Artillery

We’ve covered Infantry and Cavalry (which does need some slight amendments to Light Cavalry) so now we’re onto the third arm.

There were many different types of Artillery available to Napoleonic Generals.

  • 24pdr Cannon
  • 12pdr Cannon
  • 9pdr Cannon
  • 8pdr Cannon
  • 6pdr Cannon
  • 4pdr Cannon
  • 3pdr Cannon
  • 5.5-inch Howitzer
  • 6-inch Howitzer
  • 8-inch Howitzer
  • 6pdr Howitzer
  • 7pdr Howitzer
  • 24pdr Howitzer
  • Unicorns
  • 6pdr Mortar
  • 24pdr Mortar
  • 3pdr Mountain Gun
  • Congreve Rockets

I’m not even sure whether the above list is the full variety of artillery that was present in the Napoleonic period (also some of these would have been used in siege warfare or naval warfare only).

Our first step will be to take the weapon types and where possible establish what their effective and long ranges were.

One useful page I’ve found for this is on www.napoleonguide.com, which has the below table:

Artillery Ranges by Nation

This doesn’t cover our entire list but its a pretty decent summary of the most common artillery types used on the open battlefield during the time. Let’s start by working out an average of the different cannon weights above

NationCannon TypeMaximum RangeEffective RangeCanister Range
Austria3-pounder850 metres400 metres275 metres
British3-pounder1,000 metres400 metres275 metres
Prussian3-pounder920 metres400 metres275 metres
Average920 metres*400 metres275 metres
3-pounder Cannon Ranges
*rounded from 923 metres

For now we’re going to work on averages, eventually we may differentiate between nations but if we do that it will be a long way down the line. Let’s move on to the 6 pounders.

NationCannon TypeMaximum RangeEffective RangeCanister Range
Austrian6-pounder920 metres470 metres370 metres
British6-pounder1,350 metres640 metres360 metres
French6-pounder1,350 metres725 metres410 metres
Prussian6-pounder1,350 metres825 metres360 metres
Russian6-pounder1,350 metres725 metres360 metres
Average1,260 metres680 metres370 metres
6-pounder Ranges
Averages are rounded to the nearest 10 metres

Finally, the 12-pounders:

NationCannon TypeMaximum RangeEffective RangeCanister Range
Austrian12-pounder1,100 metres640 metres460 metres
French12-pounder1,600 metres825 metres550 metres
Prussian12-pounder1,800 metres825 metres500 metres
Russian12-pounder1,800 metres825 metres550 metres
Average1,580 metres780 metres520 metres
12-pounder Cannon Ranges
Averages are rounded to the nearest 10 metres.

What’s immediately apparent to me is that the Austrian artillery design must have either been out of date or flawed, all of their ranges are significantly less than those of the other countries (perhaps I will have to include national ranges on cannon types in the future…).

Now we have a single value for all of the cannon types that we can convert into our game scale of 1:5300.

Cannon TypeMaximum RangeEffective RangeCanister Range
3-Pounder17 cm8 cm5 cm
4-Pounder21 cm12 cm7 cm
6-Pounder24 cm13 cm7 cm
8-Pounder25 cm14 cm9 cm
9-Pounder29 cm16 cm8 cm
12-Pounder30 cm15 cm10 cm
Cannon Ranges in 1:5300 Game Scale

We also have the Howitzers, here there are no averages to calculate so we can just use the information on the original table scaled down.

Howitzer TypeMaximum RangeEffective RangeCanister Range
7-Pounder23 cm12 cm9 cm
5.5-Inch29 cm12 cm9 cm
6-Inch21 cm12 cm10 cm
7-Pounder27 cm12 cm9 cm
12-Pounder34 cm12 cm9 cm
Unicorns42 cm12 cm10 cm
Howitzer Ranges at Game Scale 1:5300

So we’ve established the ranges of the different weapons, what about the type of ammunition they could fire. Essentially this boiled down to Roundshot, canister or shell.

RELOAD TIME

Information I have found about the French 12 pounder suggests that the cannons were able to fire roughly 1 shot per minute.

So in game terms, each of our cannon are able to fire two shots per action. Fairly simple.

AMMUNITION

Round Shot

A round shot, is exactly as it sounds a massive ball of metal that is launched from the cannon at the enemy. The cannon ball would pass through ranks of infantry or cavalry formations killing all in its path. A round shot in good weather could actually be fired further than the Cannon’s maximum range due to ricochet of the ground if it was hard and dry enough. However, for now we’re going to ignore this and stick with our maximum ranges. The round shot would pass through ranks killing or injuring maybe one or two in each rank before either coming to a stop or passing through the battalion and possibly into any other battalions behind.

Shell

The shell was exactly as it sounds a shell packed with shrapnel and a timing fuse which the gun team cut to length. It was then fired from the cannon and exploded after the timing fuse has ran down. This could be quite devastating to enemy units if armed and fired accurately.

Canister

Canister were fired at closer range than the other ammunition types and essentially fired a canister filled with musket balls that would disintegrate and pepper the enemy unit.

For the time being, we’re going to leave the types of ammunition alone and say that a hit from a cannon at any range and ammunition type will cause one damage.

We can establish the number of rounds artillery were able to fire based on the information from www.napolun.com.

Ammunition

So from this table we can see that 8-pounders carried roughly 214 rounds, which if fired at once per minute allows them to fire for roughly 3.5 hours. However we’re spreading our battles over 8 hours in time, so let’s spead these out a little more. 214 divided over the 8 hours means one shot every 2 minutes. We can adjust for this by instead stating that per action a cannon will fire once every action. There will be no concerns about running out of ammunition at present as the adjusted shots per action would account for spreading fire across the whole 50 turns of our game.

MOVING ARTILLERY

On the training ground limbering up ready to move usually took at least 2-3 minutes. During battle however the gunners (and horses) were under tremendous stress and their movements were not perfect.

Unlimbering a weapon was easier than limbering up and usually took approximately 1 minute on the training ground.

ORGANISATION

A company/battery of artillery could consist of between 6-12 guns, two pairs of guns (i.e. 4 pieces) were called “half-company” in France or “Division” in Russia. Two half-companies in France (2×4 = 8 Pieces) or three divisions in Russia (3×4 = 12 pieces) formed “company” or “battery”. This was the fundamental tactical unit.

Each piece of artillery has roughly 50 men allocated to the maintenance, transportation and use of that weapon.

Comparison of Battery Sizes

NationBatteryCannonsHowitzersTotal Pieces
FranceFoot (Position)6 (12 Pounders)28
FranceFoot6 (6 Pounders)28
FranceHorse4 (6 Pounders)28
RussiaHeavy8 (12 Pounders)412
RussiaLight8 (6 Pounders)412
RussiaHorse8 (6 Pounders)412
PrussiaHeavy6 (12 Pounders)2 (10 Pounders)8
PrussiaFoot6 (6 Pounders)2 (7 Pounders)8
PrussiaHorse6 (6 Pounders)2 (7 Pounders)8
PrussiaHowitzer8 (7 Pounders)8
Artillery Battery Composition

Sometimes the light cannons (3 and 4 Pounders) were attached to infantry battalions, or infantry regiments. For example during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 many (but not all) French infantry regiments has 2-4 light guns. There were no light cannons attached to cavalry regiments.

The foot and horse batteries made of medium (6 Pounders) and howitzers were attached to infantry and cavalry divisions as divisional artillery. The infantry division could have one, two or even three foot batteries. The cavalry division usually had on horse battery of medium guns.

The corps commander usually had in his reserve or more batteries. Often the corps artillery consisted of heavy cannons (12 Pounders) and howitzers. The overall commander-in-chief had an artillery reserve also comprising if several foot and horse batteries. In total this could have been 50, 100 or more guns.

There were pros and cons of attaching the artillery to divisions:

+ It greatly increased the firepower of the division.

+ It strengthened the morale of troops, especially the young and inexperienced.

– Terrain favourable to infantry was not always favourable to artillery which required harder and higher ground, good visibility and open terrain for the deployment of ammunition wagons, limbers etc.

– Infantry commanders often pressed gunners to open fire at too great a range and withdrew the guns too early when attacked in fear of losing their artillery.

GAME PRESENTATION

As the majority of the power from an artillery unit will be coming from its guns, we’ll use the number of guns to represent the strength. Therefore is we want a dice for each gun, each gun should be 4 strength as a starting point.

Artillery units were often attached to brigades, therefore a brigade may have an artillery base attached with a strength representing the number of guns present. (I.e. 5 guns = 20 strength, 3 guns = 12 strength) and so on. A loss of strength from an artillery unit, would like Cavalry, mean a loss of 10 men killed or wounded.

ACTIONS

So artillery actions mat be:

  • Move (1 Action)
  • Unlimber (1 Action)
  • Fire (1 Action)
  • Limber (2 Actions)
  • Detach from Brigade (1 Action)
  • Attach to Brigade (1 Action)

This would in theory allow foot artillery to detach from their Brigade move forwards in advance, fire for a few turns while the main brigade advances and then either reattach or stay positioned. In one turn a foot artillery unit may be able to move 2cm, unlimber, fire and then limber up again all in one turn.

OTHER NOTES

Despite games showing this, it was actually very rare for artillery to engage in “duels”. But I’m not going to stop this rule wise, as I think any players that start engaging in firing at their enemies artillery would soon learn the error.

SOURCES

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