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"'Battalion Guns' in the Seven Years War" Topic


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1,146 hits since 17 Sep 2021
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

TangoOneThreeAlpha18 Sep 2021 12:24 p.m. PST

Hi

I was wondering if there was much practical evidence of how they were used and how effective they were in battles rather than the 'theory' of how they should be used. From my reading they are seldom mentioned.

Grateful for any thoughts.

Cheers Paul

JimDuncanUK18 Sep 2021 2:38 p.m. PST

They were not terribly (allegedly) effective but apparently the soldiers loved them.

They look great in a wargames unit.

AussieAndy19 Sep 2021 1:18 a.m. PST

I don't think that I have ever seen anything that fully explains the practicalities of their use in combat. For example, what happened with the guns if the regiment advanced or retreated? Were the guns prolonged or limbered? If it was the former, how did they keep up with the infantry? Or did the infantry only move at the speed at which the guns could be prolonged?

In some sets of rules, "attached" batteries (which could be 12lbers) just seem to move with the infantry to which they are attached without any regard for limbering, etc, as if the guns are self-propelled artillery. I've never been able to work that one out, hence we generally avoid the concept of "attached" batteries.

42flanker19 Sep 2021 1:49 a.m. PST

Garry Wills wrote a very full assessment of the use and effectivness of battalion guns, albeit with ref to the 1790s. He analyses Duncan's dismissive opinion of "this pernicious system of battalion guns" that "weakened the Artillery without strengthening the Infantry."
(See:"History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery" pp 54) link

It was published in the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal
available online here.
link

British Battalion Guns by Garry Wills

SOJ-6(17) British Battalion guns in the Netherlands in 1794

SOJ-6(18) British Battalion Guns in Action with the Duke of York, 1793-1795

SOJ-6(19) Major Jesse Wright and the Brigading of the Duke of York's Battalion Guns

SOJ-6(20) British Battalion Guns in the Netherlands in 1793-5; Concluding Remarks, Appendices and Bibliography

SOJ6(21) Appendices; British Artillery in the Austrian Netherlands and the United Provinces, 1794; Returns and Muster Rolls.

So, no 7YW specifics but very interesting- if you haven't read it already.

Durban Gamer19 Sep 2021 3:22 a.m. PST

Very useful scholarship. Good to know that most of the crews of British battalion guns were from the infantry regiments concerned. Now I know how to paint the crews for India!

Chad4719 Sep 2021 4:22 a.m. PST

Thanks for the link. I am currently working on the Revolutionary period and the information will be very useful

Blasted Brains19 Sep 2021 5:38 a.m. PST

Weren't battalion guns generally very small caliber guns, like 3#s, maybe up to 6#s. I doubt very much 12#s were every used as battalion guns.

It is because they were such small caliber guns that they could be prolonged to keep up with infantry moving in line which was in practice a pretty slow moving formation. At least that has always been my understanding.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2021 7:19 a.m. PST

I agree they were used – Frederick the great had one 3pdr pulled by 3 horses per battalion of infantry, though they were never as good as the Austrian equivalents. (Duffy; The Army of the Frederick the great)

I am fairly sure they were sometimes stripped out of the battalions to act as light artillery batteries?-but can't remember where I read that.

Badgerlock19 Sep 2021 7:24 a.m. PST

Weren't battalion guns generally very small caliber guns

Yes, generally 3 pounders although Austrian practice was to assign a pair of 7 pounder howitzers to every third battalion in the first line of battle. In 1755 Prussia introduced a 'light' 6 pounder for use by first line battalions but apparently it did not perform well. From 1758, Prussia also used 7 pounder howitzers as battalion pieces.

Despite having no horses, it seems that a good team of men could advance the guns at greater speed than the marching infantry. The practice being to advance ahead of the line, get off a few rounds and then as the infantry caught up, make another bound ahead and repeat.

Frederick's instructions were that battalion guns were to advance no more than 50 paces ahead of the infantry. The guns were to open fire with roundshot at 1,200 paces and switch to canister at 400 paces.

I don't know what happened when the enemy got to within musket range. Did the guns then stop and let the infantry line advance ahead? Duffy (from Guglia) notes that (Austrian) gunners and assistants had to be prevented from running away once they came under musket fire from the enemy – which would suggest that the battalion guns carried on advancing with the infantry.

Stoppage Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2021 5:45 p.m. PST

@42f

Nice link – it says the pair of battalion guns were interlined at the centre of the battalion (flanked by both wings) – not split between flanks nor concentrated on one flank.

Brits: xx xx xx xx xx 44 xx xx xx xx xx

makes you wonder where the colours would go?


Austrians: xxx xxx xxx xxx 363 xxx xxx

von Winterfeldt20 Sep 2021 9:59 p.m. PST

battalion guns were in used right into the Napoleonic wars, and Boney reintroduced regimental guns in late 1809 and other armies like Westphelia had to follow en suite.
In case the contemporaries did not regard them as an asset, why use them – or continue to use them?
In linear warfare they had huge targets, lines of uninterupted battalions.

14Bore21 Sep 2021 10:40 a.m. PST

Been slowly replaying 7YW battles with my Napoleonic Prussian and Russian armies. Transfer OOB man for man but don't use battalion guns except 4 x 2 gun light 4pdrs the Prussians have as a play test. Can't say they have done a whole lot. I either add their fire to the battalion or if out of small arms can fire for the battalion.

Stoppage Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 5:31 a.m. PST

@op:

If you are doing wargames with small numbers of units then the artillery will be either be overpowered OR useless.

However, battalion guns at this level are useful when attacking a point – building, bridge, etc – but only if the defender hasn't any guns :)


If you are wargaming with large numbers of units then the interlined battalion guns come into their own – they are the only way to get artillery fire evenly spread-out along the enemy line. (Assuming unitary deployment into long uninterrupted lines.)

Batteries of larger guns (6#, 9#, 18#, etc) will fire at range either from up on a hill and/or on the flanks.

von Schwartz ver 224 Sep 2021 3:21 p.m. PST

To answer the orginal question of usefulness, simple, if they weren't useful they wouldn't have used them for so long.
My readings are basically along the same vein as the last few comments. Yes, all armies used them to a greater or lesser extend and many also incorporated light howitzers. They were always light guns, 3lb, 4lb, or light 6 pounders, and 7 pound howitzers. I believe the instance that Aussie Andy is referring to may be the Battle of Torgau, where Frederick attached 12 pound batteries to each brigade. But these were not considered battalion guns, just attached batteries. In my rules, Koenig Krieg, only battalion guns can prolong at the speed of my infantry. Any larger batteries/guns can still prolong but much slower than the smaller 3-4 pounders.

Stoppage Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2021 5:38 a.m. PST

Thinking about this some more…

Each pair of battalion guns will possess limbers and one or more caissons. There might also be a caisson for the infantry ammunition. This "impedimenta" will trail behind the pieces.

There thus be a trail of artillery vehicles behind/alongside each infantry battalion; the presence of which will preclude any organised movement of the infantry unless forward or backward. (It will also prevent enemy horse squadrons rolling up the line).

Did Frederick use battalion guns for his turning movements? or did he discard them and provide fire support from position battery(ies)?

Badgerlock28 Sep 2021 12:53 p.m. PST

Each pair of battalion guns will possess limbers and one or more caissons

Prussian practice was to detach the battalion guns from their limbers about 1200 paces from the enemy and then to advance the guns by manpower alone from there. A chest on the gun carriage carried a (presumably limited) supply of ammunition. The limbers and horses would therefore remain well to the rear of the infantry battalions.

Stoppage Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2021 1:34 p.m. PST

@BL

Thx – I now have a sudden curious interest in Gribeauval-pattern coffrets.

It would be interesting to know when people started doing this (GNW, WSS, WAS, SYW, etc);
if everyone actually did similar to Prussians; and
when they stopped doing this (1790s British limbers, other nations' artillerisation of battalion guns in the 1800s(*)?)

(*) assuming that infantry humped the guns around before Austrian handlagers were raised (1805-1808?)

Stoppage Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2021 1:36 p.m. PST
von Winterfeldt29 Sep 2021 1:59 a.m. PST

seemingly the Austrians used gunners and I cannot see any Handlanger and yes
the barrels
are
BRASS

url=https://postimg.cc/VJ7hj3TZ]

url=https://postimg.cc/2VG9Dszj]

johannes5529 Sep 2021 3:33 a.m. PST

Afaik The Dutch in the FR period, so upto 1795 used artillerymen to serve the battalion guns, not detached infantrymen

Stoppage Supporting Member of TMP29 Sep 2021 8:02 a.m. PST

Vw's pictures of the 3# being handled shows the advancement-ple in front of the carriage wheel (these are after 7yw)

Vw's picture of the 3# regiment-piece shows the advancement-pole (avancier-stange) behind the carriage wheel (this is 7yw or earlier

This page has more pictures:

Crogges 7yw armies – Austrian 7yw artillery

The 3# gun, 6# gun, and 7# howitzer fittings for the advancement pole (behind wheels), and all have ammunition chests for the trails. These things have been discussed for use as battalion guns.

Tricorne197105 Oct 2021 7:39 p.m. PST

Battalion (Regimental) Guns were an important factor in the SYW. I have a provision in my Tricorne rules that allows the use of these models (most important), but with a streamlined system so as not to detract from the flow of the game. I'll try to get these on the site later. But first…. Years ago at the SYW Convention, Bill Protz, myself and several other regulars lined up two battalions, each of about 400 25mm figures in two ranks facing each other on a 20 foot table. We then placed two model guns with each battalion. Not so impressive. However, back on real earth, the two tubes caused some serious damage.

Tricorne197105 Oct 2021 8:17 p.m. PST

Tricorne© Battalion Guns
Regimental guns are handled a bit differently. In each army, a foot regiment had guns permanently assigned to it and distributed among each of its battalions. We will refer to these as "Battalion Guns" ("Bn-guns"). The battalion's complement was usually two light 3-pdr's, although this did vary as to gun type, number and crew makeup, e.g., Prussian first line used 6-pdrs. A list of these variations is in appendix. The regimental commander jealously guarded his control of these guns and sought to keep them with his battalions. In the Russian service, a particular colonel required the artillery officer assigned to his regimental guns to remove his artillery uniform and don the uniform of the foot regiment.
There are two alternatives in representing Bn-guns, as ignoring them is not an option. The Bn-gun base contains a model gun and three or four crewmen. The two-inch wide base represents the four guns and 32 crew belonging to two battalions.
Option 1. Use the Bn-gun base as a 4-gun base that represents the actual location of the guns. Always keep the base with one of its battalions. If located between the two battalions, it may split fire. Up-gunning the front line by taking them from the second line is not allowed.
Option 2. Continue to use one Bn-gun base for each two battalions, but the fire actually emanates from the left flank base of each battalion. The gun model is used to represent the approximate frontage of four guns (from two wargame battalions). The location of the gun model is only for aesthetics. More importantly, we need to find a use for these cool little models. Where there are an odd number of battalions one can add another model representing the two additional "real" guns.
Bn-gun Fire Bonus Table. Sum of d6's indicated below per 2 "real" guns represented.
Canister Shot/Shell
Two Guns 8" 16" 20" 24" (½d6)
3-pdr 2 1 to 36"
6-pdr 3 2 1 to 48"
12-pdr 4 4 2 1 to 72"
7" How 4 4 2 1 to 60"
Shot/Shell … Use ½d6 (rounded up) for all ranges
Use Small Arms Terrain/Formation Modifiers
x2 … Target is Column, Enfiladed Line, Square
x.5 .. Firers Moved over 1"

Each battalion has a Bn-gun bonus representing its two attached guns. Using the above Table, roll the indicated number of d6. The sum is the number of casualties caused.
Even though Bn-guns would generally not engage in extreme range fire, the effect of shot or shell is represented by a roll of ½d6.
The totals resulting from the dice throws above equate approximately to the regular artillery chart.
Example: A battalion with two 3-pdr guns firing at a target 8 inches or less would roll two dice with the possible sum of between 2 and 12, with the average being 7 casualties. The average under the artillery chart would be 5 or 6.

An attached Bn-gun does not add its crew to the parent unit strength nor does it receive crew casualties. It follows both the fire-at-charge and the morale results of the unit to which it is attached. If a Bn-gun attempts to engage in counter-battery fire with a field gun, it can be separately targeted.


Why the Battalion Gun Rule? These guns are a necessary component to any representation of an Eighteenth Century battle. So how can these little monsters be otherwise represented on our miniature battlefield. Alternatives to the above rule present themselves, as follows:
1. Have no physical representation on our tabletop. Simply account for the additional firepower in the battalion's firepower. Advantages: (a) No painting, indeed a boardgamer's dream and a budget windfall. (b) Simple, no additional calculations. Disadvantages: (a) Doesn't account for the longer ranges of the guns or the various types. (b) No painting, a miniature painter and manufacturer nightmare. If there are no battalion guns, the only miniature artillery on the table will be a couple 12-pounders! Clearly a move back in the direction of cardboard counters.
2. Cardboard counters (Yuk). Put a one inch square counter with a picture of the gun on the flank of each battalion. Calculate casualties from each gun on a simple table in addition to the musketry. Advantages: As above, but with the need to have an additional casualty calculation. Disadvantages: Same as above, but with the additional clutter of the counters.

Tricorne197105 Oct 2021 8:17 p.m. PST

Tricorne© Battalion Guns
Regimental guns are handled a bit differently. In each army, a foot regiment had guns permanently assigned to it and distributed among each of its battalions. We will refer to these as "Battalion Guns" ("Bn-guns"). The battalion's complement was usually two light 3-pdr's, although this did vary as to gun type, number and crew makeup, e.g., Prussian first line used 6-pdrs. A list of these variations is in appendix. The regimental commander jealously guarded his control of these guns and sought to keep them with his battalions. In the Russian service, a particular colonel required the artillery officer assigned to his regimental guns to remove his artillery uniform and don the uniform of the foot regiment.
There are two alternatives in representing Bn-guns, as ignoring them is not an option. The Bn-gun base contains a model gun and three or four crewmen. The two-inch wide base represents the four guns and 32 crew belonging to two battalions.
Option 1. Use the Bn-gun base as a 4-gun base that represents the actual location of the guns. Always keep the base with one of its battalions. If located between the two battalions, it may split fire. Up-gunning the front line by taking them from the second line is not allowed.
Option 2. Continue to use one Bn-gun base for each two battalions, but the fire actually emanates from the left flank base of each battalion. The gun model is used to represent the approximate frontage of four guns (from two wargame battalions). The location of the gun model is only for aesthetics. More importantly, we need to find a use for these cool little models. Where there are an odd number of battalions one can add another model representing the two additional "real" guns.
Bn-gun Fire Bonus Table. Sum of d6's indicated below per 2 "real" guns represented.
Canister Shot/Shell
Two Guns 8" 16" 20" 24" (½d6)
3-pdr 2 1 to 36"
6-pdr 3 2 1 to 48"
12-pdr 4 4 2 1 to 72"
7" How 4 4 2 1 to 60"
Shot/Shell … Use ½d6 (rounded up) for all ranges
Use Small Arms Terrain/Formation Modifiers
x2 … Target is Column, Enfiladed Line, Square
x.5 .. Firers Moved over 1"

Each battalion has a Bn-gun bonus representing its two attached guns. Using the above Table, roll the indicated number of d6. The sum is the number of casualties caused.
Even though Bn-guns would generally not engage in extreme range fire, the effect of shot or shell is represented by a roll of ½d6.
The totals resulting from the dice throws above equate approximately to the regular artillery chart.
Example: A battalion with two 3-pdr guns firing at a target 8 inches or less would roll two dice with the possible sum of between 2 and 12, with the average being 7 casualties. The average under the artillery chart would be 5 or 6.

An attached Bn-gun does not add its crew to the parent unit strength nor does it receive crew casualties. It follows both the fire-at-charge and the morale results of the unit to which it is attached. If a Bn-gun attempts to engage in counter-battery fire with a field gun, it can be separately targeted.


Why the Battalion Gun Rule? These guns are a necessary component to any representation of an Eighteenth Century battle. So how can these little monsters be otherwise represented on our miniature battlefield. Alternatives to the above rule present themselves, as follows:
1. Have no physical representation on our tabletop. Simply account for the additional firepower in the battalion's firepower. Advantages: (a) No painting, indeed a boardgamer's dream and a budget windfall. (b) Simple, no additional calculations. Disadvantages: (a) Doesn't account for the longer ranges of the guns or the various types. (b) No painting, a miniature painter and manufacturer nightmare. If there are no battalion guns, the only miniature artillery on the table will be a couple 12-pounders! Clearly a move back in the direction of cardboard counters.
2. Cardboard counters (Yuk). Put a one inch square counter with a picture of the gun on the flank of each battalion. Calculate casualties from each gun on a simple table in addition to the musketry. Advantages: As above, but with the need to have an additional casualty calculation. Disadvantages: Same as above, but with the additional clutter of the counters.

Badgerlock09 Oct 2021 2:44 a.m. PST

These guns are a necessary component to any representation of an Eighteenth Century battle

I definitely want to include battalion guns in my SYW forces but I can see that if using a small ground scale such that one miniature represents 20 or even 50 men, having battalion guns at a ratio of 1 model to 2, or even 4, actual guns might result in an over representation of light artillery and that the guns would take up a disproportionate amount of unit frontage.

von Schwartz ver 209 Oct 2021 4:38 p.m. PST

Without getting too deep in the weeds, my SYW Austrians. Prussians, and Allies have two guns per battalion, 4 per regiment, the French only have two per regiment. In Koneig Krieg, one stand with a model gun and 2 figure represents 4 guns. I also have a number of 1/2 size stands with one figure to represent 2 gun. Maybe not so aesthetically pleasing but it aint bad!

18th Century Guy Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2021 12:59 p.m. PST

I prefer rules that work the battalion guns into the fire value so as to not potentially clutter up the table with extra bases. But in the past our group has had bases with the battalion guns attached to the infantry. It was fun at the time but eventually we opted to remove them and just work that into the fire values.

But if you want the figures on the table then go for it! It's your stuff so do with it as you please and have fun!

Old Contemptible19 Oct 2021 5:38 p.m. PST

My Queen's Rangers have a battalion gun. It's is a Grasshopper gun. Small enough so it can be moved to keep up with infantry or position to support the dragoons or the foot. In our rules it fires separately.

picture

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