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Guns again

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:35 pm
by Petek
Hi, was there ever any consensus regarding what frontage a battery of six-eight guns take up under these rules? Obviously it will be variable depending on how each player base up their troops in their army. Do people roughly equate the frontage of a 6-8 gun battery with the frontage of a standard Infantry battalion? If not, is it more or less than that and why?

Re: Guns again

Posted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:00 pm
by Contrarius
There was a thread on this very subject very recently on TMP.

From memory the frontage of a 6/8 gun battery was about a third that of a 600-man infantry battalion. In other words, to accurately represent a battery two models is quite enough. Three or four is excessive by any normal measure (unless your battalions are 72 figures strong).

However, because of the draught teams, ammo wagons and other appurtenances, a Napoleonic battery could easily stretch back 100-200 metres, in other words the full width of an infantry battalion.

To my mind, then, you want one or preferably two models to represent a battery, and you need to depict the draught teams at the very least to give a decent impression of the ground occupied by a battery.

Re: Guns again

Posted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:08 pm
by Contrarius
Further to the above, guns were typically spaced about 10m apart, to avoid enemy artillery fire, which, allowing for the guns themselves, with a six-gun battery gives you 50+7.5m, lets call it 60m for the full battery.
And they were not typically arranged side-by-side to reduce damage from fire from a flank, but rather in a randomly staggered arrangement.

Re: Guns again

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:38 am
by nikjen66
In fact once you take into account the random scattering Guns, that even grand Batteries didn’t deploy one battery directly in line and that a typical battery would have one limber and 2-3 caissons for EACH gun would make the depth huge and this is simply something we don’t represent well on our Wargames battlefield. And before anyone thinks about manoeuvring through this carnival, think again because this whole area would be like an ant-hill with all the activity going to service the guns.
Perhaps it’s worth thinking about this more as a mobile terrain feature that will unform anyone moving through it and would probably prevent any charges being conducted through them as well???

Re: Guns again

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:51 am
by DCRBrown

I'm not convinced that this was always the case, though this interpretation has gained ground in recent years, esp. since the publication of that excellent book the Waterloo Companion! 8-)

One has to bear in mind that batteries were flexible both in width and depth, thus we are dealing with generalities here. Guns could be deployed at varying distances to suit both terrain and the tactical situation. The deployment of limbers and caissons was also flexible and could also be deployed to suit the tactical situation.
E.G. take D'Erlon's grand battery at Waterloo. This was not drawn up in isolation but as part of a plan that involved D'Erlon's infantry formations passing though and/or around their immediate deployment area. Thus the battery commanders would, (hopefully!) take this into account. Orders could be given that all limbers are to be in single file or deployed even further to the rear until the infantry have passed through, then they could adopt a more formal deployment afterwards, etc.

Also if we look at periods maps, artillery was often deployed directly in the front line ahead of both the infantry and cavalry, and as the battle developed infantry or cavalry would move through their position. Again, I suspect the batteries were drawn-up to facilitate this deployment, not hinder it.
Where problems could occur was when units passed through battery positions without this coordination, especially in retreat or due to a sudden manoeuvre. Then if the battery had not had the time or been able to communicate with the immediate infantry/cavalry commanders then the formation he adopted might well hinder this spontaneous tactical situation.

Therefore as far as GdA is concerned we've adopted the flexible approach to take into account these varying deployments and the ability to coordinate with other units, which we freely do and take into account when manoeuvring our infantry battalions and cavalry regiments.


Re: Guns again

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 1:53 pm
by Contrarius
I suppose you could, as a gamer, physically move your limbers & caisson models out of the way of any units that are due to move through your artillery battery. This would replicate coordination between the commanders on the ground. But then perhaps you shouldn’t be able to limber up those guns again until the limbers are back in their formal positions?

Is there a suggested move for unlimbered limbers and caissons? Presumably horse artillery limbers would be slightly faster?

Are there any specific rules about units passing through artillery? Perhaps, fore-and-aft, ok with a minimal deduction (-1inch), sideways, i.e. from a flank, verboten?

(As an aside, Sharp Practice is even vaguer on limbers: the teams are not costed at all and casualties on train crews don’t appear to be accounted for in any way. Some house rules may be in order!)

Re: Guns again

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:50 pm
by nikjen66
oooh Dave great spot on the book reference. 😂😂I’m still not convinced, at least in well planned campaign army would be maxing out the support for their artillery and this is certainly reflected in campaigns and battles where large numbers of guns were deployed.

Although I accept that during the early stages of battles those armies that had the luxury of deploying as planned may have had the opportunity to move through deployed artillery. But I’m not so sure this would have been the case during the confusion of battle with smoke, dead and wounded men and horses and potentially lethal ammo carts strewn around!

But I appreciate that things need to be abstracted somewhat to make the game playable so happy with your interpretation. 😊

Re: Guns again

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:19 am
by Petek
Thanks for all the contributions. I saw the TMP thread. I am very interested in where we are we getting the idea that there was 10 yards between guns and the frontage for a gun battery was a third of the frontage of a 600 man Battalion? It would be great to see the source material.
Dave Hollins in his Osprey "Austrian Napoleonic Artillery" mentions that for 3pdr Regimental guns, the spacing was 10 paces between guns. In one of the drill illustrations in "British Napoleonic Field Artillery" by C E Franklin shows 25 yards wheel to wheel between guns.
From my research I tend to agree that gun frontage could vary depending on terrain etc, but probably not too much and significant gaps would be left between the guns. It would also appear that as Dave Brown says, the guns tended to be out in front of the battle line (even the Regimental guns were in front of the formations) and the troops would move through the guns when the artillery has done it's job of softening up the opposition.
I asked the question as I have seen games recently(mainly 15mm) , with gun models on very narrow bases and 3 or even 2 crew figures placed behind the model; two of these tiny bases making up a battery. The idea seems to be to squeeze these units into small gaps between the Infantry and Cavalry and be able to fire through gaps the width of a bowling alley. I just wondered how others felt about this?

Re: Guns again

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:35 pm
by bellebsc
Perhaps you'd be best to say what size of base you'd use say for 15mm artillery. Reason for asking is that asking others what they think without a full idea of what your aiming for or what feels right to you for artillery on a base first. Such as how many figures would you have on a base to represent the crew as I with many others have 3 or 4 figures and this is the norm and I suspect Any more would be overcrowding but again it's dependent on what you would say a base size should represent in a game.


Re: Guns again

Posted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:03 pm
by Petek
Sorry Bellebsc. Yes, you are quite right. I have Austrian, French and Confederation figures and mount my guns on approximately 35-40mm frontage by 50mm depth, with a crew of four. Three guns to a battery plus a limber, especially for horse artillery. My standard sized Infantry are 120-130mm frontage, so a standard Battalion and battery have approximately the same frontage. This is what my group go with now, but I used to game with a club who settled on three crew for a 3pdr, four crew for 6-9pdr guns and five crew for 12pdr (base sizes obviously got progressively bigger). It did help to differentiate the types of guns in the bigger tabletop battles.
I have no idea if my batteries translate to the tabletop in a roughly historic (or realistic) fashion, but they look okay to my 21st Century eye. I can't help but think the tiny batteries I mentioned above seem a bit gamey and given that we try to keep to historic frontages and formations for the other troops, why not for artillery batteries too? If anyone is interested, try goggle images for American Civil War Batteries. Quite a few photos of the real thing (and yes I know that there was 50+ years between them and our period) ;) It does give an impression of frontage, depth and equipment involved.