Tactics

Att this tyme alsoe wee drew up our Cannon which was one very good piece and did great execucion for the first shott killed six of their men and hurt foure and the next made such a lane through them that they had little minde to close agayne.

If the range of the guns could be made to play on enemy formations before they came into direct contact with the opposing side's troops, the morale effect as well as the physical damage would obviously weaken an opponent's resolve to fight. Guns were normally placed in front of the main units of the battle line but they could, as was demonstrated by the Royalist heavy guns at Edge-hill in 1642, be placed behind troops on a slight rise so that they could fire over the heads of their own troops. The opening cannonade could go on for many hours. Clarendon stated of the contest for Beacon Hill at the Battle of Lostwithiel in August 1644:

...which they no sooner quitted than the king posessed, and immediately caused a square work to be there raised, and a battery made, upon which some pieces of cannon were planted, that shot into their quarters, and did them great hurt; though their cannon, though they returned twenty shot for one, did very little or no harm.

This is not likely to have had that much effect since there were few cannon at the battle. Even so, cannonading the enemy's units could force

A good example of the risks of artillery- This gun, in the Bavarian Army Museum at Ingolstadt, has been blown apart in the middle of the chase. Accidents with guns and powder were not uncommon In the Civil War and lent weight to the belief that the gunner controlled a black art.

them to act, moving out of a good position, if they were in one, or detaching units to silence the guns. A clue from the Parliamentarian report on Marston Moor seems to indicate that this was the case: the artillery 'about two o'clock began to play upon the btigade of horse that were nearest, and did some execution upon them, which forced the enemy to leave that ground, and remove to a greater distance.' If the units were well trained and had high morale the cannonade would not necessarily affect them at all. The Marquis of Newcastle (later Duke) recorded that Royalist infantry were untroubled by the Parliamentarian guns when they fired upon their advance. In terms of the size of gun, it seems obvious that the larger the round shot the greater the damage will be. It is not always obvious why this should be and it is the hitting power of the round shot at the termination of its trajectory that makes the difference. A shot weighing 3 pounds has far less impact than one weighing 12 pounds. Even so, a gun as large as a full cannon would seldom if ever be seen on the battlefield. The author's experience of moving a replica saker of about l'/iton weight around a muddy field has proved to him that even a saker would have been very difficult to relocate in the middle of a fast-moving battle - even with the help of horses.

Type of gun Powder charge

321b 24.51b 51b 1.51b 0.51b

Weight of Point blank Maximum range

Cannon of 8

Demi-cannon

Saker

Falcon

Robinet shot

641b 161b 5.251b 1.21b 0.751b range

750ft 850ft 500ft 650ft 375ft

3750ft 4000ft 3750ft 3000ft 1750ft

(From Robert Ward, Animadversions of Warre, 1639)

At Lansdown Hill near Bath in 1643, William Waller secured the advantage by placing his guns and his men on a hill and taking up a defensive posture. The continuous cannonading by Waller's guns forced the Cornish pikemen to attempt to attack uphill. In his initial position Waller had placed himself behind earth embankments and wooden

A fine example of a 17th-century model of a gun and carriage. The construction of the wheels and trail are in the correct proportions for a large field gun and show the massive hubs in comparison to the rest of the axletree.

obstacles. The guns had to be depressed to fire at the Royalists. The Battle of Newbury on 20 September 1643 saw the real effect of artillery: when on the receiving end of a cannonade Captain John Gwyn 'saw a whole file of men, six deep, with their heads struck off with one cannon shot'. Being part of a gun battery could be a risky business since the guns were in a position that, if overrun, would leave most of the gunners with only a short sword or their tools for defence. At Edgehill, William Balfour's cuirassiers overran a Royalist battery and killed all the gunners. It was impossible to spike the guns because of a lack of nails so the cuirassiers cut the ropes belonging to their horses. Presumably this refers to the towing ropes meant to move them but this is a poor way of attempting to disable a gun.

If large guns were problematic, the small versions were beginning to be used widely after the experience of the Thirty Years War. The Swedish General Gustavus Adolphus and the Dutch Prince Maurice of Nassau are generally credited with having introduced light artillery that travelled with infantry units. Falcons, minions and robinets were all considered to be useful in defending the gaps between the infantry units and it was possible to move them with the infantry to bolster the firepower of the musketeers. Most of the small brigade guns were under 3 inches in calibre and were generally muzzle-loaders. However, there are a great many examples of breech-loading guns in museums in Europe to suggest that breech-loaders existed on the field of battle and it would make sense for ease of reloading to use such weapons with grape shot or partridge shot. Perhaps this use of grape shot or partridge is the key to the use of smaller artillery pieces on the battlefield. A 2 or 3in round shot fired at close range is a serious threat but only affects a small number of people. Grape or partridge shot fired at close range is a distinct advantage because the wider cone of fire would affect far more men, cause more

An early form of vent feature indicating that the gun was probably from the late 16th or early 17th century. The cover normally consisted of a flap that flipped over the vent and was hinged on one side.

Large stone shot of the type used as ammunition for perriers. Recent experiments have shown that a stone shot can travel at 141 metres per second when fired from a gun. This gives the projectile considerable impact velocity.

Large stone shot of the type used as ammunition for perriers. Recent experiments have shown that a stone shot can travel at 141 metres per second when fired from a gun. This gives the projectile considerable impact velocity.

casualties and seriously disrupt a close formation. Some European examples of small bore guns are extremely sophisticated with ratchet-operated breech blocks and ready-made ammunition although it may have been that these were better suited for fortification purposes since they could be aimed more accurately. As an example of how European weapons may have entered the English Civil War, we may look no further than Lord I Iamilton, who returned to England in 1635 after lighting for the Swedes in the Thirty Years War. He was presented with six cannon on his return and it is very likely that these guns were pressed into service.

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