Prussian Artillery Corps
Origin and History
In 1693 the Elector of Brandenburg raised a bombardier and four cannoneer companies. The commander of this corps was always also head of the bombardier company. At the time of the establishment of this unit, its commander was Colonel Ernst Waller who died that same year. Four years later, in 1697, the brother of the Elector, Margrave Philipp Wilhelm became commander of this corps with the title of General-Feldzeugmeister.
During campaigns, the artillery was allocated to the infantry and followed the grenadiers of the battalion. In battle, batteries were allocated to regiments and the regimental commanders were supposed to coordinate the placement of the guns with the artillery officers, to decide how these should be moved during the battle (by men or horses) and had to provide men for the protection of the guns.
During sieges the principles developed by Coehorn were followed. These emphasised the superiority of the besieger in guns and strong batteries, as well as mass fire by small mortars. During the siege of Bonn in 1689, a battery of 70 guns was formed by the Brandenburg artillery.
The heavy guns were mostly 24-pounders weighing about 3,200 kg. The barrels were heavily decorated. A 24-pounder was drawn by twelve horses, a heavy six-pounder by six and a three-pounder gun by four. Ammunitions were carried on carts drawn by two horses.
By 1702, the Prussian artillery had been increased to ten companies. The cannoneer companies had 3 corporals and 42 cannoneers each; the bombardiers ,42 bombardiers and 20 artificers.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive commanders of this corps were:
- from 1697: Margrave Philipp Wilhelm
Service during the War
In 1704, the king ordered a 100-pounder gun to be made, a monster weighing 18,500 kg, which was put on display in front of the Arsenal in Berlin.
On 7 September 1706, during the Battle of Turin a space of 30 feet was left between the units of the first line through which the artillery was brought forward. Special attention was paid to the exercise of firing grapeshots.
At the creation of this corps, the uniform seems to have been brown. It was later changed to scarlet.
The colours of the artillery were not carried in the field.
Jähns, Max: Das Kriegswesen unter König Friedrich !, in: Hohenzollern-Jahrbuch.1900, pp.140-169
Jörg Meier for the initial version of this article