English Civil War Artillery

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by pensionpointer, Nov 12, 2008.

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  1. Does anyone have any info available on English Civil War Artillery? Ideally a back pocket crib sheet with a few handy bullets as opposed to a great tome of detailed info.

    My basic understanding is that there were a few big heavy siege pieces and a mixed bag of lighter pieces that created some smoke and noise but were hardly deemed a battle winning assets and there was certainly no concentration of guns. However i may be wrong. Particularly interested in employment at Battle of Lansdown (5 Jul 1643) and Roundway Down (13 Jul 1643). Also interested in the logistic drag of arty during that period.

    Yes, battlefield study research!


  2. First off: Civil War tactics were of the "stone-paper-scissors" type. That is, muskets beat pikes, pikes beat cavalry, cavalry beat muskets. Guns don't figure, because they fired too slowly, and were too inaccurate and too hard to move once they were in position.

    There were three main types:

    a. siege guns (Cannon royal to Culverin, 63-15 pounders, and mortars of various sizes);

    b. field pieces (demi-culverins, sakers and minions, 9, 5.25 and 4 pounders), and

    c. light pieces (falcons-robinets and galloper guns, and the multi-barrelled 'leather guns' the Scots were fond of). These were sometimes attached on a semi-permanent basis to regiments of Foot. Gallopers had a split trail between which a horse could be harnessed, with others in front of it. They were the fore-runners of horse artillery, and just about the only guns with tactically-interesting mobility.

    All sides used what they could find, of whatever size and age. I have read of a siege mortar cast in Henry VIII's time being pressed into use, and guns of Elizabeth's day were also used.

    They were drawn by horses or oxen, often by odd numbers of horses; one in the shafts of a small axle or limber to support the trails, then pairs in front. Guns were heavy; a 15 pound culverin could weigh 4000lb, compared to a Napoleonic type 12 pounder, weighing 1,800lb.

    They may have had pre-made cartridges, but more likely not. That meant powder barrel and ladle close to smoking match. 8O

    At Lansdown Waller apparently had his 'several' guns (probably the eight captured later at Roundway Down) in the centre of his position covering the road. They seem to have moved at least some of them back around 400 yards when they were pushed back to the wall, which suggests that they weren't large pieces. I doubt the Royalist guns could have been of much use there, due to the steepness of the hill.

    At Roundway Down Wilmot had two gallopers, used as signal guns to the garrison, and which may have been able to rejoin the main body for the fight. Waller had his guns to the front, in the gaps between his regiments of Foot. Two of those on the left fired on Byron's Brigade of Horse, to no effect. Four guns were captured and turned against the Parliamentarian Foot before they ran. Eight brass pieces were captured in all.

    Logistically, the Train of Artillery was regarded as a sponge that soaked up money. Horse teams were large (7-9 horses), and needed a lot of feed, and the guns used a lot of powder. Gun crews were also large, although they probably only had a couple of skilled gunners to each piece. The Train needed a special guard unit, armed with flintlocks rather than matchlocks, which added to the expense.

    What does uqfegd mean?
  3. Angular,

    Very many thanks for this info - ideal.

    qfegd - quo fas et gloria ducunt...

  4. BiscuitsAB

    BiscuitsAB LE Moderator

    Necro post!!! Bringing the dead back to life!

    Anyone got any info on the effective ranges of various civil war arty pieces?

    I'm just starting up a project to find where Ashby de la Zouch castle was attacked from, apparently the parliamentarians laid seige about 2 miles out.

    I've found a ridge of high ground that is approx 36m higher than the castle at approx 1 3/4 miles out. If its within range of big mortars then I'll use it as the starting point for the search.
  5. Probably not much use but they wouldn't necessarily have been on high ground; at the Siege of Raglan the mortars were in low ground within 200m of the castle.
  6. In the C17th, artillery was key in sieges, but not often decisive in battle. Artillery could not be moved easily. However if an army was forced to stand under artillery fire it could cause lots of casualties and damage morale. One battle where artillery played a significant role was Newburn Ford in the 2nd Bishop's war in 1640 near Newcastle on Tyne. The Scottish artillery swept the poorly sited English off the field. Sieges played an important part in warfare of the time.

    Which battle are you studying? Is it one of these?
    UK Battlefields Resource Centre - The Civil Wars - Second Bishops War - The Battle of Battle of Newburn Ford