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"Command of prussian reserve artillery" Topic


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1,060 hits since 20 Apr 2019
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dogtail20 Apr 2019 3:19 a.m. PST

Was the prussian corps reserve artillery always under the command of the corps or could it be attached to a brigade general and become a part of the command structure of this brigade?

cheers

14Bore20 Apr 2019 6:22 a.m. PST

Guess your asking about real circumstances in battle, only a pure guess that the way the Prussian army worked there were many small assets to a brigade ( read division) that artillery must have followed that. I follow a OOB in general has a lot of units split between different brigades.

dogtail20 Apr 2019 6:55 a.m. PST

Like every good nap gamer I am writing my own rules (sort of simulation), therefore I would like to know if the batteries from the reserve artillery park are rather independant when attached to the brigade, still under corps command or nothing of that kind. I know that a prussian brigade has an officer for the infantry, the cavalry and the artillery reporting to the brigade commander, so it would be easy to attach a battery and still have kind of centralised command within the brigade. On the other hand which corps commander gives away his assetts if he doesn´t have to? Clausewitz critices that the artillery was deployed with too much hesitation at Ligny, so I guess every corps commander likes to have a tool in his pocket to set a schwerpunkt.

Oliver Schmidt23 Apr 2019 8:43 a.m. PST

If you look at the Prussian ordres de bataille, you will see that every brigade (equivalent to other nations' divisions) had a 6pounder battery permanently attached to it.

Often, the brigade commander did not exactly know what to do with it, so its actions were usually left to the judgement of the battery commander.

The other batteries of the corps normally remained in the hand of the corps commander – except maybe if an avantgarde was formed, such as Zieten's 1st brigade at Waterloo, which on 18th June had an extra horse battery, if I remember correctly.

Snapper6924 Apr 2019 1:13 a.m. PST

The Reserve Artillery of each Corps had at least one each of additional 6pdr foot and horse batteries. These could be used to reinforce any brigade. Also, the brigade 6pdr batteries could be ordered to join a grand battery formed on the reserve, as happened at Gross-Beeren. The commander of the reserve artillery usually had one or more staff officers as deputies, who could be used to command larger groupings of artillery. At Gross-Beeren, the III Korps artillery commander was Obristlieutenant v. Holzendorff, and Major von Roehl is also listed as an artillery staff officer.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2019 5:31 a.m. PST

One of the problems with Prussian artillery organization is that there was no artillery reserve for the army. That deprived the army commander with artillery he could employ when needed.

Another problem was that the corps artillery chiefs were not general officers which hindered their influence with the corps commanders on the best way to employ their artillery.

The Prussian artillery arm, which had been greatly neglected by Frederick the Great (there wasn't even a Prussian artillery school until 1791, five years after Frederick's death), was the weakest of those of the five large powers of the period. That was unfortunate, because it was the Prussian artillery arm in the 1740s that began with common sense reforms which were later copied by the Austrians and Russians.

dogtail24 Apr 2019 12:57 p.m. PST

Brechtel198 wrote:"One of the problems with Prussian artillery organization is that there was no artillery reserve for the army."

As a wargamer it is nice/awful that a prussian corps can field about 11 batteries (or how about attaching all of them to one brigade?) As a french player you better put 2 corps d´armee on the table, before you can deploy La Garde and its big chunk of artillery (otherwise you might be called a powergamer…)
As a prussian gamer you don´t gain as much as a french player if your going big time.
It is interesting to see that a prussian brigade is an all arms construction in 1812 (with even two batteries, one horse afaik), while the french division no longer has a cavalry arm IIRC; the prussian corps will concentrate its artillery and cavalry as Reserve, but the French have the concentration of shock and fire in an even higher command level in cavalry corps and La Garde.
I don´t know if any allied commander had the same decisive concept of battle as Napoleon, Clausewitz famous description of contemporary battles lacked the fall of a hammer.

cheers!

Snapper6925 Apr 2019 1:12 a.m. PST

Brechtel198 wrote: "Another problem was that the corps artillery chiefs were not general officers which hindered their influence with the corps commanders on the best way to employ their artillery."

Why should that be the case? Prussian officers were well accustomed to being given a post theoretically above their substantive rank. Some Brigade commanders were colonels, most were Generalmajor. The colonels and lieutenant colonels commanding artillery brigades had the authority of their post, not their rank.

Oliver Schmidt25 Apr 2019 1:32 a.m. PST

Another problem was that the corps artillery chiefs were not general officers which hindered their influence with the corps commanders on the best way to employ their artillery.
This wouldn't have helped. Hierarchy by rank and anciennity was important in the Prussian army, as in any other army of the period. So all officers within a corps (or brigade, or regiment) had to be subordinate to the corps (brigade, regimental) commander, to avoid frictions. Having the rank of a general instead of a staff officer wouldn't increase the influence on a superior.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2019 2:32 a.m. PST

Why not?

Generals tend to talk to other generals quite differently than they would talk to a senior field grade officer. The relationship would be quite different.

At the corps level, a general officer artillery chief would be on a command par with the division commanders. That would generally help coordination of artillery in the field.

In the French army, the artillery chiefs were staff officers, but at the army and corps level they also had their own staffs and had a command function as well.

von Winterfeldt25 Apr 2019 4:30 a.m. PST

Why not?

Generals tend to talk to other generals quite differently than they would talk to a senior field grade officer. The relationship would be quite different.

Did this Senarmont chap had to ask Victor for permission?

Boney as CiC could use artillery as he pleased.

In case look up the Austrian artillery regulations of 1757 – and you will be surprised about Artillery generals.

It is a myth that Frederick the Great did not care about artillery, barrels were recast, instead of 3 pdr cannon like the Austrian the Prussians – at least their first line of battle – were supplied with 6 pdr cannons, grenadiers even with howitzers.

Sparta25 Apr 2019 4:38 a.m. PST

Prussian army reserve is not relevant in 1813-14 where they always only had one corps in each army, the russians supplied the army reserve.

Also when you look at the actual perfromance of the prussians, it seems that they – like pre-Napoleonic armies – only considered the OOB a polite suggestion.I am still not quite sure whether that helped or impeded their actions.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2019 4:42 a.m. PST

Victor was Senarmont's corps commander. And he asked permissioin, obtained authorization to employ the corps artillery as he wished. That was done because he wanted to take the divisions' supporting artillery, along with the corps reserve artillery which Senarmont controlled, and mass them.

And what are you attempting to say about the Austrians? I have the regulation, so what is it that you're referring to?

Frederick knew nothing about artillery and treated his artillerymen, especially the officers, without respect. He also had gun tubes cast with chambers, which was both inefficient and counter-productive. Take a look at Duffy's work on both the Austrian artillery arm as well as the Prussian.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2019 4:46 a.m. PST

Prussian army reserve is not relevant in 1813-14 where they always only had one corps in each army, the russians supplied the army reserve.

That being the case, then neither Blucher nor Gneisenau learned anything regarding artillery employment in 1813-1814. The Prussian army deployed to Belgium in 1815 did not have an artillery reserve, even though they had an excellent army-level artillery commander.

von Winterfeldt25 Apr 2019 5:02 a.m. PST

Frederick knew nothing about artillery and treated his artillerymen, especially the officers, without respect. He also had gun tubes cast with chambers, which was both inefficient and counter-productive. Take a look at Duffy's work on both the Austrian artillery arm as well as the Prussian.

He pretty knew a lot, he did treat all kinds of officers with disrespect or respect regardless of what kind of branch they did come from, I cannot share your opinion.

Also Frederick wanted mobility to his artillery therefore he experimented with chambered cannos, in case you overlooked that, they were recast.

I read Duffy, thank you, but also Duffy's work has to be cross checked and not blindly trusted.

In case you do have the Austrian artillery regulations of 1757 – it is pretty obvious then, I am glad to discuss them, so in case there are any quotes – let me know.

Blücher and Gneisenau caused one defeat after the other to the French, their artillery seemingly did well, capturing masses of French guns, like in the battle of Katzbach.

In case – seemingly there was no need of an army artillery reserve, the brigades did have them – an artillery reserve was no guarantee of success as the string of defeats of Boney himself in the campaigns of 1812 to 1815 showed.

Artillery – an overestimated branch of arms in the Napoleonic Wars, as long as the French had good infantry they could win such battles as Austerlitz – later clumsy blood baths compared to the glory years.

dogtail25 Apr 2019 1:35 p.m. PST

Oliver Schmid wrote:
"Having the rank of a general instead of a staff officer wouldn't increase the influence on a superior."
I am not so sure about that, I guess York acted differently to an "order" from Gneisenau before the battle of Ligny than he would have if Blücher told him to move.

FtG & Artillery
He knew he had to improve his artillery, but he surely had no love for all the technical stuff.Chambered tubes didn´t work out that well, either…
"Versetzt den Kerl zur Artillerie", sending officers to the artillery arm was a penalty.

(Good) Artillery is only one tool, combined warfare trumps, but there is no guarantee of success,that is a Binsenwahrheit/truism. And nobody can tell if the prussian army wouldn´t have had more success if there were a army artillery reserve.
cheers

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2019 4:25 a.m. PST

an artillery reserve was no guarantee of success as the string of defeats of Boney himself in the campaigns of 1812 to 1815 showed.

An artillery reserve was indeed no guarantee of victory in the field-nothing is. However, having an artillery reserve for the use of the army commander gives him both choices, control of his own artillery, and an advantage when needed-such as at Wagram and Lutzen.

How many battles did Napoleon actually lose in 1812-1815? I would submit that battles won by Napoleon far outnumber his defeats in the field.

Artillery – an overestimated branch of arms in the Napoleonic Wars, as long as the French had good infantry they could win such battles as Austerlitz – later clumsy blood baths compared to the glory years.

If anything, artillery during the period is underestimated. French doctrine which was taught in the French artillery schools, was infantry/artillery cooperation, and that is quite evident even in the early battles of the Empire period.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2019 4:26 a.m. PST

And nobody can tell if the prussian army wouldn´t have had more success if there were a army artillery reserve.

That is absolutely true. But if the Prussians had actually organized and employed their artillery more efficiently, their record of success might have been better.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2019 4:27 a.m. PST

…Duffy's work has to be cross checked and not blindly trusted.

Perhaps you could comment in more detail where you believe Duffy cannot be trusted.

von Winterfeldt26 Apr 2019 10:34 a.m. PST

I don't rely on one work alone to form my opinion about Frederick the Great, you can only see how good an author is by cross checking, reading authors like for example Bleckwenn, Kling, Jany, Guddat, the numerous volumes published by the historical section of the German general staff and the Austrian one would help to form an own opinion – not only based on one book alone.


That is absolutely true. But if the Prussians had actually organized and employed their artillery more efficiently, their record of success might have been better.

might – is the right word, pure speculation, it was good enough to win.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2019 11:20 a.m. PST

It should also be noted that the Prussians could never defeat Napoleon alone and that they were still defeated in the spring campaign of 1813 allied to the Russians.

The intervention of the Austrians in the summer/fall campaign of 1813 provided the necessary cannon fodder to the allied armies.

A conclusion could be made that the Prussian organization, while superior to that of 1806, was still inferior to that of the French.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2019 11:21 a.m. PST

I don't rely on one work alone to form my opinion about Frederick the Great, you can only see how good an author is by cross checking, reading authors like for example Bleckwenn, Kling, Jany, Guddat, the numerous volumes published by the historical section of the German general staff and the Austrian one would help to form an own opinion – not only based on one book alone.

All well and good. But the question remains was Duffy incorrect regarding his assessment of Frederick regarding the Prussian artillery?

von Winterfeldt26 Apr 2019 12:24 p.m. PST

All well and good. But the question remains was Duffy incorrect regarding his assessment of Frederick regarding the Prussian artillery?

Where did I say that Duffy was incorrect, I stated that I am not basing my opinion on one source alone – and that works, in good historical tradition should be cross checked, like for Prussia – in German language, only by that one is able to form a good solid opinion.

There I read some works of Duffy – I can reflect on them and comparing with other works I read – I can even more so.

I don't come to such a negative conclusion as it is seemingly trendy to bash the Prussian artillery under Frederick, he introduced way before the French, whose artillery was very poor in the 7YW – horse artillery. The Prussian artillery wasn't on par with the excellent Austrian ones, but Frederick did quite learn a lot from it.

dogtail26 Apr 2019 3:05 p.m. PST

Brechtel198 wrote:

A conclusion could be made that the Prussian organization, while superior to that of 1806, was still inferior to that of the French.

If this conclusion is appropriate is a highly interesting question: as I tried to describe before, if you have 4 prussian corps (after 1812), you have four tools that a more or less the same, so their strength might sum up. But if you have 3 french corps and La Garde, the Guard might be used as a strength modifier.
The strength of a single prussian corps could be terrible with its huge amount of artillery,as a wargamer I use a french corps from 1809 as a counterpart, but I could not find a historical OoB of a french corps with a similar number of batteries.
So in a corps sized action, I guess the prussian organization gives an advantage. And if La Garde/Napoleon is absent, I don´t see an advantage for the French even if the number of corps increases.

cheers

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2019 3:15 p.m. PST

The only campaign during 1813-1815 where Blucher commanded an army composed of Prussians only was in Belgium in 1815.

At Ligny, Napoleon's outnumbered French took apart Blucher's army (the Prussian corps of Pirch, Zieten, and Thielemann-Bulow was not present), and for the final decisive assault against the Prussians, French artillery was massed to support that assault. Gerard's IV Corps and the Old Guard attacked the Prussians emplaced behind Ligny with the Guard artillery massed and supporting the shattering of Blucher's line.

The French inflicted three times the casualties they incurred, which included approximately 12,000 desertions after the action.

dogtail26 Apr 2019 3:40 p.m. PST

Yeah, unfortunately the Prussian commander wasted an awful lot of troops in the fruitless fighting for the villages, it was a badly led affair, Clausewitz was very critical of it (On Waterloo, Clausewitz, Wellington and the campaign of 1815).
Actually the prussian where outnumbered, Thielmanns corps did not really participated and Napoleon counts as 40 000 men…

cheers

von Winterfeldt26 Apr 2019 11:20 p.m. PST

At Ligny, Napoleon's outnumbered French took apart Blucher's army

Yeah Boney thought that as well, he wrote them off, in the end they took him apart at Belle Alliance.

dogtail07 May 2019 9:55 p.m. PST

A conclusion could be made that the Prussian organization, while superior to that of 1806, was still inferior to that of the French.

I still consider this an unanswered interesting question, or better I am not yet able to answer it(the use of the word could suggest am open question, is that a right assumption?) La Garde and its artillery provides Napoleon with a battle deciding tool (and as I understand a heavy cavalry corps is a terrible tool to destroy a defeated enemy).
This tool in the hand of a military genius is something quite different than in the hand of any other contemporary empereur.

On the other hand in 1813 (or already in 1812) battles were not as conclusive as before, and as even Napoleon was not able to be everywhere, strenghtening the corps is a different way of warfare. I assumed it was not a deliberate choice anyway.
cheers

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP08 May 2019 1:58 p.m. PST

…he wrote them off, in the end they took him apart at Belle Alliance.

If that were true, he wouldn't have sent a significant part of Nord under Grouchy in pursuit of the Prussians.

4th Cuirassier14 May 2019 8:42 a.m. PST

I hate to keep bringing this up, but the majority of the Prussian troops, and of the fighting done at Plancenoit, was contributed by Bulow's corps – the one that had not been at Ligny.

The two Corps that had been at Ligny, and that were actually nearest to Waterloo, were the last to get there and to be committed. One expended in fact much of its energy attacking Wellington by mistake.

Sending the most distant Corps that hadn't been at Ligny apparently made more sense militarily than sending two that were nearer but that had been at Ligny. Bulow's intervention late in the day was evidently likely to be of more value than Ziethen's and Pirch's potentially much earlier.

The obvious inference is that they were in marginal shape to fight, given that in ballpark terms, equal numbers of Prussians on the field were from IV Corps versus I and II Corps combined: about 25,000 in either case. If you've got 25,000 near the battlefield and 25,000 much further away, why else would you send the 25,000 who are much further away?

Taken together with the defeat of III Corps at Wavre, the idea that the Prussian army's staff work somehow enabled it to recover sufficiently to fight two days after a defeat does not stand up or foot with the facts. The Prussian body that mainly fought at Waterloo had not been part of that defeated army. The three corps that had been were either defeated afresh or were, mainly, spared the heaviest fighting.

Some reckoning is needed of why 50,000 Prussian troops arrived at Waterloo and were able to be held off by just 10 rising to 15,000 French for so long. An answer that fits the facts is that half of them were a beaten force who arrived late. So that in fact, the actual Prussian numerical advantage was only 2 or 3:1 in men fit to fight. Worse, the only Russians were those formerly of the Russo-German legion who made up IR31. The broader history of the 1813-1815 era shows that margin and force composition to be wafer-thin by Prussian standards.

von Winterfeldt14 May 2019 9:36 a.m. PST

If that were true, he wouldn't have sent a significant part of Nord under Grouchy in pursuit of the Prussians.

Bad decisions and assumptions all along, the really had no clear idea what he was planning, he lost his plot, well time to be pensioned off.

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