Empire scene

Gribeauval cannon with 4 horses


Gribeauval cannon with 4 horses

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  • Gribeauval cannon with horses pewter

Napoleonic artillery consisted of horse artillery, which was generally light and mobile field artillery and siege guns, which were generally too heavy and slow to be much use on the battlefield. The main weapons were cannons (firing canister or round shot) and howitzers (which fired on a high trajectory, normally using exploding shells

The French artillery has always ranked very high. Almost all improvements made in gunnery, during the last three or four centuries, have originated with the French. The theoretical branch of artillery has also been constantly a favorite science with the French; their mathematical turn of mind favors this; and the precision of language, the scientific method, the soundness of views, which characterize their artilleristic literature, show how much this branch of science is adapted to the national genius." ("The Armies of Europe" in Putnam's Monthly, No. XXXII, published in 1855)

The Napoleonic artillery was a product of the change in French military theory that followed humiliations of the Seven Years War. Especially painful was the defeat at Rossbach where 42.000 French and their Allies were trashed by 21,000 Prussians under Fredrick the Great. The French artillery in that time was according to the "system" of de Vallerie. The cannons were strongly built, very powerful, but very ornate and far too heavy to handle in the field.

The old system was gradually replaced by so-called Gribeauval System. The new guns were designed for more rapid movements, on and off the roads. Gribeauval stressed mobility, hitting power and accuracy. His important innovation was the elevating screw used to adjust the range of the cannon by raising or lowering its breech. Another innovation was the prolong. It was a heavy rope 30 feet long and used to connect the gun and its limber when it was necessary to fire while retiring or to unlimber the gun while crossing some difficult obstacle