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1757 Austrian artillery regs - tactics

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1757 Austrian artillery regs - tactics

Postby DaveH » August 14th, 2016, 1:57 pm

It has often been written that these regs focus only on the service of an individual piece and not tactical employment, batteries etc. This is not actually the case. The Reglement für das k.k. gesammte Feld-Artilleriecorps 1757 was the governing regulation until the 1809 regs (often wrongly called the 1808).

At the end, it talks about employment of guns in battle and in sieges. ... &q&f=false On p. 260, it offers "some general rules" starting with s.440 on p.261.

s.441 notes that as well as the Handlanger (infantry labourers), the Zimmerleute with each regiment should be employed to clear obstacles, build fortifications etc.

s.442 notes that the individual 3pdrs allocated to each battalion do not have to operate that way, but can be massed in a suitable position (interestingly, the reg does not use the word "battery", so obviously, the Austrians didn't mass their guns .... :roll:) and can be joined by heavier pieces from the reserve.

s.443 suggests that it is more effective to mass up to four 3pdr battalion guns in a gap between the battalions, so that each regiment has only two gaps for guns. It notes that the more guns can be massed, the better, because: 1) supply is made easier and control by the officers and NCOs is easier; 2) if crew are lost, it is easier for other crews to help out; 3) same with ammunition, 4) it is easier to help out with advances and withdrawals too, as well as it being easier to clear obstacles.

s.444 allocates the howitzers and heavier pieces to the flanks to disorder enemy cavalry However, if there are pieces among the cavalry, they must be covered by infantry to their flanks. (This of course being Austrian guns, which reputedly never operated with cavalry .... :roll: ) so that enemy cavalry can be beaten off, by 1) breaking up enemy cavalry and aiding the Austrian cavalry, 2) in conjunction with the infantry covering Austrian cavalry thrown into disorder or forced to withdraw, 3) if enemy cavalry are driven off and expose the enemy infantry flank, then the guns with their protection can move forward to pour fire in.
(this being the Austrian artillery, which was incapable of working with the other arms .... :roll:)

s.445 notes the artillery reserve is between the second Treffen (batteline) and the "reserve Korps of the army" (ah, so the Austrians had a corps system in 1757 .... :roll:) where the miners and the main ammunition reserve wagons are also positioned. These reserve guns and reserve ammunition carts must remain limbered throughout the battle to be ready to move.

s.446 looks at the senior command and control. "The commander of the artillery locates himself throughout the battle with the senior general of the army and remains constantly at his side" using adjutants to send orders and receive reports; the staff are allocated to the flanks of the Treffen and with the reserve, likewise using their own adjutants to send orders and receive reports. Company captains can also be allocated to these roles, if there is a shortage of staff, so junior officers can direct the guns. Likewise, junior officers and NCOs would take up the roles of more senior officers, who are injured.

s.449 directs that if the battle begins beyond musketry range, then the guns should be moved some way forward of the main Treffen to make crossfire and fire on the flanks easier. however, when the lines close to within musketry range, then the guns must be moved back into the line.

s.450 emphasises steady fire during the battle, not rushing it. The pieces must be placed at an angle (not like the straight lines of wargames and TV!) to produce crossfire, which is much more effective, especially "with canister". At a distance, roundshot was to be used, while howitzers were to fire shell among the enemy cavalry. Rapid and long-distance fire was discouraged to avoid problems with ammunition and heating of the barrel. When the enemy came close, canister was to be used, first, with the larger balls, then then the smaller, then double-loaded with the extra can. However, it was not just distance, which determined the type of shot, but also the nature, slope etc. of the ground.

s.451 adds that fast fire can be used when the enemy comes very close or its cavalry threatens to break through. However, in such cases, a gun must not be fired until the neighbouring weapon is reloaded, so that a steady fire can be maintained and the enemy don't get the opportunity to attack when the guns are silent.

s.452 makes some interesting comments about ammo supply and crews - it notes that when the ammo is running down, a request should be sent back to the reserve. At this point, with the two Treffen in close communication, the loaded ammunition wagons and fresh crew from the second Treffen should be sent forward, so that the empty wagons can go back to the reserve and the original crews can withdraw to rest in the second Treffen. So, a conveyor belt of ammo and fresh crews can be established.

s.453 notes that captured enemy pieces should be brought to a safe place quickly or even turned on the enemy. If they cannot be retained, then the touchhole must be nailed, so there should always be a supply of suitable nails onhand.

s.454 requires the regiments to have men on hand to help the crews to move the guns if they get into difficulties on a withdrawal.

s.455 sets out measures in the event that a gun cannot be withdrawn as the enemy approach: it could be nailed, the wheels and trail damaged or the barrel could be loaded with a reversed round, so that the ball is stuck under the touchhole.
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