I’m playing a Huguenot Artillery Officer, which was previously a bit of background but now we’ve been sent to a siege. In Ypres, I think, if context helps.
I’m OK without knowing the system for cannons, that sort of thing can be sorted by Military Doctrine and by group agreement, but does anyone know how an army got its cannons, and who they “belonged” to?
All we’ve found is a Royal Foundry which definitely made some amount of cannons, but no info on who paid for them, who they travelled with, or similar stuff.
Are you fighting for the King and Queen of France or against them?
Okay, assuming French:
Artillery (cannons are just one type of gun) was supervised by the grand master of artillery and, above him, the secretary of state for war. John Lynn says, “the great expense of artillery gave a political/military advantage to monarchs over independent nobility, since monarchs could best afford them.”
The French possessed both field guns (4 and 8 lbers) and siege guns (cannons and mortars). However, their “artillery trains possessed neither their own draft animals nor teamsters; instead, armies hired civilian drivers and their teams to haul cannon. On the day of the battle, these civilian contractors would drag the heavy pieces into position and then withdraw out of harm’s way. Once in place, the cumbrous cannon could not be shifted to keep pace with the movement of the action.”
Lynn estimates that an army of our period would have roughly one gun for every thousand soldiers. The pieces traveled with the army in an artillery train—the size of which was tailored to the mission. Typically led by a colonel, the train’s staff was structured like a regiment with its own prévôté, surgeon and chaplain. And there were about 20 soldiers for each gun—to serve them, guard them and move them.
And, more specifically to your question, during a siege, an army’s artillery train could be augmented by the “royal siege park” (which sounds like a fun place to spend the afternoon). This siege train would include specialist items like mortars and 33-pound guns. The grand master of artillery was responsible for the royal siege park.
Whereas the disbursement of artillery trains to other armies would be handled by the secretary of state for war, Le Tellier (in our period). Though in truth, Le Tellier is fighting a war against disorganization and disunity among the various noble factions and fortress governors which makes the smooth organization of artillery challenging.
I hope that’s helpful. Feel free to ask more specific questions. And for reference, this information is straight from John A Lynn’s The Giant of the Grand Siécle.
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