Tactical Exercise: Where would you put your guns?

Let’s talk tactics today.

Say you are a battery commander. You have six guns. For simplicity, six 12-pdr Napoleons.

Your assignment is to support a brigade of infantry. The brigade has four regiments. The brigade commander arranges these regiments with three on line and one in reserve.

The ground is the standard billiard table flat terrain as seen in all military tactics manuals.

Now things being what they are in the army, you don’t get to pick your position. But rather as the battery commander, you can “suggest” to the infantry commander where to place the guns. So what is your preference?

The Map

The “bad guys” are up at the top of the map. The blue rectangles are the positions of the infantry regiments. The red octagons are possible positions for the guns.

Do you….

  • Split the guns into sections to the front at positions 1 and 3?
  • Mass the battery at position 2?
  • Split sections and align with the infantry at positions 5 and 6?
  • Post sections to the flanks at positions 4 and 7?
  • Mass all the guns at position 8?
  • Hold a section in reserve at position 9?
  • Or is there another plan?

Feel free to drop a comment… or here’s a poll:

What factors do you consider when selecting a position? Is your decision based on the doctrine of the time? Or is it based on “experience” handed down from those who worked the guns 150 years ago?

Does your selection change if you are the brigade commander?

Call it a Monday morning open thread. But I’ve got an agenda here, segueing nicely into some discussions about tactics.


10 thoughts on “Tactical Exercise: Where would you put your guns?

  1. I’m wanting to know a few more things in order to deploy the battery more effectively… things like terrain to my front, concentration point of “bad guys'” battery (if one is there), situation on the bad guys’ flanks (and mine), general idea of range, are we on the offensive or are they, etc,. etc.

    • The Billiard Table is flat to the horizon. We don’t know the enemy’s disposition or numbers. Pinkerton said they are “in great strength” and in line of march in our direction.

  2. While I wouldn’t split six guns (three sections) into three different positions, I do like the flexibility to split into two positions. I’d like a strong concentration of fire from one point (front-center, in this scenario), but with a section on a flank to provide some diversity in firing options. Computer games don’t give that flexibility. Sort of like a static line of guns in reenacting… rather restrictive and boring. Knowing the oncoming bad guys are in marching/column formation is also a bonus. Even if the havoc might be only temporary, it’s a bonus. Also, with the section on the flank, I’ve got time for the center sections to pull back (not a sure thing, but an option) shortly after the enemy go into line, and time for our infantry to move front.

  3. I will show my ignorance of tactics here. I would put the guns at 4 and 7. The reason I go that way is that it protects the flanks and lengthens my line. Another factor is it will not disrupt the reserve regiment as it moves forward. Lastly, the boys REALLY do not like having shells thrown over there heads. Short fuses and all… 🙂 A fun post and I am sure to learn something while we are at it!

  4. I like splitting into sections at positions 5 and 6. The guns flanks are covered by infantry eliminating their biggest weakness. Yet, they can still concentrate fire anywhere on the brigade’s front, or spread it out across the brigade front. They also can engage at any range since there are no friendly troops in front of them. That way can can use canister if needed and are not just limited to long range ordinance.

  5. A more modern doctrinal take would be to support the brigade commander’s main effort with all, or the majority, of the guns. Which regiment is the main effort?
    Further, modern (WWII and beyond) doctrine calls for massing the fires of guns (even if not colocated) upon one target before shifting to the next.

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