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Osage2017 Inactive Member27 Mar 2018 3:55 p.m. PST

I know each infantryman carried something like 60 rounds in his cartridge box. But there were also ammunition wagons for carrying the ammo reserve.

How many of these vehicles were per company/battalion/regiment ?

khanscom27 Mar 2018 5:01 p.m. PST

Bowden and Tarbox in "Armies on the Danube" list 13 assorted wagons and 26 pack animals assigned to each Austrian line infantry regiment, though none are specifically described as ammunition wagons. Following text notes that these excluded the vehicles attached to the artillery, hauling ammunition and other provisions, etc.

Possibly most reserve ammunition was carried by higher level trains and distributed to regiments as needed.

Osage2017 Inactive Member27 Mar 2018 5:25 p.m. PST

I know that from late 1757 each Prussian battalion drew with it 3 or 4 [4-horse] ammo carts (15,000 musket cartridges each), and 1 coach with the strong box (commandeur-chaisse).
But I need info on the napoleonic period.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2018 7:05 p.m. PST carries some info on this for SYW which can be used for extrapolation. The figures wouldn't have changed too much through the Napoleonic era.

Le Breton Inactive Member28 Mar 2018 4:48 a.m. PST

--- Russian cartridge boxes carried 60.

--- British cartridge boxes (from 1804 pattern onward) carried 60

--- French cartridge boxes carried 35.

--- Russian infantry companies had a dedicated ammunition caisson (2 wheeled, 3 horses) with a standard load of 120 rounds per man (about 20,000 rounds per company). The batttalions also maintained the ability to make rounds locally, even after the transition to factory pre-production of rounds. The Master-at-Arms (the "Каптенармусъ"/"Kaptenarmus" – a sergeant rank) from each company would supervise the work, the battalion's two Apprentice Gunsmiths ("Ученики Оружейнику" / "Ucheniki Oruzheyniku" – soldier rank*) being responsible for the materials. The company's tents not used on campaign 1810-1815. Some regiments filled the company tent wagon with more ammunition, as well as spare shoes, small clothes, fodder, etc.
* training to be a regimental Master Gunsmith ("Оружейный Мастеръ" / "Oruzheynyy Master" – sergeant rank, but with the pay of a lieutenant)


--- I think the British used mules attached at the division level for re-supply (or it that a myth?)

--- The French accomplished infantry ammunition re-supply through their artillery companies. Each artillery company had 3-4 caissons (4-wheeled, 4 horses) of infantry ammuntion, each with about 16,000 rounds. The infantrymen were supposed to draw their re-supply from the nearest artillery company attached to their divison. Taking Compans' 5e division of Davout's 1er corps in 1812 as an example, and assuming a full 4 caissons of infantry ammunition per each of the division's two artillery companies, that is only 128,000 rounds for 22 battalions, or 969 rounds per infantry company. It is not a surprise perhaps that just before the campaign, each battalion was ordred to receive a dedicated ammunition caisson, thus adding another 2,666 rounds per company. The revised total would thus be 3635 rounds per company, or about 30 rounds per man.


Osage2017 Inactive Member28 Mar 2018 7:48 a.m. PST

Mr Le Breton, many thanks for the detailed info !
It made my day.

Brechtel19828 Mar 2018 8:49 a.m. PST

The French ammunition resupply system for both infantry and artillery ammunition moved the ammunition forward to the units so that both infantry and artillery units would not withdraw in order to replenish their expended ammunition.

The French foot artillery companies assigned to an infantry division had four additional ammunition caissons that carried infantry cartridges. Horse artillery companies were not assigned to this duty.

6-, 8-, and 12-pounder caissons carried 16,335 musket rounds. 4-pounder caissons carried 13,935 rounds. All of these caissons also carried 1,500 flints.

French infantry carried 35 rounds in their cartridge boxes plus a spare package of 15 rounds in their packs.

There was also more infantry ammunition in the division parcs, corps parcs, and the forward depots-50, 50, and 100 rounds per man respectively.

At Eylau's ending in the dark and cold, the ammunition caissons of Davout's III Corps moved forward to the infantry units to replenish their ammunition.

Brechtel19828 Mar 2018 10:01 a.m. PST

Beginning in 1809 each infantry battalion was supposed to be issued one ammunition caisson for small arms and one for rations.

At the beginning of the 1813 campaign the Grande Armee had 18,000,000 infantry cartridges in the ammunition trains/reserve.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2018 10:24 a.m. PST

I have often thought….these were varnished wooden wagons, which carried thousands and thousands of paper cylinders, each one then containing gunpowder, whose sole function was to explode with a flash, at the slightest suggestion of an ignition.

I can see a nice diorama of a driver, smoking his pipe, whilst his colleague is opening the lid, for access to the ammo. There are 1815 tales of what could happen if one spark entered, let alone a cannonball or shell strike.

I presume there was no Garde Imperiale Health et Safety detachment?

Le Breton Inactive Member28 Mar 2018 1:22 p.m. PST

"French infantry carried 35 rounds in their cartridge boxes plus a spare package of 15 rounds in their packs."

The French cartridge box had compartments for 2 paper packets of 15 rounds. Another 5 loose rounds could be accomodated in the center section, with a small bottle of oil. But there appears to be no space in the backpacks for any more packets. The packets were 80mm x 80mm x 55mm or 3.2 x 3.2 x 2.2 English inches. The exterior measurements of the havresac were 325mm x 460mm x 108mm



These packets in the backpacks are not mentioned by Terry Crowdy in his Napoleon's Infantry Handbook (see Section 56, Table 6)

These packets in the backpacks are not mentioned in the instructions for using the backpack in the Manual d'Infanterie of 1813 (see pages 39 et seq.)

Can any of the colleagues, Deleted by Moderator, provide any contemporary to the era indication(s) that these packets in the backpacks were a standard procedure for the French?

Deleted by Moderator

However, the matter seemed curious to me, so I have posted my question.


Dear Good Mr. Deadhead,

It is more deflagration than actually detonation or exploding with the old gunpowders, or so I have been told. I think that absent a confined space to build up a gas pressure wave, the stuff more or less just burns. However, even if the culprits might get away without major injury, cooking off 10,000+ cartridges due to sloppy smoking would be a rather serious matter.

Your cannonball (roundshot) was just solid metal. Maybe a spark against an iron piece of caission could lead to lighting the powder, but the ball hitting the caisson would surely send some nasty spllnters flying. A shell round was supposed to go off above ground, with some damage possible from shards of its metal exterior. But mostly it was intended to cause casualties by its concussive effect. However, were it to land on or by the caisson with its fuze still sputtering ….

Oliver Schmidt28 Mar 2018 1:51 p.m. PST

Thanks, Breton, a good observation.

Bardin in his dictionnaire (1840s) also only states that the soldiers carried their cartridges in their gibernes:


Le Breton Inactive Member29 Mar 2018 3:58 a.m. PST


Happy to help. Some details as you you are thinking how to model theses :

--- the French guards would use 6 horses per caisson (3 pairs), not 4
--- for the caissons of infantry ammunition attached to artillery companies, the French mounted a conducteur from the train d'artillerie on each pair of horses, on the left-hand horse of each pair
--- for the caisson of infantry ammunition attached to an infantry battalion (administratively part of the compagnie d'artillrie régimentaire), the conducteurs were supposed to come from the train d'équipages militaires (3 men per caisson at full establishment, from 1811, but I would think 2 men per caisson was more common in practise).
--- for the caisson of infantry ammunition of a Russian infantry (or grenadier or jäger) company, the conductor (mounted on the left-most of 3 horses) was a "Фурлейтъ" / "Furleyt", a non-combattant of soldier rank with gray uniform

French train d'artillerie (by Rousselot)


French train d'équipages militaires (by Rousselot)


Russian Non-Combattants (by Viskovatov – the figure on the left is of soldier rank – from February 1812, the shoulder strap of the regiment would be added to the uniform jackets and greatcoats of non-combattant ranks)


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2018 4:05 a.m. PST

Deflagration is very interesting and makes much sense.

I had always thought of this as akin to "High Explosive" but of course the point is very well made by Le Breton (along with some great extra information). Uncontained there would be more or a flash than a true explosion and blast. When I tried to model a shell blast amongst cuirassiers, some time ago, I went for a look that I thought dramatic. Responders produced evidence that the explosion Hollywood shows is very different to a real shell burst of that era.

Many thanks!

Brechtel19829 Mar 2018 7:50 a.m. PST

As far as I can discover, the French Imperial Guard artillery arm used the same type and number of horse teams as did the Line artillery.

The 4-, 6-, and 8-pounder foot artillery companies had four horses per piece as well as for the ammunition caissons.

12-pounders and horse artillery companies had six horses per piece and the 12-pounder companies had at least one caisson per piece had six-horse teams. The company field forges also had six horse teams.

Osage2017 Inactive Member29 Mar 2018 10:17 a.m. PST

Question to Mr Breton. You wrote about the Russians:
"The company's tents not used on campaign 1810-1815."

It surprised me very much because in Russia the villages were spread even more thinly than in Poland and Czech Republic (today name). If the troops got rid off their tents it could be a very serious problem with resting, sleeping etc. especially in rainy fall and cold winter.

What was the reasoning behind their decision not to use tents ?

von Winterfeldt30 Mar 2018 4:02 a.m. PST

I will wait till Le Breton is out of the kernel, he is of course right that a French cartridge box has two packets of 15 cartridges each and five individual cartridges as well.

Brechtel19830 Mar 2018 5:23 a.m. PST

It should also be noted that the French resupply system was an efficient one, for both artillery and infantry ammunition.

When the forward caissons with infantry ammunition emptied they would retire and rotate through the parcs and be replaced with a full one from the same source.

This rotation kept both the artillery and infantry resupplied with ammunition. Expenditure rates should also be taken into consideration. The Grande Armee only came close to running out of artillery ammunition and that was at Leipzig in 1813. Artillery expenditure on the first day of the battle was unusually heavy and the allies had cut off the French trains, including the reserve ammunition, in Eilenberg north of Leipzig. That was a deciding factor in Napoleon's decision on the evening of the first day when he failed to win a decisive victory.

Brechtel19830 Mar 2018 5:28 a.m. PST

There are two instances that I can recall off-hand of ammunition caissons being blown up on the battlefield by artillery ammunition.

One instance was at New Orleans in 1815 when British rocket fire blew up an ammunition caisson and the other was at Lundy's Lane in 1814 when British artillery shell fire blew up one of the American caissons.

There are undoubtedly other accounts of the same thing happening at other places to other armies. These two came to mind.

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