Military Review

Artillery of Napoleon's Grand Army: guns and ammunition

29
French horse artillery
French mounted artillery at the Battle of Waterloo. Painting by Ernst Croft.

The central detail of the painting is the cannon of the Griboval system. The guns of the Griboval system were in service with the French army throughout the Napoleonic wars.

Griboval's system


During the entire period of the French Revolution and the First Empire, the French army used artillery systems developed by General Jean-Baptiste Griboval. Griboval carried out a radical reform of the French artillery in 1776, and his work was continued by General Jean-Jacques du Thuy (1738-1820). The reform was aimed at standardizing artillery weapon (by limiting the types and calibers of guns), to reduce the mass of guns (to improve their maneuverability), to standardize auxiliary equipment (especially limbers and ammunition boxes) and to increase the level of training of gunners.

Griboval introduced four main types of artillery pieces: 4-, 8- and 12-pounder guns and 6-inch howitzers. In relation to the latter, we mean, of course, their caliber (inner diameter of the muzzle), while in other cases we are talking about the mass of the nucleus, which was equal to approximately one 150th part of the mass of the gun barrel. The caliber of the 4-pounder guns was 84 mm, the 8-pounder guns were 100 mm, and the 12-pounder guns were 151 mm. There were also guns of larger calibers: 16- and 24-pound siege weapons.

The barrel of a 4-pounder cannon was 1,6 meters long and weighed 289 kg, and with a gun carriage - 1049 kg. It cost 1760 francs to manufacture a gun, and half a franc to produce one cannonball. In the charging box of such a gun, there were 100 charges of buckshot with large lead balls (42 for buckshot) and 50 charges with small balls (60-100 for buckshot). In addition, in the front end, it was possible to carry 18 additional charges of buckshot with large lead balls. Such a weapon was served by 8 people, 5 of them were specialists.

The barrel of an 8-pounder cannon was 2 meters long and weighed 584 kilograms, and with a gun carriage - 1324 kg. It cost 2730 francs to manufacture a gun, and 1 franc to produce one cannonball. In the charging box of such a gun, 62 charges of buckshot with large lead balls and 20 charges with small balls were placed. In addition, in the front end it was possible to carry 15 additional charges of buckshot with large lead balls. Such a weapon was served by 13 people, of whom 8 were specialists.

The barrel of the 12-pounder gun was 2,3 meters long and weighed 986 kilograms. Together with the gun carriage, the cannon weighed almost 2 tons. Such a gun cost 3774 francs, and the cannonball cost 1,5 francs. The charging box held 48 charges of buckshot with large lead balls and 20 charges with small balls. In addition, in the front end it was possible to carry 9 additional charges of buckshot with large lead balls. Such a weapon was served by 15 people, of which 8 were specialists.

The barrel of a 6-inch cannon was 0,7 meters long and weighed 318 kg. A howitzer with a gun carriage weighed 1178 kg. The cost of a howitzer is 2730 francs, and a cannonball is 1 franc. In the front end, it was possible to carry 49 charges of buckshot with large lead balls and 11 - with small ones. Such a weapon was served by 13 people, of whom 8 were specialists.

To protect against moisture, the wooden parts of the carriages, limbs and charging boxes were painted with green paint, mixing 2500 parts of yellow ocher with 30 parts of ink. Metal parts (especially gun barrels) were painted with black paint to protect them from rust. However, the paint peeled off rather quickly and fell off after a few shots, as the barrels were warming up. In practice, the gunners had to paint their guns after every battle.

The Griboval system lasted the entire Revolution, and it was not until 1803 that Napoleon Bonaparte created a commission under General Auguste Marmont (1774–1852) to consider the feasibility of introducing certain changes. By that time, it turned out that many French officers could not cope with the selection of the appropriate caliber of guns, and to solve the tasks of the battlefield, they used either too weak (4-pounder) or too strong (8-pounder) guns.

At that time, the Prussian and Austrian armies used 6-pounder cannons, which successfully replaced both 4- and 8-pounders. This is why Bonaparte approved the commission's recommendations and decided to gradually introduce 6-pounder guns while keeping 12-pounders. But soon (in 1805) it turned out that, in view of the growing needs of the Great Army, it was impossible to abandon the production of guns according to the existing Griboval system. Thus, until the end of the First Empire, the French army used 4-, 6-, 8- and 12-pounder cannons.

On a campaign against Russia, Napoleon took 260 six-pound cannons (which he considered the most useful) and 30 four-pound guns, but, according to the testimony of the imperial adjutant, general. Gaspar Gurgo, not a single 8-pounder cannon. Having lost all 6-pounder guns during the retreat from Moscow, the Great Army in the campaigns of 1813 and 1814. was forced to return to the Griboval system. That is, to use, first of all, 4- and 8-pounder guns, not as convenient and versatile as the 6-pounders, which were already widely used by the Russians, Prussians and Austrians.

Captured weapons


At the end of the XNUMXth century, the Griboval system was adopted by some other European armies, in particular the Piedmontese, Bavarian and Spanish. Therefore, fighting these armies, the French could use captured weapons, which practically did not differ from their own. In addition, the French gunners were trained to service the Prussian, Austrian, Russian and English guns, which they willingly used, if they were able to capture them.

In 1796 Bonaparte increased his artillery with guns taken from the Austrians and Piedmontese. Marshal Louis Davout began the battle at Auerstedt with 40 guns, and ended with an additional 85 guns taken from the Prussians. In the 1807 campaign, Marshal Jean de Dieu Soult's corps consisted of 48 guns, of which 42 were Austrian 6-pounder guns, captured two years earlier. The Spanish guns captured by the Polish light cavalry at the Somosierra pass were handed over to the Polish artillery company attached to the so-called division of the Duchy of Warsaw.

In the same way, the French used captured ammunition. After the Battle of Wagram, for example, General Jean Ambroise Baston de Lariboisiere paid 5 sous for each cannonball removed from the battlefield. Thus, he managed to collect over 25000 cores and make up for a quarter of his ammunition consumption in this battle.

Since 1806, the Imperial Artillery Corps consisted of 8 infantry artillery regiments, 6 cavalry artillery regiments, 16 engineering companies, 22 transport companies, 2 sapper battalions, 4 clothing supply companies, 107 coastal artillery companies and 28 fortress artillery companies. But such an organizational system was used only in peacetime. When artillery entered the battlefield, it never operated as a whole regiment in one place. The artillery was distributed by port to divisions and fortresses. Often, artillery companies from different regiments fought alongside, having no connection with other companies of their own regiment. The higher ranks of the artillery constantly protested against such a system, since they almost never had to command their regiments on the battlefield.

Based on:

Ph. Haythornthwaite. Weapons and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars... Cassell, 1999.
G. Gourgaud. Napoleon et la Grande Armée en Russie... Libraires Bossange Frères, 1826.


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  1. Undecim
    Undecim April 13 2021 19: 05
    +7
    Interestingly, will anyone write a full-fledged article about the Griboval system?
    In the charging box of such a gun, 100 charges of buckshot with large lead balls were placed

    In the Griboval system, lead buckshot bullets were not used. The bullets were cast iron, forged.
    1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
      Kote Pan Kokhanka April 13 2021 20: 02
      +6
      Quote: Undecim
      Interestingly, someone will still write a full-fledged article about the Griboval system

      I'm afraid not!
      Mikhail (Author) where are the main differences and features of the Griboval system?
      The iron axle, the location of the trunnions, the furstat, the features of aiming, sights, belts for rolling the gun, a description of the charging box, front end, etc.


      1. Alien From
        Alien From April 13 2021 20: 18
        +3
        hi good time of the day) but I don't notice such subtleties yet ... but I study articles and learn, thanks to VO and the authors good
        1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
          Kote Pan Kokhanka April 13 2021 21: 08
          +5
          VikNik "Undecim" traditionally advises to read Nilus, I believe that you should study the history of artillery from Shirokorad and Katorin.
          Napoleonics and especially artillery of that era is certainly an interesting and fascinating topic.
          Traditionally, it is customary to admire Griboval, but the authors try to shove in something that is not pushed in and compare the incomparable. For example, all authors forget that Napoleon fought, than God sent, and in one battery there could be guns of the era of Vauban, Walter and Griboval. Traditionally, they write about unification, but they forget that all significant reforms from Gustav-Adolph to Arakcheev began with a decrease in the number of calibers, a lighter weight and an increase in mobility. Moreover, the advanced experience was borrowed with such speed and monkey-like that sometimes they did not have time to gasp. Therefore, such work must begin with organizational features, the formation of an artillery park, a buffet table, the device of gun carriages, limbers and charging boxes. For example, what is better than the four-wheeled charging boxes of the Prussians, with the possibility of transporting Austrians, or our two-wheeled ones. Or carriage devices: domestic from two beams or English single-girder.
          1. Undecim
            Undecim April 13 2021 21: 29
            +4
            I can, besides Nilus, advise you to read Comparato, Halbertstadt or Kinard. Very worthy authors. You can also recommend "Gogel IG, Fitztum II, Gebgard KK Foundations of artillery and pontoon science, published by the chairman of the Military Scientific Committee, Major General Gogel and members of the Committee, Colonel Fitztum and Lieutenant Colonel Gebgard".
            Yes, Blinov's "Course of Artillery" in five volumes is also desirable.
            And after gaining the initial correct, classical knowledge, you can read Shirokorad.
          2. Nikolaevich I
            Nikolaevich I April 14 2021 08: 08
            +2
            Quote: Kote pane Kohanka
            For example, all authors forget that Napoleon fought, than God sent, and in one battery there could be guns of the era of Vauban, Walter and Griboval.

            That's it! Than God sent! And what God forgot, he took it himself! In the French artillery, God forbid, if half of the guns were French! The other half was made up of numerous trophies! Well, even when the trophies were provided by the states who adopted the Griboval system in the artillery! But there were also "others"! request
      2. Former naval person
        April 14 2021 20: 08
        0
        kote, in case you are still unaware, the articles I am publishing concern Napoleon's army, not a specific type of troops or specific weapons. you have to save on the amount of text.
    2. Elturisto
      Elturisto April 13 2021 21: 16
      +1
      What doubts take me. Labor intensity and energy intensity are simply not comparable, and corrosion. Where are the firewoods? Yes, Griboval's system is drilled trunks and chassis, basically ...
    3. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I April 13 2021 23: 53
      +4
      Quote: Undecim
      In the Griboval system, lead buckshot bullets were not used. The bullets were cast iron, forged.

      You're right ... buckshot bullets were forged ... but iron! wink Cast iron is in another "opera" ...
      1. Undecim
        Undecim April 14 2021 01: 01
        +3
        Yes, I was mistaken, I thought one thing, wrote another.
  2. Bormanxnumx
    Bormanxnumx April 13 2021 21: 17
    +4
    The 12-pound caliber is not 151 mm, but 121mm (4.776 ")
    1. Khibiny Plastun
      Khibiny Plastun April 13 2021 22: 34
      0
      121 mm, this is the caliber of the Russian 12-pound. French 12 pounds - 118 mm.
      151 mm is 24 lbs.
  3. Sergey Valov
    Sergey Valov April 13 2021 23: 33
    +2
    "On a campaign against Russia, Napoleon took 260 six-pound cannons (which he considered the most useful) and 30 four-pound guns" - just at Borodino, Napoleon had more than 500 artillery pieces.
  4. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I April 14 2021 00: 14
    +5
    And now ... the sequel! And what? Again, everything is "quick twister" ... again according to the principle: "ala ulyu ... chase the geese ... zigel, zigel ai liu, liu! And about the Griboval system, and about the XI year system (Marmont), and about ammunition! K In the last article, I made a remark ... so a certain "frame" began to "splash saliva" in my direction! Like, there is nothing to troll here ... The author promised to continue ... wait! start commentary!) On the Internet there are articles about the artillery of the French army (and not only the French ...) more detailed and more interesting! In this case, we are presented with "ersatz cervelat for the poor", passing it off as a real cervelat! admires the article, in general, explaining this by the fact that he learns new things for himself ... poor "boy"! I personally am not going to read the Author's articles on the subject of Napoleonic artillery anymore ... (perhaps, comments to them ...) I'd rather re-read the "material" from my archive on this topic ... more detailed and interesting!
    1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
      Kote Pan Kokhanka April 14 2021 04: 48
      +4
      Nikolaevich, have you looked in the mirror for a long time (see Avatar)? A real "patriarch troll" with a gray beard !!! Plus the character is "far from gingerbread" !!! laughing laughing could not resist shrieking. hi
      Although the Author can be given good advice. Putting downsides and writing angry comments from a forum member is not the best option in search of recognition for his work. The topic is hackneyed to "I do not want". Therefore, it is necessary to provide high-quality and full-fledged material. If you want to "phillonize" take the early periods and describe them based on the work of "Remy".
      Regards, Kote!
      1. Nikolaevich I
        Nikolaevich I April 14 2021 05: 21
        +2
        Quote: Kote pane Kohanka
        the character is "far from gingerbread" !!!

        Yes, what is it "filthy" ... my character is really "not a carrot"! (So ​​my wife claims, but I believe her ...) repeat Sometimes you write a "spiteful" comment at a moment of "bad mood"; and then you feel awkward ... and the "job" has already been done! Probably, it was not necessary to "comment" so sharply on the Author (do not shoot the pianist ... he plays as he can! [Call of pacifist cowboys ...]); but there are still claims to him! yes
        1. Catfish
          Catfish April 14 2021 05: 57
          +2
          No, the owner of the saloon wrote on the wall when the third consecutive harpsichord was spanked. laughing
          Volodya, hello! And there is nothing to regret about some kind of "harshness", they kicked and did the right thing, but imagine for a second if he got out with such a hack about 150 years ago somewhere in Texas? Would have spanked right away. So we still have humane people here. wink drinks
          1. Nikolaevich I
            Nikolaevich I April 14 2021 07: 05
            +2
            Convinced! smile Well, then it remains ... drinks and calm down until the next "relevant" comment! lol
    2. Former naval person
      April 14 2021 20: 14
      0
      If you haven't guessed yet, then my articles are about Napoleon's army, and not about a separate branch of the army or a type of weapon. you have to save on the amount of text.
  5. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I April 14 2021 09: 00
    +4
    ... 49 charges of buckshot with large lead balls and 11 - with small ones ... The French abandoned lead buckshot back in the 18th century ... and in 1805 or 1807, based on the French experience, Russian artillery also switched to cast-iron buckshot! Reason: "sticking" of lead bullets in canister "cartridges" when fired! The fact is that then, apparently, they did not think of a suitable lead-antimony alloy! So it turned out "embarrassment"! ... But this was not the only reason ... in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a deficit of lead began to arise ... the price for it grew ... Cast-iron canister was better in this respect ... and the range of a grapeshot shot has increased! There were drawbacks though ... the cast iron bullets had a "tendency" to split! Forged iron buckshot was devoid of this drawback, but there was another "drawback" - the difficulty of making forged buckshot ... There were attempts to "cut into buckshot" iron rods of round and square cross-section .... getting "discs" and "cubes" ... Unfortunately, I do not remember now about the distribution of such buckshot ...
  6. Narak-zempo
    Narak-zempo April 14 2021 11: 48
    +2
    The author gives the cost of guns and ammunition, but it is not clear with what to compare.
    How much did a kilogram of bread, meat, a pair of shoes, for example, cost in those years?
    1. Former naval person
      April 14 2021 20: 18
      0
      and this has to do with it? articles about Napoleon's army, not about the French economy.
      1. Narak-zempo
        Narak-zempo April 14 2021 21: 39
        +1
        And why, then, are these spherical prices in a vacuum given?
        What are they talking about by themselves?
        1. Former naval person
          April 15 2021 10: 11
          -1
          about the cost of weapons. how much did the production of artillery pieces cost.
          1. Narak-zempo
            Narak-zempo April 15 2021 12: 36
            0
            Quote: Former Naval Person
            about the cost of weapons. how much did the production of artillery pieces cost.

            A monetary amount alone does not say anything about value.
            1. Former naval person
              April 15 2021 17: 18
              -1
              in fact, the cost is expressed in monetary units.
              1. Narak-zempo
                Narak-zempo April 15 2021 18: 03
                +1
                Quote: Former Naval Person
                in fact, the cost is expressed in monetary units.

                Monetary units express price, not value.
                The price in francs of Napoleonic times does not give the reader any idea of ​​the value of the tools.
                1. Former naval person
                  April 17 2021 17: 42
                  0
                  I don't know what they teach you for the exam, but we, Soviet schoolchildren, were taught arithmetic in arithmetic lessons by examples - product A costs X rubles, and product B costs Y rubles. how many products A and B can be made from a piece of material in N kg and what will it become. then we, Soviet students, were taught political economy, pricing, organization of production and along the way explained why the planned economy is ineffective and we need a market that will put everything in its place. and finally, we, Soviet officers, were taught the basics of the military economy, the ratio of the cost of weapons to its effectiveness, and along the way explained why the squealing macaques were wrong, that Stalin planed three-rulers instead of churning out ppsh and St.
                  So here's the initial data for the problem at the level of a Soviet schoolchild: how many guns could be made from N tons of metal and what did it become to the treasury. if you decide, you might think that it was more profitable for Napoleon - to pour a few large guns or a lot of medium ones and why he reduced them to "big batteries".
                  until you decide - do not respond, or I will complain about you for the flood.
                  1. Narak-zempo
                    Narak-zempo April 17 2021 19: 15
                    -1
                    Quote: Former Naval Person
                    then we, Soviet students, were taught political economy

                    They taught poorly, since you don't understand the difference between price and value.
                    Quote: Former Naval Person
                    So here's the initial data for the problem at the level of a Soviet schoolchild: how many guns could be made from N tons of metal and what did it become to the treasury. if you decide, you might think that it was more profitable for Napoleon - to pour a few large guns or a lot of medium ones and why he reduced them to "big batteries"

                    Before asking puzzles, answer the question: which is more expensive in terms of production cost: a 12-pounder cannon under Napoleon or, for example, a "Hyacinth" in the USSR?