Help support TMP


"Number of Artillery Batteries per French Division" Topic


27 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the Napoleonic Discussion Message Board


Areas of Interest

Napoleonic

1,077 hits since 26 Aug 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

MiniPigs26 Aug 2019 2:58 p.m. PST

On average.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 3:32 p.m. PST

If you are building "generic" divisions I would go with two.

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 3:45 p.m. PST

It greatly depends upon what time period you are building for. As a generic sense I would go with 2 like EC suggested.

JimDuncanUK26 Aug 2019 4:03 p.m. PST

Two in my armies except guard may be different.

Also, Corps Reserve may be different too.

Bagration181226 Aug 2019 4:48 p.m. PST

As the previous posters indicated, two is a good generic option. I would make one horse artillery and one foot.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 4:51 p.m. PST

Beginning in 1806 Napoleon's intent was to assign two artillery companies per infantry division, with one of them being a horse artillery company.

Each corps reserve was to have three companies of artillery, two foot and one horse with one of the foot artillery companies being armed with 12-pounders. Each corps would also have its own artillery parc.

There was also an army artillery reserve which was comprised of both foot and horse artillery. By 1809 the Guard artillery which by this time was comprised of both foot and horse artillery, took over the army reserve artillery mission.

An example of a corps complement of artillery was Victor's I Corps at Friedland in June 1807. There were 36 guns, comprised of both horse and foot companies, and included 6 12-pounders.

For the cavalry divisions, light horse divisions would have one company of horse artillery assigned and heavy cavalry divisions two companies.

This idea of Napoleon's took awhile to implement and the artillery companies would not always have the regulation number of guns in the field because of combat losses of men and horses as well as pieces having been turned into the parcs for maintenance and repair.

Russ Haynes Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 4:58 p.m. PST

Very informative! Before looking at the comments I guessed three, so I was off a little.

olicana27 Aug 2019 3:02 a.m. PST

If I can tag to this thread with an opinion coming slightly from the oblique.

Being awkward, want to play battles with numerous divisions but, I can't field full divisions (of say, 10 – 12 battalions). So, I'm reducing the number of battalions by a third – so I can field 3 – 4 infantry command groups / divisions (of say, 7 – 8 battalions) plus supporting cavalry, etc.

The thing that allows me to do this with an easy conscience is a firm belief, gained from over 40 years in the hobby, that once you get above a reasonable number of units in a 'division sized command group' it is the relative power (between the opposing sides in the game) that counts, rather than the number of individual tactical elements therein.

Consequently, I've decided to field only one two gun battery per division.

It's horses for courses, and depends very much on what you are scaling to represent, and why. My decisions were based on the theatre I have chosen (the Peninsular); my figure scale (24 man battalions in 28 mm); my home table size (15' x 6' max); my limitations on army size due to cost – budget and painting time – and storage implications (40 units a side).

I built my SYW armies (of around 50 units each) on the same lines. Here a unit represents a regiment of two battalions – and this means I can fight battles like Zorndorf 1758 (pictured below).

picture

picture

Marcel180927 Aug 2019 10:02 a.m. PST

Often two batteries (1809 eg) But in 1815 only one for most divisions (but with large corps and army reserves). In some peninsular campaigns also only one or even less.
Strictly for wargames purposes, look at the stenght of a battery in your rules, don't let artillery dominate to much on the battlefield as it will "kill" all movement.

Timmo uk27 Aug 2019 3:20 p.m. PST

In the Peninsular many divisions only had one battery. It's not until later, that more artillery became available.

I'd look at some historical OOB for the period and theatre you want to represent and go from there.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2019 3:46 p.m. PST

Just for general information, the Grande Armee, as did the Royal Army before it, did not use the term 'battery' to designate a company-sized unit of artillery. The term used was 'company.'

The term 'battery' was used to designate any concentration or emplacement of artillery, usually in a fixed position such as in a siege, and it would consiste of from one piece to many.

The French also used the term during the Napoleonic period of Grande Batterie to designate large concentrations of field artillery, from at least two companies to many. Grande Batteries were formed in many battles, but the term came to designate artillery concentrations for specific missions beginning with Senarmont's at Friedland in June 1807.

C M DODSON27 Aug 2019 7:16 p.m. PST

For the one hundred days campaign it was one company per division with a Corps company in addition to these at HQ level..

The Guard has two per ‘division'.

Best wishes,

Chris

Oliver Schmidt27 Aug 2019 10:40 p.m. PST

Just for general information, the Grande Armee, as did the Royal Army before it, did not use the term 'battery' to designate a company-sized unit of artillery. The term used was 'company.'
But this was not practice for artillery in the field ? Or did the practice change during the course of the wars ?

Here an example by the highest authority of the army himself, the disposition for crossing the Njemen in 1812. He cleary speaks of the individual units:

link

And here, in a letter to Davout from early 1813, he orders the latter to organise two "batteries d'artillerie" for the army corps:

link

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 4:15 a.m. PST

The term 'battery' for the French artillery was not officially changed until the new Valee Artillery System was implemented.

What this could have referred to was the company of artillery combined with their train company which was the practice on campaign. This would today be called the firing battery. A company of French artillery served a division of field pieces.

And Napoleon had the option of calling it what he wanted to as he was the commander-in-chief.

Oliver Schmidt28 Aug 2019 4:24 a.m. PST

Thanks, so it is "compagnie" for the organisational subdivisions of an artillery battalion, and when this "compagnie" was mobilised and joined with a "compagnie de train", the ensemble became a "batterie" ?

von Winterfeldt28 Aug 2019 5:35 a.m. PST

If Boney calls it batteries, it will do for me as well – of course guns needed gunners – and when they had them they were formed in batteries as tactical units, such as a battalion in the infantry for example.

Up to 1800 – there wasn't any military compagnie de train in France, still the term battery was used.

the rest is splitting hairs

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 6:48 a.m. PST

I'm shocked!

You actually agree with something that Napoleon said, wrote, or did.

That is definitely a first.

Oliver Schmidt28 Aug 2019 7:02 a.m. PST

I checked in Bardin. He defines (in the 1830s):

batterie d'artillerie and batterie de bouches à feu – originally a group of guns and other material, or/and the place where the guns were positioned. Later the ensemble of personnel and material as well, and therefore also a tactical unit:

Dictionnaire de l'armée de terre

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 7:29 a.m. PST

And that is after (1830) the use of the term 'battery' for a company-sized unit of artillery became 'official.'

It should also be noted that the United States Army of the period also used the term 'company' for artillery.

von Winterfeldt28 Aug 2019 11:40 a.m. PST

I checked in Bardin. He defines (in the 1830s):

batterie d'artillerie and batterie de bouches à feu – originally a group of guns and other material, or/and the place where the guns were positioned. Later the ensemble of personnel and material as well, and therefore also a tactical unit:

Excellent it proves my point and that of Boney as well.

Well for fun – let's check what Elting has to say on this – I would however – regardless side with Bardin in this case.

And for a rule of thumb, in the glory years one battery per division later 1809 onward, when the excellent French infantry was destroyed – two batteries (and I mean guns and gunners and train ;-))

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 12:12 p.m. PST

Again, 1830 is after the adoption of the Valee Artillery System and the official adoption of the term 'battery' instead of 'company.'

Interestingly, I looked up the Bardin Dictionary, Volume II, and the publication date was 1841.

Why the discrepancy?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 12:13 p.m. PST

…1809 onward, when the excellent French infantry was destroyed…

Where in 1809 was the excellent French infantry 'destroyed'?

Oliver Schmidt28 Aug 2019 12:36 p.m. PST

Interestingly, I looked up the Bardin Dictionary, Volume II, and the publication date was 1841.
True, my error. Also the first volume of the Dictionnaire de l'armée de terre was published in 1841.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 2:57 p.m. PST

That's past the time that the term 'battery' came into common usage instead of 'company.' That was in ca 1827, sometime before the Bardin Dictionary.

SHaT198429 Aug 2019 3:07 a.m. PST

>>Thanks, so it is "compagnie" for the organisational subdivisions of an artillery battalion, and when this "compagnie" was mobilised and joined with a "compagnie de train", the ensemble became a "batterie" ?

Man what a twisted thread of nomenclature and bluff. Where did a 'battalion' come from? That I've never read of in reference to historical France. As well as regiment, that is an administrative body.

Yes- the company is the basis of artillery unit in the field.
No it was not a battery.
No it was not 'attached to the train'. Quite the reverse.

"En batterie" is mostly a term used to mean an emplaced or protected gun grouping.
"batterie" can mean to batter, diminish or destroy and should not be literally translated as a (noun)'thing'.

French canoniers could serve any type of artillery piece. Thus, as an extreme example of the practice, the former Garde des Consuls light artillery and GI Horse manned 3 (Austrian), 4, 6 centiemetre (or 'pouce' if you prefer) regularly, 8 and 12 at various times. Sure, they could only man a fewer number of pieces of larger calibre. (Each 'squadron was formed with two compagnies).

Any artillery unit (except fixed fortress artillery) was a combined force- canoniers, train, and assigned pieces.

Higher organisation seen in use by the Grande Armée in 1805, was something akin to Brectels tally, usually one company per Infantry Division (big D), ideally one company of horse per Cavalry Division AND mounted Dragoon Division.

There were one or two Corps reserve companies, mostly serving 12 pdrs, plus spare companies of men unallocated, under an Corps Artillery commander, usually a Chef de battalion.

There were also infantry regimental artillery 'compaany's' (but really just a peloton) in use.

I say ideally because many units, by the date at Austerlitz had after an attrition or loss, meant some of the cavalry companies had been reduced to one peloton and 3 pieces only.

I consider most gaming rules grossly overrate artillery effectiveness, both close-range and accuracy, avoid the 'depth/range' of damage to which various targets could suffer losses, and excessive componding of units to ridiculous and non-historic degrees.

As bad as 'historical' movies of any H&M genre depicting interminable battlefield explosions when howitzers (or 1815 British 'shell') accounted for less than 20% of all shot fired.
d

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2019 4:16 a.m. PST

There were one or two Corps reserve companies, mostly serving 12 pdrs, plus spare companies of men unallocated, under an Corps Artillery commander, usually a Chef de battalion.
There were also infantry regimental artillery 'compaany's' (but really just a peloton) in use.

Anything 'spare' would be in the corps artillery parcs. In the Grande Armee corps artillery chiefs were usually general officers, not field grade. This can be found in the orders of battle in various publications.

The regimental artillery companies were reorganized in 1809 as the old battalion guns were abolished in 1798. Napoleon ordered them formed in Davout's, Massena's, and Oudinot's corps after Essling and while they were training on Lobau Island before the second Danube crossing, there is little or no evidence that they were employed at Wagram. In April 1810 the infantry regiments to which they were assigned were ordered to turn their pieces in.

A Young Guard division sent into Spain in 1809 had two light pieces assigned per regiment, but Guard artillerymen manned these.

In March 1811 Napoleon ordered that each infantry regiment would have companies d'artillerie regimentaire assigned, organized, and equipped with four 4-pounder pieces, two officers and 95 enlisted men per company. Because of the difficulties in procuring the necessary guns, vehicles, harness and other ancillary equipment, the companies were reduced to two guns each.

The regimental cannon companies served in Russia but most of the guns were lost and not all of the infantry commanders either knew how to employ them at the regimental level, and both Oudinot and Merle did not think too highly of the idea.

Some of the companies made it out of Russia at least partially intact, but the idea was abandoned for 1813 as the French artillery arm had to be rebuilt because of heavy losses in guns and men in Russia.

When the artillery train was militarized in 1800, artillery train units were 'brigaded' with the artillery companies and usually served together through various campaigns. Train company commanders, at first sergeants, and later lieutenants, were subordinate to their artillery company commanders which was a common sense approach to the assignment.

While assigned as a company to the artillery company, the train company was not always together with the artillery company. The artillery company moved on campaign with only one caisson per piece, the others assigned to the company were with the corps parc and ran a shuttle service to and from the gun company when in action to keep the pieces supplied with ammunition.

I say ideally because many units, by the date at Austerlitz had after an attrition or loss, meant some of the cavalry companies had been reduced to one peloton and 3 pieces only.

Cavalry companies?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2019 5:18 a.m. PST

As a postscript to the above posting, it should be remembered that there was a shortage of horses in the Ulm campaign which is why some of the dragoons served dismounted.

Further, because of this same shortage, Davout had to leave some of his artillery behind in Mannheim en route east.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.