ia inglesa en la guerra peninsularSiege artillery in the Peninsular War
Brigadier K. A. Timbers*
INTRODUCTION The Napoleonie Wars are of enormous interest to military historians, and there seems to be no end to the number of books dealing with the varíous campaigns. This is especially true of the War in Spain and Portugal. However, 1 have found that artillery —despite its importance on theficíd of battle— is not as well covered as one might expect, and that seems tobe particularly so for the beavy guns. The support of infantry and cavalry on the battlefield gives the field batteries their more glamorous image. But while most people are familiar with pictures showing the storming of a fortress —stirring images, whether the defenders or the attackers are the heroes!—- thetechnicalities of siege operations are less well-known. Yet siege operations were arguably the most common and well-defined elements of warfare apto the end of the 1 9th Century. No commander could afford to leave a strong enemy garrison in bis rear when he was maneuvering, and —like a casfle on a chess-board— a well-provisioned fortress was a valuable asset to the defender and a powerful deterrent to anattacker.
AIM The aim of my presentation is to Iook briefly at the role of artillery in siege operations in the hope of identifying further prime soarces of
Historical Secretary, Royat Artillcry Institution Woolw¡ch, Gran Bretaña.
MtLITARL4. Revista áe Co/oua Mi/lene, o.’?. Serv¡cio de Pubijeaciones,
K. A. Tin,bers
information. The 11Khas a lot of historical material on artillery, but the history is of course seen mainly from the British point of view. At the Royal Artillery Institution, we have the papers of Alexander Dickson, an artillery officer who commanded the Siege Train and who rose to become Wellington’s principal artillery commander. These papers are immensely detailed, and 1 bave drawn almost exclusively on tbem inpreparing this short presentation. 1 would like to know whether my colleagues in lAMAMparticularly, of course, in France, Portugal and Spain..have additional artillery material, from a different aspect? A! the same time, perhaps lean also interest those among you who have until now been more concerned with other aspects of the baltíeficíd!
THE ROLE OF ARTILLERY IN SIEGE WARFARE Even today, theroles of artillery and engineers in war are little understood outside the specialist’s ficld. 1 have to say that this appears to hold true even among soldiers, so it is not surprising if these operations are not clear to civilians. Cer!ainly it seems tobe particularly tmue for the majority of writers on the Peninsular War, and 1 have not found many authors who treat the artillery aspects of siegewarfare with any depth of understanding. However, it is too detailed a topic to deal with fully in such a short presentation, and 1 hayo electeci rather tn try to set theseeneforthoseof miii tn w,hnn, it molí he something new, with some observations which might encourage others to research more deeply into their national archives. Sinee there may be some amongst this audience who have noknowledge of siege operations, perhaps 1 should begin with an outline of the principal technical aspects of a siege: ‘l’here would first be a detailed visual reconnaissance of the fortress by the besieging force commander, usually accompanied by his senior
engineer officer. In addition to whatever they discovered from this
reconnaíssance, they might also have details of previous sieges at thisparticular citadel which they could put to good use. They would !hen select the point of attack. This had to be suitable for approach by storming parties, and also for subsequcnt opcrations within the fortress. Deception plans were needed to confuse the defenders and to delay the building of additional internal walls and defences. Sometimes, the guns deceivedthedtfendersiry firing on aiikclypointof...
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