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"French Artillery at Salmanca" Topic


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714 hits since 30 Nov 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Nov 2017 6:08 p.m. PST

I'm working on a Salamanca scenario and tryin to decide what to do with the French guns. They had 78 guns but I can't even find a source for how may batteries these were organized in to.

Anyone have any info to share/light to shed?

Allan F Mountford01 Dec 2017 1:29 a.m. PST

You could write a very interesting paper on this topic. However, one possible answer is to use Rory Muir's 'Salamanca' as a source. A few years ago I did start to analyse the distribution of the seven 12pdrs, 21 8pdrs, 36 4pdrs, 1 3pdr and 13 howitzers but never concluded the exercise.

4th Cuirassier01 Dec 2017 2:26 a.m. PST

Theoretically your French battery had, if foot, six guns and two howitzers, or if horse, five guns and one howitzer. In practice a lack of draught animals, especially in Spain, would reduce these figures and this indeed seems to be the case here. None of Allan's numbers for any of the calibres is divisible by the right number of guns to create whole batteries, so it seems these must have been a lot of undermanned / underequipped units.

Le Breton01 Dec 2017 2:33 a.m. PST

"You could write a very interesting paper on this topic"

I just did a quick check of Fortescue, Oman, Napier, Muir and "Victoires, conquêtes, désastres …." : the numbers bounce around a little as to guns available for the French and taken by the British.

This will take a little time to work on, I am sorry to say.

Allan F Mountford01 Dec 2017 2:50 a.m. PST

Composition of the artillery companies was not at all regular. For example, Foy's 1st Division artillery was the 3/2nd Horse artillery with three 8-pdrs, two 4-pdrs and one 6" howitzer.

4th Cuirassier01 Dec 2017 4:20 a.m. PST

@ Allan

Interesting – that must have been a total pain from a support POV.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Dec 2017 5:33 a.m. PST

Okay I just wanted to be sure I wasn't missing something. I can either do a dissertation, or just deploy them in some sensible manner.

Allan F Mountford01 Dec 2017 5:45 a.m. PST

Simplest is 13 six-gun batteries.

wrgmr101 Dec 2017 6:33 a.m. PST

In our Shako 2 scenarios we use a 3 batteries in reality to 1 one on the table, as artillery is too powerful in the game.

Prince of Essling Supporting Member of TMP01 Dec 2017 7:20 a.m. PST

Nafziger's OoBs show the Army of Portugal artillery attachments as follows (though not the number and actual guns):

1 Feb 1812:
1 Div: 3/2nd Horse arty
2 Div: 6/2nd horse arty
3 Div: 7/3rd horse arty
4 Div: 14/1st foot arty
5 Div: 11/8th foot arty
6 Div: 21/5th foot arty
7 Div: 6 & 18/4th foot arty
Cav Div: 5/5th horse arty
Arty Park: 19/1st foot arty; 10, 15, 19 & 20/5th foot arty

1 May:
1 Div: 3/2nd Horse arty
2 Div: 6/2nd horse arty
3 Div: 7/3rd horse arty
4 Div: 14/1st foot arty
5 Div: 11/8th foot arty
6 Div: 21/5th foot arty
7 Div: 6 & 18/4th foot arty
8 Div: unknown as archival listing doesn't indicate any arty with this unit! {Nafziger note]
Lt cav: no arty shown.
Heavy Cav Div: 5/5th horse arty
Arty Park: 19/1st foot arty; 10, 15, 19 & 20/5th foot arty

Trajanus01 Dec 2017 7:41 a.m. PST

By calculation of available strengths on the day of the battle, Muir works out there was an eight gun battery per Division and a six gun horse battery with the Cavalry.

Which covers 70 out of 78 guns suggesting the 12pdrs present were used as a Reserve.

He gives one 12pdr Battery at the start of the Campaign along with and three 8pdrs. With everything else being a mash up of thirty six old French and Spanish 4pdrs, thirteen howitzers and a single 3pdr!

These last three being fielded in mixed batteries.

He also notes the difficulties the French had in moving this lot around due to the lack of draught animals.

Brechtel19801 Dec 2017 11:21 a.m. PST

Simplest is 13 six-gun batteries.

Well done and good choice.

In the Peninsular War Atlas by Nick Lipscombe he remarks that the army artillery reserve for the French consisted of 4 gun companies totaling 24 pieces.

Further, he writes that each French division, cavalry or infantry, contained a gun company of 6 pieces. The army total was 90 pieces of ordnance.

The information is on page 265 for July 1812. He has the same total numbers for Marmont's command for the month of July 1812. While the artillery order of battle is not listed on the Salamanca battle map, it is reasonable to assume that the artillery numbers did not change until after the action.

Michael Westman01 Dec 2017 11:58 p.m. PST

Allan, did you find any other battery compositions, other than Foy's division?

Allan F Mountford02 Dec 2017 6:12 a.m. PST

@ Brechtel
Thanks for the heads up on Lipscombe, my friend! My copy was staring at me from the bookshelf but I had never thought to review it!

@ Michael Westman
I am working on this!

Allan F Mountford02 Dec 2017 6:14 a.m. PST

Progress note….

Mysteriously, four 6pdrs appear in the French OOB on October 1812 as part of the horse battery attached to Boyer's dragoons.

Brechtel19802 Dec 2017 6:59 a.m. PST

Allan,

You're very welcome. I just happened to glance at it while reading this thread and thought that it might be helpful.

Allan F Mountford02 Dec 2017 7:29 a.m. PST

Kevin

A question for you: I am tracking the movements of individual foot and horse companies in Marmont's Army of Portugal through 1812. Would the companies have retained their artillery pieces, or would the 12pdrs, 8pdrs, etc, have been retained as an Army or Divisional asset and allocated accordingly?

Allan F Mountford02 Dec 2017 7:45 a.m. PST

***UPDATE***

French artillery allocations for Salamanca, so far:

1st Division
3/2nd HA 3 x 8pdr, 2 x 4pdr and 1 x 6" howitzer

4th Division
14/1st FA 2 x 8pdr, 2 x 4pdr and 2 x 6" howitzer

5th Division
11/8th FA 2 x 8pdr, 2 x 4pdr and 1 x 6"howitzer

6th Division
21/5th FA 5 x 4pdr and 1 x 6" howitzer

Heavy Cavalry
5/5th HA 4 x 6pdr* and 2 x 6" howitzer

Artillery park
15/3rd FA 5 x 4pdr and 1 x 6" howitzer

*These 6pdrs are only recorded after Salamanca. I am pondering whether they are a typo.

Le Breton02 Dec 2017 12:00 p.m. PST

Allan,
Can you provide an email address?
I am working on this too, and am likely to be banned from this forum now.
I will send you what I come up with if I cannot post it.
Thank you.

Le Breton02 Dec 2017 4:17 p.m. PST

Allan – nevermind, the moderators are slow or forgiving. Here's my result ….

Artillery Companies

The numbers (XX/YYY)(XX/YYY) are for officers and other ranks, the first entry from the "État" of 15 July and the second from the "État" of 1 August, as reported by Fortescue (Vol. 8, pages 632 et seq.). The figures clearly are meant to include the compagnies d'artillerie + compagnies du train d'artillerie, and likely include the états-major divisionaires d'artillerie.
See : link

1ere division Foy – 3e compagnie du 2e régiment d'artillerie à cheval capitaine commandant Alexandre Guerrier – (7/207)(7/207)

2e division Clausel – 6e compagnie du 2e régiment d'artillerie à cheval capitaine commandant Claude-Sébastien Viard – (7/219)(7/216)

3e division Ferey – 7e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à cheval capitaine commandant Denis Cocquet, lieutenant en 1er du 7e régiment d'artillerie à pied François-Gerard Stévaux (blessé), lieutenant en 2e Steffe (blessé, mort le 31 juillet) – (5/302)(3/193)

4e division Sarrut – 14e compagnie du 1er régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Antoine Zerlaut (blessé), capitaine en 2e Zartor (blessé, mort le 25 novembre), lieutenant en 1er Jean-Adrien Piron (blessé) – (5/238)(5/214)

5e division Maucune – 11e compagnie du 8e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Joseph-Marie-Vincent-Alexis Genta – (4/212)(4/212)

6e division Brennier – 21e compagnie du 5e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Pierre-Joseph Augé – (4/213)(4/213)

7e division Thomières – 6e compagnie du 4e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Jean-Pierre Braty – (5/203)(none)

8e division Bonnet * – demi-compagnie de la 18e compagnie du 4e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant N_____ Dechassey – (3/107)(none)

division de cavalerie légère Curto – (none)(none)

division de dragons Boyer – 5e compagnie du 5e régiment d'artillerie à cheval capitaine commandant Flavien Graillat – (3/193)(3/148)

réserve d'artillerie & parc d'artillerie – (50/1450)(22/707)
- 19e compagnie du 1er régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Nicolas Schneider
- 10e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Pierre-François Dyvincourt
- 15e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Jean-Joseph Pajot
- 19e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Étienne Gariel (blessé)
- 20e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant N_____ Dhurecourt

détachement en Léon
- 7e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Jean-Joseph Mathieu
- 9e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine commandant Jean Adenot *

détachement en arrière
- 8e compagnie du 6e régiment d'artillerie a cheval capitaine commandant Charles-Léonard Coquard (prisonnier de guerre à Madrid le 12 août) **

Comment : it would appear that only 7e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à cheval (3e division Ferey), 14e compagnie du 1er régiment d'artillerie à pied (4e division Sarrut) and 5e compagnie du 5e régiment d'artillerie à cheval (division de dragons Boyer) suffered substatially.

* The company assigned to the 8e division was actually the 9e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied. This unit with 8 additional pieces had been detached in Léon and would not rejoin until after 1 August (see Napier, Vol. 5 page 384). As the "État" of 15 July showed artillery attached to the 8e division, and the artillery assigned to 7e division does not seem double-size, I have assumed that a half-company of the 18e compagnie du 4e régiment d'artillerie à pied was temporarily assigned to the 8e division.

Clausel, to stop the defeat turning into a rout, "sur les hauteurs d'Arriba 15 bouches à feu qu'il fit soutenir par la division Bonnet"
See : link
I take this to be 2 reserve companies, each of 6 pieces (including the 12-livre canons) and a demi-compangie with Bonnet, total 15 pieces.

** See pages 115 et seq.
Souvenirs militaires d'un officier du Premier Empire (1792-1832)
Colonel Jean-Nicolas-Auguste Noël
Paris : Berger-Levrault, 1895

======================================
Number of Pieces

Repartition as of 15 June (per Napier, Volume 5, page 384)
See :https://books.google.com/books?id=WPs_AAAAcAAJ&pg=PA384
2x 12-livre, 20x 8-livre, 33x 4-livre, 5x 3-livre, 11x 6-pouce obusier, 3x 4-pouce 3 ligne obusier /// Total 74

Repartition as of 15 July (per Fortescue, howitzers per Napier)
7x 12-livre, 21x 8-livre, 36x 4-livre, 1x 3-livre, 11x 6-pouce obusier, 2x 4-pouce 3 ligne obusier /// Total 78

Comment : not only were pieces added, but some of the smaller caliber pieces were set aside. It is very tempting to think that the intention was to have, upon the arrival of the 9e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied, with 8 pieces : 4 reserve batteries and 8 divisional batteries with the infantry and 2 batteries with the cavalry – total 14 batteries, each of 6 guns (and with at most one 3-livre canon) – 84 pieces, plus the 2 small obusiers to be set aside.

However, the 9e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied did not arrive in time.
Before the actual battle, the French lost 1 gun, and 11 more at the battle itself. Wellington, most French sources and most English sources agree on this. Marmont remembered losing only 9. Oman makes the count 20 by mis-interpreting the 1 August "État"

Repartition as of 1 August (per Fortescue, howitzers per Napier)
no 12-livre, 18x 8-livre, 27x 4-livre, no 3-livre, 11x 6-pouce obusier, 2x 4-pouce 3 ligne obusier /// Total 58

Difference
-7x 12-livre, -3x 8-livre, -9x 4-livre, -1x 3-livre /// Total 20
This difference is composed of 12 pieces lost and 8 pieces sent away by the French.

The British did not come close to the reserve artillery, so I think we can say the reduction of men and officers between the "États" and the reduction in canon of 12-livre would be the French sending away 1/2 of the reserve artillery compagnies with the 12-livre canons and perhaps the "odd" single 3-livre canon. The other 5 pieces would be redistributed to compagnies that had lost pieces. I think a similar same fate befell the 6e compagnie du 4e régiment d'artillerie à pied (7e division Thomières) and the demi-compagnie de la 18e compagnie du 4e régiment d'artillerie à pied (8e division Bonnet) : they were not wiped out to a man, but instead their 9 pieces were used to make up losses, the companies were sent away to re-arm.

We know from the "État" of 1 August that no An XI canons de 6-livre had yet reached the army of Portugal, but one may suppose that sending whole compagnies away to refit might indicate that their supply had started.

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

Obusier de 4-pouces 3 lignes

This piece shows up occasionally in "mid-period" French lists of artillery materiel. It would have a round of about 116mm in diameter. The French had a "obusier ou mortier pour grenade de 4 pouces 3 lignes de diamètre" in the 1700's – they were used in wilderness forts in Canada. The also had a naval "obusier de 4 pouces 6 lignes, dit carronade de 12-livre" for installation on small boats (and so likely cast in iron). Perhaps more likley is that these are captured British 4.4 inch howitzers.

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

Speculative Allocation of Pieces

Recall that Napoléon believed that his commanders were using the 4-livre and 8-livre canons indescriminately – and this was one of his reasons for adopting the An Xi 9-livre. I have used this idea of "equating" the 4 and the 8 pounders in my speculative allocation.

1ere division Foy – 3e compagnie du 2e régiment d'artillerie à cheval – 3x canon de 8-livres, 2x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces

2e division Clausel – 6e compagnie du 2e régiment d'artillerie à cheval – 3x canon de 8-livres, 2x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces

3e division Ferey – 7e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à cheval – 3x canon de 8-livres, 2x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces

4e division Sarrut – 14e compagnie du 1er régiment d'artillerie à pied 1x obusier de 6-pouces – 1x canon de 8-livres, 4x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces

5e division Maucune – 11e compagnie du 8e régiment d'artillerie à pied 1x obusier de 6-pouces – 1x canon de 8-livres, 4x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces

6e division Brennier – 21e compagnie du 5e régiment d'artillerie à pied 1x obusier de 6-pouces – 1x canon de 8-livres, 4x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces

7e division Thomières – 6e compagnie du 4e régiment d'artillerie à pied 1x obusier de 6-pouces – 1x canon de 8-livres, 4x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces

8e division Bonnet – demi-compagnie de la 18e compagnie du 4e régiment d'artillerie à pied – 3x canon de 4-livres

division de dragons Boyer – 5e compagnie du 5e régiment d'artillerie à cheval – 4x canon de 4-livres, 2x obusier de 4-pouces 3 lignes

réserve d'artillerie
- 19e compagnie du 1er régiment d'artillerie à pied – 4x canon de 12-livres, 2x canon de 8-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces
- 19e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied – 3x canon de 12-livres, 3x canon de 8-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces
- 10e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied – 2x canon de 8-livres, 3x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces
- 15e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied – 1x canon de 8-livres, 4x canon de 4-livres, 1x obusier de 6-pouces

parc d'artillerie – 20e compagnie du 3e régiment d'artillerie à pied capitaine – 1x canon de 3-livre

Le Breton02 Dec 2017 5:09 p.m. PST

The count of officers and men in the Artillery Reserve and Park may seem high, but in addition to the artillery companies and their artillery train companies, there were also about 3 companies of ouvriers d'artillerie, 1 company of d'ouvriers du train d'artillerie, 1 company of armuriers d'artillerie and 1 company of pontonniers assigned to the Army of Portugal.

While some would be located in various depots or parcs along the lines of communication, one would suppose that 10-15 officers and perhaps 300 other ranks would have been "up" with the army at Salamanca.

gbuchanan02 Dec 2017 6:07 p.m. PST

Allan – could those "5/5th HA 4 x 6pdr* and 2 x 6" howitzer" that are problematic potentially be a transposition (i.e 6 x 4pdr) rather than a typo? I've not run over the numbers, but I've seen that slip numerous times in British and Dutch records, so I wouldn't be surprised if the same error may occur in French sources?

Best regards,
George

Brechtel19803 Dec 2017 3:46 a.m. PST

Allan,

French practice was to initially issue field pieces to the artillery companies and those were retained by that company in garrison, campaign, and combat. That was one of the principles of the Gribeauval System. French artillery companies were not issued field pieces by campaign and then put them either in the parcs or in arsenals when the campaign or battle was over.

Unless ordered to do so, or if their assigned ordnance was changed such as being rearmed with new field pieces for whatever reason, the artillery companies would take their field pieces with them when transferred. And their assigned train companies would also go with them, unless otherwise ordered for whatever reason, when transferred. In short, it would be done by exception, and not as standard practice.

In short, the French artillery companies trained and travelled with the field pieces that were initially assigned to them unless new ordnance was assigned to them, such as being rearmed with new 6-pounders of the Systeme AN XI, etc.

There are examples of guns being left behind by artillery companies, such as those that Davout left behind in Mainz in 1805, because of a lack of horses. During a campaign, gun company strength often changed because of casualties or sick left in hospitals, and the guns would then either be left in depots or arsenals along the line of communication or with the army corps and army parcs.

But the general principle of the French artillery arm was that you went on campaign and fought the guns you trained with.

Saski, Volume I, has interesting primary source data on the mix of field pieces, both of the Gribeauval System and Systeme AN XI in the newly organized Army of Germany for the campaign against Austria in 1809. Davout's command, which had remained in central Europe after Tilsit, was overwhelmingly still equipped with 4-, 8-, and 12-pounders, along with the 6-inch howitzer, of the Gribeauval System. The newly organized IV Corps (Massena) and the II Corps (Oudinot) had mainly Systeme AN XI field pieces. Davout's command employed the older pieces throughout the campaign and those gun companies were not rearmed with the newer field pieces until afterwards.

Artillery units in Spain were generally behind in the supply system and were not rearmed with the newer pieces until later. They also had access to captured Spanish ordnance of the Gribeauval System.

It should also be remembered that the adoption of the Systeme AN XI by the French Artillery Committee was done with a split vote and that the Systeme AN XI was never fully adopted, or even accepted, by the French artillery arm. Instead of replacing the Gribeauval System as intended, it merely supplemented it.

Brechtel19803 Dec 2017 5:04 a.m. PST

One comment on the referred volume of Fortesce. In the French order of battle, he makes reference to 'heavy artillery.' If he is referring to siege artillery, then he is correct. If he is referring to field artillery, such as 12-pounders, then he is wrong.

For the period field artillery was not heavy artillery. Siege artillery was heavy artillery, as were most pieces employed as garrison artillery. Field artillery 12-pounders and below, were not.

Le Breton03 Dec 2017 6:26 a.m. PST

Brechtel,

"French practice was to initially issue field pieces to the artillery companies and those were retained by that company in garrison, campaign, and combat. …. Unless ordered to do so, or if their assigned ordnance was changed such as being rearmed with new field pieces for whatever reason, the artillery companies would take their field pieces with them when transferred. And their assigned train companies would also go with them, unless otherwise ordered for whatever reason, when transferred. In short, it would be done by exception, and not as standard practice."

Can you offer contemporary references for that during wartime 1800-1815 : orders, regulations, instructions, reports, inventory records?
If not, what leads you to make this statement?

Do you have any contemporary information on how often "Unless ordered to do so, or if their assigned ordnance was changed" applied?

Allan F Mountford03 Dec 2017 9:48 a.m. PST

@ Le Breton
@ Brechtel
@ gbuchanan

Briefly in front of a pc – many thanks for the responses – will respond in more detail tomorrow.

Allan F Mountford03 Dec 2017 10:09 a.m. PST

@ Le Breton

allan.mountford@outlook.com

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.