Napoleonic Artillery Tactics Reconsidered

Historians claim that the changes evident in Napoleonic artillery practices from 1807 resulted from declining standards throughout the Grande Armee brought on by years of constant warfare.

This paper argues that this is incorrect. Examination of the long-term developmentof the French artillery arm, the growth in artillery numbers, and improvements in artillery practices reveals the increasing importance of artillery tactics within Napoleon's overall battle plan. This should be seen as aculmination of years of experimentation and innovation, rather than compensation for a decline in other arms. It is generally recognised that French successes under Napoleon came at a price: battle casualties slowly thinned the veterans from the ranks, while an influx of inexperienced recruits took their place.

Many historians dealing with French tactics believe that the artillery's rise was occasioned by the declining quality of French infantry that resulted from this ongoing process.

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Main Image Source: "Initial Battle Lines at Waterloo" - www.greatmilitarybattles.com
Bruce McConachy

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