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Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

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Jason
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Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Jason on Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:12 pm

Given the recent battle in G7 where the French suffered through not having field artillery in their army, I was wondering what the general feeling was on having your artillery in a separate 'artillery train' to your field armies.

I am in two minds, the fact that an army without artillery moves faster is quite an advantage. At the same time, being caught without field artillery (as the French found out) isn't good.

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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by J Flower on Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:47 pm

Maybe you should consider having an Artillery trayne, but give the army orders to move at the speed of the artillery , that would mean that as a rule your army would be slower, but should need arise you could issue an order to move the army faster, leaving the artillery behind.

Another model could be to have battalion guns, field batteries & position Batteries, the position batteries 12/18pdr would then form the trayne or reserve, with the lighter 8/9pdr being attached to the field army, yes movement would still be hampered but to a lesser degree.

Maybe alos look to develop better artillery systems with lighter carriages, shorter barrels etc, to reduce weight & increase mobility.
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Jason
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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Jason on Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:51 pm

Good advice, thanks Smile I do like the idea of making the army going at the same pace as the separate train.

I do tend to have battalion guns, and where I can I standardise on the heavier 4 pdrs, to give me a little extra firepower.

And thanks, hadn't really thought about developing artillery improvements to improve speed

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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Stuart Bailey on Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:26 am

In game terms I think Field guns and Siege Guns/Mortars are treated the same and if you have any of them with a formation it goes at "Artillery Train" speed (80 miles a month).

If you want a formation to move at field army speed (120 miles a month) or flying column (180 miles a month) the only artillery you can take with it are galloper guns or battalion guns.

Personally, I like Cavalry columns & Flying coloums with galloper guns for speedy reinforcement and scouting/raiding but have never been a fan of infantry field armies with only a few pop guns. However I notice a growing fashion for having Artillery trains seperate to the main field army. But why ?????

In my view its all very well getting their quicker but what do you do when you get their? You can not conduct a formal siege and as the French found in G7 fighting on the defensive minus artillery support is a disaster waiting to happen.

This means you are basically always forced to attack & even try to take fortresses by storm. All well and good if you have an Army of Nordic supermen or limitless French, Russian or Chinese hordes at your command. But I am not so sure about this if you have more normal troops and manpower concerns.

This however is not my major concern with "Artillery trains" seperate to the main infantry bodies. My main concern is with with the loss of such trains to hostile action messing up the whole campaign. In G7 the French have now lost two artillery trains which must have disrupted them somewhat.






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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by J Flower on Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:51 am

Silly as the question sounds , but were the Artillery units swaning around the countryside on there own without any protecting units or where they following in the wake of the main body of the army?

Historically as I understand it the artillery followed the Main body, when a battle was iminent, then the trayne closed up with the main battle.

If the artillery is being marched around as a separate independant command without any protecting infantry (Fusilier du Roi were raised especially for that purpose, as they had flintlocks as opposed to the matchlocks, of the bulk of the infantry at the start of Louis XIV reign) Then there is good reason to assume that they are going to get picked off. That is maybe something else to consider when stripping the slower units out of the army. At some stage the wagons that supply the army have to catch up they would move at a similar or indeed slower rate than the Artillery.
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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Jason on Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:19 pm

Stuart-I don't know where the trend for a separate train has come from, other than just because it means an army moves faster. I know I have started doing it but really wouldn't say why confused
Like you, I tend to have field armies and flying/cavalry columns, though I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that for a smaller nation, such a division is artificial-the flying column is often too small to of much use.

Jason-in the case of one of the lost French forces, it was attempting to join up with a field army about to besiege an enemy-held town...my fault, I thought the artillery train had enough protecting units for the short journey when clearly it didn't!

I am trying to remember what I know of artillery of the period. I seem to recall that 'field' artillery was with the field army but the slower siege artillery moved separately...but I could be imagining that!

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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by J Flower on Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:11 pm

I fully understand the need for speed that some players/positions have. I think the trap maybe when all your forces are so deployed, it makes you vunerable if you do come up against a combined arms force. Of course there is then also the question of the determination levels if they are set high your forces will seek to engage despite everything, however if they are ordered to act otherwise when they encounter major oppisition then they may save themselves from destruction.

Jason, it sounds as if your Artillery was moving around without enough escort, That was what I ment, if it was following the main battle then it would have had a degree of protection from that.

Artillery can be divded into various catagories depending on usage & weight. There are the light pieces that accompany the Infantry, the Field artillery, Then Seige/Coastal. Gallopers can be a little deceptive, the main mobility lies not in the weihgt of the pieces, I think the initial units raised by Prussia were 12pdr, the main development is that the crew are also mounted, thereby gaining in mobility.

A seige trayne would usually follow along behind the army, I guess by hte time you have surrounded the town, begun to dig the entrenchments, enough time would have elapsed for the seige guns to catch up.

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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Stuart Bailey on Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:49 am


Historically esp at the start of our period the Artillery Trains of many nations had a seperate organization to the rest of the Army ie in England they came under the board of Ordinance and gunners viewed themselves as craftsmen rather than simple soldiers.

They also tended to camp apart from the rest of the Arrmy........well in the days of naked flames and open camp fire's would you wish camp close to 30 tons of gunpowder?

However by tradition the Artillery Trains had use of the best routes and marched in the middle of the Army very well protected. Thus I would class them them them as all one force since it should be nearly impossible to pick off a commander's Artillery train without a major battle. Also it was not the 'done thing' to break earth in a siege before the guns arrived.

I think some players see a possible short cut in dashing forward a field army to dig the siege lines and take the covered way in advance of the guns arrival. I can see why some people may wish to do this but be warned if some opponents (me for one) spot that your Siege Trains are seperate to the main Army they are going to throwing the kitchen sink at trying to find them and hunt them down.

Using the classic siege of Lille in the SWS as an example Churchill moved his Siege Train to Lille guarded by almost his whole Army. With the main allied forces inc Artillery Train stuck in a long siege the battles for supply which followed were not due to the French trying to stop a tagging along Artillery Train going to the siege. Rather they were trying to stop re-supply of grain and gun powder after the allies had spent more time and powder to take the outwork's than estimated for whole siege.

In game terms Webbs force at Wynendael would be classed as a small infantry field army with 15,000 tons of grain seeking to join and resupply either the large Siege Train with Infantry, heavy artillery etc actually laying siege or its covering army. In came terms another "siege train" but with field guns, foot and field artillery.

Naturally at times there may be a case for dropping off the guns under a strong guard or in a friendly fortress and going hell for leather. I normally lay down in a darkened room until the urge passes so clearly I will never make a Swede.
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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Basileus on Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:45 pm

In the recent conflict outside of Chalons. When the Austrian army first turned up it suprised and captured a French artillery train. Possibly if the French had this artillery last month then their army might have done better. Of course everything is a gamble with whatever decision you go for, but it is quite a risk for an army not to have artillery as we saw last month, as it is a risk for an artillery force to travel without sufficient infantry and cavalry cover.
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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Jason on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:14 pm

Another artillery question-has anyone tried using 1 pdr battalion guns with light infantry? I've always avoided battalion guns for light units as I felt they would limit their battlefield activities but perhaps the lightness of 1 pdr guns wouldn't affect matters too much...though whether a 1 pdr gun is that effective I've no idea.
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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Ardagor on Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:29 pm

I have not tried 1 pdr guns for light infantry and I am not going to either, do not believe it will work.
Light infantry fight as skirmishers, dispersed order using hit and run tactics. Their speed and mobility will be reduced with guns and it will give hostile (regular) infantry something to attack that can not easily run away. It would probably be a mess.

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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by J Flower on Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:58 pm

Battalion Guns in general will slow infantry down regardless of type, one of the reasons Napoleon discarded them, it is interesting that he did try to reintroduce them later when the quality of his infantry deterirated. There is another debate as to whether Batallion guns are more a morale booster for the infantry they support, than actually bringing a great deal of fire power to bear against an opponent, they would have a restricted field of fire as they are mainly deployed on the flanks of there parent formation. For the infantry they supported no doubt there is a degree of morale support but at what cost?
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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by Jason on Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:14 am

Ardagor-that was my feeling to be honest. As you say, Light infantry fight in a certain way that would be hampered by bgs.

Jason-I have started to use bg more recently but in small positions (and so smaller armies), my reasoning being that in such cases the extra fire power is required to help offset the potential size difference and for that I'm willing to lose some mobility...time will show if I'm right or wrong Wink

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Re: Field Artillery-in the Train or in the Army?

Post by J Flower on Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:28 am

Maybe we also have the wrong ideas about Light infantry as well, yes they didn't fight shoulder to shoulder, however they also had to retan a degree of command & control, maybe a ragged line is a better discription of the formation, they had to remain up right, or at least stand to load, so the prone position isn't really an option, They were able to move more swiftly as less emphasis was put on dressing the formation, however Officers would still need to have an overseeable view of the whole unit.

That the individuals could also fire alone with in theory aimed shots, with less pressure from being bumped around by his comrades may have ment better marksmanship, albeit with a weapon that has trouble hitting a barn door from the inside.

Would such a formation benefit from Battalion guns I honetly don't know as the rise of light infantry coincided with the phasing out of Battalion guns. It is the old mobility/firepower question. put protection into the equation & you have a problem that still keeps military thinkers on the toes today.


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