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"How do you get your siege guns to the final parallel?" Topic

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Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2021 7:16 p.m. PST

Yeah, back to Yorktown. grin
So, I've worked out how to dig parallels in a game. And then throw up the gabions, etc. probably (definitely) not all will be pleased. But I intend to make this game go on for two sessions.
Ok. The Franco Americans have dug their trenches and parallels. The artillery battery is beautiful and well sited. It's waiting for the 24 pdrs to be brought up and start demolishing the British lines, close up.

How did they do that? Certainly not hauling them through the trenches. Unless they did.
Did they make a dash with limbers from the lines that are out of range to begin with? Could this be hindered?

Anyway, I have limbers.

Please advise. grin

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian30 Jul 2021 7:33 p.m. PST


Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2021 7:38 p.m. PST

Good answer.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2021 7:59 p.m. PST

Quietly and at night?

cavcrazy30 Jul 2021 8:08 p.m. PST

I have thought of that as well, and I just figured that with 24 pounders you get great range, they start firing giving you cover to get your trenches and breastworks started. Once they are close to completion, the artillery in the breastworks can start firing and then they in turn give cover fire to the bigger guns that can be brought up.
I don't think that a siege gun would be in a trench, but behind breastworks somewhat higher to get maximum firing capability.
Of course the story of Yorktown suggests that the trenches and breastworks were completed before Washington lit the first fuse to begin the siege…..So my advice is, do whatever makes sense to you!

nsolomon9930 Jul 2021 8:22 p.m. PST

My understanding, and I claim no special expertise on Yorktown or indeed this period, is that the heavy direct fire guns, with relatively flat, straight fire arcs had the range to do their work from well back. They would play on the walls, gates, battery positions,weak points. And it was the mortars that had the much shorter range and needed to be brought forward. It was their arcing angle fire and explosive rounds that were desired to fire over the walls into are behind the walls and start fire, explode magazines, attack troops in reserve, etc, but they needed to be much closer to achieve this effect.

GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2021 8:34 p.m. PST

Is this intended to be a poll question? ; )

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2021 8:56 p.m. PST

Errr… No. grin

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2021 9:16 p.m. PST

I'm with 79thPA: quietly and at night.
You would also want to accomplish the move as quickly as possible, to lessen chances of discovery.
Probably rags on the wheels to muffle sound. Quite possibly leave the limbers behind, because you just can't explain the need for silence to horses. Have some of the lads toss fascines in the trenches so the guns can just roll over them, rather than wind their way through the saps.


Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2021 10:03 p.m. PST

>>The artillery battery is beautiful and well sited.

Wouldn't use that wording to describe an empty emplacement. Back to the old 'battery' thing, it may be when filled.

Final Answer: Saps.

The purpose of the sap is usually to advance a besieging army's position towards an attacked fortification


Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2021 11:05 p.m. PST

Leave the horses behind, and manhandle the guns???
Oh no! BRICOLES!!!

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2021 1:40 a.m. PST

There would usually be prepared 'ways' to get the siege guns up to the new positions. They could be manhandled if necessary to be emplaced properly. Using horse teams and the pieces limbers would be the preferred way, but 'man-teams' if necessary.

14Bore31 Jul 2021 4:36 a.m. PST

Most interesting part of question is how to create digging parallels, foam game board but sections finished with pieces that can be removed. My old style painted board would be easy to make.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2021 6:01 a.m. PST

I'm going to be using strips of felt, painted with Mississippi Mud craft paint.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2021 6:36 a.m. PST

I suspect the direct fire guns were moved up into emplacements perhaps at night and certainly under cover of other guns – for the really short range morter stuff, I would imagine they were carried in pieces through the trenches to where they could lob Hell onto the enemy (at which point a civilized enemy would surrender with the honours of war)

Kropotkin30331 Jul 2021 6:41 a.m. PST

Codsticker did this with removable field pieces which are replaced by trenches for his ECW game.

Ingenious I think.


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2021 7:34 a.m. PST

I suspect the direct fire guns were moved up into emplacements perhaps at night and certainly under cover of other guns…

All artillery weapons of the period were direct fire weapons (which means you have to see the target in order to hit it) as there was no fire control equipment for indirect fire.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2021 7:57 a.m. PST

I'm almost finished reading The Siege of Vicksburg by Timothy B. Smith. In it he describes that the approach trenches and saps were widened and deepened so that a gun and limber could be moved, at night, to the new battery position with endangering the men moving it. Of course during the ACW the weapons ranges were much longer than during the AWI but the details would still be similar. After all, during both time periods, the 'dictates' of Vauban were followed.


altfritz31 Jul 2021 10:34 a.m. PST

By the time the breaching batteries are positioned the Defender should have no offensive capability left, barring a sortie. The fortress artillery should have been unseated and destroyed by then.

Antioch31 Jul 2021 11:35 a.m. PST

Wondering if supporting mortars were brought up as well.

Got to visit Vicksburg site a few years ago….simply amazed at the amount of artillery & what they had to do to get into some of those battery positions.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2021 2:02 p.m. PST

'Where a goat can go, a man can go; Where a man can go, he can drag a gun.'-British General William Phillips, 1777.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2021 6:24 p.m. PST

Was he talking about 24 pdrs or Grasshoppers?

Bill N31 Jul 2021 7:26 p.m. PST

I believe Brown managed to get guns on Mount Defiance as well, but found they didn't do much good against Ti. It may not have been just that Phillips had heavier guns. He also had as targets the bridge that was the American escape route from the fort and the American navy anchored behind that bridge.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2021 7:28 a.m. PST

General Phillips and Lieutenant Twiss, Burgoyne's engineer officer got the following pieces to the crest of Sugar Loaf in secret during 4 July: a battery of medium 12-pounders, 24-pounders, and 8-inch howitzers.

Light 3-pounders would not have done any good at all.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2021 9:01 a.m. PST

I'm impressed, particularly after looking at the size of my Foundry 24 pdrs.
I bet getting them back down was even more of a b****.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2021 9:46 a.m. PST

Kevin, how much of Burgoyne's artillery park was captured?
Was any left at Ticonderoga with the part of his army that evaded surrender?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2021 10:39 a.m. PST

The artillery train that Burgoyne left Canada with, commanded by Major Griffith Williams, consisted of:

Long Guns:
-Heavy 24-pounders: 16.
-Light 24-pounders: 2.
-Heavy 12-pounders: 10.
-Medium 12-pounders: 8.
-Light 12-pounders: 1
-Light 6-pounders: 26.
-Light 3-pounders: 17.

-8-inch: 6.
-5.5-inch: 6.

-13-inch: 2.
-10-inch: 2.
-8-inch: 6.
-5.5-inch: 12.
-4.4-inch (Coehorns): 24.

After Ticonderoga was taken most of the heavy pieces were either sent back to Canada aboard the Royal George or were added to the defenses of Ticonderoga.

The following were left at Fort George:

-Medium 12-pounders: 4.
-6-pounders: 2
-8-inch howitzers: 2
-5.5-inch howitzers: 2.

Two 6-pounders and two 3-pounders were lost at Bennington.

In the battles for Saratoga (Freeman's Farm and Bemis Heights), Burgoynes command had the following artillery assigned to different brigades:

Fraser's Advanced Corps:
-6-pounders: 4
-3-pounders: 4
-5.5-inch howitzers: 2

Right Wing:
-6-pounders: 4.

Left Wing:
-6-pounders: 6
-3-pounders: 2

Artillery Park:

Left Brigade:
-Medium 12-pounders: 2.
-6-pounders: 2.
-8-inch howitzer: 1
-5.5-inch howitzer: 1

Center Brigade:
-Light 24-pounders: 2.

Right Brigade:
-Medium 12-pounders: 2.
-6-pounders: 2.
-8-inch howitzer: 1.
-5.5-inch howitzer: 1.

Reserve Train:
-Spare gun carriages, number not specified.

Aboard the Batteaux Flotilla:
-Light 12-pounder: 1.
-8-inch mortars: 2.
-5.5-inch mortars: 4.
-'Several' Coehorn mortars.

Unless any of this artillery was destroyed before the surrender, I would think it was all captured.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2021 11:16 a.m. PST

Wow. That's quite a lot of artillery for that size army.
I had always read that he was overloaded, which partially explained his slow pace. But I never knew it was that bad.
Still, a lot of bootie for Knox to distribute.

Considering that it was "not the done thing" to destroy weapons, and the extremely generous conditions, I suspect you're right about capturing it all.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2021 11:18 a.m. PST

What's the difference between "light" and "heavy" 24 pdrs?
Maybe that explains why my Foundry are more robust than my Hinchliffe guns. grin

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2021 12:24 p.m. PST

It has to do with the weight and length of the gun tube.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2021 2:09 a.m. PST

I think mine are Perry's. I bought them years ago. I think they are 24s at least that is how I use them. When I need a big gun I bring this beast to the party.


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2021 3:19 a.m. PST

When destroying a gun tube, the trunnions were usually knocked off which rendered the gun tube unserviceable.

That is the same thing that was done in the gun foundries if a gun tube failed the tests for serviceability.

Spiking was probably more common and that could be repaired by replacing or redrilling the vent.

14Bore02 Aug 2021 5:16 p.m. PST

I think somewhere a barrel was double shot and then packed with dirt to blow the barrel apart.

Personal logo Analsim Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2021 2:00 a.m. PST

John the OFM,

Here's what Christopher Duffy says about moving artillery up during a siege in his book, "Fire & Stone", The Science of Fortress Warfare.

However, first a little context is needed in order to put things in proper overall perspective.

"Once the point of attack has been chosen, the gunners and engineers could determine the ground where they were going to lay out or prepare the guns, platforms, magazines, gabions, fascines and other requirements for the siege.

The artillery and engineering parks, whether combined or separate, were planted up to 2,000 yards from the fortress in concealed spots which were readily accessible from the roads. The cannon and mortar barrels, as heaviest materials, were arranged in rows on the side nearest the siegeworks (it was usually only after the barrels reached the park that they were hoisted on to their wooden carriages or beds)."

"It was advisable to let the engineers and gunners take their time about things, 'for the better to delay the opening of the trenches, which merely loses time, than run short of some indispensable commodity during the course of the siege.'"

"The materials from the parks and magazines were transported a little at a time to small depots which were positioned at the 'tail' (entrances) of the trenches, from where they were carried to the siegeworks as the need arose."

Now as to moving the guns forward, per Your original inquiry above.

"It could take eighty men forty-eight (48) hours to build a battery and lay down the platforms. Their final task was to 'mask' the mouths of the embrasures with gabions or stout wooden boards, which were removed only when the the order came to open fire."

"That moment would almost certainly be delayed out of regard for some important tactical considerations: the cannon could be dragged up (via sleds) from the park and mounted in the batteries only at night-time, whereas the gunners needed daylight in order to see their targets; also it was essential to wait until every battery was ready to open fire before you unmasked the embrasures, otherwise the fortress would be able to concentrate a superior fire on each battery in turn, and destroy the siege artillery piecemeal."

Hope that helps you out.



Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2021 5:06 a.m. PST

Thank you. Very helpful.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2021 6:00 a.m. PST

I forgot about Duffy's excellent books-well done. That reminded me of the volume of A Manual of Siegecraft and Fortifications by Sebastien Leprestre de Bauban, (translated by George Rothrock). From pages 59-60:

How to Mount Artillery:

'If on the first night or two you have been able to occupy the necessary ground, you should push a trench out to the side, done by workmen in the open or by half-sap; about fifteen feet behind this trench you should mark the front line of your battery. There you should set up a double row of gabions six feet high and five feet in diameter; fill them and the spaces between them carefully with the dirt dug from the trench so no gaps remain. You can continue work all the next day under cover of these gabions to raise the gun platforms, beginning in the front against the gabions and working to the rear, throwing up as much dirt from in front as possible. The next night work must be continued to thicken, raise, and strengthen with fascines the breastwork of the battery, especially on the front. The second day should be entirely devoted to finishing the platform and setting its flooring; the third night should see the completion of the breastwork. Cut embrasures and frame them, and then the guns may be mounted. I estimate about two days and three nights to get the guns into firing position. but you can console yourself about the delay if you emplace them as marked on the plan…and if the emplacements follow the sketches fairly accurately, for in that case one gun will be as effective as three emplaced in the usual way.'

How to Mount Mortar Batteries

'Mortars should always be emplaced between the fortress and the heavy siege batteries. They should hot be located any farther away because, their range is at best 280 yards (140 toises),* their bombs would not then carry well into the city. For this same reason as soon as you are in possession of the outer side of the ditch you should bring them in closer if you want to put them to the best use. These batteries are made with a simple breastwork to withstand cannon fire, with a solid platform and a dugout to give cover to their crews when the bombs are lit. Otherwise, just remember that the bigger the bombs the more damage they do.'

'…The only distinguishing characteristics of this kind of battery are that it has no embrasures, that its platforms are different, and that there is not reason to raise it above ground level…'

'I approve the use of the great mortars that throw stones, all the more as it is difficult, if not impossible, to be certain of their trajectory. (The random character of their hits is discouraging to the enemy.) When you wish to use them they must be brought up close, even up into the glacis of the fortress, since stones do not carry far. The batteries re built the same as for other mortars.'

*Translators note: The figure given in the text is 1400 toises, ie., 2800 yards. This is patently a misprint. Vauban calculates the longest effective range of cannon at under 600 yards and shows the emplacement of cannon at 400 yards or less…The mortars are to be nearer, probably 140 toises, 280 yards.

It should be noted that a French 'toise' was a little over six feet, not exactly.

Another excellent primary source in addition to Vauban is Volume I of Louis de Tousard's American Artillerist's Companion.

The first four chapters of the volume covers 'Batteries', 'Of the Materials necessary for the Construction of Batteries', 'Construction of Batteries', and 'Of the Different Situations of Batteries' Pages 1-57.

Further, Chapters VII to XI covers 'The First Batteries', 'Of the Second and Third Batteries', 'Of Batteries in Breach…after the taking of the Covertway', 'Maxims on the Manner of Serving Batteries', and 'Application of the preceding to the attack of Outworks, and of Fortifications more complex than common places.' The last chapter covers Vauban's Third System and Coehorn's Systems. (pages 67-110).


Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2021 8:01 a.m. PST

Great. Just what I need for how to time and run the rules for the Yorktown game that I'm building for.

Personal logo Analsim Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2021 10:24 a.m. PST

John the OFM,

You are in luck regarding timing and a framework for conducting wargame sieges!

Because C. Duffy (via Vauban, Coehorn & etc.) outlines the amount of time it typically takes to perform the major steps to reduce and capture a typical 16th-18th Century fortress.

The entire process takes approximately forty (40) days to complete and goes like this:

Step #1 (2-days): After the town has surrendered and the enemy have entered the citadel, the attacking army will spend two days in establishing their lodgments, throwing up protective breastworks against enemy fire from the citadel, draining water from fortress obstacles/inundations.

Step #2 (5-days): From the opening of the trench on the esplanade to the time when the enemy are within reach of the outer covered way.

Step #3 (3-days): Passage of the outer ditch.

Step #4 (5-days): Attack and lodgment on the salients of the covered way.

Step #5 (2-days): Complete occupation of the said covered way.

Step #6 (3-days): Passage and decent of the ditch of the ravelin.

Step #7 (5-days) The attaching of the Miners to the ravelin, the blowing of the mine, the lodgment on the salient of the ravelin and overcoming of its inner defenses.

Step #8 (4-days): Decent and passage of the main ditch, undertaken before the capture of the ravelin.

Step #9 (3-days): The attaching of the Miners to the rampart and blowing of the first mine.

Step #10 (3-days): Progress of the attack until the second mines are blown and the lodgments are made on the summit of the bastions.

Step 11 (5-days): Allowance for malfunctions and other delays.

Total Siege Days: 40

Just on the surface, it looks like you could create a simple wargame system based upon a 24hr turns, that would provide the level of combat detail to capture the flavor of siege warfare and provide the Players with a rewarding experience, to include conducting sallies, counter-mines & etc.

Granted you'll have to familiarize yourself with all the terms and nuances of siege warfare in order to make this work, but the reward is likely to be Simple-Playable-Fun!



P.S. Thanks Kevin!

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2021 10:52 a.m. PST

On a much smaller scale, I gave the players in a Moore's Creek game the option to "do things" during the night before the battle.
Everyone saw the setup the day before, because a Loyalist had come up to negotiate terms. Naturally he was also scouting out the works.
The Loyalist scouts spent their "do things" points on looking for fords. This was one of their options.
The Patriots spent their "do things" points on building breastworks right off the bridge, and not taking up the planks in the bridge as they did historically. This annoyed me because I had such a bridge model already made… grin
So the Scots came charging across an intact bridge … and got massacred. They did get closer than historically, at any rate.
The rest of the game was cat and mouse skirmishing at the fords.
So, I'm used to letting the players have a choice of tasks.

Yorktown was a hasty fort. Nowhere near like Lille.
But there will be a time limit, because nobody will know about the battle off the Capes.

British lines already set up.
Players will have so many figures to figure out what to do. Dig? Attack the trenches and fill them in? Protect the diggers at the expense of time? Are the trenches too straight, no zigzag?
Felt for approach trenches. Resin pieces for gabions etc.

I have to finish some units.
Hessians can be Anspach.
I have plenty of Brits.
Special Old Glory order of LI and Hunting Shirt dudes to receive Kings Mountain LI heads.
And I need to finish Royal Deux-Ponts.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2021 11:40 a.m. PST

Night firing was definitely done during sieges. For example, allied artillery was firing during the American and French night assaults on the two redoubts, Numbers 9 and 10.

Rod MacArthur04 Aug 2021 11:50 p.m. PST

If anyone would like ideas for how to make comprehensive but inexpensive siege works, take a look at these posts on my website here:




And some less formal emplacements:




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