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Old November 5th, 2012, 12:50 PM   #1

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Land based cannons and Naval cannons of the Napoleonic war.


Just a small question, when looking at battles in the Napoleonic wars we often see battles where both sides have only a small number of guns, in the smaller battles often a few dozens of guns at most and in big battles perhaps a few hundred.

But when we look at the guns on the Man O' Wars of the time they had a far greater quantity.
For example, the HMS Victory had 104 guns and many other ships like the Bucentaure had about 80 guns.
So why this inequality in guns? I can't imagine it would be that hard to mount a naval gun of that era on a carriage and put it in to a land battle... right?
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Old November 5th, 2012, 12:52 PM   #2

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You don't have to move naval guns, how many horses would 104 guns need to move them, the fodder etc
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Old November 5th, 2012, 12:58 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevinmeath View Post
You don't have to move naval guns, how many horses would 104 guns need to move them, the fodder etc
Well the horses can't be the main expense right?
Horses must have been relatively cheap in comparison with those big iron guns.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 01:01 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bartieboy View Post
Just a small question, when looking at battles in the Napoleonic wars we often see battles where both sides have only a small number of guns, in the smaller battles often a few dozens of guns at most and in big battles perhaps a few hundred.

But when we look at the guns on the Man O' Wars of the time they had a far greater quantity.
For example, the HMS Victory had 104 guns and many other ships like the Bucentaure had about 80 guns.
So why this inequality in guns? I can't imagine it would be that hard to mount a naval gun of that era on a carriage and put it in to a land battle... right?
Its a fair point. In Europe anyway, I'd proffer physically transporting them would be extremely difficult. I know historically it was a major problem (Santa Anna abandoned his for chasing after the Texicans).

In a similar manner you'll note forts often have quite an array of guns.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 01:01 PM   #5

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Originally Posted by bartieboy View Post
Well the horses can't be the main expense right?
Horses must have been relatively cheap in comparison with those big iron guns.
Just making an (un!!) educated guess but the cannon is a 'one off expense' once made it lasts 'forever' (sort of) but horses are expensive and have to be looked after on an on going basis and an army of that period needs loads of them.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 01:06 PM   #6

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Heavy artillery pieces needed a team of 12 horses, while Congreve rockets required about 25 horses.[11] With the horses required for officers, surgeons and other support staff, as well as those pulling guns and wagons, each British artillery battery (6 guns) required 160–200 horses.[10]
It seems horses must have been quite expensive after all.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 03:42 PM   #7

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The problem is, one horse can live off the land. they eat grass, hay, whatever they can get theyre fairly low maintenance when it comes to food.

A thousand horses are a nightmare to feed, thats why horse herds are nomadic to find food when theyve exhausted an area but armies require horses to stay in one fixed spot or go where the battle is not where the food is so they have to be fed.
To feed a hundred horses you need fodder, hay, straw, whatever. Maize and similar grain is also good, the better your food the better your horse will function but that increases the cost of provisions.
that fodder has to be carried so you'll need say another twenty horses simply carrying food for your fighting horses. Now those extra twenty horses need to be fed as well and theres a limit to how much they can carry so you need extra horses to carry food for the horses who are carrying food for your horses...and so on.
Each gun needs a team of say 6 horses on average. you might have spares as well, so say 8 horses per gun, it'll be higher or lower depending on the calibre of gun. Then you need waggons to carry the ammunition which also need horses, waggons to carry the food, waggons for the fodder, waggons to carry the units armourer and of course the vets waggon to treat those horses, the blacksmiths forge waggon because he makes the horseshoes which of course the farrier who fits them.

every time you add one more gun you increase the number of people who have to support it and the number of people you need to support them. In theory your manpower becomes a fractal spiral disapperaing into infinity.

And of course a horse is expensive, they have to be bred, bought, fed, maintained and every so often the drop dead of heath problems or battle wounds and have to be replaced except the waggon train wants them, the Cavalry certainly wants them, infantry officers want them and the civilian market not only wants them but might even pay more than the military will because they make the mail coaches, the mines and the entire transport industry work. A spare horse is a rare thing in a time of war.

By contrast a naval gun doesnt get moved anywhere, it sits there on deck until its needed. Once you get moving the ship out of the way it doesnt make any difference to manpower if your carrying one gun or a hundred, they all go to the same place at the same time with the same manpower so as long as you have a dozen men to man a gun your fine.
And since thoe men dont spend any extra time and energy moving that gun, feeding horses, dragging it out of the mud and so on they can do other things with their time.

An army sponge man is just that, a navy sponge man might also be boat crew, a sailmaker or the cooks assistant. He can do other things instead of tending a gun because it basically sits there and does nothing until its needed.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 05:04 PM   #8

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Another factor is the sheer size of naval guns. The 32 pounder long guns of HMS Victory weighed three to four tons excluding carriage. A land carriage would have to be far bigger than the sea version. While the Navy used two-pounders and six-pounders ( that weighed 6oo pounds and 1/2 to 3/4 of a ton) for small boats and cutters, the smallest standard armament on Ships of the Line, Frigates and sloops was a 12-pounder that weighed 1-1/2 tons for the barrel only, whereas, apart from siege artillery, 12 pounders were the biggest field pieces and the British bronze barrelled units weighed 1350 pounds.
This from Ayde's "Pocket Gunner" of 1802

12 pounder Medium
Gun-carriage without boxes
16 cwt 1 qr 11 lb
Limber to do.
7 cwt 2 qr 14 lb
Gun
18 cwt
Total, complete
36 cwt 2 qr 23lb
12 pounder Light Gun
Gun-carriage, complete
12 cwt 2qr 7lb
Limber with empty boxes
12 cwt 3qr 14lb
Gun
12 cwt
Total, complete
36 cwt 21lb l

The totals translate as 12 pounder medium 4111 pounds or 1.84 tons
and the 12 pounder light gun 4053 pounds or 1.8 tons

In the Napoleonic wars rapid deployment was of maximum importance, so light guns were mainly used. The Horse Artillery favoured 6 pounders and 9 pounders.
The RA did have 24 pounders in their inventory but they seemed only to have been used against the Americans.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 08:44 AM   #9

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All the above are relevant and true.

However, how exactly was a large broadsailed warship meant to fight without cannons?

Guns had been deployed on board ships since the early 1500's. Technology advanced in shipbuilding/arms manufacture to develop the best warship required, which meant seaworthiness and lots of firepower.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 09:26 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by OccamsRazor View Post
All the above are relevant and true.

However, how exactly was a large broadsailed warship meant to fight without cannons?

Guns had been deployed on board ships since the early 1500's. Technology advanced in shipbuilding/arms manufacture to develop the best warship required, which meant seaworthiness and lots of firepower.
But 80-100 guns was an incredible amount when we compare it to the number of cannons that were used on land. I would not find it strange if these ships only had 50 cannons.
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