Artillery at Borodino- normal amounts for Russians?

Started by Last Hussar, 13 April 2024, 05:58:10 PM

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Last Hussar

The Russians do have an awful lot of artillery in the Borodino orbat. Was this the normal ratio for them?

The Corps are typically 11,000 men, with around 72 tubes. In Blucher this means a Corp (at Grand Scale) are 3 units of infantry,  and 2 of artillery.
I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry

fsn

Lots. Rothenberg gives a division as "18 battalions, 20 squadrons and 82 guns".Hofschroer sugges an infantry division in 1813 was 3 brigades of 4 infantry ad 2 jaeger regiments, plus an artillery brigade of one heavy and 2 light batteries. Each battery being 12 pieces.
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Ithoriel

Artillery as The God of War is not a new concept to the Russians!

General Sir Robert Thomas Wilson, a British general and politician who was seconded to the Imperial Russian Army in 1812 wrote, "The Russian artillery is of the most powerful description. No other army moves with so many guns, and with no other army is it in better state of equipment, or is more gallantly served."

I don't have a citation for this but from the notes I made when I was contemplating Borodino in 2mm scale:-

In 1812 the field artillery comprised:

 - 176 12pdr cannons (foot artillery)

 - 524 6pdr cannons (foot artillery)

 - 524 10pdr and 20pdr unicorns (foot artillery)

 - 132 6pdr cannons (horse artillery)

 - 132 10pdr unicorns (horse artillery)

 The Guard artillery numbered 64 guns.


There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data

pierre the shy

That's a lot of firepower!

To quote a slightly later Russian commander "Quantity has a quality all of its own"
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
we are not now that strength which in old days
moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are.

Last Hussar

Fsn- thanks for that. It appears it isn't so much less guns, but more infantry; the "Obscure Battles" order gives 2 brigades each with 2 regiments of 2 battalions, plus 2 regiments of light, and 36 guns in the II Corps divisions.

If I've understood you right, they added a 3rd brigade.
I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry

Last Hussar

Any idea of barrel colour? I can't find anything.

Cheers.
I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry

kipt


Last Hussar

I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry

steve_holmes_11

The campaign accounts I've read suggest the Russian left up to half their artillery in reserve.
Rather annoyingly, they don't offer any detail on what this means, or how the guns would be extracted from reserve and deployed.

I've developed a few ideas, based mainly on guesswork.

1. Strategic: These guns become the army asset; available to be deployed as grand batteries, to deploy in redoubts or to be moved to points of decision.

There were redoubts at Borodino.
It is credible to imagine horse artillery used as a mobile reserve.
The Russians were already doing this by 1806.
Kutaizov, the senior artillery commander was lost (killed) in skirmishing early in the battle - which may explain the numbers of guns languishing at the rear during the battle.


2. Corps / Division reserve. The guns remain with their parent formation, but some are held back to relieve others during a long battle.

This is an interesting one which mimics Soviet WW2 doctrine.
Around half the guns deployed to shoot from forward positions.
The remainder held back limbered - ready to follow and support inevitable advance of victorious Czarist infantry.

This fits in with the Russians maintaing large batteries with low manpower.
The large battery up front provides a lot of boom, but the small crews will tire (and thus run short of ammunition) quite soon.


3. Compensating for something. Lots of guns, because they lack the ability to move them during battle.

It is traditional to view the Czarist armies as a blundering, but difficult to deter.
At a micro level, we have accounts of the infantry standing in the face of defeat until they are all cut down.
At a higher level, it is a matter of record that the Russian command was lacking.

There seems to be an odd exception in the artillery, which attracted the cream of the army's technocrats.
It was also almost unique in having a complete artillery command structure up to the top army echelons.
The gunners could certainly fight a fast paced "modern Napoleoic" battle.
I suspect they were seriously held back by the command structure of their army.


Battle reports suggest the Russians had huge numbers of guns in their train, but often struggled to get those numbers into action.

Last Hussar

Thanks for that Steve - explains why the Russians have so many. I'm doing them for 'Blucher', so the basic unit is 24-36 guns, as part of a Corps, you activate the entire Corps.
 
The Orbats I've seen for Russians at Borodino (and these do vary, Russian book-keeping is somewhat of an afterthought!) have 10-11,000 men in a corps, with up to 72 guns (2nd, 4th and 6th Corps); in Blucher this is 3 units of infantry with 2 units of artillery. Guards Division in 1st Western Army has another 30 or so (1 unit),  and the 3 (small) cavalry corps are maybe 6-7000 horse, each with 12 guns- so attached to one of the 3 units rather than separate.

In comparison a French or Austrian Corps for 1809 is something like 5 units of infantry, possibly 1 unit of cavalry for the French (2-3000 horse), and 1 unit of artillery.

THEN there is the artillery reserve, which has about a third of the total artillery.

There are a LOT of guns for the Russians.

The way the Blucher rules work for artillery is you buy individual artillery bases, and you have a choice – you can attach a single base to become part of a unit – so 8-12 guns with 3-5000 men, or you can group 3 into a unit. As written you have too many guns to attach out – I could break 1 unit down and give to the 3 units of infantry, but then would still have an entire unit of guns!

I looked at a later Order of battle – what the Russians appear to have done is not reduce guns, just increased the number of men in a Corps – 4 units in Blucher terms, but still with 2 units of guns.

I assume the Russians kept the guns in large units, rather than parcel them out to divisions?
I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry

Ithoriel


QuoteThe campaign accounts I've read suggest the Russian left up to half their artillery in reserve.
Rather annoyingly, they don't offer any detail on what this means, or how the guns would be extracted from reserve and deployed.

I've developed a few ideas, based mainly on guesswork.

1. Strategic: These guns become the army asset; available to be deployed as grand batteries, to deploy in redoubts or to be moved to points of decision.

At Borodino around a third of the artillery is held in reserve and the redoubts are fully provisioned with artillery. Deployment as grand batteries maybe, though.

2. Corps / Division reserve. The guns remain with their parent formation, but some are held back to relieve others during a long battle.

Again at Borodino the artillery reserve seems to have been an army level artillery park. Who knows what would have been done with it if Kutaisov had survived?


3. Compensating for something. Lots of guns, because they lack the ability to move them during battle.

Contemporary accounts seem to view Russian artillery as mobile and well handled.

There seems to be an odd exception in the artillery, which attracted the cream of the army's technocrats.
It was also almost unique in having a complete artillery command structure up to the top army echelons.
The gunners could certainly fight a fast paced "modern Napoleonic" battle.
I suspect they were seriously held back by the command structure of their army.


Battle reports suggest the Russians had huge numbers of guns in their train, but often struggled to get those numbers into action.

My thoughts in bold above.


Not sure if this has been mentioned already but my recollection is that horse artillery batteries were mainly 4 guns (two cannon and two licornes) or occasionally 6 guns rather than the 12 guns (8 cannon and 4 licornes, with two licornes at either end of the gun line) of the foot artillery.
There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data

Last Hussar

Obscure battles is listing as 8 6 pounders, and 4 licorns.
I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain why you are wrong.

GNU PTerry