Hesse-Kassel Artillery Organisation

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Hesse-Kassel Army >> Hesse-Kassel Artillery Organisation

Introduction

The first 'regiment' of field artillery (as opposed to the light, battalion pieces) was raised in Hessen in 1741.

Guns were first used in the field by Hessian forces in 1421, centres of artillery technology being in Kassel and Marburg.

In 1518 Landgraf Philipp der Grossmuetige (the Generous) founded a corps of gunners within the County. By 1533 the small army took the field with a total of 60 pieces, including light guns, called Feldschlangen (snakes) and Falkonetts (Falconets) and heavier pieces called Kartaunen (Cannon-Royal).

In 1567, at the time of the partition of Hessen into Hessen-Kassel and Hessen-Darmstadt, Kassel retained 52 light guns and 25 heavier pieces. At this point, the arsenal was founded in Kassel.

From 1670, the militarisation of the artillery personnel began and from 1684, the artillery also took over responsibility for the provision of bridging and engineering equipment and the train of vehicles, drivers and horses, with which to move them. There were heavy guns, of various calibres, in the fortresses of the state.

By 1729 the cannon in the field artillery included 2-pounders, 4-pounders, 6-, 12- and 30-pounders. Howitzers were 16-pounders and there were several calibres of mortars.

In 1741 the artillery corps received its first Chef (Colonel-in-Chief), Oberst Dietrich Diede zu Fuerstenstein. Field gun calibres were standardised and the foundry of the arsenal in Kassel began to design and cast gun barrels.

In 1749, the peace establishment of the field artillery consisted of:

  • 1 Chef (now a major-general)
  • 1 lieutenant-colonel
  • 2 captains
  • 4 lieutenants
  • 4 Stueckjunker (subalterns)
  • 18 bombardiers (NCOs)
  • 1 surgeon
  • 3 drummers
  • 2 fifers
  • 24 gunners
  • 45 under gunners
  • 1 wagon master.

By 1753 this establishment had been reduced even further. By this point, Hessen-Kassel was following the Prussian artillery doctrine to the letter

The scale of light guns was two 3-pounders to each infantry battalion and they were commanded by the infantry battalion commander and accompanied the battalion on the march. The battery pieces (of which there were very few available in reality) were to be grouped together on the march, to be posted either on the wings of the two ranks of the infantry, or behind the centre, as the army commander thought tactically appropriate.

Evolution throughout the War

For almost the entire war, the Hessian contingent operated with Ferdinand of Brunswick's Anglo-Hanoverian-Brunswick-Prussian corps in Westphalia.

Artillery in 1756

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756, Hessen-Kassel contracted to provide a force of eight infantry regiments (battalions) for British service, each with two 3-pounder guns. These pieces needed 260 men (including drivers) and 150 horses for the various vehicles. The strength of the artillery was now almost doubled overnight, vehicles, horses and drivers requisitioned on a grand scale.

As in the Austrian army, infantrymen (Handlanger) were attached to the 3-pounder crews to assist with loading and firing duties.

The Chef of the artillery (now lieutenant-general von Diede) was attached to the staff of the commander of the mobilised contingent.

Artillery in 1757

In 1757 the remaining five Hessian infantry regiments (battalions) were mobilised, the four line units being each equipped with two 3-pounder guns, with the attendant gunners, drivers, ammunition wagons and teams, a total of 124 men and 75 horses.

Artillery in 1758

When the eight Hessian regiments returned to the mainland to join the Hessen-Kassel contingent in northern Germany, the artillery of the corps was united in 1758 under the title of the “Artillery Corps”.

The Chef, lieutenant-general von Diede, died in early 1758; he was succeeded by colonel Schlueter, who was promoted to major-general in 1760.

Artillery in 1759

In 1759, the heavy artillery was organized into three companies; later in the war, this increased to five companies, four with nine guns, the other with eight.

As Hessen-Kassel had been overrun early in the war, no artillery pieces had been produced from the domestic foundries. Due to combat losses, only four Hessian 12-pounders remained with the contingent. The north German principality of Buckeburg leased artillery equipment to them to replace these losses. These now made a total of the following pieces:

  • cannon
    • 14 x 12-pounders
    • 4 x 6-pounders
    • 1 x 4-pounder
    • 5 x 3-pounders.
  • howitzers
    • 1 x 30-pounder
    • 2 x 20-pounders

Later, Hanoverian pieces were added to the corps, giving a new total of:

  • cannon
    • 14 x 12-pounders
    • 12 x 6-pounders
    • 10 x 3-pounders
  • howitzers
    • 2 x 30-pound
    • 2 x 16-pound
  • mortars
    • 4 x 60-pound mortars

Later in the war, the organization of the Hessian artillery corps was changed to conform to that of the British and Hanoverian artillery: two “light” divisions each of twelve 6-pounder cannon, a heavy division of twelve 12-pounder cannon and a heavy division of eight 30-pounder howitzers. The light divisions were permanently attached to the infantry regiments, the heavy guns were at the disposal of the corps commander.

Artillery in 1762

In 1762 the 1-pounder Amusette cannon was introduced into service with the Jägers.

At the end of the war, the nine Hessian artillery companies were reduced to two.

Ranks

No information available yet

Gun handling

When coming into action, the horse teams of the guns would be unhitched, they, the drivers and an escort would them go to a pre-determined location behind the lines and the crew would haul the guns into the various firing positions by use of bandolier tow ropes and hand spikes.

Drill

No information available yet

References

Has, Doktor Wilhelm: Geschichte des 1. Kurhessischen Feld-Artillerie-Regiment Nr 11, Marburg 1913.

Witzel, Rudolf: Hessen-Kassels Regimenter in der Allierten Armee 1762.

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article