n'a pas toujours le temps d'effectuer, offrent encore bien plus de difficultés que les pièces, et sont un sujet d'inquiétude pour les officiers d'artillerie.

Telle fut, en effet, la funeste issue de plusieurs batailles où l'on fit des pertes énormes d'artillerie 4), par exemple celle de Dennewitz et de la Katzbach ; cette dernière, surtout, s'étant livrée dans un terrain coupé de ravins et de défilés où les communications étaient très-difficiles, tout fut encombré de voitures ; l'artillerie ne put s'en tirer : on perdit cent cinq pièces de canon et plus de trois cents caissons ; au combat de Mockern, lors des journées de Leipzig, soixante-quatre ; à Dennewitz, soixante, etc.

4) A la première journée de Leipzig, du côté seulement du 6e corps, à Mockern, on perdit 64 pièces ; à Kulm, 90.

Concluons de-là que notre système de matériel n'est plus en rapport avec la manière actuelle d'employer l'artillerie ; qu'en général il entrave et retarde les manœuvres ; qu'il ne doit pas être conservé pour l'artillerie à cheval, et qu'il faut en adopter une autre analogue à celui des puissances étrangères, c'est-à-dire que chaque pièce ait un approvisionnement convenable sur son avant- train.

Source: Anonymous, "Observations sur les changemens qu'il paraîtrait utile d'apporter au matériel et au personnel de l'artillerie", in ‘Le Spectateur Militaire', Tome troisième (Paris 1827) pp. 129-159.

"French Young Guard was still using the Gribeauval 4-pounder as late as 1811."

Yes, so what? – le Breton puts it in context – and most guns in Central europe after 1809 were the system an 11 – or indeed again modified in 1807.
In case units were moved to Spain, for ammunition solutions 4 or 8 pounders were still employed.

And did the French realy fight with a pure Gribeauval system, certainly not – a lot of foreign guns were in corported regardless of iron axles, like in Soult's coprs in 1805 – 1807 – a great percentage was Austrian, Bernadottes 1er corps – had Hannoverian guns.

about light and heavy guns see here

"En 1805 pour l'utilisation de l'artillerie Du Canton De Vaud
Trois Catégories
1…Piece de bataille, les calibres de:
-de deux
-de quatre
-de six
2… Piece de douze campagne
-de douze
3…Pièce de siège ou de position, les calibres de:
-de quatre
-de six
-de douze
Et pourquoi s'appelait-il des pièces de bataille…parce que
Des pieces de bataille sorte de pieces de campagne qui sont plus mobiles, et different par la des pieces de position qui en sont la partie moins mobile et du plus fort calibre…
On peut dire des bouche a feu de bataille sont partie de l'ordre de bataille, tandis que les pieces position peuvent etre en dehors l'ordre de bataille…
Pour les Français en 1806 dans l'instruction sur le service d'artillerie, a l'usage des eleves de l'ecole speciale… ils ont aussi appelé les pièces…"bouche a feu de bataille" pour la même raison…mais pour le douze…ill n'a pas été considere comme un bouche a feu de batille…mais simplement appele un piece de douze.
A l'origine, le piece de 12 n'était pas d'accompagner les piece de bataille, a calibre 6 dans le nouveau système tactique…mais Gassendi convaincu Napoléon de garder le 12 (Lieutenant General Allix).
"Les pieces de campagne se distinguent autre-fois en piece lourdes et ligeres; cette complications sans utilite s'est effacee"
Best Regards

matthewgreen Inactive Member30 Aug 2017 10:38 a.m. PST

To bring this discussion back to where it started – the "heavy" howitzers at Waterloo. This is an obvious reference to the "Prussian" heavy field howitzer.

A number of tubes were captured by the British on the field of Waterloo and sent to the Royal Armouries, where they still are (there were carriages too – but these were destroyed in a fire).

These include two "Prussian" howitzers (rather larger than 6 inches, even French pouce, in calibre, though they are often referred to as such). From the drawings produced by the Armouries you can clearly see the family resemblance to the old Prussian pieces, and they were certainly heavy by the standards of field howitzers. A number of the smaller An XI howitzers were also taken, as were some six pounders (on display at the Tower of London) and a couple of 12-pdrs (which are the only Gribeauval pieces).

Alas I don't know the answer to the OP's question re crews and caissons. I guess proportionate to the "medium" howitzer as the 12pdr to the 8pdr.

Brechtel19830 Aug 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

There were two field howitzers made by the French and employed, replacing the old 6-inch Gribeauval howitzer.

These were the 5.5-inch howitzer of the Systeme AN XI and a new 6-inch howitzer that was produced and was usually assigned to the Guard artillery.

I don't see the crews being either larger or smaller, but if you take a look at the 'regulation' crews in the manuals, those in the field were probably not that big. You don't need the regulation numbers to properly serve the piece, either long guns or howitzers.

As for caissons, howitzers were assigned either 3 or 5 caissons per piece, depending on how the caissons were assigned per gun company.

Napoleon 'desired' that a double issue, or standard load (approvisionnement) for each piece. That was between 300 and 350 rounds per piece. That ammunition was on wheels, and there were more per piece in the parcs.

Once again, there were two types of artillery for the period-heavy and field (or light). Heavy artillery consisted of siege pieces, fortress and garrison pieces. Field artillery was of three types-foot, horse, and mountain artillery. A 'heavy' howitzer would then be a siege piece-in the French service that would be an 8-inch howitzer.

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