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"Number of Artillery Batteries per French Division" Topic

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MiniPigs26 Aug 2019 1:58 p.m. PST

On average.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 2:32 p.m. PST

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

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2019 2:45 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 3:03 p.m. PST

Two in my armies except guard may be different.

Also, Corps Reserve may be different too.

Bagration181226 Aug 2019 3:48 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 3:51 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 3:58 p.m. PST

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

olicana27 Aug 2019 2:02 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).



Marcel180927 Aug 2019 9:02 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 2:20 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 2:46 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 6:16 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,


Oliver Schmidt27 Aug 2019 9:40 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:


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


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP28 Aug 2019 3:15 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 3:24 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 4:35 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 5:48 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 6:02 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 6:29 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 10:40 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 11:12 a.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 11:13 a.m. PST

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

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

Oliver Schmidt28 Aug 2019 11:36 a.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 1:57 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 2:07 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.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2019 3:16 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 4:18 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.

Art06 Dec 2019 10:32 p.m. PST

G'Day Oli and Hans-Karl

You are perfectly warranted and quite accurate when using the Dictionnaire de l'armée de terre to explain what a batterie means.

It is not the first time that someone mentioned that the Dictionnaire de l'armée de terre, par Le General Badin was faulty. The last time as I recall, was when someone used the Dictionnaire de l'armée de terre in regards to a cavalry posting on the forum, and another participant on the forum wrote that since General Bardin was not a cavalryman, but belonged to the infantry, he was wrong.

The Dictionnaire de l'armée de terre is exactly what the title states it is, and it would be beneficial to read volume one, which contains the elucidatory preface, or for the French military dictionary, founder under the, Discours Preliminaire, Premiere Partie –Plan General, this section will enable the reader to understand how to use a military dictionary.

Unfortunately in lieu of attempting to read the elucidatory preface, an attempt was made to discredit the validity of the Dictionnaire de l'armée de terre, due to its publication which is prior to 1830.

Years ago on another forum such a debate over what constitutes the official name of a battery or division ensued; it seems we have come back once again, to debate the same erroneous ideas. -of course…debate is welcome…

With all this said, it is a matter of context as to how or when to use batterie / division ("quelquefois on a appele division une demi-batterie…ou même un élément d'une masse batterie" ), or even une compagnie d'artillerie à pied ou à cheval to designate a compagnie-sized unit of artillerie.

When a military document mentions a body such as une compagnie d'artillerie à pied ou à cheval, it is referring to l'artillerie idioplique; ou artillerie consideree comme un ensemble d'hommes, un corps, des personnel, une arme accompagnee de son train et de ses chevaux.

In English this means it is used for the organizational information; such as administrative formation, formation indispensable to a mass, or a mass (collective body of troops within the body of artillery).

Therefore compagnie d'artillerie à pied ou à cheval would not be used when referring to documents when the context deals with the tableau de agregration tactique…but on the other hand, the term of batterie would be used.
While it has been partically explained by a forum participant, that the term 'battery' for the French artillery was used with the new Valee Artillery System, this is quite true indeed, but it was never explained the true reasoning behind this change, possibly due to not knowing why….it's probable…

Par l'ordonnance du 5 auot 1829; L'Artillerie Francaise De Terre, had a major change in their artillerie idioplique,because the artillerie a pied and artillerie a cheval cease to exist, therefore it also meant that the compagnies d'artillerie à pied et à cheval were terminated as well.

L'artillerie Francaise De Terre took on a new form which now categorized two different branches; that of the Artillerie De Garde Royale, et en Artillerie De ligne.

With the Valée system which improved the mobility of the artillerie du train, it allowed the whole artillerie du train to move as fast as the infanterie or cavalerie.

The other reason for the termination of calling compagnies d'artillerie à pied et à cheval was due to; "parce que l'artillerie a constamment aspiré à ressembler le moins possible aux autres armes."

"La batterie est l'élément et l'unité de l'artillerie: Ainsi l'idée toute naturelle que l'on a eue de donner ce nom permantent a l'acienne compagnie d'artillerie en lui consiant pour tourjours des chevaux et des bouches a feu, nous conduit a rappeler I'importance et l'emploi une batterie en temps de guerre."

Bottom line, while a batterie ou division was previously used in the context of matieres, manoeuvres, l'empli en temps de guerre, tactiques, ou des differentes especes des batteries de…with l'ordonnance du 5 auot 1829, the term batterie composed the entire artillerie idioplique terminology.


Your two examples that you posted are correct, and this has absolutely nothing to do with whether Napoleon had the option of calling it what he wanted to as he was the commander-in-chief.


Did the French military say or write in such a manner:

O After the cannonade, the compagnie d'artillerie à pied executed le manoeuvre de changer de front – No

O After the cannonade, the division executed le manoeuvre de changer de front – Not unless they were referring to a masse batterie

O After the cannonade, the batterie executed le manoeuvre de changer de front – yes

Nevertheless it seems that official proof is needed for that the military term of batterie was used prior to 1829.

O following manuals: 1810, 1812, 1814, 1816, 1818 manoevres des batteries de compagne pour l'artillerie de la garde( et Royale)


Une batterie d'artillerie de campagne, composée de six bouches à feu, sera servie par une compagnie d'artillerie à pied ou à cheval. Six caissons suivront la batterie et manoeuvreront avec elle. Le reste de l'approvisionnement formera une réserve sous la conduite d'un garde d'artillerie, ou d'un sous-officier qui en remplira les fonctions.

…ordre en avant en bataille: Le capitaine commandant se placera en avant du centre de la batterie, à douze pas des premiers chevaux.

O Aide-mémoire à l'usage des officiers d'artillerie de France – Gassendi 1809

Une Batterie est une ou plusieurs Bouches-à-feu réunies pour tirer sur des troupes , et sur les objets qui les couvrent ou les protègent, et quelquefois, comme dans les Ecoles d'Artillerie, pour faire le simulacre de ces differentes operations…On appelle aussi Batterie, le lieu qu'ont occupé ou que doivent occuper des Bouches-à-feu emplacées pour tirer une Batterie de 6 Bouches a feu est Presque toujours… suffisante

Dans les Batteries des Ecoles d'instruction où on ne tire qu'au quart du poids du boulet, et où par conséquent le recul est moindre qu'aux Batteries de guerre, on ne donne que 2 pouces de talud par toise

O The American Artillerist's Companion 1809 volume 1
de batteries: batterie dans les affaires militaires s'applique à tout endroit où plusieurs canons ou mortiers sont rangés côte à côte, soit pour attaquer la force de l'ennemi, soit pour abattre des fortifications: les batteries ont donc différents noms, dignes du but pour lequel elles ont été conçues

O Essai sur l'organisation de l'arme de l'artillerie . Par le general Lespinasse, 1800

(a lesson being explained)

"…Wurmser s'étant prolongé par sa droite de G en I pour observer nos derrières , je pris quelques pièces de la batterie CA pour les placer de C en K, en attendant celles que je tirai du parc ; et je formai la nouvelle batterie CK destinée à suivre le mouvement de l'ennemi ( letters G, I, CA, C, K, CK are positions).

O De l'usage de l'artillerie nouvelle dans la guerre de campagne:

"Sous les yeux de M. le Marechal de Broglie, & d'autres Officiers Generaux, ainsi cu'en preference d'une garnison nombreuse, une batterie de canon, du nouveau modele, compose de deux pieces de douze, de deux pieces de huit & de duex de quatre."

This is very interesting because du Teil clearly informs the readers of two things; that M. le Marechal de Broglie, & d'autres Officiers Generaux use the term batterie for a compagnie de artillerie, as did du Teil. Secondly du Teil is not the first to write about tactics for a batterie at a tactical level. He also wrote on page 103 that artillery should always follow infantry…

O Souvenirs militaires d'Octave Levavasseur, Officier d'artillerie:

"Je quittai ma batterie pour prendre place au milieu des tirailleurs et je pénétrai jusque"dans Ulm, avec l'ennemi qui s'y retirait…Je retournai ensuite à ma batterie où le lieutenant Eléna ne me demanda même pas compte de mon absence."

"J'avais, parmi les hommes de ma batterie, des canonniers pointeurs d'un rare mérite pour juger les distances et le degré de hausse à donner au canon."

"Toute notre cavalerie s'étant retirée, je restai seul avec toute ma batterie, pendant plus de trois heures…"

"Je fis monter à cheval, ordonnai à ma batterie de rester en bataille jusqu'à mon retour et me rendis au galop auprès du général Walther"

"J'ordonnai qu'on prît au parc un canon de rechange: toute la batterie me supplia de conserver la pièce et mon maréchal des logis Leroux trouva le moyen de faire remettre un grain dans la ville même de Brünn."

"Je retournai en toute hâte à ma batterie et commandai : "En avant! en colonne."

I could go on and on…but I cannot find any examples where this officer uses compagnie…

O Instruction sur le service de l'artillerie 1813:

"on marche suivant la direction indiquée par te commandant de la batterie"

"En assemblant la troupe au quartier, on place les hommes de chaque pièce sur deux rangs , de manière qu'en arrivant à la batterie"

If compagnie is the official French military term, then in what French military document and in French can this be found (I am not asking for British nor American examples) prior to 1827.

Best Regards

Oliver Schmidt07 Dec 2019 3:18 a.m. PST

Art, many thanks, very instructive.

So it is analogous to the infantry: compagnie is the adminstrative unit, and batterie (artillery) or peloton (infantry) the tactical one.

In 1819, Gassendi says basically the same (see the note at the bottom of the page linked below), however he calls the tactial unit of 6 guns a division, which can be split up in two sub-units called batterie:


It seems here he follows the usage established (?) in 1798 (second edition, I didn't find a copy of the first edition of 1789):


Oliver Schmidt07 Dec 2019 8:20 a.m. PST

Cotty quotes in 1822 from the French artillery regulation of 1st April 1792, which says (art. 2) that the guns (bouches à feu) will be formed in divisions, each division being served by a company of artillery:


So there must habe been a change in terminology after 1792, which replaced the denomination division with batterie.

Art07 Dec 2019 11:32 a.m. PST

G'Day Oli

I agree that Cotty is correct…I resort to Cotty quite often.

I agree with you also in regards to terminology after 1792, that is why I mentioned it was a matter of context as to how or when to use batterie / division

And you are correct that a good analogous would be like a body troops: compagnie is the administrative unit, and batterie (artillery) or peloton (infantry) the tactical one.

As an example with a masse batterie, it is tactically divided between two or three divisions, and each division has x amount of batteries.

In 1819 Gassendi mentions Cotty, Marion, Evain, Drouot, Ruty, Dussaussoy, Parisot, Ducros,Peyerimboff, Chapelle, Dessales, Yver, Doisy, etc.

It would be interesting to read what they had to say.

Both Bardin and the Aide-mémoire à l'usage des officiers d'artillerie de France of 1836 make it quite clear that the artillerie no longer wants to identified themselves with the infanterie or cavalerie, therefore they wanted to get rid of all the old terms.

Best Regards

SHaT198417 Dec 2019 3:14 p.m. PST

As the OP hasn't yet signified any recognition of the information-

an artillery [whatever you call them] 'in' a [unnamed type of] Division, on average, would have one French foot artillery unit. Additionally, that Division may have 'in support' the two 12 pounders from 'Corps' artillery park, divided from the 'Corps' by doctrine prior to 1805 to be dispersed and augment the firepower amongst the Corps subordinate Divisions.

In practice, the 12 pounders were soon NOT separated out by peloton at all, but retained as a grouping. A pair of light howitzers more often also attached to give lethal long range shell ability at fixed or stationary targets.

[As pointed out above by others] these figures vary greatly by actual campaign, theatre and 'administrative and 'parc' availability.

Unnoted from the real world practice are the perennial spares, barrels and replacement parts also carted around by each Corps. These are reported equally at the time of any 'Situation' concerning Artillery condition and strength.

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