Henry Wager Halleck.

Elements of Military Art and Science Or, Course Of Instruction In Strategy, Fortification, Tactics Of Battles, &C.; Embracing The Duties Of Staff, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, And Engineers; Adapted online

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Online LibraryHenry Wager HalleckElements of Military Art and Science Or, Course Of Instruction In Strategy, Fortification, Tactics Of Battles, &C.; Embracing The Duties Of Staff, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, And Engineers; Adapted → online text (page 22 of 35)
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The _projectiles_ now in use are solid shot, shells, strap-shot, case or
canister-shot, grape-shot, light and fire-balls, carcasses, grenades,
and rockets.

_Solid shot_ are now almost invariably made of cast iron,[35] formed in
moulds of sand or iron. This projectile is used under almost every
circumstance, whether in the battle-field or in the attack and defence
of places, and is the only one that is effectual against the stone walls
of forts. _Hot shot_ are used against shipping and wooden structures of
every description. Red-hot balls were first employed by the king of
Poland, in 1575, but, on account of the difficulty of heating them with
rapidity, and the danger of loading the piece with them, this kind of
projectile was not in general use till a much later period. It was at
first supposed that the expansion of the metal would be so great, when
heated to a red or white heat, as to prevent the ball from entering the
piece; it is found, however, that the windage is still sufficient for
loading with facility. These red-hot balls are principally used to fire
wooden buildings, ships, and other combustible matter. They are
therefore much used as a projectile for coast defence, and all
fortifications on the seaboard should be provided with furnaces and
grates, arranged so as to heat them with facility and rapidity.

[Footnote 35: In Mexico, where iron is scarce, copper is used for shot
and shells; but it is a poor substitute.]

There are several kinds of _hollow-shot_ and _shells_, called _bombs,
howitzes, grenades_, &c. They are made of cast iron, and usually in a
spherical shape, the cavity being concentric with the exterior surface.
The cavity was formerly made eccentric with the exterior, under the
belief that the heavier side would always strike first. The rotary
motion of the shell during its flight rendered this precaution of no
use. Fire is communicated to the combustible matter within the shell by
means of a fuse, which is so regulated that the explosion shall take
place at the desired moment. Hollow-shot are used with advantage to
destroy ordinary buildings, ships, earthwork, and thin walls of masonry;
they, however, are of little avail in breaking the massive walls of
well-constructed forts. Howitzes and grenades are particularly effective
against cavalry and columns of infantry, and are much employed on the
battle-field; they are also much used in the attack and defence of

We find that as early as 1486 the Spaniards made use of a projectile
similar to the modern bomb. "They threw from their engines large
globular masses, composed of certain inflammable ingredients mixed with
gunpowder, which, scattering long trains of light," says an eye-witness,
"in their passage through the air, filled the beholders with dismay, and
descending on the roofs of edifices, frequently occasioned extensive
conflagration." In the siege of Constantinople by Mahomet II., shells
were used, and also mortars of enormous size. In 1572 Valturus proposed
to throw, with a kind of mortar, "globes of copper filled with powder."
In 1588, an artificer of Venloo burned Wachtendeck by throwing bombs
into the place. A similar attempt had just been made at Berg-op-Zoom.
The use of this projectile became quite common in France under Louis
XIII. Howitzes were not much used till the seventeenth century. They are
of German origin, and the howitzer first bore the name of _hausmitz_.

The _strap-shot_ consists of a round ball attached to a _sabot_ of the
same calibre, by means of two strips of tin passing over the shot at
right angles, and fastened to a third, which is soldered around the
sabot. One end of the sabot is arranged for attaching it to the
cartridge, the other being hollowed out to receive the shot. The
supposed advantages of this arrangement are, 1st, a diminution of the
windage; 2d, the gun may be loaded with greater rapidity; and, 3d, the
cartridge is transported with greater safety.

The _case_ or _canister-shot_ is prepared by filling a tin canister with
grape-shot or musket-balls, and attaching it to the cartridge by means
of a sabot. There being two sizes of grape-shot, and one of
musket-balls, we have three kinds of canister-shot calculated to reach
at different distances. The three sizes of shot are frequently mixed in
the same canister. This projectile is particularly effective against
lines of infantry and cavalry, when the distance is short.

The _grape-shot_ is composed of small balls arranged round an upright
pin attached to a plate of wood or iron. The concave cast-iron plate is
preferable, as it increases the range of the shot. The balls are covered
with canvass, and thoroughly confined by a quilting of strong twine.
This shot is used for the same purposes as the canister.

_Light_ and _fire-balls_ are formed of an oval case of sacking, filled
with combustible matter, and attached to a culot of cast-iron. The whole
is covered with a net of spun-yarn. Light-balls are used to light up our
own works, and are not armed; fire-balls being employed to light up the
works or approaches of an enemy, it is necessary to arm them with
pistol-barrels, in order to prevent, any one from extinguishing them.
When made of very combustible materials, and used for setting fire to
wooden structures, they are denominated _incendiary balls_.

_Carcasses_ are employed for the same purpose as incendiary balls; they
are of two kinds: 1st, the _shell-carcass_; and, 2d, the _ribbed-carcass_.
The first is composed of a spherical shell, cast with five fuse-holes, one
being at the top, and the other four in a plane perpendicular to this and
at right angles with each other; the shell is filled with matter highly
combustible. The second is formed of iron ribs connected by iron straps,
and attached at the ends to culots of the same material, the whole being
filled with combustible composition. This is more expensive than the shell
carcass, and cannot be fired with as great accuracy; it is now seldom used.
Carcasses may be armed in the same manner as fire-balls.

_Smoke_ and _suffocating balls_ are used to drive an enemy from
galleries and mines. They are thrown by hand.

The _personnel_ of the French artillery was for a long time retained,
together with the engineers, under the general direction of the "Grand
Master of Cross-bows." In 1420 the master-general of artillery was made
independent of the grand-master of cross-bows; but previous to the reign
of Louis XIV., the artillery troops had no organization as a separate
corps. In 1668 six companies of _canoniers_ were created, and soon after
two companies of _bombardiers_. In 1693 the first regiment of fusiliers
was changed into a _royal regiment of artillery_, and both the canoniers
and bombardiers were eventually incorporated with it. The staff of
artillery, towards the close of this reign, was composed of one
grand-master, sixty lieutenants, sixty commissaries, and eighty
_officiers-pointeurs_. In 1721 the artillery was divided into five
battalions and stationed at Metz, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Perpignan, and
La Fère, where they established schools of theory and practice. In 1756
the artillery was organized into seven regiments, each regiment having
its own separate school. This organization continued without any
remarkable change till the Revolution.

During the earlier campaigns of the French Revolution it is impossible
to trace out the changes that took place in army organization, every
thing was then so irregular and confused, the troops of different arms
being frequently united together. In the campaign of 1792 there were
some six or seven regiments of foot artillery, and ten companies of
horse. This arm was greatly increased during the subsequent campaigns,
and its organization was completely remodelled by Napoleon on his
elevation to the head of the government. The _personnel_ of the
artillery was then composed of a general staff, nine regiments of foot
and six of horse. In 1815 it was reduced to eight regiments of foot and
four of horse.

The _personnel_ of artillery in modern army organization is divided into
four classes: the _staff, guards, artificers,_ and _troops_.

I. The _Staff_, or _Ordnance_, as it is called in our service, is
charged with the construction of all the materials of artillery, and the
collection of powder and military stores. As the lives of persons using
these materials, and, in a considerable degree, the success of war,
depend upon the nature and quality of the stores thus manufactured and
collected, it is obvious that the members of this branch of the
artillery service should possess high and peculiar qualifications. In
the French army the artillery staff is composed of two hundred and
eighty-three officers of different grades: also twenty-four officers of
the general staff are attached to this service. In our army the
_ordnance_ is composed of twenty-eight officers of different grades.

II. _Artillery-guards._ - These in our service are divided into two
classes: 1st. _Military Store-keepers._ 2d. _Ordnance Sergeants._ Both
are alike charged with the care and preservation of the artillery
property and stores at the several garrisons, arsenals, and magazines.
In our army we have fifty-eight of these guards, viz: fifteen
commissioned military store-keepers, and forty-three ordnance sergeants.
We seldom have more than this number of permanent posts; each one can
therefore be supplied with an artillery guard for the care of the
artillery stores. In the French service there are three hundred and
fifteen of these artillery guards; they are divided into three classes.

III. _Artificers._ - This class of men are employed in the construction
and repairs of military materials. In most of our arsenals and armories
it is thought to be best to employ unenlisted workmen, by the piece or
contract. Nevertheless a limited number of enlisted men of this
description are found to be both useful and necessary. We have three
hundred and thirty of these in our army, viz: two hundred and fifty
enlisted "ordnance men," and eighty "artificers" attached to the
regiments. In the French army they have for the service of the arsenals
and establishments, one hundred and forty-nine "ouvriers," and twelve
"artificers;" there are also three hundred and sixty "ouvriers" and
seventeen "armuriers" attached to the corps of artillery, making in all
five hundred and thirty-eight.

IV. _Artillery Troops._ - Artillery, as an arm of service, is divided in
the same manner as its _materiel_; the _field_-artillery being intended
for field service, and the garrison or _siege_-artillery, for the attack
and defence of places. The troops of the artillery corps of a modern
army usually do duty either in the field, or in sieges, or garrison, as
occasion may require. When employed in the service of a campaign,
artillery is usually divided into two classes: 1st. _Foot_ Artillery;
and 2d. _Horse_ Artillery.

In the early history of artillery, as has already been shown, but few
pieces were ever brought upon the battle-field. Charles VIII. crossed
the Alps with a pretty large train; but a part of these were hand-guns,
and but very few of the larger pieces were ever brought into battle;
indeed, it was then thought that this arm would be of little use except
in sieges. At the battle of Gravelines the army of Philip II. had only
seventeen pieces of artillery; and at the battle of Ivry the French had
only four pieces of cannon, and two culverins: the army of the League
had also only four pieces. At the battle of Moncontour the opposing
armies had but eight pieces each.

Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden not only improved the character of
artillery, but also gave to it great development as an arm of service.
At the battle of Bréetenfield he had one hundred pieces of artillery,
great and small, and at the camp of Nuremberg he numbered about three
hundred. This king also made a more skilful use of his cannon by uniting
them more in mass than had been done by his predecessors; his system was
nevertheless very imperfect. In the disposition of this arm on the field
of battle, a vast improvement was made by Condé, Turenne, and Prince
Eugene of Savoy. Frederick the Great also made great use of this arm,
and was the first to introduce horse artillery. This mode of using
field-pieces has peculiar properties which in many circumstances render
it an invaluable arm. The promptness and rapidity of its movements
enable it to act with other troops without embarrassing them. The French
soon introduced into their army the improvements made by the king of
Prussia, and in 1763 the celebrated Gribeauval appeared. He improved the
form of the cannon and greatly diminished the weight of field artillery,
giving it an organization which has been but slightly changed since his

The successive improvements in artillery have for a long time
constituted a prominent feature in war. The power of this arm to throw
projectiles to a great distance, and to overturn and destroy opposing
obstacles, renders it a necessary arm on the battle-field, and a strong
barrier and safeguard of states. It is an essential element in all army

In our army we have four regiments of artillery, forming the basis of
forty batteries. In the French service there are fourteen regiments,
forming the basis of two hundred and six field batteries.

The term _battery_, when applied to artillery as an arm of service,
refers to a permanent organization of a certain number of cannon, with
the men and other accessaries required to serve them. This is the unit
of force in this arm. The regimental organization is a mere nominal
arrangement, for in actual service artillery acts by batteries, and
never by regiments. Its strength is therefore invariably estimated by
the number of its batteries.

A battery is ordinarily composed of six pieces, two of them being
howitzers. The lighter batteries would, in our service, be formed of
six-pounder guns and twelve-pounder howitzers; and the heavier of
twelve-pounder guns and twenty-four-pounder howitzers. These heavy
batteries would usually form the reserve. Each piece being attended by
its caisson, this formation would give twelve carriages to each battery,
six for the guns and six for the caissons. The extra caissons form a
part of the reserve, and move with the train. In some foreign services a
battery is composed of eight pieces with their caissons.

This arm admits of three formations - _in column, in battle_, and _in
battery_. In column it ordinarily moves by sections of two pieces, each
piece being followed or preceded by its caisson. Columns of
half-batteries are sometimes formed, and also columns of single pieces;
but the latter ought never to be employed except in cases of necessity
in passing a narrow defile, and at a distance from the enemy.

In order of battle, the pieces are drawn up in line, their caissons
forming a second line, at the distance of a few paces.

When in order of battery, the pieces are formed in the same way as for
battle, except that the guns are directed towards the enemy and prepared
for firing.

The movements and manoeuvres of foot artillery correspond with those of
infantry, and of mounted artillery with those of cavalry, a battery
being regarded as a battalion or squadron, of which the pieces form the
platoons. Mounted batteries can seldom move with greater rapidity than
the trot, except in cases of emergency, and even then the gallop can be
kept up only for a very short time; but this is of no great importance,
as the batteries never accompany cavalry in the charge.

The French and German writers discuss artillery as employed in battle,
under two distinct heads - 1st, as an arm of preparation, and 2d, as an
arm of succor.

I. As an arm of preparation it serves, 1st, to protect the deploying of
the other troops; 2d, to disorganize the enemy's masses, and to
facilitate the action of infantry and cavalry, by weakening the intended
points of attack; 3d, to force an enemy to evacuate a position by
overthrowing obstacles with which he has covered himself; 4th, to keep
up the action till the other troops can be prepared to strike the
decisive blow.

The force of this arm depends upon the rapidity and accuracy of its
fire; rash valor is therefore far less desirable in artillery than
skill, patience, and cool courage. Artillery always acts at a distance,
and in mass; single pieces are seldom employed, except to cover
reconnoitring parties, or to sustain the light infantry in a skirmish.
Mounted batteries sometimes approach within two or three hundred yards
of the enemy's infantry; but this is only done with a strong support of
other troops, and to prepare the way for a charge of cavalry. The
batteries do not accompany the charge, but they should always follow up
and complete the success; mounted batteries are particularly useful in
pursuit. If Murat, in 1812, had accompanied his attacks upon
Neveroffskoi's retreating columns of sixty thousand infantry by two or
three batteries of mounted artillery, the whole column must have been
captured or destroyed.

Artillery, on the field of battle, is very liable to allow its fire to
be drawn, and its projectiles wasted, while the enemy is at too great a
distance to be reached. It is a very common thing in a battle, to employ
two or three pieces of heavy calibre at the beginning of the fight, in
order to provoke the opposing batteries to open their fire before the
proper time. The waste of material is not the only loss attending this
error; the troops are fatigued and disheartened, while the courage and
confidence of their opponents are always revived by a weak and
inaccurate fire. To avoid such an error the commanding officer of a
battery of artillery should be perfectly familiar with the effective
ranges of his pieces, and accustomed to form a correct estimate of
distances. For this purpose the eye should be frequently practised in
time of peace in estimating the ranges for different calibres.

The effective range of a 12-pounder field-piece

is about . . . . . . 1000 yds.
" " " " 6 " " 800 "
" " " " 24 " howitzer, 600 "
" " " " 12 " " 500 "
" " " " grape and case shot is
from . . . . . . 300 to 500 "

Even at these distances the aim is usually so inaccurate that a large
portion of the projectiles are lost. In the attack on Spires, a whole
column of artillery expended its fire while at a distance of 900 yards
from the enemy, who, of course, received little or no injury. In firing
from fortifications, the aim is far more accurate, and the artillery may
therefore be employed to advantage as soon as the enemy comes within the
longest range.

II. As an arm of succor, the artillery serves, 1st, to give impulsive
force to the attacking columns; 2d, to assist in arresting, or at least
in retarding, the offensive movements of an enemy; 3d, to protect the
avenues of approach, and to defend obstacles that cover a position; and,
4th, to cover a retrograde movement.

Mounted artillery is, like cavalry, much the most effective in attack;
but batteries of foot are better calculated for defence. The cannoniers
are so armed as to be capable of defending their pieces to the last
extremity; they therefore cannot be easily captured by opposing columns
of infantry. "As to pretending to rush upon the guns," says Napoleon,
"and carry them by the bayonet, or to pick off the gunners by musketry,
these are chimerical ideas. Such things do sometimes happen; but have we
not examples of still more extraordinary captures by a _coup de main?_
As a general rule, there is no infantry, however intrepid it may be,
that can, without artillery, march with impunity the distance of five or
six hundred toises, against two well-placed batteries (16 pieces) of
cannon, served by good gunners; before they could pass over two-thirds
of the way, the men would be killed, wounded, or dispersed. * * * * A
good infantry forms, no doubt, the sinews of an army; but if it were
required to fight for a long time against a very superior artillery, its
good quality would be exhausted, and its efficiency destroyed. In the
first campaigns of the wars of the Revolution, what France had in the
greatest perfection was artillery; we know not a single instance in
which twenty pieces of cannon, judiciously placed, and in battery, were
ever carried by the bayonet. In the affair at Valmy, at the battles of
Jemmapes, Nordlingen, and Fleurus, the French had an artillery superior
to that of the enemy, although they had often only two guns to one
thousand men; but that was because their armies were very numerous. It
may happen that a general, more skilful in manoeuvring, more expert than
his adversary, and commanding a better infantry, may obtain successes
during a part of a campaign, although his artillery may be far inferior
to that of his opponent; but on the critical day of a general
engagement, his inferiority in point of metal will be severely felt."

History furnishes us numerous examples of the use of artillery in
protecting avenues of approach: - such as the defile of Köesen at the
battle of Auerstedt; the avenues between the redoubts of Pultowa, &c.,

When an army is forced to retreat, it covers its rear by that portion of
its cavalry and mounted artillery which has suffered least during the
battle. By placing the squadrons of horse and the light batteries in
echelon, the retiring column may be well protected. The artillery, by
using the prolonge, may also continue its retreat while in battery and
firing. It was in this way that at the battle of Albuera, in 1811, the
French artillery on the left wing held in check the right and centre of
the Anglo-Spaniards till the army effected its retreat; the artillery
then retired in echelons, by batteries and fractions of batteries, under
the protection of the cavalry.

We have already discussed, under the general head of tactics, the
position and use of artillery on the battle-field a few additional
remarks must suffice.

As a general rule, batteries should be placed in positions from which
they can employ their fire to advantage, and also be free to move in any
direction that the progress of the battle may require. Advantage should
always be taken of natural or artificial obstacles, such as hedges,
clumps of trees, logs, mounds of earth, &c., to cover and conceal the
guns till the moment they open their fire. Elevated positions are,
contrary to the common opinion, generally unfavorable, for artillery
cannot fire to advantage at any considerable angle of depression. The
slopes in front should be of considerable length, otherwise the balls
would do very little execution upon that portion of the column of attack
which occupied the valley. The ground should also be smooth, for if
rough the balls will either bury themselves in the earth, or ricochet at
a high angle of deflection, thus destroying a considerable part of the
effect of the fire. The counterforts or spurs of hills are favorable for
artillery, as they enable it to see, with an enfilading fire, the slopes
of the principal range. Batteries should seldom be placed so as to fire
over other troops, for they will not only be intimidated by this fire,
but also exposed to the opposing fire of the enemy's artillery. A large
number of pieces should never be crowded into the same place, but an
interval should be left between the guns of forty or fifty feet,
according to the locality. The most favorable position for this arm in
ordinary ground, is in the intervals between the regiments or brigades
of the line, and far enough in advance of this line not to draw upon the
other troops the fire of the enemy's artillery. The flanks of the line
are also favorable for the action of this arm.

Sometimes artillery has been employed to form a part of the line of
battle; but such instances are exceptions, and can never be comprised in
general rules. Whenever this disposition has been made, it has resulted
from the defective character of the other arms, or from some peculiar
circumstance in the battle which enabled a bold and skilful commander to
deviate from the ordinary rules of tactics. Such was the case with
Napoleon at Wagram. In Saxony, in 1813, he was several times obliged to
substitute his artillery to supply the want of other arms.

In the defence and attack of field-works, and in the passage of rivers,
artillery plays an important and indispensable part; but it here becomes

Online LibraryHenry Wager HalleckElements of Military Art and Science Or, Course Of Instruction In Strategy, Fortification, Tactics Of Battles, &C.; Embracing The Duties Of Staff, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, And Engineers; Adapted → online text (page 22 of 35)