10 October 2018

British SYW Artillery

This is now the start of my earlier expressed intention to arrage a number of scale drawings illustrating British ordnance fielded during the War of Austrian Succession & Seven Years’ War period. I hope to manage presenting a number of pieces, by focusing on the heavier position guns that saw service in the WAS campaigns in Flandres & Germany, as well as with the British contingent of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswicks’ Allied Army in Germany 1758 through 1762.
The light 6 pounder battalion gun will likely to be the last piece to present, for many illustrations are available already & also many original and replique pieces exist to the present day. Hence, this one is well known.
Identifying the heavier position guns recommended for Field Service from the gentlemen of his British Majesties’ Royal Board Of Ordnance will be more of a challange.
John Armstrong, appointed Surveyor-General of the Ordnance (1722–1742) designed 3 ranges of ordnance during the 1730’s that were fixed in what I understand to be his 1736 Regulation. It should mark the starting point for all gun constructions up to 1762. Here, general Armstrong specified the basic construction principles for a Heavy, Medium, & Light range of guns. This 1736 Regulation by itself would already result in a wide range of different pieces. But even worse, it appears to have been employed as no more then a loose guide line, for I already found quite a few pieces that are clearly offside the 1736 Regulation figures when looking at the barrel weigths. A mass calculation of the sort John Muller provides in his “A Treatise of Artillery” on p. 49-50 of the 1768 edition has now become an important tool with my search to find the right constructions. Anyone who wants to try good fun mathematics for himself—watch out for the typo on page 50. A cubic foot of gun metal weighs 549 pounds, not 459! See page 3 in the same book. Took me a while, till I found the annoying error here.
My first arranged sheet illustrates the Armstrong 1736 Regulation heavy 12-pounder battery or battering gun


I continue to believe the cannon seen in David Morier’s painting can really be identified as an authentic piece from among the range of ordnance fielded during this period. 
By placing the Cannonier from the Morier painting next to my 12-pounder barrel, it is obviously too large a construction. The diameter of the base ring is certainly bigger than that of the cannon seen in Morier’s painting. Another heavy range 12-pounder construction—a barrel 7 foot 6 or 8 inch long—would arrive at about the same diameter. Somewhat slimmer was the 6 foot 7 inch Armstrong construction of his Medium range of ordnance. But this barrel would be too short. We clearly see a long barrel here. The only piece left would be the ‘Long 6’ with a barrel 8 foot long. Here it is. 
Now lets have a closer look. For a quick check, I needn't bother to draw its carriage. It already exists. John Muller provides the illustration, presenting it as the type of carriage that was in use by the time of his books 1st edition in 1757.

Now this seems to make a charming match. I believe the piece we see in Morier’s painting is with near certainty the 8 foot heavy 6-pounder. The Imperial & Allied Army’s Order of Battle for the year 1747 lists 26 3-pounders for 14 British battalions—possibly mounted on ‘Galloper’ carriages, 27 6-pounders of which a number must have been of the light 4.5 foot construction. John Muller mentions in his book that such a piece, employed at the battle of Laufeldt July 1747, was testet at Woolwich in the early 1750’s. The guns seen in the painting must be more then a dozen heavy pieces, but only 6 British 12-pounders were fielded that year. Hence, a many of the big guns we see here must have been ‘Long 6’ guns.
The piece also seems to have seen service in the Seven Years' War. With the commencement of the 1761 summer campaign, Prince Ferdinand's staff papers have a detailed record of the British artillery. Apart from the British line artillery brigades consisting of ‘Light’ 6 & 12-pounders along with some 5.5 inch howitzers, there had also been 3 heavy brigades of the artillery park. 8 ‘Heavy’ 12-pounders, 8 ‘Medium’ 12-pounders (the ones that were at Minden 1759 with a 7-horse draught), & 8 ‘Heavy’ 6-pounders. The ‘Medium’ 12 & ‘Heavy’ 6-pounders reinforced Granby's hard pressed division July 15-16 on the Dinker-Berg in the battle of Vellinghausen.
Earlier this summer I researched this battle in more detail together with Charles Grant, as he is writing on his next volume of his "Wargaming in History" series. We had a wonderful time here. Charles provided me with the following interesting bit. Its from Walter Evelyn Manners, "Some account of the military, political, and social life of the Right Hon. John Manners, marquis of Granby", 1899. Loosely quoting: The Scottish officer "Sir James Innes Norcliffe observed a ‘serjeant’ of Campell's Highlanders serving a ‘Long 6’ which the serjeant had carefully masked with boughs. The Highlander surveyed the effects of his excellent practice, ejaculating: Now a round !—Now a grape ! at intervals, as he varied his load." It must have been the severe cannonade in the early morning 16 July. Gun crew killed or disabled. The couragious Highlander served the piece instead. Sir James added that after the action he noticed grape-shot sticking in some of the dead Frenchmen like grains of Indian corn in the cob, and the round-shot had occasionally taken two or three of the enemy in a line. It is speculated if it was the Highlanders piece which wrought such havoc among the French [high] aristocracy, for 3 generals—all related—were killed with a single round very near Vellinghausen. That's where James Innes must have had its battle position as there used to be a ground feature on the slope of the Dinker-Berg facing towards Vellinghausen, that has been known among the locals as "Sir James Innes" since the days of the battle. Now it is gone. It was a fold in the ground with much the character of a sunken road. A natural trench much like the Bloody Lane at the Antiedam battle of the American Civil War.
Now back to the subject. There have been other 6-pounder constructions. The 1754 Regulation lists a 5 foot 1 inch piece—that’s only 7 inches or two shot diameters longer then the 4.5 foot Light 6-pounder battalilon gun. I wouldn’t entitle a 5 foot 1 barrel a ‘Long 6’, but I might be wrong here.
Since the death of John Armstrong 1742, and well into the 1750’s, the gentlemen in Woolwich tested a great number of various designs to find the best length & metal strength for its gun constructions. The 1754 Regulation shows the ones that seem to have been accepted for service in the field. The question remains: how many of the new pieces would have been cast to be fielded in the SYW? Possibly not all that many as milord Sackville had difficulties finding enough light guns with no more then a 6 horse draught earlier in 1759. Possibly those old 8 foot 6-pounders—tested in Flandres in the preceeding war—had to be fielded for lack of alternative in 1761. So much for the ‘Long 6’
More on the 12-pounder position guns within short… along with some nice scale drawings of the pieces mounted on their carriages.

The below Medium class Armstrong pattern 12-pounder is of great interest here.
image published here with kind permission of Bill Maloney http://www.williammaloney.com

Its a cast of 1760, weighs 21.5 hundretweights. On display at Fort George, Upper Canada. I take it to be the 6 foot 7 inch piece. Will have to have a closer examination of this one. Possibly the construction  of the 10 pieces capt. Mcbean commanded in the battle of Minden 1759.
We'll have to find out.

To be continued within short… 

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