Chapter 11: army organization.—Artillery.—Its history and organization, with a brief Notice of the different kinds of Ordnance, the Manufacture of Projectiles, &c.
.--Previous to the invention of gunpowder in the thirteenth century, the machines of war were divided between two classes of military men, the engineers (engignours
, as they were called in the middle ages) and the artillery, (artilliers
, as they were formerly called,) the latter being particularly charged with the management of the lighter and more portable projectile machines, such as the balistas and arco-balistas, which were used for throwing different kinds of arrows--fleches, viretons, carreaux, matras
, &c., while the former managed the battering-rams, cranes, helipoles, &c. And, indeed, for a long time after the discovery of gunpowder, this distinction was kept up, and the artillery retained all the more ordinary projectile machines, while the engineers constructed and managed the more ponderous weapons of attack and defence.
But the new artillery was gradually introduced, without, however, immediately displacing the old, and there were for a time, if we may be allowed the expression, two
artilleries, the one employing the old projectile machines, and the other those of the new invention.
The latter were called canoniers
, to distinguish them from the former, who still retained the name of artilliers
The first cannon were invented in the early part of the fourteenth century, or, perhaps, among the Arabs as early as the middle of the thirteenth century, but they were not much known in Europe
till about 1350.
Cannon are said to have been employed by the Moors as early as 1249, and by the French
used artillery at
the battle of Crecy
Both cannon and the ancient projectile machines were employed at the siege of Aiguillon in 1339, at Zara
in 1345, at Rennes
in 1357, and at Naples
At this last siege the ancient balista was employed to throw into the castle of Naples
barrels of infectious matter and mutilated limbs of prisoners of war. We read of the same thing being done in Spain
at a later period.
Cannon in France
were at first called bombards
, but were afterwards named from certain figures marked on them, such as serpentines, basilisks, scorpions
, &c. In the infancy of the art they were made small, weighing only from twenty to fifty pounds, and were mounted on small moveable carriages.
This species of fire-arms became quite numerous about the beginning of the fifteenth century.
They were followed by heavier pieces, used in the attack and defence of towns.
This siege artillery continued to be increased in dimensions, till, towards the latter part of the fifteenth century, they reached such an enormous size as to be almost useless as a military machine.
had an immense piece constructed at Tours
, in 1770, which, it was said, carried a ball from the Bastille to Charenton, (about six miles!) Its caliber was that of five hundred pounds. It was intended for experiment, and burst on the second discharge.
The famous culverin of Bolduc was said to carry a ball from that city to Bommel.
The culverin of Nancy, made in 1598, was more than twenty-three feet in length.
There is now an ancient cannon in the arsenal at Metz
of about this length, which carries a ball of one hundred and forty pounds. Cannon balls were found at Paris
as late as 1712, weighing near two hundred pounds, and from twelve to sixteen inches in diameter.
At the siege of Constantinople
in 1453, there was a famous metallic bombard which threw stone balls of an incredible size; at the
siege of Bourges in 1412, a cannon was used which, it was said, threw stone balls “of the size of mill-stones.”
, under Arteville, made a bombard fifty feet in length, whose report was heard at a distance of ten leagues!
The first cannon were made of wood, and covered with sheet-iron
, or embraced by iron rings: longitudinal bars of iron were afterwards substituted for the wooden form.
Towards the end of the fourteenth century, brass, tin, copper, wrought and cast iron, were successively used for this purpose.
The bores of the pieces were first made in a conical shape, and it was not until a much later period that the cylindrical form was introduced.
In the wars between the Spaniards and Moors in the latter part of the fifteenth century, very great use was made of artillery in sieges and battles.
Ferdinand the Catholic
had at this time, probably, a larger artillery train than any other European
The Spanish cannon, generally very large, were composed of iron bars about two inches in breadth, held together by bolts and rings of the same metal.
The pieces were firmly attached to their carriages, and incapable of either horizontal or vertical movement.
The balls thrown by them were usually of marble, though sometimes of iron.
Many of the pieces used at the siege of Baza, in 1486, are still to be seen in that city, and also the cannon balls then in use. Some of the latter are fourteen inches in diameter, and weigh one hundred and seventy-five pounds. The length of the cannon was about twelve feet. These dimensions are a proof of a slight improvement in this branch of military science, which was, nevertheless, still in its infancy.
The awkwardness of artillery at this period may be judged of by its slowness of fire.
At the siege of Zeteuel, in 1407, five “bombards,” as the heavy pieces of ordnance were then called, were able to discharge only forty shot in the course
of a day; and it is noticed as a remarkable circumstance, at the siege of Albahar, that two batteries discharged one hundred and forty balls in the course of the twenty-four hours!
In the Italian
wars between France
, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, the difficulty of moving the heavy cannon then in use was so great that only a very small number of pieces were brought upon the battle-field.
At the battle of Cerignola, in 1503, the number of cannon in the French
army was only thirteen.
Indeed, during the greater part of this century, four or five pieces were considered sufficient for an ordinary army in the field, and many agreed to the doctrine of Machiavelli
, that the only legitimate use of artillery was in the attack and defence of places.
But in the wars of Henry IV.
, this arm of service was again increased, and the troops which this king destined against the house of Austria
had an artillery train of fifty pieces.
Great improvements were also made about this period in the manufacture of powder, and all kinds of fire-arms.
gave greater development to this arm of service, improving its materials, and increasing its efficiency.
Then, as at most other periods, the French
were in advance of most other nations in artillery.
It was near the close of the sixteenth or the beginning of the seventeenth century, that the heavy and ill-shaped artillery began to give place to more wieldy and useful pieces.
A certain M. de Linar
demonstrated, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, that cannon twelve feet in length would give a greater range than those seventeen feet in length, the calibre being the same; but some years elapsed before advantage was taken of this discovery.
In 1624, Gustavus Adolphus
caused experiments to be made to verify this point, and, on being convinced of its truth, caused his batteries to be furnished with shorter and lighter pieces.
This great king introduced, about the same
time, a new and lighter kind of artillery, made of sheet iron
Each piece had its chamber formed of thin metal and embraced by strong iron rings ; over these was placed a form of hardened leather, which was again encircled with rings and held compactly together.
These pieces were mounted on light carriages
, so that two men could easily manoeuvre them.
It was said that they would fire from eight to ten.
rounds without requiring repairs.
Gustavus made use of them in all his military operations from 1628 to the time of his death.
They did him excellent service on numerous occasions; being so very light they could be easily transported, and, on the field of battle, their movements could be made to conform to the movements of his troops.
As cannon and small arms were gradually introduced into general use, various inventions and improvements were proposed and introduced from time to time.
Cannon were constructed with two or more barrels; some were arranged for being loaded in the breech, and others at the mouth of the piece; two pieces were sometimes connected by horizontal timbers: which revolved about a vertical axis, so that the recoil of one piece would bring the other into battery; and various other arrangements of this description, which have recently been revived and some of them patented as new inventions.
The small arms employed at this period were much the same as those used at the present day, except the match-lock, which afterwards gave place to flint-locks.
Arms of this description were sometimes made to be loaded at the breach, and guns with two, three, and even as many as eight barrels, were at one time in fashion.
In the Musee de l'artillerie
may be found many arms of this kind, which have been reproduced in this country and England
as new inventions.
In this Museum are two ancient pieces, invented near the end of the sixteenth or
the beginning of the seventeenth century, which very nearly correspond with Colt's patent
, with the single exception of the lock!1
of artillery employed in modern warfare is divided into two general classes: 1st. Siege Artillery
, or such as is employed in the attack and defence of places.
2d. Field Artillery
, or such as is used in battle, or in the field-operations of an army.
1. Siege Artillery
is composed of mortars, large howitzers, Paixhan guns
and all cannon
of a large calibre
. In our service this class of ordnance includes the twelve, eighteen, twenty-four, thirty-two, and forty-two-pounder guns, the eight, ten, and thirteen-inch mortars, the sixteen-inch stone mortar, the twenty-four-pounder ccehorn mortar, the twenty-four-pounder carron-ade, and the eight, ten, and twelve-inch howitzers.
All these, except the smaller mortars, are made of cast iron.
This substance is less tenacious than wrought iron or bronze, and the cannon made of it are, on this account,
much heavier than of the other materials; but for the naval service, and the attack and defence of fortifications, the weight required to secure the necessary strength is not very objectionable.
Wrought iron and bronze are much more expensive and less durable.
Moreover, the difficulty of forging wrought iron in masses of sufficient size has been such as to prevent its being brought into general use for artillery.
Numerous attempts have been made, at different periods, to construct large guns of this material, but none have yet been successful.
Improvements which are now making in the manufacture of wrought iron, may render this the preferable material for the smaller pieces of artillery; but the best informed military men deem it objectionable for the heavier cannon, both on account of its cost and the imperfection of its manufacture.
Even should the latter objection be removed, its cost must prevent its general application to the construction of siege artillery.
Charlatans in military science, both in this country and in Europe
, bring this subject up every fifteen or twenty years as a new invention
, and flaming notices of the improvement
, and predictions of the revolution it is to effect in the art of war, are circulated in the newspapers to “gull” a credulous public; and after some fifty or one hundred thousand dollars have been squandered on some court-favorite, the whole matter ends in the explosion of the “improvement
,” and probably the destruction of the “inventor
,” and perhaps also of his spectators.
Let us be distinctly understood on this subject.
There may be inventions and improvements
in the manufacture of wrought iron, but there is nothing new
in its application
to the construction of cannon, for it has been used for this purpose as long ago as the first invention of the art.
2. Field Artillery
is composed of the smaller guns and howitzers.
In our service this class of cannon includes
the six and twelve-pounder guns, and the twelve and twenty-four-pounder howitzers.
All these are now made of bronze.
This material is more expensive than cast iron, but its superior tenacity renders it more useful where great weight is objectionable.
Improvements in the manufacture of cast iron may render it safe to employ this metal in the construction of field-pieces.
It is also possible the wrought iron may be forged in masses large enough, and the cost be so reduced as to bring it into use for field-pieces.
It is here important to combine strength with lightness, and additional expense may very properly be incurred to secure this important object.
now in use are solid shot, shells, strapshot, case or canister-shot, grape-shot, light and fire-balls, carcasses, grenades, and rockets.
are now almost invariably made of cast iron,3
formed in moulds of sand or iron.
This projectile is used under almost every circumstance, whether in the battle-field or in the attack and defence of places, and is the only one that is effectual against the stone walls of forts.
are used against shipping and wooden structures of every description.
Red-hot balls were first employed by the king of Poland
, in 1575, but, on account of the difficulty of heating them with rapidity, and the danger of loading the piece with them, this kind of projectile was not in general use till a much later period.
It was at first supposed that the expansion of the metal would be so great, when heated to a red
heat, as to prevent the ball from entering the piece ; it is found, however, that the windage is still sufficient for loading with facility.
These red-hot balls are principally used to fire wooden buildings, ships, and other combustible matter.
They are therefore much used as a projectile for coast defence, and
all fortifications on the seaboard should, be provided with furnaces and grates, arranged so as to heat them with facility and rapidity.
There are several kinds of hollow-shot
, called bombs, howitzes, grenades
, &c. They are made of cast iron, and usually in a spherical shape, the cavity being concentric with the exterior surface.
The cavity was formerly made eccentric with the exterior, under the belief that the heavier side would always strike first.
The rotary motion of the shell during its flight rendered this precaution of no use. Fire is communicated to the combustible matter within the shell by means of a fuse, which is so regulated that the explosion shall take place at the desired moment.
Hollow-shot are used with advantage to destroy ordinary buildings, ships, earthwork, and thin walls of masonry; they, however, are of little avail in breaking the massive walls of well-constructed forts.
Howitzes and grenades are particularly effective against cavalry and columns of infantry, and are much employed on the battle-field; they are also much used in the attack and defence of places.
We find that as early as 1486 the Spaniards made use of a projectile similar to the modern bomb.
“They threw from their engines large globular masses, composed of certain inflammable ingredients mixed with gunpowder, which, scattering long trains of light,” says an eye-witness, “in their passage through the air, filled the beholders with dismay, and descending on the roofs of edifices, frequently occasioned extensive conflagration.”
In the siege of Constantinople
by Mahomet II., shells were used, and also mortars of enormous size.
In 1572 Valturas proposed to throw, with a kind of mortar, “globes of copper filled with powder.”
In 1588, an artificer of Venloo burned Wachtendeck by throwing bombs into the place.
A similar attempt had just been made at Berg-op-Zoom.
The use of this projectile became quite
common in France
under Louis XIII.
Howitzes were not much used till the seventeenth century.
They are of German origin, and the howitzer first bore the name of haufmitz
consists of a round ball attached to a sabot
of the same calibre, by means of two strips of tin passing over the shot at right angles, and fastened to a third, which is soldered around the sabot.
One end of the sabot is arranged for attaching it to the cartridge, the other being hollowed out to receive the shot.
The supposed advantages of this arrangement are, 1st, a diminution of the windage; 2d, the gun may be loaded with greater rapidity; and, 3d, the cartridge is transported with greater safety.
is prepared by filling a tin canister with grape-shot or musket-balls, and attaching it to the cartridge by means of a sabot.
There being two sizes of grape-shot, and one of musket-balls, we have three kinds of canister-shot calculated to reach at different distances.
The three sizes of shot are frequently mixed in the same canister.
This projectile is particularly effective against lines of infantry and cavalry, when the distance is short.
is composed of small balls arranged round an upright pin attached to a plate of wood or iron.
The concave cast-iron plate is preferable, as it increases the range of the shot.
The balls are covered with canvass, and thoroughly confined by a quilting of strong twine.
This shot is used for the same purposes as the canister.
are formed of an oval case of sacking, filled with combustible matter, and attached to a culot of cast-iron.
The whole is covered with a net of spun-yarn.
Light-balls are used to light up our own works, and are not armed; fire-balls being employed to light up the works or approaches of an enemy it is necessary to arm them with pistol-barrels, in order to prevent any one from extinguishing
When made of very combustible materials, and used for setting fire to wooden structures, they are denominated incendiary balls
are employed for the same purpose as incendiary balls; they are of two kinds: 1st, the shell-carcass;
and, 2d, the ribbed-carcass
. The first is composed of a spherical shell, cast with five fuse-holes, one being at the top, and the other four in a plane perpendicular to this and at right angles with each other; the shell is filled with matter highly combustible.
The second is formed of iron ribs connected by iron straps, and attached at the ends to culots of the same material, the whole being filled with combustible composition.
This is more expensive than the shell carcass, and cannot be fired with as great accuracy; it is now seldom used.
Carcasses may be armed in the same manner as fire-balls.
and suffocating balls
are used to drive an enemy from galleries and mines.
They are thrown by hand.
of the French artillery was for a long time retained, together with the engineers, under the general direction of the “Grand Master
In 1420 the master-general
of artillery was made independent of the grand-master of cross-bows; but previous to the reign of Louis XIV., the artillery troops had no organization as a separate corps.
In 1668 six companies of canoniers
were created, and soon after two companies of bombardiers
. In 1693 the first regiment of fusiliers was changed into a royal regiment of artillery
, and both the canoniers and bombardiers were eventually incorporated with it. The staff of artillery, towards the close of this reign, was composed of one grand-master, sixty lieutenants, sixty commissaries, and eighty) oficiers-pointeurs
. In 1721 the artillery was divided into five battal-ions and stationed at Metz
, Perpignan, and La Fere, where they established schools of
theory and practice.
In 1756 the artillery was organized into seven regiments, each regiment having its own separate school.
This organization continued without any remarkable change till the Revolution.
During the earlier campaigns of the French Revolution
it is impossible to trace out the changes that took place in army organization, every thing was then so irregular and confused, the troops of different arms being frequently united together.
In the campaign of 1792 there were some six or seven regiments of foot artillery, and ten companies of horse.
This arm was greatly increased during the subsequent campaigns, and its organization was completely remodelled by Napoleon
on his elevation to the head of the government.
of the artillery was then composed of a general staff
, nine regiments of foot and six of horse.
In 1815 it was reduced to eight regiments of foot and four of horse.
of artillery in modern army organization is divided into four classes: the staff, guards, artificers
, and troops
I. The Staff
, or Ordnance
, as it is called in our service, is charged with the construction of all the materials of artillery, and the collection of powder and military stores.
As the lives of persons using these materials, and, in a considerable degree, the success of war, depend upon the nature and quality of the stores thus manufactured and collected, it is obvious that the members of this branch of the artillery service should possess high and peculiar qualifications.
In the French
army the artillery staff is composed of two hundred and eighty-three officers of different grades: also twenty-four officers of the general staff
are attached to this service.
In our army the ordnance
is composed of twenty-eight officers of different grades.
.--These in our service are divided into two classes: 1st. Military Store-keepers
. 2d. Ordnance
Both are alike charged with the care and preservation of the artillery property and stores at the several garrisons, arsenals, and magazines.
In our army we have ffty-eight of these guards, viz: fifteen commissioned military store-keepers, and forty-three ordnance sergeants
We seldom have more than this number of permanent posts; each one can therefore be supplied with an artillery guard for the care of the artillery stores.
In the French
service there are three hundred and fifteen of these artillery guards; they are divided into three classes.
.--This class of men are employed in the construction and repairs of military materials.
In most of our arsenals and armories it is thought to be best to employ unenlisted workmen, by the piece or contract.
Nevertheless a limited number of enlisted men of this description are found to be both useful and necessary.
We have three hundred and thirty of these in our army, viz: two hundred and fifty enlisted “ordnance men,” and eighty “artificers” attached to the regiments.
In the French
army they have for the service of the arsenals and establishments, one hundred and forty-nine “ouvriers,” and twelve “artificers ;” there are also three hundred and sixty “ouvriers” and seventeen “armuriers” attached to the corps of artillery, making in all five hundred and thirty-eight.
Troops.--Artillery, as an arm of service, is divided in the same manner as its materiel;
artillery being intended for field service, and the garrison or siege
-artillery, for the attack and defence of places.
The troops of the artillery corps of a modern army usually do duty either in the field, or in sieges, or garrison, as occasion may require.
When employed in the service of a campaign, artillery is usually divided into two classes: 1st. Foot
Artillery; and 2d. Horse
In the early history of artillery, as has already been shown, but few pieces were ever brought upon the battle-field.
crossed the Alps
with a pretty large train; but a part of these were hand-guns, and but very few of the larger pieces were ever brought into battle; indeed, it was then thought that this arm would be of little use except in sieges.
At the battle of Gravelines the army of Philip II.
had only seventeen pieces of artillery; and at the battle of Ivry the French
had only four pieces of cannon, and two culverins: the army of the League had also only four pieces.
At the battle of Moncontour the opposing armies had but eight pieces each.
not only improved the character of artillery, but also gave to it great development as an arm of service.
At the battle of Breetenfield he had one hundred pieces of artillery, great and small, and at the camp of Nuremberg
he numbered about three hundred.
This king also made a more skilful use of his cannon by uniting them more in mass than had been done by his predecessors; his system was nevertheless very imperfect.
In the disposition of this arm on the field of battle, a vast improvement was made by Conde
, and Prince Eugene of Savoy
Frederick the Great
also made great use of this arm, and was the first to introduce horse artillery.
This mode of using field-pieces has peculiar properties which in many circumstances render it an invaluable arm. The promptness and rapidity of its movements enable it to act with other troops without embarrassing them.
soon introduced into their army the improvements made by the king of Prussia
, and in 1763 the celebrated Gribeauval
He improved the form of the cannon and greatly diminished the weight of field artillery, giving it an organization which has been but slightly changed since his time.
The successive improvements in artillery have for a long time constituted a prominent feature in war. The power of this arm to throw projectiles to a great distance, aid to overturn and destroy opposing obstacles, renders it a necessary arm on the battle-field, and a strong barrier and safeguard of states.
It is an essential element in ail army organization.
In our army we have four regiments of artillery, forming the basis of forty batteries.
In the French
service there are fourteen regiments, forming the basis of two hundred and six field batteries,
The term battery
, when applied to artillery as an arm of service, refers to a permanent organization of a certain number of cannon, with the men and other accessaries required to serve them.
This is the unit of force in this arm. The regimental organization is a mere nominal arrangement, for in actual service artillery acts by batteries, and never by regiments.
Its strength is therefore invariably estimated by the number of its batteries.
A battery is ordinarily composed of six pieces, two of therm being howitzers.
The ligbter batteries would, in our service, be formed of six-pounder gains and twelve-pounder howitzers; and the heavier of twelve-pounder guns and twenty-four-pounder howitzers.
These heavy batteries would usually form the reserve.
Each piece being attended by its caisson, this formation would give twelve carriages to each battery, six for the guns and six for the caissons.
The extra caissons form a part of the reserve, and move with the train.
In some foreign services a battery is composed of eight pieces with their caissons.
This arm admits of three formations--in column, in battle
, and in battery
/ In column it ordinarily moves by sections of two pieces, each piece being followed or preceded by its caisson.
Columns of half-batteries are sometimes
formed, and also columns of single pieces; but the latter ought never to be employed except in cases of necessity, in passing a narrow defile, and at a distance from the enemy.
In order of battle, the pieces are drawn up in line, their caissons forming a second line, at the distance of a few paces.
When in order of battery, the pieces are formed in the same way as for battle, except that the guns are directed towards the enemy and prepared for firing.
The movements and manoeuvres of foot artillery correspond with those of infantry, and of mounted artillery with those of cavalry, a battery being regarded as a battalion or squadron, of which the pieces form the platoons.
Mounted batteries can seldom move with greater rapidity than the trot, except in cases of emergency, and even then the gallop can be kept up only for a very short time; but this is of no great importance, as the batteries never accompany cavalry in the charge.
writers discuss artillery as employed in battle, under two distinct heads — lst, as an arm of preparation, and 2d, as an arm of succor.
I. As an arm of preparation it serves, 1st, to protect the deploying of the other troops; 2d, to disorganize the enemy's masses, and to facilitate the action of infantry and cavalry, by weakening the intended points of attack; 3d, to force an enemy to evacuate a position by overthrowing obstacles with which he has covered himself; 4th, to keep up the action till the other troops can be prepared to strike the decisive blow.
The force of this arm depends upon the rapidity and accuracy of its fire; rash valor is therefore far less desirable in artillery than skill, patience, and cool courage.
Artillery always acts at a distance, and in mass; single pieces are seldom employed, except to cover reconnoitring
parties, or to sustain the light infantry in a skirmish.
Mounted batteries sometimes approach within two or three hundred yards of the enemy's infantry; but this is only done with a strong support of other troops, and to prepare the way for a charge of cavalry.
The batteries do not accompany the charge, but they should always follow up and complete the success; mounted batteries are particularly useful in pursuit.
, in 1812, had accompanied his attacks upon Neveroffskoi's retreating columns of sixty thousand infantry by two or three batteries of mounted artillery, the whole column must have been captured or destroyed.
Artillery, on the field of battle, is very liable to allow its fire to be drawn, and its projectiles wasted, while the enemy is at too great a distance to be reached.
It is a very common thing in a battle, to employ two or three pieces of heavy calibre at the beginning of the fight, in order to provoke the opposing batteries to open their fire before the proper time.
The waste of material is not the only loss attending this error; the troops are fatigued and disheartened, while the courage and confidence of their opponents are always revived by a weak and inaccurate fire.
To avoid such an error the commanding officer
of a battery of artillery should be perfectly familiar with the effective ranges of his pieces, and accustomed to form a correct estimate of distances.
For this purpose the eye should be frequently practised in time of peace in estimating the ranges for different calibres.
|The effective range of a 12-pounds field-piece is about ||1000 yds.|
|The effective range of a 6-pounds field-piece is about ||800 yds.|
|The effective range of a 24-pounds field-piece is about howitzer, ||600 yds.|
|The effective range of a 12-pounds field-piece is about howitzer, ||500 yds.|
|The effective range of a grape and case shot is from ||300 to 500 yds.|
Even at these distances the aim is usually so inaccurate, that a large portion of the projectiles are lost.
In the attack on Spires, a whole column of artillery expended its fire while at a distance of 900 yards from the enemy, who, of course, received little or no injury.
In firing fro fortifications, the aim is far more accurate, and the artillery may therefore be employed to advantage as soon as the enemy comes within the longest range.
As an arm of succor, the artillery serves, 1st, to give impulsive force to the attacking columns; 2d, to assist in arresting, or at least in retarding, the offensive movements of an enemy; 3d, to protect the avenues of approach, and to defend obstacles that cover a position; and, 4th, to cover a retrograde movement.
Mounted artillery is, like cavalry, much the most effective in attack; but batteries of foot are better calculated for defence.
The cannoniers are so armed as to be capable of defending their pieces to the last extremity; they therefore cannot be easily captured by opposing columns of infantry.
“As to pretending to rush upon the guns,” says Napoleon
, “and carry them by the bayonet, or to pick off the gunners by musketry, these are chimerical ideas.
Such things do sometimes happen; but have we not examples of still more extraordinary captures by a coup de main
? As a general rule, there is no infantry, however intrepid it may be, that can, without artillery, march with impunity the distance of five or six hundred toises, against two well-placed batteries (16 pieces) of cannon, served by good gunners; before they could pass over two-thirds of the way, the men would be killed, wounded, or dispersed. * * * * A good infantry forms, no doubt, the sinews of an army; but if it were required to fight for a long time against a very superior artillery, its good quality would be exhausted, and its efficiency destroyed.
In the first campaigns of the wars of the Revolution, what France
had in the greatest perfection was artillery; we know not a single instance in which twenty pieces of cannon, judiciously placed, and in battery, were ever carried by the bayonet.
In the affair at Valmy
, at the battles of Jemmapes, Nordlingen, and Fleurus
, the French
had an artillery superior to that of the enemy, although they had often only two guns to one thousand men; but that was because their armies were very numerous.
It may happen that a general, more skilful in manoeuvring, more expert than his adversary, and commanding a better infantry, may obtain successes during a part of a campaign, although his artillery may be far inferior to that of his opponent; but on the critical day of a general engagement, his inferiority in point of metal will be severely felt.”
History furnishes us numerous examples of the use of artillery in protecting avenues of approach :--such as the defile of Kesen at the battle of Auerstedt; the avenues between the redoubts of Pultowa, &c., &c.
When an army is forced to retreat, it covers its rear by that portion of its cavalry and mounted artillery which has suffered least during the battle.
By placing the squadrons of horse and the light batteries in echelon, the retiring column may be well protected.
The artillery, by using the prolonge, may also continue its retreat while in battery and firing.
It was in this way that at the battle of Albuera
, in 1811, the French artillery on the left wing held in check the right and centre of the Anglo-Spaniards till the army effected its retreat; the artillery then retired in echelons, by batteries and fractions of batteries, under the protection of the cavalry.
We have already discussed, under the general head of tactics, the position and use of artillery on the battle-field; a few additional remarks must suffice.
As a general rule, batteries should be placed in positions from which they can employ their fire to advantage, and
also be free to move in any direction that the progress of the battle may require.
Advantage should always be taken of natural or artificial obstacles, such as hedges, clumps of trees, logs, mounds of earth, &c., to cover and conceal the guns till the moment they open their fire.
Elevated positions are, contrary to the common opinion, generally unfavorable, for artillery cannot fire to advantage at any considerable angle of depression.
The slopes in front should be of considerable length, otherwise the balls would do very little execution upon that portion of the column of attack which occupied the valley.
The ground should also be smooth, for if rough the balls will either bury themselves in the earth, or ricochet at a high angle of deflection, thus destroying a considerable part of the effect of the tire.
The counterforts or spurs of hills are favorable for artillery, as they enable it to see, with an enfilading fire, the slopes of the principal range.
Batteries should seldom be placed so as to fire over other troops, for they will not only be intimidated by this fire, but also exposed to the opposing fire of the enemy's artillery.
A large number of pieces should never be crowded into the same place, but an interval should be left between the guns of forty or fifty feet, according to the locality.
The most favorable position for this arm in ordinary ground, is in the intervals between the regiments or brigades of the line, and far enough in advance of this line not to draw upon the other troops the fire of the enemy's artillery.
The flanks of the line are also favorable for the action of this arm.
Sometimes artillery has been employed to form a part of the line of battle; but such instances are exceptions, and can never be comprised in general rules
Whenever this disposition has been made, it has resulted from the defective character of the other arms, or from some peculiar circumstance in the battle which enabled a bold and skilful commander to deviate from the ordinary rules of
Such was the case with Napoleon
, in 1813, he was several times obliged to substitute his artillery to supply the — want of other arms.
In the defence and attack of field-works, and in the passage of rivers, artillery plays an important and indispensable part; but it here becomes an auxiliary to the dispositions of the engineers, or at least acts in concert with that arm.
The troops of artillery, in all well-regulated army organizations, should equal about two-thirds of the cavalry, or one-seventh of the infantry.4