04 May 2021

Austrian SYW Artillery

With this article, I will present the Seven Years’ War periods most celebrated artillery. The new fine ordnance fielded by the troops of her majesty, the Empress-Queen of Austria. It was universally regarded as the most modern artillery system of this period until the introduction of the Gribeauval ordnance in France during the 1770’s. It should be noted that the Liechtenstein M1753 ordnance served as the template for Gribeauval’s system, for he had been part of the team modernizing the Austrian artillery during his service in the Austrian artillery before and during the SYW.
Now, the Austrian guns are truly missing among the articles on this subject in my Blog. Its about time I set myself to work. Vivat Maria Theresia!

A few important remarks in advance:
Only now I am able to do it after having been forwarded a rare contemporary manuscript found in the Austrian Kriegsarchiv. No one ever seems to have taken a closer look at it. Very surprizing. Possibly, the manuscript was burried in the archive and became available for academic research only a few years ago?!? I am most thankful to Pavel Jurik from Czechia who forwarded it to me. He is himself on the point of publishing a book on the archievments of prince Wenzel von Liechtenstein later this year.
This rare manuscript is authored by a certain Frantz von Rubli, Imp. & Rl. Artillerie Zeug-Lieutenant and is dated 19 October 1753. Find the full citation on my first sheet presenting the 3-pdr field gun barrel construction.


Rubli presents the entire range of the new reduced metal strength cannon, along with its associated carriages, plus his best recommendation on the iron fittings for the carriages "as they should be made", Rubli writes in his manuscripts title page. Awesome material.

Franz von Rubli manuscript 1753
with kind permission from Pavel Jurik, Czechia.
source: Österreichisches Staatsarchiv / Dept. Kriegsarchiv, Vienna /Austria
Missing is only the heavy battery 12-pdr quarter-cannon along with the howitzers—unfortunately. But for a compensation he also presents a light wrought-iron 3-pdr "quick-fire" gun of the sort the Saxons fielded during this period. I have never seen this before. Nor was I aware this type of gun was ever fielded by the Austrians. Under the direction of Feld-Maréchal Wenzel von Liechtenstein—1744 appointed General Director of the Ordnance—Rubli is confirmed being part of the team selected to modernize the Austrian artillery. This makes it a most valuable and reliable primary source. I can also draw from another primary source found in the Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttart / Germany, as part of the so called Sammlung Nicolai (Nicolai Collection). According to Daniel Hohrath, curator of the Bavarian Army Museum, to his knowledge, this material has also never been used for academic research as well. It has several sheets with detailed tables and some drafts of the new Austrian ordnance presented in Vienna 15 April 1750—as per their caption. Both sources make a perfect match as they agree in so many details. I cannot think of a better starting point to present the original M1753 range of guns.

That being said, it is important to be aware that all nowadays available literature on the subject I know of entirely fail to do so, as they are drawing from source that really presents the Austrian ordnance at around 1774—including images of the guns. Much has changed within those two decades. The material had undergone a remastering after the SYW and the range of the so entitled "Light Battery Guns" had been removed from service in the meantime and are not seen on any tables listing the Austrian range of guns fielded during the SYW. Very missleading. The tables found present "short" and "long" 12-, 18-, and 24-pdr battery guns instead. Their entitlement identifies them as post SYW range, for the M1753 range seperated between "light" and "heavy" battery guns only.
After the SYW, a "medium" range of battery guns was added. The denomination "medium" only makes sense if you had "light" and "heavy" already in place. Now, after the removal of the "light" battery gun range the entitlement "medium" & "heavy" obviously looses its purpose, hence, the entitlement "short" (read formaly medium) and "long" (read formaly heavy) was adopted for an identification.
With this article I will successively present the initial M1753 Lichtenstein Ordnance. It is the range of guns that saw service during the SYW. Lets start with the 3-pdr Regiments-Stück. Here it comes:


A note on the caliber dimensions I am using, as they will deviate somewhat with figures found elsewhere. Thats because the Austrians redefined their calibers during the 1770’s and it is moreoften those redifined figures that are presented elsewhere. I wanted to arrive as close as possible to the true Liechtenstein system figures. As a result, I calculate all anew.

Liechtenstein’s constructors where working with the old accepted Nuremberg caliber dimensions, widly in use within the Holy Roman Empire then. Liechtenstein’s team felt compelled to stay with them in order to remain compatible with the ordnance fielded by the many Reichsarmee contingents at that time, as it is quoted from Rubli’s writings in an article on the true ‘Old-German’ Nuremberg artillery caliber system (Oestereichische militärische Zeitschrift, edition 1826, vol 2). Hence, the basic caliber for computing the diameter of all pieces was the diameter of 1 Pfund iron shot for cannons or stone for mortars and howitzers of the Nuremberg Artillerie-Fuss (29.3 cm) expressed in Vienna Zoll.
My employed figures are based on the fixation by the Slovenian 1754 born baron Jurij Vega (in Austrian service known as Gerog von Vega). An Austrian artillery officer & a reknown mathematician. From 1780 on, he was appointed director of the Mathematics Department of the Vienna Artillery School. His fixation—apparently dating well after 1780—being 1 Nuremberg Pfund iron shot has a diameter of Nuremberg 2.04 Zoll or Vienna 1.89
Zoll. Some embarassment is caused here because the Vienna foot scale received a universal fixation for the Habsburg Empire only with the patent of 1756. A gut feeling tells me Liechtenstein’s 1745 team started off with neat Nuremberg 2 Zoll iron—since 1 Nuremberg Pfund stone was neat 3 Zoll, but I dare not mess with this famous lector’s figures. A resulting minor deviation to the true Liechtenstein figures should not corrupt my display of the original 1753 introduced new guns.

Tabella denen metallenen Stücken an beigesetzten Gattungen so den 15ten Aprilis 1750 verfertigt worden in Wien [sic.]
(
Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart / Nicolai Collection).
 

The 15 April 1750 presented and approved range of the new bronze cannon:
A)
a so entitled range of Field Guns:
– 3-pdr field gun, 16 calibers,
a reduced metal strength Regiments-Stück
– 6-pdr field gun, 16 calibers,
a reduced metal strength 1/8 cannon
– 12-pdr field gun, 16 calibers,
a reduced metal strength quarter-cannon
B)
a range of so entitled Light Battery Guns:
– 12-pdr light battery gun, 18 calibers,
a reduced metal strength quarter-cannon
– 24-pdr light battery gun, 18 calibers,
a reduced metal strength half-cannon
C)
a range of so entitled Heavy Battery Guns:
– 12-pdr heavy battery gun, 27 calibers, quarter-cannon
– 24-pdr heavy battery gun, 23 calibers, half-cannon
Note: there were no 18-pdr battery guns in this initial range. They had been added to the Liechtenstein system only after the SYW. All 18-pdrs fielded during the SYW as part of a siege train were of the old 1722 regulation ordnance. A gun entitled Notschlange (culverin) with a barrel of 29 calibers bore length. Much of this older ordnance would be found among the siege guns or in fortifications during the war, being replaced by the new heavy battery guns only in case of want. The letter pretty much remained unchanged dimension-wise and weight-wise, except for the barrels garnishing elements.
Also found with the 1750 tables from the Nicolai Collection is a 10-pdr battery howitzer, 5,375 calibers long, as well as a draft of the 7-pdr field howitzer (barrel & carriage), around 6 calibers long, that is not listed on the 1750 tables. It was apparently added only later—quite certainly before 1756. The March 1757 published Reglement für das Kaiserlich Königliche gesammte Feld-Artillerie-Corps includes it with its presentation of the fielded ordnance.
I will also illustrate the two non-regulation constructions which Rubli presents in addition to the new Liechtenstein ordnance. It’s a 2-pdr double-culverin, 30 calibers long, and this wrought-iron 3-pdr quick-fire gun that I mentioned afore.

Franz von Rubli manuscript 1753
with kind permission from Pavel Jurik, Czechia.

source: Österreichisches Staatsarchiv / Dept. Kriegsarchiv, Vienna /Austria


I believe these two pieces of the old range of guns were still in service. Why else would Rubli bother to present them?

The next piece is the new 6-pounder field gun:






I need to correct myself by saying this piece was initially not manhandled with the Avancier-Stange with my initial article. I did find the iron rings in the Rubli illustration as I took a closer look, hence, I would assume they were also found with the 7-pounder field howitzer.

 Below see the original Rubli sheet for the 6-pounder:

Franz von Rubli manuscript 1753
with kind permission from Pavel Jurik, Czechia.
source: Österreichisches Staatsarchiv / Dept. Kriegsarchiv, Vienna /Austria

Interesting with this illustration is Rubli’s presentation of the complete team of learned gunners serving the piece just as it is specified in the 1757 regulation. The gunner serving as gun commander is seen laying the piece. He held the rank of a Stück-Korporal. He was also the one in charge for placing the fuze into the touch hole. One gunner has its position at the trail employing the trail spike to assist in laying the piece. One gunner serving as firer, and on the most left we see the gunner with the sponge in charge for whiping and ramming the cartridge down the barrel. On his right is the gunner in charge for placing the cartidge into the muzzle, while the gunner in the background is the one in charge to supply new rounds from the ammunition box or the guns associated ammunition cart located in some distance to the rear of the gun. The team for all field guns was the same—i.e. the new 3-, 6-, & 12-pounders. Only the number of Handlangers changed in size. The 7-pounder field howitzer had a team of 6 Büchsenmeisters and 1 Jung-Feuerwerker (NCO rank).
The next piece to present is the 12–pdr Viertel Carthaune "Field Gun".


 


Below see Rubli’s original draft and illustration of the new 12-pdr field gun.

Franz von Rubli manuscript 1753
with kind permission from Pavel Jurik, Czechia.
source: Österreichisches Staatsarchiv / Dept. Kriegsarchiv, Vienna /Austria

Next comes the range of the so entitled "Light Battery Guns" with the Nicolai Collection tables. 


 



Franz von Rubli manuscript 1753
with kind permission from Pavel Jurik, Czechia.
source: Österreichisches Staatsarchiv / Dept. Kriegsarchiv, Vienna /Aust


The conflicting weight figures of my presented pieces with the figures found elsewhere initiated once more a closer investigation to the issue on my side. I believe, I could clearify the origin for the false weight and dimension figures found in other sources. The vicious trap was set by Liechtenstein’s constructor gang as they choosed to implement a dual weight unit system by adopting the Nuremberg unit along to the Vienna unit which the army was otherwise accustomed to work with.

The next piece is the 24-pounder Light Battery Gun.



Franz von Rubli manuscript 1753
with kind permission from Pavel Jurik, Czechia.
source: Österreichisches Staatsarchiv / Dept. Kriegsarchiv, Vienna /Austria

Franz von Rubli manuscript 1753
with kind permission from Pavel Jurik, Czechia.
source: Österreichisches Staatsarchiv / Dept. Kriegsarchiv, Vienna /Austria

With the below illustration I arranged all 5 so far presented pieces on one sheet for better display of the dimensions. 


This article is to be continued…

4 comments:

  1. Thank you Christian for an excellent article. It is very useful that "information gap" was covered and we know much more about marshal Liechtenstein´s artillery reform in 1750-1757. He and his team leaded by general and later marshal Anton Ferdinand von Feuerstein and his brother Andreas Leopold - both born in Prague, created a new cannon generation.

    "Liechtenstein artillery" has a big share on marshal Leopold von Daun victory over Prussian army at battle of Kolin June 18, 1757, as recognised both king Friedrich II and marshal Daun. Battle near of town Kolin (where I live) is named as "Day when Habsburg monarchy was reborn".

    Much of the artillery reform works took place in South Bohemia near of Budweis (Ceske Budejovice) - there Feldzoigamt and General Staff of Artillery had HQ, in nera town Rudolfov was founded the first artillery school on Central Europe (1744) and near of town Tyn nad Vltavou (Moldauthein) was artillery training ground where all the guns and howitzers were tested. So far there are remains of a large training fortress called "Polygon" with three bastions and ravelin, or shooting target "Epolement". These are to be restored as military monument of common Czech-Austrian history.

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  2. Thanks for sharing. This is a very interesting article and I am looking forward to the next part.

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  3. This is a very interesting and informative article.

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  4. Liked the info, have a 20mm Austrian and Prussian, Plus Hanoverians.

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