Help support TMP

"Built up areas (BUA's) and artillery" Topic

28 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please don't make fun of others' membernames.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Napoleonic Discussion Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Top-Rated Ruleset

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA)

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Workbench Article

Thunderbolt Mountain Highlander

dampfpanzerwagon Fezian paints a Napoleonic caricature.

735 hits since 19 Nov 2021
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

thegeneral19 Nov 2021 1:09 p.m. PST

I use General de Brigade rules in 15mm, although this question will probably be applicable across the board.

I am conscious of the fact that a BUA isn't necessarily continuous buildings. It will include alleyways, yards, back walls and so on. All of which are susceptible to being loopholed, knocked down or through and so on.

So to the question…

Can artillery be situated inside a BUA? (I'm thinking villages and so on here, not proper fortresses).

I would say that battalion guns could, as these are light, move with the infantry, and there are few of them.

Batteries probably not, as these are too big and have a great deal of impedimentia. (But what if split up at the start of the game?)

If a gun model can enter a BUA, then space being at a premium, how many figures would it displace?

My BUA's hold 25 figs each, calculated on ground/figure scale.1:20 and 1mm=1yd.

Thoughts welcome.

14Bore19 Nov 2021 1:51 p.m. PST

Empire III I uses BUA but my reading and rule a battery can't go in a "building" but can anchor next to one.
In my games usually allow 1 Battalion for ease if nothing else.

Delort19 Nov 2021 2:28 p.m. PST

Having guns inside a BUA restricted their arcs, generally restricted the range in which they could engage the enemy and their fields of fire, and the close country could allow the enemy to get close using dead ground. Ranges would be short to allow only single shots before the enemy were upon you. Generally, artillery was positioned to cover the approaches to a BUA, bringing the enemy under fire before they entered the close country and thereby disrupting their attacks. I have not found an account which describes artillery being deployed within a BUA.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2021 2:37 p.m. PST

>>Having guns inside a BUA restricted their arcs,<<

In this period, pre-20thC? a generally preposterous and 'gamey' consideration unless a formal fortification anyway.

This is not WWII being discussed when a certain nation used building and haystacks as covert 'pillboxes'.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2021 2:55 p.m. PST

Be sure to add a die roll for setting the village on fire. There is a reason 18th and 19th Century artillery usually had more space between tubes than you can possibly get between a gun in a village and all kinds of flammable objects.

Mike Petro19 Nov 2021 7:31 p.m. PST

Saragossa? I would put a piece or two in the main road into town. A battery garrisoning a BUA seems very realistic to me.

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2021 10:01 p.m. PST

Don't forget that those guns recoiled after firing and had to be run back up after every shot. If there's no room for the gun to recoil then the trail or wheels may be damaged, rendering it useless. Putting the gun on a road may not work either, as the guns didn't necessarily recoil in a straight line, from what I've seen in some videos.

You could probably do it if you had room for the gun to recoil- but that would depend on how close the buildings were, the width of alleys and streets, etc. Or had time to clear enough space.

Allan F Mountford19 Nov 2021 11:58 p.m. PST

My memory might be failing me, but Archduke Charles wrote a treatise on the defence of villages. I would have thought he made reference to the use or otherwise of artillery.

Allan F Mountford20 Nov 2021 1:31 a.m. PST

There is a very useful chapter on combat in villages in Clery, C, Minor Tactics, London, 1875 (pages 249 to 265):
Artillery is specifically described as being deployed on the flanks or rear of a village. Cavalry is described as being practically useless.
In any event, it is clear that only infantry can operate within the footprint of a village.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2021 6:24 a.m. PST

An exception that perhaps helps to prove the rule: at the battle of Pered in 1848 during the Hungarian War of Independence, a conflict that essentially still used Napoleonic weapons and tactics, the Hungarians defending the village of Pered were barricaded around the church in the centre of the village. They had brought up four guns – almost certainly standard 6-pdr field guns – which presumably helped to defend the barricades. (These in addition to some protecting the village from an adjacent copse.) They failed and all four guns in the village were captured.

In our "Bloody Big Battles!" rules (BBB), artillery is allowed to occupy villages or towns but gains no benefit of cover, only the movement penalty if it tries to move in difficult terrain. This is for the reasons others have described above. Artillery will necessarily have to deploy in the more open and exposed parts of a BUA, partly so it has the necessary field of fire, partly because of how much room it needs for limbers and caissons etc. In a case like Pered, where defenders have time to create barricades and to haul guns up to defend them, the guns will benefit from the fortification.

Thus: artillery can be sited inside a BUA but it's not usually a great idea, and whatever house rule you use should therefore penalise the artillery somehow.

Allan F Mountford20 Nov 2021 7:20 a.m. PST

Good example – and supports the idea of a 'citadel' described by Clery in the link, above.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2021 8:27 a.m. PST

Cheers, Alan. Nice link btw. (I think I have Clery on my bookshelves too.)


Delort20 Nov 2021 2:01 p.m. PST

SHaT1984: what is 'generally preposterous and 'gamey'' about saying artillery arcs were restricted in a BUA?! Whatever period. This is a ridiculous thing to say; of course arcs were restricted by buildings, hedges and the many other obstructions that come with BUAs. The exception may be if you place them on the very edges, but the question was 'within' a BUA suggesting 'inside'. The fact that there are so few examples of it happening suggests it was not a good idea.

thegeneral20 Nov 2021 11:40 p.m. PST

Interesting comments.

I'm not thinking in terms of artillery being deployed within the BUA as in firing internally (ie from one BUA area to another), but more as in poking outward – firing towards an attacker (and gaining the advantage of cover)

BUA's consist of a motley collection of buildings, walls and yards. So I would have thought that a bit of wall could be knocked down to make an embrasure, a gun could be put in a yard looking through a gateway and so on.

Most 18th/9th c village buildings are likely to be timber framed and wattle and daub, so knocking holes in them is unlikely to be too difficult either.

johannes5521 Nov 2021 1:05 a.m. PST

I would think that guns could be used to cover eg the mainstreet entrace, cover bridges etc in a village. Afaik I have read about that use. Not whole batteries but a section could be used inside a wargames bua

Michman21 Nov 2021 1:53 a.m. PST

Unless you are man-handling the gun, you would have to have maybe 24 English feet or 7.5 meters to turn the horses with the limber. Usually, only a main road or a larger street would work in western Europe. Napoléon is reported to have deployed 40 pieces on the streets of Paris on the 13 Vendémiaire.

If you are on relatively level firm ground, you could slowly drag the gun, with a bricole if French or a lyamka/лямка if Russian.

Otherwise, you could move the piece only by very slowly levering it along.

You will need several feet of clear, level space behind the piece for recoil. Beware that some reenactment videos are showing black powder blanks being fired, without the recoil from a full charge and a round. The downward component of the recoil will require that the piece is on firm ground.

To build your firing position, it might be much easier to break up buildings and move the material to the piece(s).

Example weights :
French Gribeauval 4-pounder with carriage or Russiam 6-pounder with carriage : about 690 kg or about 1520 English pounds

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2021 3:50 a.m. PST

It is also noteworthy that artillery was used to dominate the streets in Trenton during Washington's surprise attack on Trenton in December 1776.

And as already noted, Napoleon deployed artillery in Paris to defeat the insurgents attacking the French government.

French artillery was used to set the town/village of Friedland on fire along with the bridges across the Alle while the Russians were attempting to get back across the river.

14Bore21 Nov 2021 3:55 a.m. PST

Guns would be able to unlimber on a street, the building at least how I use them, is the BUA and don't put them in the road.

CHRIS DODSON21 Nov 2021 5:56 a.m. PST

I would respectfully suggest that other than main thoroughfares, squares etc, the sighting of anything other than individual pieces would be a nightmare.

This article illustrates the reality of artillery ‘ land ownership', a fact that most wargamers appear to ignore.

YouTube link

The other impediments as raised is burning buildings and embers flying around.

Even with fixed ammunition, not a good recipe.

Best wishes ,


ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Nov 2021 5:52 p.m. PST

Unless the defender has time to barricade streets and loophole buildings, BUAs are not very good defensive terrain during this time period. The defender can't generate nearly the amount of firepower as a close order formation in the open field, and their ability to attack out of the BUA is very limited. An attacker moving in through unbarricaded streets will quickly break the defenders into isolated groups in the buildings who will usually retreat rather than risk being surrounded.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2021 7:52 p.m. PST

A study of the battle of Essling might be a good idea. Much of the fighting centered around the two villages of Aspern and Essling and both were strongly, and bloodily, contested.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2021 1:33 a.m. PST

Games and systems that include BUA can be chaotic and a nightmare.
They can be too strong and resist nearly all assaults; or so weak as to be a detriment to the defender. Balance is highly subjective. Sure guns (not in battery) could deploy within the wider avenues or plazas, but not a formed cohesive one and certainly not inside any structures, except fortifications. Any other concepts simply won't work properly and are not historical anyway.

Our own home grown rules used the 'points concept' of BUA strength and defence separate to the troops that occupied them.

Firing from a wider area behind a hedge, or low walls, doesn't constitute the BUA. IMHO.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2021 5:14 a.m. PST

You might want to read about Grawert's Prussian division at Jena…and what happened to it because of the French defending a village from every scrap of cover, including 'a hedge, or low walls.'

sidley23 Nov 2021 1:44 p.m. PST

It's not just the guns but the limbers, ammunition caissons and all the other elements besides the guns that forms a battery. Think about the training and drillls the gun crews did with easy access to the limbers, setting out the ammunition and the way individual gunners place themselves around the actual gun. Deploying in a street or yard would disrupt that well rehearsed choreography. Due to all that, even if you allowed batteries in BUA it can be argued that they are less effective than in the open.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2021 3:01 p.m. PST

In the French army, only one caisson per piece traveled with the gun company. The remaining caissons, along with the field forge and other battery vehicles, were with the parc. When each caisson was empty they would be replaced by a full one from the parc and this was a shuttle service for ammunition resupply.

And when emplaced, the coffret was placed on the limber and that ammunition was used for firing and was replenished from the assigned caisson.

I really don't see a problem with artillery being emplaced inside a built-up area if need be.

Andy ONeill25 Nov 2021 3:42 a.m. PST

I recently visited Elizabeth castle, st helier.
There was a demonstration of firing one of the guns.
Obviously, no cannonball.
Back in the day, there were cannon in the castle intended to defend it from the French.

It's a matter of time and or the exact nature of your BUA.

Michman25 Nov 2021 7:40 a.m. PST

YouTube link

The US Civil War rifled gun on its carriage weighs 2250 lbs. Load is 1 lb modern black powder with a 10 lb bullet-shaped brass round.

Compare …

Russian "6-фунтов" Model 1797/1805 smoothbore cannon on its carriage weighed about 1500 lbs. Standard load was 2 lbs black powder with a 7 lb iron round shot.

Delort25 Nov 2021 2:10 p.m. PST

There is no problem in physically putting a gun in a BUA, but the question is whether that is the best, most effective use of its strengths. A single gun breaks down the command and organisational structure of a battery. It has serious consequences for its field of fire and significantly its range. Unless properly protected, the crew are vulnerable to musket fire from infantry that can get close to it using the cover available in a BUA. While its fire using cannister would be devastating firing down a road, it is debateable how many infantry are likely to wander exposed down a road when so much cover is available.

I am sure the majority of artillery commanders would argue that the most effective use of artillery is a full battery concentrating its fire on the most likely approaches to the BUA, leaving open order infantry to fight within the BUA itself where they can make best use of the cover.

Kevin; there must be some doctrine on this in one or many of the artillery manuals you have studied.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.