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"CONGREVE'S 1778 EXERCISE FOR THE LIGHT 6 PDR GUN" Topic


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42flanker08 Nov 2019 9:21 a.m. PST

AN EXTREMELY RARE MANUSCRIPT COPY OF CONGREVE'S 1778 EXERCISE FOR THE LIGHT 6 POUNDER GUN

Congreve, William (1742-1814), later 1st Baronet. Exercise and Manoeuvers For two Light 6 Pounders By William Congreve Captain of Artillery 1778. Original leather binding, black label on spine with 'ARTILLERY EXERCISE' and [volume?] '1' within circle in gilt; covers separated from body, octavo, manuscript manual of 62 leaves (4 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.); [2], 117 [5]]; front end paper, index (1 leave, other missing] and rear end paper separated, title page inscribed per above, hinges loose, pages general bright and clean, a few with light soiling. Equally important to the new light 6 pounder gun and carriage was a revolutionary new field exercise developed by Lieutenant William Congreve while serving in America during 1776-1777 designed to take full advantage of the improvements in the carriage and gun. Congreve's improvements in carriage construction and artillery maneuvers earned him the appointment of Superintendent of Military Machines at Woolwich with the rank of captain.

The exercise for the light 6-pounder gun was never published and instead, a Royal Artillery officer was expected to make his own fair hand copy from the original Congreve manuscript deposited at the Laboratory at Woolwich, or hire one of the Ordnance draughtsman to prepare such for him. The Congreve exercise was nearly forgotten until 1993, when Adrian Caruana published a transcription of the Laboratory original then at the Royal Artillery Institute at Woolwich. Since that time, this researcher has tracked down and examined two additional manuscript copies at the following institutions: a quarto presentation copy to the King George III now in The King's Collection of the British Library and an octavo copy in the National Army Museum (London).

This 1778-dated manuscript copy of Congreve's manual, with 117 numbered pages of text and drawings, plus a 2-page index, is far superior to the NAM example in terms of the quality of the transcription and the exceptionally well-rendered diagrams of the deployment of the artillery pieces and their crews through the various, often complex exercises, which include advancing in battle, firing in support of battalion, flanking fire, amphibious landings, scaling precipices with guns, and so on.

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Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2019 11:47 a.m. PST

Well, that would be the most expensive thing I buy all year. Pretty hard to justify. I would love to read it, but I guess they're not posting scans…

42flanker08 Nov 2019 10:29 p.m. PST

Tempting though, eh?

Well, at least another MS version can be read at the British Library, and also at the National Army Museum, Chelsea, (if not so fine a copy). The original is presumably stored away somewhere until the Royal Artillery Museuem facility in Wiltshire is completed.

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