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Empire: Total War - Land Battle Discussion
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Empire: Total War Heaven » Forums » Empire: Total War - Land Battle Discussion » 6-pounder Horse Artillery Trial
Topic Subject:6-pounder Horse Artillery Trial
posted 02-14-12 08:10 PM EDT (US)         
I just had a very interesting battle with the Pirates in which I tried out a new set of tactics for defeating superior infantry. The fight turned out well, proving the new tactics and weapons can work.

Spain and Prussia wiped out the United Provinces in Europe around 1721, turning Dutch Guyana, French Guyana, and Ceylon into rebel provinces. The Pirates reappeared on Curacao. This was not desirable, given my investment in the Caribbean. My rather scanty ground forces were fully committed against the French, Iroquois, and Huron-Wyandot in North America. I needed to raise a new army from scratch.

I had been wanting to try out a theory regarding horse artillery for a while. I felt that it should be possible to move my cav arty forward, deliver a salvo of canister against the enemyís infantry, then limber the guns and move away. I knew that the Pirates would be an infantry force, so they seemed likely candidates for testing my idea.

I brought a generalís bodyguard, a regiment of horse, a mounted tribal auxiliary, a native musket auxiliary, two batteries of 6-pound horse arty, and four regiments of line infantry. The Pirates sallied from their capitol with eight regiments of Pirates mob, four regiments of buccaneers, and a generalís bodyguard. I was still a few turns away from completing research into fire by rank, so I knew the Pirate infantry would outshoot my line infantry. I was outnumbered and outclassed.

The enemy came at me with all of his Pirate mobs on his right (my left) and all of his buccaneers on his left (my right). I decided to give my idea its trial against the buccaneers, since their lack of firearms would give my horse arty more time to limber after firing. I kept my line infantry at the back of the combat zone. I moved my cavalry and skirmishers forward to start the attrition of the enemyís buccaneers. To make a long story short, my approach worked reasonably well. I used the guns in conjunction with my skirmishers. I put a single volley of round shot down on the enemyís general, then finished him with my cavalry. The enemy began to fragment at this time. Seven of the Pirate mobs continued moving towards my line infantry. One Pirate mob and two units of buccaneers moved against my guns and skirmishers. Two more units of buccaneers moved into their own rear area to chase my cavalry. This was exactly what I had hoped for.

Two batteries of guns firing canister into a single enemy regiment was proved very effective. Combined with fire from my skirmishers, the shock value was enough to break three of the enemy units. Two more buccaneers were so far in the rear that they were out of the fight for the time being. It didnít all go my way. I lost 10 skirmishers to a single volley from a Pirate mob. My mounted tribal auxiliary, demonstrating their infuriating tendency to fail to reload during still periods and their equally infuriating parade ground fussiness before firing. I watched while a Pirate mob got off two successive volleys with nary a shot being fired by my MTA, despite the fact that my MTA had gotten into range from behind the Pirates and had the ďfire at willĒ button lit. In a rage, I let them sit and get gunned down. (This is why itís good Iím no general for real troops)

As the enemy Pirate mobs approached my line infantry, I ran them all towards the right flank. This caused the enemy to turn and become strung out. I further reduced the enemy numbers attacking my line infantry by running my regiment of horse around behind them. The Pirates couldnít resist running after my cavalry with a couple of units. I put my line infantry behind a stone wall and engaged the Pirate mobs as they came up two-by-two. Fortune smiled on me, because there was a bit of impassible ground on the right of my new line of infantry. I raced back with my horse arty and placed them both on the right of my infantry so they would fire round shot at the Pirate mobs in front of my infantry and canister on any unit trying to flank them on the right. Sure enough, one of the surviving units of buccaneers hustled to catch up with the main battle. Once the buccaneers were around the impassible ground, I let them have it with two batteries of canister. Wow! In one moment, they were a credible threat to my line of infantry. In the next, half of them were dead, and the other half were headed for the hills.

The stone walls put the infantry contest on favorable terms for me. The Pirates were killing one of my infantry per unit per volley, while my guys were killing 5-6 of the Pirates. I managed to place two regiments of foot in a position to fire on the same Pirate mob. It was gratifying to see my line infantry outshooting the enemy for a change. The final part of the contest ended with the Pirates feeding themselves into the meat grinder instead of concentrating their combat power with a single, concerted rush. I traded 250 troops for 850 of the enemyóa rare event when I fight Pirates on the ground anytime before the mid-1730ís.

A few words of caution regarding the use of the horse arty are in order. I used them mostly against the enemyís melee units. I began unlimbering before the enemy got into range, then waited. The horse arty doesnít seem to get serious about unlimbering until the gunners get a target assigned; so I picked target with round shot loaded to get the gunners to unlimber, then switched to canister and halted the fire mission. I began limbering as soon as the third round left the battery. The limbering process is much longer than Iíd like; self-propelled artillery these guys ainít. On more than one occasion, my horse arty galloped off as the Pirate infantry were raising their swords. Had the enemy been Pirate mobs, my horse arty would have been shot to pieces while limbering the guns to make their getaway. I did take out one Pirate mob, but they were occupied shooting at my skirmishers, and I used both batteries to route the Pirates before they could shift their fire.

In the future, I might try using dragoons to lure an enemy unit away from the main effort. Hopefully, I could lure the pursuing enemy into a fire sack of my horse arty. Then I could pack everyone up and move them against another unit. Weíll see how this goes in the future.

The musket is for fixing and softening the enemy. The bayonet is for destroying him.
posted 02-14-12 08:41 PM EDT (US)     1 / 4       
A little bit fiddly for my tastes, but it seeme to work quite well for you, so that's good. Let us know how well the horse artillery works for you in future. I'd be interested to know, because I've always dismissed them as having insufficient firepower compared to heavier foot artillery and thus not worth using except against low-grade enemies.

Pirate mobs have outshot your line infantry before? I suppose if you're outnumbered, and your infantry have the early-pattern bayonet that slows reloading it could be close, but my line infantry have always had an advantage. They have higher morale ratings and better stats in general.

When I've been planning to engage in firefights before researching fire by rank I stretch out the lines so they're only two men deep, increasing their available firepower. It also means that if your line is longer you can enfilade their flank units and roll up their entire line, rather than simply slug it out and suffer unnecessary casualties.

That said, when there are a large number of buccaneers on the battlefield, that tactic is a little more risky and you need to keep reserves. But by that time I've either wiped out the pirates or have had fire by rank.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French." - P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

[This message has been edited by Pitt (edited 02-14-2012 @ 08:45 PM).]

Francis Marion
posted 02-15-12 09:27 AM EDT (US)     2 / 4       
I second Pitt's thoughts on the use of horse artillery...I have never found them to be of great utility. But then again, most of the larger battles I find myself in are defensive in nature, reducing the need for high mobility. I largely forego horse artillery in favor of the more powerful yet still mobile foot artillery regiments. The only battles in which I have ever used horse artillery to any effect were battles fought while my army was dug in on a river crossing on the campaign map. On one occasion, once the battle commenced I discovered to my chagrin that there was a second river crossing some distance from the first that I had missed in my initial reconnaissance of the terrain. The enemy promptly chose to march at top speed for the second undefended crossing, attempting to flank my dug in position. In this instance, a handful of horse artillery regiments were my saving grace as I was able to reach the undefended crossing ahead of the enemy, deploy, and rake them with grape shot as they attempted to cross the river, causing the first regiment or two attempting to cross to break and rout. This allowed my line infantry to reach the crossing in time and repel the attack fully.

On other occasions, although my defending army was dug in directly over a bridge on the campaign map, the deployable zone did not extend to the bridge on the battle map. In these cases, horse artillery again allowed me to reach the bridge or crossing from my deployed position and establish fire superiority. After these experiences, I have always included two regiments of horse artillery in any defensive army I have assigned to guard a border on one of my frontiers when I have selected a river crossing or bridge as the best defensible point. In the early game (pre-FBR), I too have found that ordering your line infantry regiments to deploy two-deep allows much more effective use of their firepower.

Your observations on the aggressive use of horse artillery makes one wonder if their utility as used in the battle described above is mainly applicable in the Americas, where one often faces melee based forces such as the Pirates, Rebels, or Native Americans. This is an interesting concept and one I mayhap shall try in my next GB / French / UP campaign. In the past I have always taken the greater firepower of foot artillery over the mobility of horse artillery, but pending additional updates on the use of this strategy and my own experimentation, this may change. Thanks as always for sharing this report and challenging my battle strategy thought process, Webstral. I eagerly await any additional reports on the application of this strategy.
(id: p90pro)
posted 02-17-12 08:50 PM EDT (US)     3 / 4       
I haven't used horse artillery very often since the twelve pounders seem adequate for most things. A little slower to get into position but they have more firepower which comes in handy when enemies decide to garrison a building on the battlefield. HA takes too long to tear down a structure and I'm hesitant to try storming an occupied one since it can sometimes turn into a costly affair. Better to just blow it to hell from afar.

I think, but may be wrong, the firepower rating of the artillery dictates how much canister it puts out. So, again, I have to go with heavier stuff.

Slightly off topic, has anybody gotten their howitzers to fire it's close-in anti-infantry shot? I've only seen it happen once in all my games but it was damned effective. It was like they were belching lava straight into enemy faces. It definitely wasn't carcass shot, more like bright red canister.

Sir, I have not yet begun to defile myself.
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I bring you nothing but love and a shopping bag full of sexual depravity.
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posted 02-18-12 05:48 PM EDT (US)     4 / 4       
I havenít noticed any difference between the effects of 6lber horse arty and 12lber foot arty in terms of the effects of canister on troops in the open. This isnít to say that there arenít any differences. I donít have a very good set of data thus far. Iíll keep an eye out, though. I have noticed the difference between lighter horse arty and the heavier foot arty when it comes to attacking fortifications--so much so that when I am able to field an army optimized for attacking fortifications in India, I won't be using any 6lber pieces.

The musket is for fixing and softening the enemy. The bayonet is for destroying him.

[This message has been edited by webstral (edited 02-18-2012 @ 05:50 PM).]

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