während der Napoleonischen Kriege}
1. Prussian Artillery.
2. Strength and Organization.
3. Uniforms and Weapons.
The deliberate steadiness of the Germans adapts them especially for the artillery service.
So this is quite surprising that the Prussian artillery had been a neglected branch of the army since the time of Frederick the Great who had underestimated its importance. Promotions and advancement in the artillery were not as good as in cavalry and infantry. It was in contrast to the French artillery, considered as th best in the World in that times. (Napoleon was a gunner.)
The Prussian gunners however were suffciently trained and the horses were good. The gunner was able to operate every kind of cannon and howitzer.
The Prussian field artillery during the Napoleonic wars consisted of 3pdr, 6pdr and 12pdr cannons, 7pdr and 10pdr howitzers, and 10pdr mortars. Many Prussian cannons were old pieces. All guns, limbers and wagons were painted in medium-blue, and their metal parts were painted black. The heavy guns became famous as the "Growlers" after a comment made by Frederick the Great during the battle of Leuthen.
Cannons and Crews.
Howitzers and Crews.
The horse harness was Prussian, but there were also items of Russian and British origin. For example in 1815 the 18th and 19th Horse Batteries replaced the used Russian harness with new British.
Strength and Organization
The basic tactical unit in artillery was battery (approx. 8 guns). Each battery was didvided into 2 half-batteries. Until 1806 batteries were judged by the speed of unlimbering and the smartness of appearance rather than the speed or/and accuracy of fire.
The number of guns available for field service totalled:
Much of Prussia's cannons and howitzers were lost in the campaign of 1806. In 1808 the Convention of Paris set the number of Prussian gunners and engineers at 6,000 men. Three artillery brigades were formed (1. Prussian, 2. Brandenburg, 3. Silesian) each of 3 horse and 12 foot companies. To each brigade was also allocated 1 artisan and 1 train company. In autumn 1812 the virtually bankrupt Prussia had a total of 1.659 pieces available ! Additional pieces were obtained in 1813. The regulations issued in July 1812 simplified the drill and improvement was made by eliminating the regimental light artillery.
In 1812 the Prussians had:
Prussia made a massive effort to increase its field firepower. In 1813-1815 the number of batteries increased. In May 1815 the Berg horse artillery became horse battery No. 20 (Brandenburgische Artillerie-Brigade) and the No. 1 and No. 2 horse batteries of the Russo-German Legion became horse batteries No. 18 & 19 respectively (Schlesische Artillerie-Brigade). In 1815 the problem was not so much procuring the ordnance for the campaign, but in finding trained men to use them and horses to pull them. "The war cabinet had decreed that the army required 76 batteries, 20 more than had been available the previous year. ... The Prussian Commander of Artillery, Prince August of Prussia, even wanted to go as far as drafting in semi-invalids to make up numbers. The King overruled him, although a number of the least infirm were allowed to join the Laboratory Clumns tasked with the manufacture of ammunition. Artillery recruitment was, however, opened up to volunteers from the infantry or cavalry, which provided uniformed manpower but not trained gunners." (Adkin - "The Waterloo Companion" p 301)
Uniforms and Weapons.
Foot gunner's uniform was similar to that of the infantryman.
He wore a "Prussian blue" coat with red turnbacks, yellow buttons and black facings. The breeches were white (for parade) or gray (for campaign). The leather cross-belts and cartridge box were black. On the cartridge box was a grenade badge (the Guard had a brass Guard Star). The collars were black piped poppy-red along the front and lower edge until 1815. The foot gunners carried the infantry backpacks and bread bags.
The train drivers wore dark blue coatees with light blue cuffs and collars, red shoulder straps and white buttons.
In 1808-1815 the foot gunner was supplied with the same artillery sword as carried by the horse gunners. It was only a temporary measure, it was intended to replace these with the normal infantry sidearm once supplies became available. The foot gunners were also armed with infantry muskets but didn't take them on campaign. NCOs carried carbines (but not on campaign).
Different coloured sword knots were used to designate the batteries.
The most dominant points on the battlefield were to be occupied with the heaviest field pieces. Their fire was concentrated on enemy columns and their deployment, beginning at long ranges. From such a position the enemy can be kept under fire for the time of his approach, and be held up while crossing obstacles. Such positions must be defended hard, down to the use of canister. The lighter pieces were to support the infantry and/or cavalry.
In battle the intervals between guns was approx. 12-20 paces apart. The Reglament of 1812 hardly mentioned moving and deploying several batteries at once, and this was considered one of its weaknesses. When several batteries were deployed in line they were required to maintain an interval of 50 paces between each battery.
The ammunition wagons were drawn up in two lines, first stood 20 paces to the rear of the guns. The second line stood 10 paces to the rear of the first line of the wagons. To move distances of less than 100 paces, the gunners preferred to tow the cannons with the prolonge rather than limber up.
General von Clausewitz was not too happy with the tactical use of Prussian artillery. He wrote:
"We keep too much artillery in reserve, and we replace a battery whenever it has used up
all its powder and shot; as a consequence, many batteries try to get rid of their
The ammunition was carried in limbers and caissons. The Prussian limbers and caissons was bigger than French limbers and caissons. The Prussian battery had only 4 but larger caissons, and 2 rack wagons, while the French battery had 12-18 smaller caissons. In battle the limbers were not far away from the cannons/howitzers so the ammunition was readily available to the battery. The Prussian caissons were deployed up to 50 m behind the limbers. (Organizationally some caissons were within the batteries and others were in the munitions 'park columns'.) Additionally the boxes with ammunition could be off-loaded from the limber and carried to the guns.
The spare wheels and carriages were carried in so-called rack wagons. The 6pdr foot battery (6 6pdr cannons and 2 howitzers) had 2 cannon caissons, 2 howitzer caissons and 2 rack wagons. The 12pdr foot battery had 6 cannon caissons, 4 howitzer caissons and 2 rack wagons. The horse battery had 4 cannon caissons, 2 howitzer caissons and 2 rack wagons.
The guns supplied by Great Britain arrived with sufficient ammunition, but I don't know if there was sufficient ammunition for the captured French pieces. In 1815 the ammunition wagons - at least for the 18th and 19th Horse Battery - were French.
The engineers carried swords with a saw blade, only the sergent-major and ensign had ordinary sabers. Smoothbore carabines with bayonets, and small cartridge pouches for 15 cartridges. In addition they carried hatchets, pickaxes, axes, comapass saws and spades. The engineers formed an independent corps. Commander of the Ingenieur-Corps until 1813 was General-Major von Scharnhorst, from 1813-1815 was General-Major von Rauch.
The were three companies of pioneers for fortresses (Festungs-Pionier-Kompanien). In 1812 a fourth company was formed. In wartime from these companies were to be formed field companies.
Each field company consisted of:
By August 1813 there were 7 field and 6 fortress companies of pioneers.
In October 1813 in the Elbe province from 800 miners was formed the Mansfelder Pionier Batallion (4 companies). The companies acted independently and were assigned to different army corps.
All the engineer-officers (Ingenieur-Offiziere) were on the same rank list, but organised in 3 "brigades". These officers were either attached to the field or fortress pioneer companies. Each of the pre-1813 brigades also had an engineer-officer attached for teaching purposes.
The Guard Pioneer Detachment (Garde-Pionier-Abtheilung) was formed in 1816, not before.
Note: the regimental pioneers belonged to their respective (infantry) regiments and had nothing to do with the engineers.
Sources and Links.
Hofschroer - "Prussian Staff and Specialist Troops 1791-1815"
Craig - "The Germans"
Duffy - "Frederick the Great"
Adkin - "The Waterloo Companion"
Petre - "Napoleon’s Conquest of Prussia 1806"
Simms - "The Struggle for Mastery in Germany"
flags from warflag.com
Artillery: French ~ Austrian ~ Russian
Artillery Tactics and Combat
Cannons and Howitzers, Gun Crew, Battery, Ammunition
Deployment in Battle, Accuracy of Artillery Fire
Attacking and Defending Artillery Positions
Napoleon, His Army and Enemies.