Russian Artillery Organisation

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During the reign of Peter the Great (1682-1725), artillery was subdivided into field, siege and garrison artillery. Field artillery consisted of pulkova (regimental) and field artillery proper. Command and jurisdiction were assigned to the General-Feldzeugmeister.

In the years preceding the Seven Years' War, the great reformer of the Russian artillery was General-Feldzeugmeister Count Peter Ivanovitch Shuvalov (1710-1762). Although he had little formal academic ballistic knowledge, his enthusiasm and ability to push forward improvements to the weapons and equipment bordered on genius. He came at just the right moment, for Peter the Great had neglected his artillery and many infantry regiments were now without their guns. He was supported by Mikhail Vasilievich Danilov (1722-1790) and by Peter Alexandrovich Rumyantsev (1725-1796). Shuvalov started his research in 1755.

After the initial mobilisation of 1756, the field artillery consisted of:

  • 4 x 2-Pud mortars (a Pud weighed 16,4 kg) mortars
  • 8 x 1-Pud howitzers
  • 8 x 1/2-Pud howitzers
  • 6 x 12-pounder cannon
  • 12 x 8-pounder cannon
  • 12 x 6-pounder cannon
  • 18 x 3-pounder cannon (each with 2 small mortars attached to its carriage)

Evolution throughout the War

Shuvalov revised the artillery corps' establishment. As of January 11 1757 it was to consist of two artillery regiments each of two battalions, each battalion of four companies of gunners and one of bombardiers; a total of 3,089 officers and men. The companies were organized as for the infantry and to be capable of performing in the field or in fortresses.

Shuvalov also organised a separate “Howitzer Corps” (initially of 3 companies in 1756, increased to 4 companies by the end of the year).

Throughout the war, Russian artillery was efficient on the battlefield, particularly so in the battle of Gross-Jägersdorf (August 30 1757) against the Prussians. The heavy losses, suffered by the Russian artillery at the battle of Zorndorf (August 25 1758) where 103 guns and howitzers were taken by the Prussians, forced Shuvalov to revise his artillery train organization.

Artillery in 1757

Field Artillery in 1757

The field artillery had 164 guns:

  • 4 x 2-Pud mortars (a Pud weighed 16,4 kg) mortars
  • 12 x 1-Pud howitzers
  • 12 x 1/2-Pud howitzers
  • 20 x 12-pounder cannon
  • 16 x 8-pounder cannon
  • 28 x 6-pounder cannon
  • 24 x 3-pounder cannon
  • 48 x 6-pounder Coehorn mortars.

There were also heavy mortars of 2 1/2 and 9 Pud for siege work.

Regimental artillery in 1757

These 6-pounder Coehorn mortars of the field artillery were deployed in pairs, alongside each 3-pounder cannon, of which two were attached to each infantry battalion.

Siege artillery in 1757

In 1757, the Russian siege artillery consisted of:

  • 40 x 24-pdr and 18-pdr guns
  • 14 x 9-pud and 5-pud mortars
  • 100 x 6-pdr bronze mortars.

The Russian army operating in East Prussia under count Stepan Fiodorovitch Apraxin had the following pieces of siege artillery at his disposition:

  • 16 cannon
  • 7 mortars
  • 50 small mortars

This siege artillery had been sent by sea to Libau (today Liepāja in Latvia) in May 1757.

Artillery in 1758

Field artillery in 1758

At the beginning of 1758, the “Howitzer Corps” received an additional company bringing its total force to 5 companies.

Regimental artillery in 1758

In 1758, light Unicorns (1/2 Pud) were formed into batteries of four guns, which were attached to cavalry brigades.

Artillery in 1759

Regimental artillery in 1759

In 1759, 181 of Shuvalov's secret oval-muzzled guns were issued to the infantry regiments in place of their 3-pounders.

Artillery in 1760

At the beginning of 1760, when the entire Observation Corps was disbanded, its troops were incorporated into the field artillery as fusiliers.

The same year, the 181 Shuvalov's secret oval-muzzled guns, which had been integrated into the regimental artillery the previous year, were withdrawn again and concentrated into batteries within the field artillery.

Artillery in 1761

Field Artillery in 1761

By 1761 the artillery consisted of the two artillery regiments, the artillery with the Observation Corps (disbanded in 1760), the Field Artillery Train, Shuvalov's “Secret” Bombardier Corps and 82 artillery commandos with 3-pounder cannon, with the regiments.

Apart from this, there was the engineer and pontoon regiment.


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Gun handling

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Artillery Train

In the winter of 1756-57, a field artillery train was organised. It consisted of 3 companies and 5 commands, totalling 500 men (increased to 600 men in 1758). From these, 2 companies were attached to the “Secret Howitzer Corps”.

In 1760, 3 commands (about 150 men) were added from the Reserve corps.

There were also 3 pontonniers companies (about 600 men) responsible for pontoons.


The field artillery had 92 guns kept in reserve:

  • 4 x 2-Pud mortars (a Pud weighed 16,4 kg) mortars
  • 12 x 1-Pud howitzers
  • 12 x 1/2-Pud howitzers
  • 8 x 24-pounder cannon
  • 16 x 8-pounder cannon
  • 16 x 6-pounder cannon
  • 24 x 3-pounder cannon


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Dawson, A L and P L Dawson and Stephen Summerfield, Napoleonic Artillery, Crowhurst Press, 2007

Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. vol. IV Gross-Jägerndorf und Breslau, Berlin 1902, Anlagen 1, Das Kaiserlich Russische Heer, p. 9-13

Konstam, Angus; William Younghusband; The Russian Army of the Seven Years War

Russian websites

Stein, F von, Geschichte des Russischen Heeres vom Ursprung Desselben bis zur Thronbesteigung des Kaisers Nikolai I Pawlowitch, Leipzig 1895


Digby Smith for the initial version of this article and Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for additional information