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Zhmodikov09 Sep 2019 9:54 p.m. PST

This discussion started here:
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We discuss Jomini's attempt to establish a general rule of artillery employment:


artillery of every kind used in battles must never forget that its main purpose is to strike the enemy troops, and not to reply to their batteries. However, as it is well not to leave the field free to the action of the enemy's cannons, it is useful to combat them to attract their fire: one may destine a third of the available artillery pieces for this purpose, but at least two thirds have to be directed to the cavalry and the infantry [of the enemy].

Jomini A. H., Précis de l'art de la guerre ou nouveau tableau analytique des principales combinaisons de la stratégie, de la grande tactique et de la politique militaire, Paris, 1838, IIe partie, p. 275.

Jomini, Summary of the Art of War, New York, 1854, p. 319.

There is an earlier version:
Jomini A. H., Tableau analytique des principales combinaisons de la guerre, 3-e édition, Paris, 1830, p. 226.

Brechtel198 wrote:


His comments on artillery employment demonstrate that he didn't understand French artillery doctrine and employment.
Perhaps he should have read du Teil?
Artillery can be in reserve as it certainly was, but it isn't held in reserve to conduct counterbattery fire.
Du Teil's doctrinal publication was the general guidance for French artillery employment and was in use for the period. It was also one of the publications from which Napoleon was taught and he both du Teil's-as instructor and commander.
Du Teil's publication covered more than merely when and how to use counterbattery fire and what the primary targets of field artillery should be in combat.

It should be noted that du Teil's borrowed many thoughts from Guibert's famous Essai général de tactique first published in 1772, while Guibert borrowed many thoughts from du Puget's Essai sur l'usage de l'Artillerie dans la Guerre de Campagne et dans celle de Sieges published in 1771.

Brechtel198 wrote:


The idea of artillery drawing the opponent's artillery fire is ridiculous.

Emmanuel de Las Cases, a French cartographer and historian, who accompanied Napoleon in his exile to Saint Helena, wrote down Napoleon's conversation with accompanying persons, which was held on 24 June 1816:


[Napoleon] said that one could never make artillerymen fire upon the [enemy] infantry masses, when they were themselves attacked by an opposite battery. It was natural cowardice, he said cheerfully, a violent instinct of self-preservation. An artilleryman among us protested against such an assertion. ‘Yet this is so', the Emperor continued, ‘you immediately put yourselves on guard against those who attacks you; you seek to destroy him, so that he does not destroy you. You often cease your fire, so that he may leave you alone, and return to the infantry masses, which are of very different importance for the battle, etc.'

As we can see, Napoleon said that, when enemy batteries began to fire at his artillerymen, they either ceased their fire, or immediately began to reply. So, Napoleon said that enemy batteries sometimes drew to themselves the fire of his artillery.
This effect is mentioned in some later manuals.

Favé I., Histoire et tactique des trois armes et plus particulièrement de l'artillerie de campagne. Paris, 1845, p. 311, in case when the friendly troops should advance through a defile, a part of the artillery should get to the other end of the defile and to fire at the enemy artillery, and then:


if our [artillery] pieces not overwhelm the enemy artillery, at least they will attract its fire to themselves [elles attireront du moins son feu sur elles].

Jomini used the same word: pour attirer son feu (to attract their fire).

Taubert A., Gefechtslehre der Feld-Artillerie, mit besonderer Anwendung auf den taktischen Gebrauch der Batterien eines Armeekorps, Berlin, 1855, S. 69: (an English edition: Taubert A., On the Use of Field Artillery on Service: with Especial Reference to That of an Army-Corps, London, 1856, p. 73-74):


On the offensive, the fire [of our artillery] is chiefly directed against the enemy's artillery, in order to divert their fire from the other troops, and to facilitate the advance of the latter; on the defensive, on the other hand, it is especially directed against the enemy's infantry or cavalry, to prevent their advance.

Ibid., S. 142-143 (the English edition: p. 150):


On a closer approach to the enemy, the artillery should endeavour to draw off the fire of the opponent's artillery from the infantry by a close round shot fire, and at the same time endeavor to weaken it; and when it is effected, to shake his infantry by round shot and shrapnel fire.

Taubert used the word "abzuleiten" in both these quotes. So, there are other people who shared the "ridiculous idea".
Taubert also clearly said that the artillery could draw off the fire of the enemy artillery from the friendly troops.

Now we may return to du Teil. As I have said, du Teil wrote that a battery should not engage in combat against enemy artillery, except the cases, when either the friendly troops were too much troubled by the enemy artillery, or it is indispensable in order "to support and to protect the [friendly] troops" (pour soutenir & protéger les Troupes, p. 51). How should we understand this "support and protection" that the artillery could provide by firing at the enemy artillery? What kind of results du Teil expected of the artillery fire at the enemy artillery? We should take into account du Teil's opinion that, if artillerymen fire at an enemy battery in hope to destroy it, they would waste their ammunition, so he didn't expect quick destruction of the enemy battery.

Napoleon said in his critical notes on General Rogniat's book Considérations sur l'art de la guerre:

we saw occasions where the enemy would have won a battle; he occupied a fine position with a battery of fifty to sixty pieces; in vain one would have attacked him with additional 4,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry; a battery of equal force was required, [so that] under its protection the attack columns advanced and deployed.

Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire de France, sous le règne de Napoléon, Paris, 2-me édition, 1830, t. 8, p. 50.

Here Napoleon explained that Rogniat is wrong in his proposal to significantly reduce the number of guns in the field army and to increase the strength of infantry and/or cavalry, and that there is a certain optimal ratio of the three arms of service for a certain theater of military actions.

There is another version of this sentence:


we saw occasions where the enemy would have won a battle; they with their strong batteries occupied fine positions from where they would have struck down our attack columns and disperse them, if they [the columns] had not been supported by superior artillery [soutenues par une artillerie supérieure].

Correspondance de Napoléon, t. 31, p. 394.

As we can see, both du Teil and Napoleon used the same terms: "protéger" (to protect) – "protection", "soutenir" (to support) – "soutenues" (is supported).
What kind of results Napoleon meant, when he spoke about the "protection" and "support" provided by his artillery to his advancing infantry?

I think that under the "support" and "protection" both du Teil and Napoleon meant exactly what Jomini and other later theorists said: the artillery should support and protect the friendly infantry, and could do it by firing at the enemy artillery, trying to attract the enemy artillery fire to themselves and thus to distract the enemy artillery fire from the friendly troops.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2019 11:19 p.m. PST

The way I play it more or less. Might need more supressive results to counter battery fire. age of eagles/ valor does that very well!
Another nail into the rehashing of the same old ideas, here that counter battery is useless.
Napoleon, the artilleur, a negligible authority on the period. 😏🤗
But maybe there should be some compelled returning fire not in the will of the player. Not automatic.

von Winterfeldt09 Sep 2019 11:32 p.m. PST

Boney's statement is supported by numerous eye witness accounts of gunners who very well state that counter battery fire was performed, that positions had to be changed due being under enemy artillery fire or indeed withdrawn.

Brechtel198 wrote:


The idea of artillery drawing the opponent's artillery fire is ridiculous.

As Alexander demonstrated above, as well as taking into account that artillery just did counter battery fire – it is not ridiculous, it would be denying reality.

By the way another indicator that counter battery fire was regular – is that it was recommended that covering troops, infantry or cavalry, artillery needed support unless they were at risk getting captured, were placed at the flanks of the guns and not behind them to avoid heavy casualties when the battery was under fire by enemy guns.

Chad4710 Sep 2019 4:06 a.m. PST

From a much earlier period, I have a copy of a journal of a sergeant during the War of the Spanish Succession. He notes that to counter the effect of enemy artillery fire a counter-battery was established to engage that artillery. The interesting point is that the counter-battery is used as a noun in his statement and therefore suggests that this was not an uncommon practice some 100 years prior to the Napoleonic period,

patrick76610 Sep 2019 5:37 a.m. PST

In gaming terms, should artillery then be required to fire on enemy artillery that has engaged them? That's what this suggests.

Mike the Analyst10 Sep 2019 5:46 a.m. PST

Mercer (I think) at Waterloo describes opening counter battery fire against one French battery only to draw a response from a heavier battery which ceased fire after Mercer desisted from his original counter battery fire.

Also later in the battle the remains of Mercer's battery comes under fire from artillery in a friendly fire incident with his battery being saved by a nearby battery driving off this attacker.

rmaker10 Sep 2019 9:38 a.m. PST

I have always questioned the "no counter-battery" business myself, at least in part because the justification seems to be the frequent orders forbidding it. That's counterintuitive, nobody would bother issuing those orders if it wasn't happening.

Stoppage10 Sep 2019 11:23 a.m. PST

Perhaps this knowledge suggests a new wargames rule:

Artillery control test:

1,2,3 Fail – ignore orders and conduct counter-battery fire.
4,5,6 Pass – follow orders and engage enemy foot/horse

Factors:
-1 Enemy artillery target within arc and range
-1 Enfiladed enemy artillery target in arc and range
-2 Already receiving enemy counter-battery fire
+1 Trained in French regulations
+2 Read book on artillery employment
+3 Under effective enemy skirmish fire

Whirlwind10 Sep 2019 12:36 p.m. PST

Are there any actual examples of artillery batteries ignoring counter-battery fire hitting their position and instead concentrating on an infantry or cavalry target of choice?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse10 Sep 2019 1:57 p.m. PST

Senarmont did at Friedland in June 1807.

Whirlwind10 Sep 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

I have Kevin on stifle so I don't know what he has written, but I should clarify my post as "except for anything that Senarmont claimed he did at Friedland," in case he was replying to me.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 2:16 p.m. PST

Wow- is that like 'Secret Double Suspension.'

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse10 Sep 2019 4:32 p.m. PST

To add to Senarmont's action at Friedland, you can add Lauriston's at Wagram in 1809 and Drouot's at Lutzen in 1813. I don't know off-hand if they were being fired on by artillery at the time of their attacks, but their targets were infantry, not artillery.

Zhmodikov11 Sep 2019 11:16 a.m. PST

rmaker wrote:


I have always questioned the "no counter-battery" business myself, at least in part because the justification seems to be the frequent orders forbidding it. That's counterintuitive, nobody would bother issuing those orders if it wasn't happening.

French officer Charles Jacquinot de Presle wrote in 1820s in his "Course of the art of war and military history":


In principle, one must not engage in combat of artillery against artillery; it would be a means of consuming a great deal of ammunition and of destroying many men and equipment, and since it is the troops who finally decide the affairs, one should fire at them. This principle is difficult to observe: the artillery officers, out of self-esteem, want to extinguish in the eyes of the troops the fire which hit them, and those [troops] sometimes loudly demand it.

Jacquinot de Presle C., Cours d'art et d'histoire militaries de l'École Royale de cavalerie, Saumur, 1829, p. 143.

Whirlwind11 Sep 2019 12:10 p.m. PST

<Q> Are there any actual examples of artillery batteries ignoring counter-battery fire hitting their position and instead concentrating on an infantry or cavalry target of choice?

No takers at all?

Stoppage11 Sep 2019 1:17 p.m. PST

How about the Austrian artillery at Wagram – engaging McDonald's Colonne Vuide?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse11 Sep 2019 1:47 p.m. PST

Apparently, Lauriston's 102-gun battery (composed of the Guard artillery as well as Macdonald's (18 guns) and Wrede's (24 guns) went into action to support Macdonald's attack that went in to their left. Lauriston targeted the Austrian artillery which had targeted Macdonald's advance and beat up the Austrian artillery badly.

And the French artillery doctrine as far as counterbattery fire was concerned was only to employ it if the enemy artillery was hurting their own infantry more than they were hurting theirs.

French doctrine did not prohibit counterbattery fire, but had definite 'rules' on when to employ it. The main artillery target was the enemy's infantry.

In general, counterbattery fire was not employed if possible because it took a long time to conduct and involved a heavy expenditure of ammunition. The preferred French tactic when employing counterbattery fire was to concentrate fire on one or a few pieces at a time, silence them, and then shift fire to the next target. The preferred pieces to be used in counterbattery fire were 4-, 6-, and 8-pounders as they had a higher sustained rate of fire than 12-pounders (two rounds per minute vice one round per minute).

From Duteil's Usage on the subject:

'When scouting for a position for the battery, one must have as a primary target the infantry of the enemy, and not his artillery. It is not necessary to have regard for their artillery unless you cannot fulfill this main objective, or in cases where the enemy's artillery fire greatly disrupts the infantry that one protects. It follows from this principle that one should never engage in counterbattery fire, except when it is indispensable for the support and protections of the infantry. On the contrary, one must have for a principal goal, as we have said, to fire on the infantry of the enemy, whenever they can be destroyed, or to reduce any obstacles which cover them. By engaging to eliminate the fire of their artillery is to consume powder uselessly and to seek, in vain, the destruction of their batteries. By supposing even that one could succeed in this, it would not really have accomplished anything, or very little, since there is still the infantry to be overcome.'

'The principal rules for the execution of the artillery are to allocate its fire based on the importance of the target, and to manage its ammunition and conserve it for the essential and decisive moment…'

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse11 Sep 2019 2:02 p.m. PST

Regarding the connection between Guibert's Essai general and Jean Duteil's Usage, the following from Robert Quimby's excellent The Background of Napoleonic Warfare might be helpful:

'The chapters of the Essai general which Guibert devoted to artillery were supplemented and amplified by a very influential book, De l'usage de l'artillerie nouvelle dans la guerre de campagne, published in 1778, by the Chevalier Jean du Teil )1738-1820), a distinguished officer of the Royal Artillery, He and his older brother, Baron Joseph du Teil, also a distinguished artillery officer, were closely connected with the early phases of the career of Napoleon Bonaparte. Jean had been an officer in the Regiment La Fere into which Napoleon was commissioned in 1785, and it would seem a safe inference that his doctrines were influential there. This regiment was snet, in 1788, to the artillery school at Auxonne, then commanded by the baron. There Napoleon became one of the baron's favorite pupils. Some years later he spent a holiday at the baron's chateau discussing military questions with him…'

It should be noted that both Guibert and Duteil wrote their treatises after the adoption of the new Gribeauval System of field artillery. Gribeauval designed his new field pieces (4-, 8-, and 12-pounder guns and 6-inch howitzer) for a war of maneuver and his innovations certainly supported that idea. And both Guibert and Duteil supported the idea of a war of maneuver with the artillery in place in the army to support it.

Lion in the Stars11 Sep 2019 2:19 p.m. PST

In gaming terms, should artillery then be required to fire on enemy artillery that has engaged them? That's what this suggests.

I'd make it a Morale test not to fire on the artillery that shot at you, not make it a requirement that you had to fire.

Whirlwind11 Sep 2019 8:42 p.m. PST

How about the Austrian artillery at Wagram – engaging McDonald's Colonne Vuide?

I don't know – were they being hit by French artillery fire at the time?

I guess I would be expecting an artillery officer to say something about his battery being under fire, losing people, but him choosing to ignore this and concentrate on his infantry or cavalry target. Anyone read any such thing?

Sparta11 Sep 2019 11:41 p.m. PST

Dear Zhmodikov. Thank you so much for this brilliant analysis. I have always thought that the general description of counterbattery fire was at odds with what we read when we go into the details of engagements – here we very often see batteries withdrawing bacuase they are under counterbattery fire. I suspect this started in british litterature because of Wellingtons comments.

The implications are imprtant because rules that allow counterbattery fire to have a moral effect on artillery – perhaps more than physical – allows much better simulations of the battles of the period.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse12 Sep 2019 8:48 a.m. PST

I think that under the "support" and "protection" both du Teil and Napoleon meant exactly what Jomini and other later theorists said: the artillery should support and protect the friendly infantry, and could do it by firing at the enemy artillery, trying to attract the enemy artillery fire to themselves and thus to distract the enemy artillery fire from the friendly troops.

First, I would disregard Jomini because he was a theorist and not an artilleryman.

Second, the idea of using your own artillery as a target for enemy artillery is wrong-no artilleryman would do that. An artillery commander would target enemy artillery if the situation required it-not to set himself up as a target fot he enemy artillery to shoot at.

The entire idea is to support the infantry and if that required counterbattery fire, then that was done as explained in Duteil.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse12 Sep 2019 8:59 a.m. PST

This is from McLaddie from the skirmishers thread:

Scharnhorst did more than recommend 'cooperation' between the three arms. He went further, suggesting that the artillery should be integrated permanently in the same way a divisional staff was permanent within the French army. His idea was there would be no separate artillery arm just as there was not separate 'divisional staff' organization. In 1801, nobody was talking about doing that, including the French.

Response:

If this is an accurate interpretation of Scharnhorst's ideas on artillery, then he learned little from his training as an artillery officer.

If true, it did fit in with Prussian artillery employment up to 1806 as well as during the Prussian reform period from 1807-1813.]

One of the principle objectives during the period was to make artillery a separate branch with its own training, schools, and commanders who were artillerymen. This was most certainly the object in France during their reform period from 1763-1789-to make the artillery equal on the battlefield and in the army to the infantry and cavalry as independent combat arms.

What you're describing is an idea or effort to make the artillery disappear as a separate branch and make the artillery arm subordinate to the infantry and cavalry, which is what Frederick the Great did. The idea is a move backwards, not forwards. What did Scharnhorst want? A move back to the old artillery guilds?

In short, it's ridiculous.

And a combat arm cannot be compared to the staff organization at any level.

Allan F Mountford13 Sep 2019 5:43 a.m. PST

As an aside, General de Division Baron Jean-Jacques Desvaux De Saint-Maurice, had he survived, might have been surprised to learn of Wellington's order not to engage in counter-battery fire, since the unfortunate Frenchman was killed by counter-battery fire whilst assisting in organising and deploying the French massed battery at Waterloo before it had fired a single round.

Zhmodikov13 Sep 2019 12:01 p.m. PST

Brechtel198 wrote:


First, I would disregard Jomini because he was a theorist and not an artilleryman.
Second, the idea of using your own artillery as a target for enemy artillery is wrong-no artilleryman would do that. An artillery commander would target enemy artillery if the situation required it-not to set himself up as a target fot he enemy artillery to shoot at.

Would you like to say that there were no artillery officer, who understood that if he opens fire at the enemy artillery, it was likely that the enemy artillery will reply?
Napoleon was an artillery officer, and he explains that if artillerymen were under enemy artillery fire, they usually began to reply.

Taubert was a captain (Hauptmann) and the commander of a battery in the Prussian 8th Artillery Regiment.

Henry Hamilton Maxwell, who translated Taubert's book into English, added a footnote, in which he disagrees with the old maxim: "Guns should be pointed on troops, and not on the enemy batteries", and agrees with Taubert:


The proper version of the maxim is, I consider, that which our author comprehensively gives us in the text.

On the Use of Field Artillery on Service: with Especial Reference to That of an Army-Corps, London, 1856, p. 73, footnote *.

Henry Hamilton Maxwell is presented in the book as "first lieutenant Bengal Artillery".

Ildefonse Favé was a captain in the artillery.

I think that after a battery opened fire at the enemy infantry, it would soon be under enemy artillery fire anyway, because, as Jacquinot de Presle said, the artillerymen, out of self-esteem, wanted to extinguish in the eyes of the troops the fire which hit them, and the troops sometimes loudly demand it. He meant the French artillerymen and French troops, but it is clear that the artillerymen and infantrymen in other armies shared the same feelings and habits.

Brechtel198 wrote:


The entire idea is to support the infantry and if that required counterbattery fire, then that was done as explained in Duteil.

Du Teil did not explain what kind of results he expected from counterbattery fire. He said that artillerymen who would fire at the enemy artillery in hope to destroy it, would waste their ammunition. What was that effect of artillery fire that helped the infantry to advance and deploy in the presence of a strong enemy battery, as Napoleon said?

Zhmodikov13 Sep 2019 12:20 p.m. PST

Sparta,
Thank you very much for your kind words.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse13 Sep 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

Taubert A., Gefechtslehre der Feld-Artillerie, mit besonderer Anwendung auf den taktischen Gebrauch der Batterien eines Armeekorps, Berlin, 1855, S. 69: (an English edition: Taubert A., On the Use of Field Artillery on Service: with Especial Reference to That of an Army-Corps, London, 1856, p. 73-74):

Taubert served in the Prussian artillery and wrote just a little outside the period.

Du Teil did not explain what kind of results he expected from counterbattery fire.

I would think that Duteil expected that the offending enemy artillery would be silenced if engaged. Why else would you engage it?

von Winterfeldt14 Sep 2019 7:17 a.m. PST

Scharnhorst was very much a theorist as well, his field commands were not stellar, at Auerstedt he completely disregarded his duties as chief of staff.

So should we disregard his theoretical works – no, neither those of Jomini, it is much better to comment on them in context.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse14 Sep 2019 7:32 a.m. PST

Scharnhorst did not hold field commands. He was a staff officer and a chief of staff in 1806 and 1813.

The billet of chief of staff at any level is not a field command.

Scharnhorst was an experienced soldier. Jomini wore a uniform, but never actually became a soldier. There is quite a difference.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse14 Sep 2019 7:39 a.m. PST

[Napoleon] said that one could never make artillerymen fire upon the [enemy] infantry masses, when they were themselves attacked by an opposite battery…

You might not be able to 'make' artillerymen fire on enemy infantry when taking incoming artillery fire, but it was done-Senarmont certainly did it at Friedland and Lauriston's casualties at Wagram were heavy enough that Napoleon sent twenty corporals and privates from each company of Old Guard infantry to reinforce the depleted gun crews.

Zhmodikov16 Sep 2019 12:13 p.m. PST

Brechtel198 wrote:


Taubert served in the Prussian artillery and wrote just a little outside the period.

In fact, Taubert just repeated very closely some sentences from Russian General Ivan Gogel's article entitled "The use of artillery pieces in action against an enemy" published in the Russian Artillery Journal in 1810. Gogel wrote that, when the friendly troops were on the defensive, the artillery should fire at the enemy troops which attacked the position, but sometimes the artillery should fire at the enemy artillery "to force the enemy to reply to our fire, … and to occupy their attention, so that the friendly troops could carry out their movements unhindered". Further, Gogel wrote that when the friendly troops were on the offensive, the artillery should support actions of the troops by firing at the enemy artillery "to distract the fire of the enemy batteries from our troops when they will begin their march [to the attack], and during their march, in order to scatter the direction of the enemy shots".

Gogel graduated from the Land Cadet Corps, he served in the artillery, in 1806 he became a member of the Artillery Committee, promoted major-general in 1808, in the period from 1809 to 1816 he published several articles and two books on artillery equipment, organization, and tactics. His works show that he was well acquainted with French and German literature on artillery, not only with that of the 18th century, but also with contemporary books, such as Augustin Lespinasse's Essai sur l'organisation de l'arme de l'artillerie published in 1800, and Christophe Clément's Essai sur l'artillerie à cheval published in 1808. He also translated several books from German and French, among them Heinrich Otto von Scheel's Mémoires d'artillerie contenant l'artillerie nouvelle ou les changements faits dans l'artillerie françoise en 1765, and Georg Wilhelm von Valentini's Abhandlung über den kleinen Krieg und über den Gebrauch der leichten Truppen published in 1802.

Brechtel198 wrote:


I would think that Duteil expected that the offending enemy artillery would be silenced if engaged. Why else would you engage it?

I think that it would be naïve of him to expect that the enemy artillery would cease their fire soon after they are under fire of the French artillery. The Russian artillery usually began to reply to the fire of the French artillery. General Jacob von Sievers wrote in his report on the actions of the Russian artillery in the 1806-1807 campaigns:


Many our artillerymen have a habit to always fire at the enemy batteries in hope to destroy them… This often happens on orders given by superiors, who like the expression: "Silence that enemy battery."

Under the "superiors" Sievers probably meant the Russian infantry generals who wanted to save their troops from the French artillery fire, while under the "artillerymen" he probably meant the artillery officers. As we can see, in some armies the infantry generals demanded from the artillery officers to fire at the enemy batteries which annoyed the troops, and many artillery officers wanted out of their self-esteem to silence the enemy artillery which fired at the nearby friendly troops, as Jacquinot de Presle wrote, and almost all artillerymen had a natural tendency to reply to reply to enemy artillery fire, as Napoleon said. So, I think that any artillery officer, who decided to open fire at the enemy battery, should expect that the enemy battery would rather reply than cease its fire.

Brechtel198 wrote:


You might not be able to 'make' artillerymen fire on enemy infantry when taking incoming artillery fire, but it was done-Senarmont certainly did it at Friedland and Lauriston's casualties at Wagram were heavy enough that Napoleon sent twenty corporals and privates from each company of Old Guard infantry to reinforce the depleted gun crews.

Would you like to say that at the battle of Friedland Senarmont's guns did not fire at the opposing Russian guns at all? Some Russian sources say that they did, at least a part of them for at least a part of the total duration of the action.

von Winterfeldt16 Sep 2019 1:46 p.m. PST

So we are back to Senarmont, Brechtel should please read his memoires there he will find that he intended first to destroy the enemy batteries, so counter battery fire before firing at the infantry.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse16 Sep 2019 6:11 p.m. PST

The Russian artillery usually began to reply to the fire of the French artillery. General Jacob von Sievers wrote in his report on the actions of the Russian artillery in the 1806-1807 campaigns:
Many our artillerymen have a habit to always fire at the enemy batteries in hope to destroy them… This often happens on orders given by superiors, who like the expression: "Silence that enemy battery."
Under the "superiors" Sievers probably meant the Russian infantry generals who wanted to save their troops from the French artillery fire, while under the "artillerymen" he probably meant the artillery officers.

I have read the Sievers' account.

I think that any artillery officer, who decided to open fire at the enemy battery, should expect that the enemy battery would rather reply than cease its fire.

Counterbattery fire was designed to destroy, or ‘silence' enemy artillery. There would be only three reasons that an artillery unit would cease fire: first, running out of ammunition; second, withdrawing; third, being destroyed or knocked out (and therefore ‘silenced') by enemy artillery fire.

The French approach to the problem was to mass however many pieces that were engaging in counterbattery fire against the hostile battery on one enemy piece at a time. That piece being knocked out, they would shift fire to the next piece, and so on. It took time and a lot of ammunition to accomplish this mission, which was what would be called in modern artillery language, a destruction mission.

Would you like to say that at the battle of Friedland Senarmont's guns did not fire at the opposing Russian guns at all? Some Russian sources say that they did, at least a part of them for at least a part of the total duration of the action.

No. Senarmont initially took Russian counterbattery fire but then made the decision to concentrate on Bagrations infantry while advancing to 120 paces from the Russian center.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse16 Sep 2019 6:13 p.m. PST

So we are back to Senarmont, Brechtel should please read his memoires there he will find that he intended first to destroy the enemy batteries, so counter battery fire before firing at the infantry.

I've read them along with the I Corps after-action report as well as Senarmont's after action report along with Senarmont's letter to his brother describing the action, which included his regret over his horse being wounded.

Senarmont went into action with the I Corps artillery first to support Dupont's advance. This happened because Ney's VI Corps assault, which was the main attack, was defeated partially because of concentrated Russian artillery fire.

Senarmont obtained his corps commander's permission to commit the entire corps artillery, 36 pieces, to action, forming two fifteen gun batteries on either side of Dupont's division, keeping six pieces in reserve. The artillery outpaced Dupont and went into the attack itself against the Russian center. During this time Senarmont was taking counterbattery fire from the Russian artillery and initially did reply to it.

Senarmont then made the decision to concentrate against Bagration's infantry in the Russian center and advanced against it, destroying the Russian center, and defeating a Russian cavalry counterattack, by concentrated close-range artillery fire.

Subsequently, with Ney having rallied his corps and attacking again, Senarmont continued his advance towards Friedland and setting the town itself on fire when it was filled with retreating Russians.

Do you have any other questions or suggestions?

von Winterfeldt17 Sep 2019 2:44 a.m. PST

one has to read this

link

Whirlwind17 Sep 2019 2:49 a.m. PST

So we are back to Senarmont, Brechtel should please read his memoires there he will find that he intended first to destroy the enemy batteries, so counter battery fire before firing at the infantry.

Quite so. He says:

The (French) artillery deployed 400 meters from the enemy; after five or six salvoes, it went forward to 200 meters away, and began a most lively rolling fire. The Russians were surprised at this sudden combination (of guns) and fought back in vain with their separate batteries, scattered all over their line. A few minutes was enough to focus a flood of canister on a single point. The batteries on the right bank of the river Alle, those on the opposite bank, were successively crushed; the battery amongst them which, since the beginning of the action, had so cruelly ravaged our ranks, had in a moment his horses killed and
his equipment broken. Then the fire began to land in the middle of the Russian troops, who were massed across the defile before Friedland: The destruction was awful…

von Winterfeldt17 Sep 2019 4:59 a.m. PST

@Whirlwind, from what translation or work is this?

Whirlwind17 Sep 2019 5:10 a.m. PST

@von W,

The one you linked to, page 36. Translation is my (rough!) one (always happy to have any errors corrected).

Stoppage17 Sep 2019 1:26 p.m. PST

Makes you wonder what Saint Barbara would make of all this. (Patron Saint(ess) of Sappers and Drop-shorts – see wiki).

Stoppage17 Sep 2019 1:28 p.m. PST

I am not sure if the Renegade Jomini had anything to say about French Grand Batteries, but what I'd like to know is:

The central division was tasked to engage the main area target to front.

The flanking divisions were for protection (of the whole). Would they have also conducted purposeful counter-battery – in order to protect at least the central division?

Whirlwind18 Sep 2019 5:05 a.m. PST

@von W,

You have got me all paranoid now…any glaring errors?

4th Cuirassier18 Sep 2019 6:41 a.m. PST

So in a game, should one try to work out how many pieces have progressively been dismounted and gunners incapacitated by counter-battery fire; or should one mainly consider its effect on the volume and accuracy of the targeted battery's own output of fire?

Presumably the optimal round for cutting down gunners was canister, but ball must have been better for destroying guns. Do we know what type was preferred? Was shrapnel noticeably more effective than shell? How about rockets?

von Winterfeldt18 Sep 2019 7:30 a.m. PST

no not at all, I just was surprised that you used metres – instead of toises, but I re checked metres was put in brackets in the French text ( so clearly a "commented memoire)

Whirlwind18 Sep 2019 7:44 a.m. PST

no not at all, I just was surprised that you used metres – instead of toises, but I re checked metres was put in brackets in the French text ( so clearly a "commented memoire)

Ah, understood, many thanks.

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