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Novice Karate Group (ages 8 & up)

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Ethan Murphy
Ethan Murphy

Artillery Through The Ages

The group have two artillery pieces that comply with Firearms regulations and these are a French Napoleonic 6 inch howitzer and a reproduction of a 10lb Parrett rifle with a full size carriage from the American Civil War.

Artillery Through the Ages

The United States has transferred 142 M-777 155-millimeter (mm) towed howitzers to Ukraine. Other countries have sent small numbers from their own stocks. In total, Ukraine has received approximately 300 pieces of towed and self-propelled 155 mm artillery. (The exact number is likely a bit higher since some countries do not disclose their transfers.)

Ukraine started the war with approximately 1,150 Soviet-era howitzers: 750 152 mm howitzers and 350 122 mm howitzers. Added to the 424-plus howitzers received from allies, Ukraine has a total of approximately 1,600 artillery pieces. While this may seem like a lot, it is inadequate considering the shortage of Soviet-standard ammunition, the length of the front lines, and the size of the Ukrainian forces.

Shortages of Soviet-standard ammunition (122 mm and 152 mm) have progressively reduced the value of Soviet-era artillery. The United States has scoured the globe to buy Soviet-standard ammunition and has sent Ukraine 45,000 152 mm artillery rounds and 20,000 122 mm rounds. However, with Russia and China, the major producers, unavailable, there are severe limits on what can be provided. Those limits will increase over time as accessible inventories become exhausted.

In comparison, NATO forces in and around West Germany in 1989, at the end of the Cold War, deployed at least 2,400 heavy artillery pieces to defend a border of approximately 2,200 km with East Germany and Czechoslovakia.

A key advantage of providing the M198 howitzer is that the transfer does not increase risk to U.S. forces. Providing the M198 howitzer would not drawdown U.S. active inventories since the system has been retired and, therefore, would not degrade the capability of the U.S. military. Also, if the M-777 goes back into production, the M198 will not be needed as a U.S. wartime reserve and would only be used for transfers to foreign governments through the U.S. Excess Defense Articles program.

The major obstacle is the tight supply of 155 mm artillery ammunition. The DOD has been aware of this issue for at least six months and taken steps to increase production. Nevertheless, the increased production will take months to come online and still will not fully cover the current artillery expenditure rates. Encouraging NATO countries and other close allies to provide stocks would help, and the United States has been pursuing this effort aggressively.

Even if the supply of ammunition is constrained, providing more howitzers is worthwhile. Ukraine will need to replace ongoing artillery losses in a war that now looks to last many months, if not years. Better to get ahead of combat losses than always be playing catchup. Additional howitzers would also allow the creation of equipment pools for maintenance and training, so these activities do not reduce the number of systems available to combat units. Finally, by expanding the number of shooters across the front and covering more sectors, more howitzers means that more high-priority targets could be engaged with the same number of projectiles.

In North America, where distances were enormous by European standards, there was no road network over which artillery pieces could be transported. Consequently, most artillery used during the Colonial Wars was waterborne, with its use concentrated in defensive fortifications and on warships at sea. Americans, for whom using artillery was a technical challenge and an almost unsupportable expense, displayed initiative and ingenuity when they turned French cannon captured in an outlying fortification against Louisburg in the siege of May-June 1745. True field artillery was used on only a handful of American battlefields down to 1775, and even then it amounted only to small artillery pieces being used mainly as antipersonnel weapons.

Britain's ability to supply its armies with artillery far outstripped the poor American efforts, and, moreover, the guns were delivered into the hands of officers and men who drew on a wellspring of experience and tradition in using these weapons. The Royal Regiment of Artillery provided trained gunners, whose officers were schooled in the science of their profession at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. Sir William Howe, for example, entered the battle of Long Island in August 1776 with three battalions of gunners and seventy-two guns, completely overmatching the inexperienced American artillerists. The British artillery hero of Minden, William Phillips, made effective use of his guns during Burgoyne's Offensive, particularly at Ticonderoga in July 1777, and at the first battle of Saratoga on 19 September 1777, proving that artillery could be moved by inland waterways well into the interior. The motto of British artillery was "Ubique" (Ubiquitous); British gunners lived up to it by bringing their guns into action at nearly every important battle of the war.

American gunners had to develop their own traditions from scratch. Richard Gridley, an American veteran of the last colonial wars who had made his reputation by laying the guns at the siege of Louisburg in 1745, was the first commander of American artillery, at the siege of Boston (19 May 1775). He was replaced on 17 November by portly, twenty-five-year-old Henry Knox, who had acquired his basic knowledge of artillery from the books he sold at his Boston bookstore and who gained practical experience by watching Gridley for six months. Knox made his reputation bringing the cannon from Ticonderoga to Boston and, during the next eight years, eventually as chief of artillery, did a remarkable job of turning the artillery from the slenderest beginnings into the most proficient American combat arm. American gunners generally well-served their pieces up to the limits of their sometimes shoddy equipment. Their success in keeping their powder dry and bringing their guns into action made a notable contribution to the crucial American victory at Trenton (26 December 1776). There was only one regiment of Continental artillery during 1775 and 1776, although several states raised artillery companies for local service. John Lamb and Alexander Hamilton, for example, began their military service in companies of artillery raised by New York State. The four numbered regiments of Continental artillery raised in the three-year army of 1777 folded together gunners from both of these sources. Colonel Charles Harrison (1st Regiment) had commanded the Virginia state artillery regiment. Colonel John Lamb (Second Regiment) had led a New York artillery company on the Canada invasion. Colonel John Crane (Third Regiment) had served under Gridley and Knox at the siege of Boston. Colonel Thomas Proctor (4th Regiment) had been a major of the Pennsylvania Artillery Battalion during 1776. Colonel Benjamin Flower supervised a regiment of artillery artificers, operating as companies and smaller detachments, that provided vital technical support for the field artillery. As hostilities wound down, the four field regiments were consolidated into a "Corps of Artillery" under Colonel John Crane (17 June 1783 to 3 November 1783), and with Major Sebastian Bauman, the second in command, in charge until 20 June 1784. By its resolution of 4 June 1784 Congress reduced the army to eight privates guarding military stores, including the surviving artillery pieces, twenty-five at Fort Pitt, and fifty-five at West Point under a captain.

The impact of artillery on the outcome of the war is sometimes difficult to assess. Probably the greatest service was rendered by heavy guns during siege operations. British gunners scored a notable success in destroying the American defensive lines at Charleston, South Carolina, in May 1780, and American gunners demonstrated a high level of skill in siege operations at Yorktown in October 1781. The mere presence of heavy artillery could be as important as the actual operation of the guns: Washington forced the British to evacuate Boston in March 1776 without firing a shot from Dorchester Heights. Artillery could keep an enemy at bay, but inaccuracy at long range limited its impact. During the siege of Boston, the British delivered one cannonade at short range that inflicted only one slight casualty in the American lines. British gunners did succeed in damaging Roxbury, at a range of about a mile from their positions at Boston Neck. When they lobbed mortar shells into Cambridge, more than two miles away they did little damage owing to faulty ammunition and extreme range. Field artillery was almost always used for infantry support, and again its effectiveness depended on the skill and audacity of the gunners, the suitability of their pieces, and the quality of their supplies. Sometimes artillery pieces played an important direct role (as at Trenton); as often, the sound of one's own artillery must have been an enormous fillip for the infantrymen, regardless of the actual damage the guns inflicted on the enemy.

Down through the ages, all purveyors of the ancient profession of stone hurlers, catapulters, rocketeers and gunners, better known as Field Artillerymen have discussed this special place in the hereafter, where someday each of us will be privileged to roam. There are as many tales of the Green as there are old artillerymen. The stories are rich with the smell of gunpowder and campfires and flavored with a taste of artillery punch.

When artillerymen die, their souls are assembled in the battery area and they're regrouped into gun sections. Then, they load their belongings on a caisson or limber, point their lead team down that long road to eternity and move out at a trot. Like most crusty old soldiers, they face the call to eternal damnation and pass by the turnoff to heaven. But unlike the others, artillerymen are met by a road guide at the next turn off the road to Fiddler's Green. The road to hell, which lies beyond, is crowded with engineers, infantrymen, cavalrymen and other soldiers, not to mention the droves of sailors and Marines (non-Field Artillery). But at this point, Field Artillerymen bid farewell to their old comrades of other branches and services, and wheel their teams down the trail to the Green. 041b061a72


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