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"Limbering up ...British artillery Limbers WIP" Topic

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Arcane Steve Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2018 5:18 a.m. PST

My latest blog with an update on my progress painting the superb Warlord Games British foot and Horse Artillery limber. Still some way to go with my ambitious plans to expand my British Artillery force. Click here to read the blog:



Thank you for the previous comments that have helped modify some of my painting.

Timmo uk31 Aug 2018 7:50 a.m. PST

Looks great but they didn't ride on the limber in the field as they were very likely to come off it.

Are you going to add the traces?

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2018 10:10 a.m. PST

Regarding the limber riders, I noticed that one set do not appear to the Warlord variant with one of them pointing. Instead, one appears to be carrying a carbine riding in shotgun style. Where did you obtain obtain that pair?

BTW very nice painting but I agree with you re too much weathering on the limber and gun.

Lord Hill31 Aug 2018 11:37 a.m. PST

Wow, fantastic painting. Great job! Please post more.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2018 1:43 a.m. PST

Warlord do limber riders for foot and horse artillery, depending on which you purchase. RHA have the carbine chap, Foot Artillery the pointing type.

Much debate here, even recently, on limber riding, but consensus seemed to be that they did.

John Edmundson02 Sep 2018 12:28 a.m. PST

Would it be that much different to riding on a coach? On the top of a coach would be a lot less stable I'd have thought.


42flanker02 Sep 2018 12:37 a.m. PST

Atop a coach was further from the centere of gravity, but coaches at least proceeded along what passed for roads and did not generally make sharp or sudden turns. That said, riding on top was not the preferred billet.

Timmo uk02 Sep 2018 1:30 a.m. PST

The photographs I've seen of an ACW battery of smooth bore guns all limbered up and ready to move don't have any limber riders they are all mounted on horses to the rear. Equally any Victorian and WW1 images I've seen of horse drawn guns don't have any limber riders nor does the Queen's Troop RHA today for their ceremonial duties. However, all the limbers are of the same basic pattern a seat on top of the limber with hand rails.

I don't doubt that on the march they probably did ride the limber if they were on reasonable roads but I very much doubt they did in combat. Various ACW re-enactors have detailed their experiences and have said that it's very uncomfortable even over apparently flat ground at low speed. At horse artillery speeds over broken ground it would be like a bucking bronco with the added danger of being run over by the gun following behind. The limber doesn't have a sprung axle so every bump and jolt is going to be felt. Coaches had springs, even if rudimentary.

All that written it's only gaming and we have all sorts of other concessions like cavalry carrying flags in the field etc etc.

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2018 10:19 a.m. PST

I've just been reading a letter by Col. Whinyates about the RHA rocket troop at Waterloo, sent to Capt Siborne to help constructing the model:
"When Colonel Macdonald ordered the advance with rockets all the gun detachments (except the two dismounted men at each gun, who are called limber gunners, and which two are carried on the limbers and have no horses) left their guns behind them and moved quickly, being on horseback, down the slope in front of their guns".
So it seems they did ride limbers in the field.

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2018 10:56 a.m. PST

…and I meant to add, really like the painting especially the way you've done the horses. I agree with Timmo it would look even better with the traces added.

Three Armies02 Sep 2018 1:27 p.m. PST

very nice work

Arcane Steve Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 4:42 a.m. PST

Once again, thank you for some great feedback. Yes, I will add the traces once both limbers are completed and I think that with the bases 'landscaped' they should be a nice addition to my collection.

I am intrigued as to the debate regarding limber riders. I always remember the superb Britains ACW limber that I had as a child – they included a group of limber riders. I had always assumed that troops would ride on the limbers. After all, the horses would not have been galloping everywhere and I assume that they would have spent most of the time 'at the walk'. The times that the limbers moved at speed would be limited and perhaps there was a special 'drill' to make sure that the limber riders did not fall off.

Snapper6903 Sep 2018 6:52 a.m. PST

The main problem with riding the limbers was weight. It would fatigue the horses excessively, and was really only done when executing a rapid change of position. At other times, the gunners would march.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2018 7:17 a.m. PST

Two 1815 gunners vs the weight of the limber, a 9pdr, a driver already on half of them, not to mention the harness each horse carried.

Does not sound a significant addition to stick two lads on the limber, to save their aching feet. Much cheaper than giving each his own horse and also instantly available when preparing for action.

ConnaughtRanger03 Sep 2018 12:39 p.m. PST

If you look at the establishment of an RHA Battery (see Franklin or the like), there were insufficient horses to mount all the gunners individually. Why on earth put seats on the limber if no-one sat on them?

summerfield19 Sep 2018 12:58 a.m. PST

The RHA in the Napoleonic Period rode the limbers and the ammunition cars. Only the officers and NCOs rode horses. The Foot RA could ride the limbers and ammunition cars in the Desaguliers block trail system to battle. Often they walked rather than rode. This was a matter of weight per horse as normally had two less horses than RHA.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Sep 2018 3:16 a.m. PST

Very nice! I've always felt that the measure of a really great miniature army is whether it has limbers and horses for the artillery.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2018 5:17 a.m. PST

My measure of attention to detail is providing HA gunners with horses. Very difficult as few companies will consider such. Figures with slung firearms cannot be used.

But now I hear RHA were largely dismounted anyway! That is really news to me, but I suspect Dr Summerfield knows more about this than I do! Much more………

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2018 7:06 a.m. PST

The RHA was partially individually mounted and partially on the vehicles. The 'seats' were actually equipment/ammunition boxes, two per limber and caisson, so that two gunners could be mounted on them.

The idea that only the officers and NCOs in the RHA rode horses is incorrect. Enough horses were usually issued, in the early days of the arm, to mount half of the enlisted men. The ideal was to individually mount all of the gunners, at least.

Initially, the long guns issued to the RHA troops were of mixed caliber; later the assigned long gun for the RHA was the 6-pounder. Some of the RHA companies in Belgium in 1915 were upgunned to 9-pounders.

Enough horses were assigned to each RHA troop to mount some of the gunners which made for a more efficient horse artillery arm. The RHA admired the French horse artillery arm, as well as the French artillery as a whole. The French horse artillery, Guard or Line, was mounted individually with one gunner in four being a horse-holder.

Mercer's G Troop RHA in Belgium in 1815 had 220 horses and 6 mules. 53 of the horses were for the gunners, NCOs, farriers, and the collar maker. The officers were also individually mounted. There were also 30 spare horses.

Arcane Steve Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2018 7:10 a.m. PST

That's interesting. According to my references (Franklin), the RHA when deployed, had horse holders. I had planned to model at least one base of these just for fun – is this now incorrect. Also, Only two guys on the limber so what about the rest of the gun crew? Could do with some answers before I start carving up my stock of horses!

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2018 7:24 a.m. PST

It would depend on the period, initially, the Peninsula, or in Belgium in 1815. The trend would be more individually mounted gunners, with horse holders, as individually mounted horse artillery was much more mobile.

Modeling horse holders is an excellent idea as they are usually ignored (as I did for the RHA in my posting above). And, no, it is not incorrect.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Sep 2018 9:10 a.m. PST

Don't forget that every gun probably had at least one and perhaps more horse-drawn ammunition caissons. Some of the gun crew could have rode on them.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2018 10:44 a.m. PST

Exactly. It would be possible to have four gunners seated on each ammo caisson (two facing forward and two back) and two on each limber "ready use locker".

What baffles me is how the RHA had any more mobility than the Foot, then. Foot had just as many wagons, all with seats.

RHA riders confined to officers and NCOs puzzles me. Other than a much smarter rig, what possible advantage over Foot Artillery? I cannot imagine officers and NCOs being in a great rush to ride ahead and man the guns.

RHA were more mobile than Foot artillery

RHA and Foot Artillery had just as many seats on caissons

Without a very large proportion of mounted gunners, how does one explain the greater mobility?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2018 1:20 p.m. PST

Mounted gunners, as per Mercer.

summerfield20 Sep 2018 2:59 a.m. PST

This has been explained in the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal and other of my writing. It is simply the load per horse and the lightness of the carriages.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2018 3:25 a.m. PST

What has been explained?

Mounting gunners individually in the RHA is a proven and substantiated fact.

It should also be noted that the RHA troops in Belgium in 1815 that were upgunned to 9-pounders had their horse teams increased.

If there was no difference on how the gunners rode between British foot and horse artillery, then there was no distinction between them and that is incorrect factually.

That would defeat the purpose of being designated as horse artillery.

Mercer is a factual reference, and Franklin's book is excellent on the Royal Artillery. Those two are bona fide references for the period.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2018 3:53 a.m. PST

I have always had the idea that the gunners rode and those who ensured the ammo supply to them, or replaced casualties, sat on the various carriages that towed the guns or sat on the ammo carts. As for the horse holders, I still wonder whether mounted or foot. The former sounds much safer and more effective when needed rapidly.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2018 4:32 a.m. PST

Horse holders were for the RHA, as well as the French horse artillery. They held the mounts for the gunners after they dismounted to serve the piece. There was no need for horse holders in the field artillery brigades or foot artillery companies for the French, as the gunners walked, or sometimes rode the limbers and caissons in the RA.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2018 5:35 a.m. PST

Thanks again

My question was badly phrased. What I meant was did the horse holders remain on their own horses while looking after their mates' mounts?

Often wanted to add them to my artillery and had thought of using Perry ACW figures….if mounted. Or the new Peninsula dragoons from Brigade GM, if on foot.

Arcane Steve Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2018 5:46 a.m. PST

My cunning plan was to use the spare bodies from the Perry's British Light Dragoons set. If you make the set up as Light Dragoons serving at Waterloo, you will have the 'Peninsular' bodies ( Dolmans, Lace and Tarletons) as spares. It is then just a question of finding some spare horses and converting. The reference that I have is the Franklin artillery book and he shows a diagram of a deployed battery with horse holders. It seems that one mounted horse holder would have control of two spare horses. I thought to build at least one or two bases of horse holders and also have considered converting the Perry Dragoons to mounted rocket troops…. but that's another project!

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2018 5:50 a.m. PST

I would say they would but there was nothing to stop them from dismounting unless the horses were restless, nervous, or uneasy. It would be difficult to control four horses under intense fire.

Berliner Zinnfiguren has some excellent horse holder groupings on their website which might give you some ideas.

There is also a painting of a French line horse artillery horse holder in the book La Patrie en Danger 1792-1793 by Tranie and Carmigniani on page 110. In this picture he is mounted and moving forward with two horses as the horse artillery company is displacing. The two gunners' horse he is holding are running forward following their piece.

There is als an interesting picture of a 4-pounder field piece being manhandled forward by its gun crew on page 67. Both pictures are in black and white. There is a color version of the latter picture on the cover of the book.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2018 6:55 a.m. PST

Thanks both of you. Definitely answers my question.

All I have to do now is finish the Saxon Garde du Corps, create a troop of Black Musketeers, finish the Waterloo Reveille diorama……and then the horse holders!

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Sep 2018 2:27 a.m. PST

As an addendum the following information on the RHA might be helpful. It was taken from History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery by Captain Francis Duncan, 30-38; 44-45:

The two troops initially formed in January 1793 were authorized only four guns, 5 officers, 8 NCOs, 49 gunners, and 35 drivers. It is noted in a table on page 34 that there were 12 horse holders designated in the table of organization along with 123 horses.

On 1 November 1793 this was changed to 6 guns, 5 officers, 14 NCOs 85 gunners, 45 drivers, and 187 horses.

In 1794 the number of field pieces was changed to 8 along with 15 NCOs, 97 gunners, 71 drivers, and 246 horses. While the number of field pieces remained at 8 until changed back to 6 which was retained until the reductions after Waterloo. However, in 1795 the number of personeel was reduced to 15 NCOs, 85 gunners, 51 drivers, and 170 horses.

The reduction to 6 field pieces in 1804 gave a new table of organization for the troops to 14 NCOs, 75 gunners, 46 drivers, and 142 horses.

The ordnance assigned to RHA troops in the Peninsula was two 9-pounder or two heavy 6-pounders, one heavy 5.5-inch howitzer; 3 light 6-pounders, 6 ammunition wagons (caissons) and four other vehicles. As previously noted, some of the RHA troops in Belgium in 1815 were upgunned to 9-pounders and one, I Troop (Bull's) was entirely equipped with 5.5-inch howitzers. Whinyate's rocket troop was also equipped with field pieces but he did manage to engage the French with his rockets when the opportunity presented itself.

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