French Artillery Organisation

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Introduction

In 1668, Vauban asked to the French court to form a company of sappers.

On April 1 1716, venality and heredity of offices were suppressed for artillery officers and engineers. This was a notable exception to the practices in the other arms. Promotion was now based on seniority rather than rank in the nobility.

In 1720, the Royal regiment of bombardiers, miners and companies of pioneers were incorporated into the Royal Artillery regiment.

In 1729, another warrant concerning artillery specified that seniority would not prevail for promotion when the candidate did not possess adequate intelligence and capacity.

On December 8 1755, the artillery was placed under the command of the War Minister. Artillery officers and engineers were grouped into a single Corps Royal d'Artillerie et d'Ingénieurs. This corps consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters of 31 officers
  • 5 artillery battalions, each consisting of 10 companies of 72 men
  • 5 companies of pioneers, each of 40 men
  • 5 companies of miners, each of 50 men
  • Ingénieurs du Roi (300 men)

Evolution throughout the War

Throughout the Seven Years' War, the French artillery was repeatedly reorganised. Thses successive reorganisations are presented hereafter, each in their own section.

Reorganisation of March 1 1756

On March 1 1756, 4 invalid gunner companies were created. They served in fortified town, maintaining and securing pieces and depots. The Corps Royal d'Artillerie et d'Ingénieurs now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters of 31 officers
  • 5 artillery battalions, each consisting of 10 companies of 72 men
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners
  • 5 companies of pioneers, each of 40 men
  • 5 companies of miners, each of 50 men
  • Ingénieurs du Roi (300 men)

Reorganisation of December 1 1756

On December 1 1756, the corps was increased with a sixth battalion of artillery, a sixth company of pioneers and a sixth company of miners. The Corps Royal d'Artillerie et d'Ingénieurs now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters consisting of :
    • 1 colonel-commander
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sub aide-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 6 artillery battalions, each consisting of:
    • 9 companies of gunners (50 men each)
    • 5 companies of bombardiers (50 men each)
    • 2 companies of sappers (50 men each)
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners
  • 6 companies of pioneers, each of 40 men
  • 6 companies of miners, each of 50 men
  • King's Engineers (300 men)

Reorganisation of May 5 1758

On May 5 1758, the engineers were formed into a distinct unit called Engineer Corps. The Corps Royal d'Artillerie now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters consisting of
    • 1 colonel-commander
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sub aide-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 6 artillery battalions, each consisting of:
    • 9 companies of gunners (50 men each)
    • 5 companies of bombardiers (50 men each)
    • 2 companies of sappers (50 men each)
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners
  • 6 companies of pioneers, each of 40 men
  • 6 companies of miners, each of 50 men

Reorganisation of November 5 1758

On November 5 1758, the 6 battalions of the Corps Royal d'Artillerie were converted into 6 brigades. The Corps now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters consisting of
    • 1 colonel-commander
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sub aide-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 6 artillery brigades, each consisting of
  • staff
    • 1 chief of brigade
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 major
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sous-aide-major
    • 1 garçon-major
    • 8 companies (each company had 2 captains and 4 lieutenants or sub-lieutenants):
      • 5 companies of gunners (100 men each)
      • 2 companies of bombardiers (100 men each)
      • 1 company of sappers (100 men each)
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners
  • 6 companies of pioneers, each of 40 men
  • 6 companies of miners, each of 50 men

The companies of miners and pioneers were not incorporated into any brigade but still belonged to the artillery.

Reorganisation of March 10 1759

On March 10 1759, the companies of sappers were transferred from the artillery brigades to the Engineers Corps. Similarly, the companies of miners were transferred to the Engineers Corps. Finally, the companies of pioneers were integrated into the brigades of artillery in replacement of the sappers. The Corps Royal d'Artillerie now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters consisting of
    • 1 colonel-commander
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sub aide-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 6 artillery brigades, each consisting of 8 companies:
    • 5 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 2 companies of bombardiers (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 40 pioneers
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners

Reorganisation of February 27 1760

On February 27 1760, the sappers companies were reintegrated into the artillery brigades while the pioneers companies were placed behind each brigade of artillery. The Corps Royal d'Artillerie now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters consisting of
    • 1 colonel-commander
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sub aide-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 6 artillery brigades, each consisting of 8 companies (not counting the pioneer company which was not directly attached to the brigade):
    • 5 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 2 companies of bombardiers (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 100 sappers
    • 1 company of 40 pioneers (one accompanying each brigade)
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners

Reorganisation of November 5 1761

On November 5 1761, 3 additional brigades were created for the service of the Navy and Coast Guard. These brigades were respectively assigned to the ports of Toulon, Brest and Rochefort. The Corps Royal d'Artillerie now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters consisting of
    • 1 colonel-commander
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sub aide-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 6 field artillery brigades, each consisting of 8 companies (not counting the pioneer company which was not directly attached to the brigade):
    • 5 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 2 companies of bombardiers (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 100 sappers
    • 1 company of 40 pioneers (one accompanying each brigade)
  • 3 artillery brigades for the service of the Navy and Coast Guard known respectively as La Brosse, Morogues and Missiessy; each consisting of:
    • 7 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 100 bombardiers
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners

Reorganisation of December 21 1761

On December 21 1761, the six brigades of field artillery received two additionnal companies of gunners. The companies of miners left the Engineers Corps and were reintegrated into the Artillery where they were placed behind each brigade. The brigades were called by the name of their commander. The Corps Royal d'Artillerie now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters consisting of
    • 1 colonel-commander
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sub aide-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
    • 6 field artillery brigades, each consisting of each consisting of 10 companies (not counting the pioneer and miner companies which were not directly attached to the brigade):
    • 7 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 2 companies of bombardiers (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 100 sappers
    • 1 company of 100 miners (one accompanying each brigade)
    • 1 company of 40 pioneers (one accompanying each brigade)
  • 3 artillery brigades for the service of the Navy and Coast Guard, each consisting of:
    • 7 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 100 bombardiers
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners

Reorganisation of December 8 1762

On December 8 1762, a brigade of 8 companies was created for the service of the colonies. The Corps Royal d'Artillerie now consisted of:

  • 1 headquarters consisting of
    • 1 colonel-commander
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 aide-major
    • 1 sub aide-major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
  • 6 field artillery brigades, each consisting of each consisting of 10 companies (not counting the pioneer and miner companies which were not directly attached to the brigade):
    • 7 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 2 companies of bombardiers (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 100 sappers
    • 1 company of 100 miners (one accompanying each brigade)
    • 1 company of 40 pioneers (one accompanying each brigade)
  • 3 artillery brigades for the service of the Navy and Coast Guard, each consisting of:
    • 7 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 100 bombardiers
  • 1 artillery brigade for the service of the Colonies, consisting of:
    • 7 companies of gunners (100 men each)
    • 1 company of 100 bombardiers
  • 4 companies of invalid gunners

On March 5 1764, the Rochefort Brigade was suppressed. On March 25 1765, the Toulon and Brest brigades were also suppressed.

Ranks

No information available yet

Gun handling

No information available yet

Logistic

Artillery Train

No information available yet

Arsenals

No information available yet

Drill

No information available yet

References

Dawson, A L and P L Dawson and Stephen Summerfield, Napoleonic Artillery, Crowhurst Press, 2007

Funcken, Liliane and Fred; Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Mouillard, Lucien; Les Régiments sous Louis XV; Paris 1882

Vial J. L.; Nec Pluribus Impar