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"1870 French Mitrailluese Gun/ners, doctrine, appearance?" Topic

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Pvt Snuffy09 May 2019 3:51 p.m. PST

I'm painting up several guns and crews for a friend, but don't have a lot of resources.

What do the mitrailleuse gun and carriages look like?

What are the uniforms for the gunners?

I assume that the gunners are classed as foot and not horse guns, as they seem to be assigned to infantry divisions, but I may be wrong.

As we're playing a game at his house in a week, any info on doctrine for them would be appreciated, also. Are they parceled out in batteries to brigades, divisions or corps? Etc.

Thanks in advance – it's the first F-P game my club has run in about 20 years….!

Repiqueone09 May 2019 6:47 p.m. PST

The Mitrialleuse gun was a multibarreled gun with a handcrank mechanism. The barrel looked similar to a regular gun but had 16 aperatures at the muzzle. The core barrel cluster was a bright brass. The crank came out the end of the breach and was attached to a removable breach block. The carriage was very silmilar to the artillery of the period in Imperial Green with gunmetal or black trim.

The gunner's uniforms were simple blue baggy pants with a red stripe on the side; white gaiters and a blue jacket with collar and red cuffs with red rank chevrons above the cuffs for NCOs. Gold buttons. A white belt diagonal from left shoulder to waist that carried a giberne ( ammo box). They were armed with a short carbine Chassepot rifle or a standard Chassepot. Topped by a blue Kepi with red edging on seams. Officers more elaborate uniforms with gold epaulettes, black shoulder belts.

All Mitrailleuse batteries were foot batteries and the guns were deployed just as regular artillery-which was a faulty doctrine. They were too concentrated a target for counter battery and too limited in the the area of their effect. if they had been parcelled out to infantry in the front lines in singles or pairs as were later machine guns, they could have had a much more devastating effect. In the limited areas they had effect they could be lethal. They were prone to mechanical failure and were not very mobile. The Army only recieved them weeks before the war and crews were not well trained and doctrine on their use was very mistaken.

Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2019 7:14 p.m. PST
Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2019 9:17 a.m. PST

As Repiqueone stated, they were deployed as if they were regular artillery pieces, not close support infantry weapons. Plus they were a "secret" weapon so not many French commanders knew anything about them or how to adequately employ them.


Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP10 May 2019 11:19 a.m. PST

The angle of fire was very narrow. But they way outraged the German small arms. But close support would have been. Difficult given the teams needed to cart these things around.

rmaker10 May 2019 11:29 a.m. PST

The original concept was to add two mitraillueses to each field battery to make up for the fact that rifled cannon had poor performance with canister. They were intended for close-in defense of the battery. They were never intended as infantry support weapons, and given their size and weight (equivalent to a regular field gun), would have been awful in that role.

Lion in the Stars10 May 2019 8:43 p.m. PST

@rmaker: not sure they would have been worse than the light battalion guns assigned to infantry previously.

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP11 May 2019 6:02 p.m. PST

You can find an example in the French Army Museum here,


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