In June of 1807 General Senarmont was the artillery chief of Victor's I Corps and at Friedland on 14 June demonstrated what aggressively handled artillery, maneuvered to close with the enemy, could do.
The French main attack was assigned to Ney and the VI Corps and Ney's first attack was defeated and thrown back. After Senarmont began his attack, which then became the French main effort by default, Ney reorganized his corps and attacked a second time, and was successful.
Dupont advanced in his own if I'm not mistaken and was supported by some of the corps artillery under Captain Ricci. Then Senarmont asked Victor for permission to take control of the entire I Corps artillery, which was given, and then he proceeded to first support Dupont, and then to advance past Dupont and attack the Russian center and then destroy it.
No one gave Senarmont an order to do what he did. It was done on his own initiative and with Victor's permission. It wasn't either Victor's idea or his order to proceed.
The Russian center at Friedland was not retreating once the battle began. Orders had been given to withdraw, but they had to be canceled when Napoleon showed up with the main army. Dupont's advance against the Russian center shifted to supporting Senarmont's attack on the Russian center which he destroyed with artillery fire. Senarmont began by supporting Dupont's advance and then saw an opportunity for decisive action against the Russian center and attacked it by a rapid advance of 30 artillery pieces, supported by 6 more in reserve.
The idea that the Russians were retreating after the attack began is incorrect. You can find the I Corps (to which Senarmont was Victor's artillery chief) after action report in La Sabretache. Senarmont's after action report can be found in Grands Artilleurs by Maurice Girod de l'Ain which not only covers Senarmont, but also Eble and Drouot. Yermelov also describes the destruction done by Senarmont's large battery and it can also be found in Boulart's memoirs as he was an eyewitness to the action.
Senarmont wrote to his brother of the artillery action on 14 June in a letter on 26 June: 'The position of the enemy showed 4,000 dead on this spot alone. I lost my chief of staff, Colonel Forno, killed by a ball at the end of the action. I have had three officers and sixty-two gunners hors de combat, and a charming horse wounded under me; I fear I shall not be able to save him.’
The end of Part I...
What? You discussed Senarmont all the time without ever having consulted one of the key works? This memoire is available for ages for free download on Gallica.
About the amunition expenditure, that was a question I raised in one of the old endless useless discussion years ago, quoting form the memoire.
I would be most reluctant to draw a conclusion what is more accurate, after all Senarmont must have reported his ammunition expenditure in military fashion to his corps commander.
I found, ordered, and received today the Memoire sur le lieutenant general d'artillerie Bon Alexandre de Senarmont by Claude Marion, published in 1846.
The material in the volume is excellent and contains Senarmont's after action report on Friedland and his artillery's part in that action. It differs in the ammunition expenditure from the 1st Corps after action report and I would logically conclude that Senarmont's report is more accurate. The number of rounds expended was 2,516 of which 362 were canister.
A Few Points of Contention:
There are at least three versions of how many rounds were expended by Senarmont’s large battery at Friedland. The 1st Corps journal of operations, Becke’s work on Friedland, and Naulet’s book on the battle all give different round totals. The operations journal is suspicious as the number of rounds, total and canister, are both rounded to even numbers ending in a zero. That is probably done by the author of the operations journal and is a ballpark figure, however close it is to the total. The best figure is probably Naulet’s.
2.Permission or initiative:
A question did arise on whether or not Senarmont asked permission from his corps commander, Victor, to employ the entire corps contingent of artillery at Friedland. So, was it an order from Victor or a request from Senarmont. Victor undoubtedly had no idea what Senarmont was thinking of doing and Senarmont probably did. So the idea that a corps commander would order his artillery chief to take control of the whole of the corps artillery, which would, and did, raise a chorus of objections from at least two of the three infantry division commanders (one, Dupont, was already engaged along with his supporting artillery under Captain Ricci), is probably not correct. A conclusion that can logically be reached is that Senarmont, after Dupont had advanced on his own initiative (though Victor was going to order him forward-Dupont merely beat him to it), seeing a tactical opportunity, wanted to take the entire corps artillery contingent and use it is a maneuver force and attack the Russian center.
Both Dupont and Senarmont had shown noteworthy initiative at Friedland. ‘While Victor most certainly issued orders for Dupont to advance, by the time his orders reached him, Dupont had already seized the moment.’-Arnold, 239. Senarmont had already been to see Ricci, who was with Dupont as his artillery support. He told Ricci that his artilleryment ‘were performing ‘as if they were on a firing range.’’-Arnold, 240; (Senarmont’s comment can be found in Derode, 60). When up with Ricci, Senarmont undoubtedly saw an opportunity for his corps artillery as a whole and requested permission from Victor to employ the corps artillery under his command. (Girod de l’Ain, 180).
Interestingly, when Napoleon saw Senarmont’s maneuver, he sent one of the Imperial Aides-de-Camp, General Mouton to find out what was happening. Senarmont said to him, ‘Leave me and my gunners alone, I am responsible for everything.’ Mouton returned and reported to the Emperor who told him, ‘There is one unpleasant fellow; let them be.’ (Arnold, 241).
3.Supporting or Supported:
Artillery during this period was seen and used as a supporting arm. And as Dupont’s advance clearly indicated, Ricci’s battery was supporting Dupont. However, after the corps artillery under Senarmont, and his two subordinate battery commanders, Colonel Forno and Major Raulot, were massed in two fifteen-gun batteries on either side of Dupont’s division, Senarmont’s advancing artillery outpaced the infantry under Dupont and attacked the Russian center. So, here, artillery became the supported unit with infantry advancing behind them in support. This was new in artillery tactics, though it was doctrinally sound according to the French adherence to infantry/artillery cooperation which was taught in the French artillery schools.
4.Main attack or Supporting attack.
The main attack at Friedland was designated by Napoleon to be Ney’s VI Corps, which had missed Austerlitz and had barely been engaged at Jena and Eylau. In short, Ney’s attack which came out of the Forest of Sortlack on the French right flank, was initially defeated by the Russians and with the exception of three regiments was routed. Seeing that, Dupont then advanced with his infantry division against the Russian center and Senarmont’s artillery first supported him and then became by default the main French attack.
5.Did Bennigsen order a retreat before the action?
There is no logical reason why Bennigsen crossed the River Alle with his entire army to fight Lannes’ corps. He now had a river at his back with too few bridges to cross back to the eastern bank of the river. Whether or not he ordered a retreat is actually unknown or is up for debate. The bottom line is that when the main French army showed up to support Lannes, the Russians could not retreat in front of that army in daylight-it would have been a disaster. So, the Russians had to stand at least until darkness which might allow them to retreat back across the river. The French did attack, and the Russians had to fight, and were defeated and they had to try and get back across the river. The result was a Russian disaster.
Observing the arriving French units and the buildup of French strength, ‘Bennigsen recognized that the situation had become more threatening. He decided that a daylight retreat would be too dangerous and clung to his hope that the French would not attack.’ After he observed that the French assembled combat power against the Russian left flank, ‘Bennigsen appeared uneasy. He ordered Bagration and Dokhturov, both of who had come to speak with him, to return to their commands and retire to a more compact line closer to Friedland. He also ordered his heavy artillery to retreat across the bridges, probably with the idea that his infantry would follow. It was the right decision. An artillery salvo [from the French artillery at Posthenen], repeated three times, told Bennigsen that he was too late.’-Arnold, 230.
6. The effects of massed artillery of the period:
The following short excerpt is taken from the above postings:
"The artillery of those days was not powerful enough to be able to destroy troops in battle formation. The artillery was able to throw the enemy troops in confusion and even in disorder, but only temporarily."
This erroneous statement is substantially incorrect regarding the artillery effects on infantry and cavalry of the period and the following is material that directly contradicts the statement:
The Napoleonic period became the age of the artillery battle, especially at Friedland and after. Massed artillery fire was devastating to opposing infantry which was demonstrated repeatedly during the period. The Russians shattered an attacking French corps (Augereau’s VII Corps) so thoroughly at Eylau in February 1807 and caused such heavy losses that the corps was broken up that spring.
In addition to Senarmont’s grande batterie at Friedland, French artillery General Drouot at Lutzen massed 80 guns and at close range destroyed the allied center paving the way for an infantry assault by the Imperial Guard which won the action:
Drouot’s artillery action lasted between 20 and 30 minutes; Senarmont’s had lasted 25 minutes. General Flahaut witnessed and accompanied the Guard’s infantry attack into the allied center:
‘The Emperor ordered four Imperial aides to accompany the troops of the Guard selected for the attack. I accompanied General Berthezene at the head of the Fusiliers of the Guard. This brave general and his fine troops had earlier attacked and routed the enemy from their positions around Kaja; the men comprising the Fusiliers were all veteran soldiers, and their discipline and elan were no match for our adversaries: the Fusiliers were supremely confident of victory.’
‘The signal to advance being given our brigade moved out, and eventually passed by the left flank of the grande batterie. The discharges of these pieces were deafening, and the smoke covered the field, obscuring our view. Our battalions were formed in attack column of two pelotons width and rapidly traversed the ground already devastated by the day’s fighting. We passed over the wreckage of entire regiments which had been cut down by our guns. At times, the enemy dead and wounded were so thick that our mens’ feet did not touch the ground. My horse hesitated often as it looked for firm footing.’
‘The enemy could not withstand our advance. They fired a few, sporadic volleys, broke ranks, and fled before our bayonets. His Majesty can be pleased with the soldiers of the Guard who carried this attack into the heart of the enemy line.’-cited in Kiley, Artillery.
In Captain Coignet's memoir it is mentioned at Essling the effects of Josef Smola's large (200 guns) artillery battery on the French infantry, especially that of the Imperial Guard infantry. See pages 176-180 of The Notebooks of Captain Coignet: Soldier of the Empire, 1799-1816. It is quite graphic on what artillery rounds did to the human body upon impact.
At New Orleans in January 1815 the main killer on the field was the well-handled American artillery which caused the greater majority of British casualties. The British commented that you could tell who had been killed by artillery as the bodies were severely mutilated or dismembered and/or beheaded.-Reilly, British at the Gates.
Part IV-Supporting Documentation:
‘The Russian batteries, deployed on the opposite side of the Alle, fired on our flanks; some of them were at very close range, including one battery, on the hill near the river turn, which decimated our ranks.’-Senarmont cited in Yermelov, 98, note 54.
‘‘The Russian gunners were surprised by the sudden appearance of the French 36-gun battery’ and failed to react in time.’-Yermelov, 98, note 53.
‘Around 6:00 pm Napoleon arrived and the entire French army too. With a forest concealing their movements, masses of French gathered against our left; a battery of 40 guns was deployed on the edge of the forest and a fierce cannonade began. Because of the range, the artillery fire was direct and our rearguard’s cavalry greatly suffered from it. The rearguard was soon retreating as well. The army soon began withdrawing to the bridges. The only way to reach the main bridge was through the city itself. Chaos reigned in the narrow streets and this was further increased by the enemy artillery. Based on the direction of the enemy columns, it was obvious that they intended to cut us off at the crossing to delay them, the Life Guard Ismailovsk and Pavlovsk Grenadier regiments made an attack, but that same ghastly battery halted their gallant assault and the regiments turned back.’-Yermelov, 100.
‘During the battle, General Senarmont organized two companies of 15 guns, with six pieces in reserve, and placed them on both flanks of General Dupont’s division. As the French advanced, Senarmont outpaced the infantry and opened fire on Bagration’s troops from close range. His guns initially fired at 600 paces, then moved as close as 300 paces. The Russians tried to capture the French battery but the French virtually wiped out entire regiments; the third battalion of the Life Guard Ismailovsk Regiment alone lost 400 men out of 520.’-Yermelov, 100, note 55.
‘Senarmont, Victor’s chief of artillery, already had moved forward with twelve guns to support Dupont. Judging these insufficient, he secured Victor’s permission to take the I Corps remaining twenty-four guns [over the objections of the infantry division commanders]. Leaving six of these in reserve, he formed the remaining thirty into two fifteen-gun batteries, one on each flank of Dupont’s division, and accompanied its advance. Approximately 150 yards from Bagration’s front, the narrowing terrain compelled him to combine the two batteries. At 120 yards he halted. Ignoring the heavy Russian artillery fire, Senarmont blasted Bagration’s infantry with canister for twenty-five minutes, knocking over 4,000 of them and sending the rest streaming back into Friedland’s choked streets.’
‘…Dupont had followed Senarmont. As he came abreast of the end of the Muhlen Fluss lake, Bennigsen desperately committed his last reserve, putting in the infantry of the Russian Imperial Guard against Dupont, and ordering the Guard cavalry against Senarmont’s flank. Senarmont swiftly changed front, blowing the Czar’s picked cavalrymen off the battlefield with two quick volleys. Simultaneously, Dupont met, and broke, the Russian Guard infantry with the bayonet, seizing the temporary bridges across the Muhlen Fluss. Crossing to its north bank, he surged down the Konigsberg road into Friedland, supported by the [six] guns from Senarmont’s reserve. Senarmont pushed closer to the village, raking its streets and bridges, both of which were jammed with retreating Russians. Other French artillerymen, meanwhile, had concentrated howitzers south of Friedland, supporting the infantry attacks with high-angle fire into the Russian masses. Berthier moved with this final assault, coordinating its different elements.’-Esposito and Elting Atlas, text to Map 81.
‘…Senarmont had introduced a new school of artillery tactics. Competent generals had massed their artillery for years; Senarmont had used these massed guns to seize the initiative, pushing them aggressively forward in advance of the French infantry to dominate the decisive point of the battlefield with their firepower.’-Esposito and Elting Atlas, text for Map 82. Becke supports this analysis.
The extract from the operations journal of the I Corps reads that 2,600 rounds were fired by Senarmont’s artillery, 400 of which were canister. That is probably an estimate. Naulet is more detailed in his tally of rounds fired, the total being 2,556. The howitzers fired 347 rounds and the artillery in total for Senarmont’s action fired between 75 and 88 rounds per piece. Becke is also more detailed, stating that Senarmont’s battery fired 2,516 total rounds, 368 being canister. Naulet is probably the most correct.
The idea that Victor ordered Senarmont to perform the artillery mission that Senarmont undertook is incorrect. Victor had no idea what Senarmont intended to do with the I Corps artillery and while the I Corps Operations Journal reads that way and can be interpreted that way, that was done under Victor’s overall supervision, and he undoubtedly had to approve what was in the journal which was done after the action was over. The narrative in Grands Artilleurs by Girod de l’Ain reads differently on page 180. The same article confirms that Senarmont closed to within 60 toises (about 120 yards) of the Russian center. ‘
Senarmont’s letter to his brother, written on 26 June 1807, confirms that the Russians incurred 4,000 dead from the close-range artillery fire. Senarmont walked the ground after the action on 15 June.
‘Brave as a lion, General Senarmont advanced his batteries, like they were cavalry squadrons.’
‘In the Pavlov Grenadier Regiment whole files fell to the ground, but its line did not waver and held on, in spire of the large gaps in it because of loss of men.’-General Ostroshenko-Arnold, Napoleon’s Triumph, 242.
‘[The Russian guns] were at very close range, including one battery on the hill near the river turn which decimated our ranks.’Senarmont-Arnold, Napoleon’s Triumph, 243.
‘…during the next twenty-five minutes occurred the most terrible canister fire than I have ever seen. We shaved, and that is the term, their masses which disappeared and then reformed instantly.’ -Senarmont-Arnold, 243-244.
‘We saw nothing but smoke and flames.’-Russian cavalry trooper-Arnold, 244. This was remarking upon what the Russian cavalry who counterattacked Senarmont's large battery saw before they charged and were defeated by two vollies of canister fire.
‘The gunners were full of ardor; they had discarded their [habits] and rolled up their sleeves, because of the heat.’-Maurice Girod de l’Ain-Arnold, 238. This is a description of Ricci's command while supporting Dupont before Senarmont's artillery attack.
French corps d’armee were composed with between two and five infantry divisions, a brigade or a division of light cavalry, and enough artillery to give each infantry division at least a company to support it with artillery also assigned to the corps artillery reserve. One of the artillery companies in the artillery reserve were to be 12-pounders.
Each French corps had an artillery chief, usually if not always, a general officer. Each division in the corps had an artillery chief, a senior field grade officer. The corps artillery chief had a staff headed by a chief of staff, usually an artilleryman and not merely a staff officer.
Napoleon’s ‘intent’ was to assign each infantry division in the Grande Armee two companies of artillery and if possible having one of the two be horse artillery. Napoleon made that decision in 1806 and it was a work in progress. Further because of losses in men and horses during a campaign, artillery companies might have less than the regulation number of artillery pieces per company.
Senarmont was the corps artillery chief of Victor’s I Corps at Friedland in June 1807 and he had been the corps artillery chief of Augereau’s VII in February 1807.
At Friedland the artillery of I Corps was composed of 36 field pieces: 6 12-pounders, 20 6-pounders, 4 4-pounders, and 6 6-inch howitzers. The deployed artillery batteries during the action were each composed of 10 6-pounders, 2 4-pounders, and 3 6-inch howitzers. The 6 12-pounders were held in reserve by Senarmont.-Senarmont’s after action report of 15 June 1807. Some sources give Senarmont’s artillery 4 3-pounders instead of four 4-pounders, but 4-pounders are listed in Girod de l’Ain, which is probably correct.
The artillery personnel assigned to the I Corps were from the 6th Company of the 1st Regiment of Artillerie a Pied, detachments from the 1st Company of the 2d Regiment of Artillerie a Cheval and the 2d Company of the 3d Regiment of Artillerie a Cheval, the 2d and 6th Companies of the 8th Regiment of Artillerie a Pied, the 3d Company of the 3d Regiment of Artillerie a Cheval plus a detachment from the 2d Company of the 3d Regiment of Artillerie a Cheval.
The sequence of events for Friedland is as follows:
-1500 13 June 1807: Napoleon received a dispatch from Lannes (Reserve Corps) that his corps cavalry had ‘scouted Friedland’ and reported that Bennigsen had not arrived in that town. Napoleon immediately ordered Lannes to occupy Friedland.
-2100 13 June 1807: Lannes reported that his hussars had occupied Friedland in the afternoon, but were ejected by approximately 3,000 enemy cavalry. Napoleon immediately ordered Mortier (VIII Corps) and Grouchy’s dragoon division to Lannes’ support. Upon receiving more information, Napoleon also orders Ney (VI Corps) and Nansouty’s heavy cavalry division .
-2300 13 June 1807: Bennigsen reaches Friedland and orders three ponton bridges ‘thrown across the Alle.’
2400 13 June 1807: Bennigsen had sent two infantry divisions, part of Bagration’s command and Galitzin’s cavalry. Most of these units had not moved from Friedland. Cavalry outposts were in Posthenen and Heinrichsdorf. The Russians had constructed their ponton bridges near the town which slowed the Russian crossing.
0100 14 June 1807: Lannes’ leading brigade reaches arrived and pushed the Russian outposts to the western outskirts of Friedland. There they found strong Russian elements that were stronger than the single French brigade.
0200 14 June 1807: Lannes, who was on the low ridge east of the village of Posthenen could see in the early morning light Russian units crossing the Alle into Friedland.
0300 14 June 1807: The skirmishers began a firefight that grew in intensity which prompted Bennigsen to send more troops across the Alle until approximately 45,000 Russian troops were on the west bank of the river.
0600 14 June 1807: Uvarov’s cavalry, supported by infantry and artillery broke into Heinrichsdorf on the French left flank. They faced French hussars and Saxon cuirassiers who were then supported by Nansouty all under the command of Grouchy. Uvarov was driven out of Heinrichsdorf. One of Oudinot’s brigades was detached by Lannes to defend Heinrichsdorf. A major engagement was building in the Forest of Sortlack between the Russian jager units and French volitgeurs, the French generally having the upper hand. The French infantry was supported by Lannes’ artillery.
0700 14 June 1807: Mortier’s VIII Corps started to arrive and was committed on the French right.
0745 14 June 1807: Verdier’s French division and a Saxon brigade, both part of Lannes’ corps arrived and one brigade was sent into the building fight in the Forest of Sortlack.
0900 14 June 1807: Bennigsen launched a general attack, weighted on his right flank. The Russians were repulsed and both sides then resorted to a cannonade-Lannes wanted to gain time for the main army to arrive and Bennigsen wanted to wait until dark and then withdraw.
1200 14 June 1807: Napoleon arrives at Posthenen with reinforcements. The I Corps (Victor), the VI Corps (Ney), the Imperial Guard, plus the cavalry divisions of Espagne, Lahoussaye, and Latour-Maubourg arrived bringing the French strength to approximately 80,000. The I Corps and the Guard infantry arrived around 1600. Ney’s command is selected for the main attack and forms on the French right in the Forest of Sortlack.
1700 14 June 1807: Ney attacks with his two infantry divisions in echelon, Marchand’s division leading on the right. The Russians counterattacked with cavalry and artillery, and with the exception of three regiments that formed square and stood, the two divisions were routed.
1730 14 June 1807: Dupont’s division, I Corps, advanced on Dupont’s own initiative on the left of Bisson’s infantry division. Latour-Maubourg once more charged and Ney’s artillery went into action against the Russian artillery across the river. Senarmont secured Victor’s permission to deploy the entire corps artillery complement and began by supporting Dupont’s advance, then outpacing the infantry he finally emplaced 120 yards in front of Bagration’s infantry and opened fire for 25 minutes, ‘knocking over 4,000 of them’ and the Russians broke and ran for the bridges. During this artillery action, Ney, who had rallied his two divisions in the Forest of Sortlack, led them into the attack. Dupont was following Senarmont’s attack.
The Russians from Bagration’s command ran to the bridges which were set afire by Senarmont’s artillery.
1900 14 June 1807: Friedland was cleared and taken and Napoleon then ordered Lannes and Mortier to attack Gortshakoff’s command on the Russian right. About 5,000 Russians on the extreme Russian right retreated northward, but many were driven either into Friedland, or tried to get into the town and the now-destroyed bridges, or were driven into the river or they surrendered.
2230 14 June 1807: The battle of Friedland ends. Nearly 15,000 French were not engaged including the Guard and Victor’s other two infantry divisions. The French lost 1,372 killed, 9,108 wounded and 55 prisoners. Russian losses were at least 11,000 dead and 7,000 wounded.
Senarmont’s artillery lost 11 dead and 45 wounded and 53 horses, the dead included Senarmont’s chief of staff, Colonel Forno. The close-range artillery fire was devastating to the Russian infantry, ‘the French return fire destroyed the Russian line.’ (Arnold, 243).
What Senarmont did was to assume the role of the main attack after Ney's initial repulse by Bagration and the forward movement of Dupont's infantry division. This demonstrated excellent initiative on Senarmont's part as well as understanding what was happening on the French right flank.
Senarmont's ignoring of the Russian artillery fire on his unit and attacking the Russian infantry, which was French artillery doctrine since at least 1778 with the publication of Jean Duteil's De l'Usage de l'Artillerie Nouvelle dans la Guerre de Campagne and that had been championed by Gribeauval with his introduction into the French service of a field artillery arm, is noteworthy as well as a new aspect of French artillery tactics, and those tactics, or derivatives of them, would be employed again by Senarmont at Ocana in 1809, Wagram in 1809, Lutzen in 1813, and Ligny and Waterloo in 1815.
References for all parts of the article:
Carnet de la Sabretache, Volume 5, 1897, “Bataille de Friedland (Extract du journal d’operations du 1er Corps de la Grande Armee.) 1807” 325-328.
Memoires Militaires du General Bon Boulart by Jean-Francois Boulart.
De l'Usage de l'Artillerie Nouvelle dans la Guerre de Campagne by Jean Duteil.
Nouvelle Relation de la Bataille de Friedland by Victor Derode.
Friedland (14 June 1807): La Campagne de Pologne, de Danzig aux rives du Neiman by Frederic Naulet.
Memoire sur Lieutenant-General d’Artillerie Le Baron Alexandre de Senarmont by Claude Marion.
The Notebooks of Captain Coignet: Soldier of the Empire, 1799-1816 by Jean-Roche Coignet.
Les Genereaux de la Revolution et de l’Empire, 2 Volumes, by Georges Six.
The Czars General: The Memoirs of a Russian General in the Napoleonic Wars by Alexi Yermelov, Edited by Alexander Mikaberidze.
Russian Eyewitness Accounts of the Campaign of 1807 by Alexander Mikaberidze.
Napoleon’s Triumph: La Grande Armee versus the Tsar’s Army-The Friedland Campaign 1807 by James Arnold and Ralph Reinertsen.
Grands Artilleurs by Maurice Girod de l’Ain.
Friedland by Major AF Becke.
Swords Around a Throne by John R. Elting.
A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars by Vincent J Esposito and John R Elting.
The British at the Gates: The New Orleans Campaign in the War of 1812 by Robin Reilly.
Artillery of the Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815 by Kevin F. Kiley.
General of Division Alexandre-Antoine Hureau, Baron de Senarmont
Senarmont, who would become a general of artillery, was born in Strasbourg on 21 April 1769. He became an ‘aspirant’ at the artillery school at Metz on 1 August 1784 and was admitted as a student on 1 September of the same year. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the Regiment d’Artillerie of Besancon (which would become the 3d Regiment de Artillerie a Pied) on 1 September 1785. He was promoted to first lieutenant in the 7th Regiment de Artillerie a Pied on 1 April 1791 and was promoted to captain en second on 2 February 1792 and assigned to the 5th Company of artillery artificers.
He served in the Armees du Centre and de Nord from 1792-1793 and was promoted to captain commandant on 30 August 1792 and was nominated as an aide de camp to his father, General of Artillery Alexandre-Francois Hureau de Senarmont on 21 September 1792.
Senarmont served at the siege of Anvers on 29 November 1792 and was employed at Lille in March 1793. He was commandant of the bridging equipment at the crossing of the Sambre under the command of Desjardin on 3 June 1794. He was with the Armee de Sambre et Meuse from 1794-1797 and was nominated as a provisional chef de bataillon on 14 October 1794. He was confirmed in that grade by the Committee of Public Safety and named as the assistant director of artillery at Douai on 23 November 1794. He was with the Armee d’Allemagne in 1797 and then with the Armee du Rhin in 1799.
He was chief of the artillery staff under Marmont in April 1800 with the Armee de la Reserve. He crossed the Alps with the artillery in front of Fort Bard on 3 June 1800 and served at Marengo on 14 June. He was promoted to chef de brigade of artillery on 6 September 1800 and was appointed as Director of Artillery at Douai on 6 September 1801. On 21 January 1802 he was given command of the 6th Regiment of Artillerie in the garrison of Rennes and on 8 December 1803 he was appointed as the chief of artillery at the Camp of Brest. On 4 January 1804 he was appointed as the commander of the siege train of the Armee des Cotes de l’Ocean.
On 25 June 1804 he was appointed as the chief of staff of the artillery reserve of the Armee des Cotes de l’Ocean. On 3 May 1805 he took the post as sous-chef of the artillery general staff. He served under General Songis from 30 August in the newly-christened Grande Armee and served with the Grande Armee in Austria, Prussia, and Poland from 1805-1807. Senarmont was at Austerlitz on 2 December 1805 and was promoted to general of brigade on 10 July 1806. He took the post of commandant of the artillery school at Metz on 15 August 1806.
He was assigned as the artillery chief of Augereau’s VII Corps in place of Dorsner on 21 November 1806. After Eylau he was appointed the artillery chief of Bernadotte’s I Corps on 28 February replacing Faultrier (who had been taken prisoner at Marienwerder) and was awarded the Cross of the Legion of Honor on 3 March 1807. General Victor replaced Bernadotte in command of the I Corps when the latter was wounded. Senarmont distinguished himself with his unique artillery employment against the Russians at Friedland on 14 June 1807.
He was on leave from 2 October 1807 to 1 April 1808 and was then put in charge of inspections of La Havre, Cherbourg, Brest, Rheims, and Paris on 25 April 1808. On 26 April 1808 he was again appointed as the artillery chief of I Corps under Victor. He was made a baron of the empire on 2 July 1808 and a chevalier of the Iron Crown on 22 November 1808. He went into Spain with the I Corps with the second army of invasion and was at Somosierra on 30 November 1808. Promoted to general of division on 7 December 1808 and was appointed as the artillery commander of the Army of Spain in place of Lariboisiere on 9 March 1809. He again distinguished himself by his employment of artillery at Ocana on 18-19 November 1809 and commanded the artillery at the siege of Cadiz. He was mortally wounded at Cadiz by a howitzer shell when on a reconnaissance on 26 October 1810.-Six, Volume II, 446.
The majority of the above biography can be found in the reference.
I could bombard the readers here to death - easily with a lot more of those old discussions, those above were just an example, but I won't - I move on.
and from another well read enthisast named McLaddie
Kevin: Am I making a mistake to quote you? You state from your article on this action:
And, yes, the action is quite simple.
Well, let's start with the fact that the I Corps AAR "General Sénarmont, having received General Victor's order to bring up the artillery and send it forward with the front of the line, formed two batteries and a reserve that he placed behind the village of Posthenen."
According to the report, this was done long before Sénarmont went into action rather than quickly just before the advance as Sénarmont reports. The right fifteen six and three pounder guns in the battery were commanded by Colonel Forno, Chief of staff of the reserve artillery. The left fifteen of the same caliber were commanded by Major Raulot. As there were only thirty guns in the I Corps reserve, it is not clear where the reserve six cannon came from.
Unfortunately, you're making it difficult to understand by posting erroneous information.
Yes, you often say that about most folks. I will continue by quoting you and your article further.
second, that Senarmont destroyed the Russian center which began the rout of Bagration's command.
Your own article doesn't say that:
Pressing their advantage, Dupont's infantry advanced on Friedland and the Russian bridges. Senarmont sent six guns to accompany Dupont's continuing advance, while the main battery supported other French infantry which had joined the general advance. Senarmont brought his companies forward again, so that his guns could literally sweep Friedland's streets. Repeated Russian attempts to reform were broken up by accurate artillery fire. Benningsen's army was rapidly falling apart, Russians either being killed outright or drowning in the river.
Uh-huh. You know where the map came from. So, how about you explaining this in reference to the map.
What does it mean, Dupont 'caught up with' Senarmont if the Atlas map is correct? Why was it so hard for Dupont to move forward in the first place? And it would seem by the timeline you give, that while Senarmont was fending off the Russian cavalry, Dupont was routing the Russians.
But the action itself is quite simple as are Senarmont's and Dupont's actions. Attempting to make them difficult to understand is counter-productive.
Then explain the 'simple reasons 1. Why Dupont had to 'struggle' to advance when the artillery didn't. 2. Why Senarmont placed his artillery on Dupont's flanks. 3. Why Senarmont's and the I Corps' reports disagree on several points. Senarmont wasn't above self- aggrandizing and there is little reason for the I Corps AAR to so thoroughly disagree with Senarmont's timeline when it comes to I Corps orders and Senarmont's request to include all the guns. From the I Corps AAR, Senamont's advance didn't start as a 'charge' and any advance was done when Senarmont saw the damage he was creating. [You know this, you have the I Corps AAR] 4. How they all were supposed to fit the narrowing space between the Ravine and the River in their advance on what must have been a 1000+ yard front. 5. Why Senarmont would send guns from Colonel Forno's right flank guns to support Dupont's action on the Left. 6. And considering the actions of Dupont routing the Russian Guard…you do say his division sent them 'bolting' for the river, why should Senarmont's guns became THE 'de facto' main attack?
There is no denying Senarmont's action was effective. The question is why it is labeled as "the de facto main attack"? When you start looking for answers, many simple [simplistic] conclusions don't hold up.
If this goes the way it always does, Kevin will repeat what he has already said, explaining points that haven't been raised, insisting that we are confused.
Looking at Revue d'Arillerie 1891, tome 38 pages 357 / 358 - Senarmont (without ´) gives for his left and right batteries the identical amount of guns, in each
Pièces de 6 : 10 Pièces de 4 : 2 Obusiers de 5 pc 7 l : 3
comparing the situation du matériel à l'époge du 1er mai 1807, by Songis, page 578 / 579 of the work by Lechartier : Le Services de l'Arrière à la Grande Armée en 1806 - 1807, Paris 1910 - Songis lists other guns in the possesion of the 1er corps
canons de 12 : 2 canons de 6 : 22 canons de 3 : 6 obusiers de 4 p. 6 lig : 6
alltogether 36 guns (6 used as reserve)
Now my questions :
What kind of guns did the gunners use - stil the Hannoverian ones (indicating 3 pound and 6 pound guns) or in case of cannons - already an 11 for pièces de 6 (in case - when did those replace the Hannoverian guns?)
Also - Senarmont speaks of completely different calibres, naming 4 pound canons while Songis gives 3 pound canons and the same thing for the howitzer - Senarmont 5 pouces 7 lignes in contrast to 4 pouces 6 lignes of Songis.
My hope rests with Paul Dawson and Dr. Stephen Summerfield who both did extensive research (including archival ones in SHAT) - maybe they could come up with an answer.
As for sources, I would like those who answer - to cite "accademical" - author, name of work, date of publishing and page number.
Bataille de Friedland
(Extrait du journal d’opérations du 1er corps de la Grande – Armée
La batterie de droite fut composées de dix pièces de 6, deux pièces de trois et trois obusiers,
il fait avancer jusqu’à 60 toises (117 mètres) du front russes les deux batteries qui s’étaient rapprochées au point de n’en plus former qu’un seule et, depuis ce moment, on ne tira plus qu’à mitraille.
Les troupes d’artillerie ont eu dans cette journée, hors de combat, tués ou blessés, 4 officiers, 52 hommes, 53 chevaux ont été tués en moins de trois heures, il a été tiré 2,600 coups de canon ou obus, dont 400 mitraille. (…)
Carnet de la Sabretache, 5 volume, 1897
And more this time form Alexandre
If we are to be "using all of the source material", would that not include Russian sources?
For example, the after-action report of the Russian Horse Guards, quoted at length in their regimental histories is rather explicit: - fresh columns of French advanced from previously hidden positions – with infantry, cavalry and a large battery of no less than 30 guns – Dupont's division was the most threatening - prince Bagration ordered up the Life-Guards Ismaylovskiy, Semyonoskiy and Konnyy (Horse) regiments - the Horse Guards advanced very rapidly against French cavalry – assumedly La Houssaye's dragoon division attached to Victor's corps – and this compelled them to turn back despite their larger numbers – which indicates to me that the dragoons were about to get taken by a flank - the Horse Guards then opened up their formation (from column of half-squadorns or column of squadrons to two divisions I would think, likely operating separately) and took on a French infantry column in co-ordination with bayonet counter-attacks being delivered by the Sankt-Peterburgskiy and Pavlovskiy Grenadiers - the counter-attacks seemed to be going pretty well, but the Horse Guards received Benigsen's order for the army to withdraw and re-formed to cover this - they never charged the French guns, and – as their officer casulaties are individually described – only about 1/3 of their casualties were from artillery fire - these casualties from artillery are listed as contusions and impact wounds from parts of shells – the 4th squadron being the hardest hit – from which I would say that the French howitsers that would be typically posted on the flanks of a French gun line did fire shell at the the Horse Guards as they went in to attack the French infantry, getting some degree of enfilade penetration on the nearest Russian squadron - the total casualites for the Horse Guards in the battle were rather typical for a major engagement : 3 offcers and 52 other ranks killed or mortally wounded, 13 officers an 64 other ranks wounded, 28 other ranks missing (tpyically un-horsed and captured) – total 160 all ranks all casaualties, about 20-25%
The Ismaylovets saw more of the French battery, and recorded more substantial artillery casuallities. The Semyonoskiy regiment appears to have been behind their colleagues and did not get much engaged before the order to withdraw.
Interestingly, total Russian casulaties as reported in Russian sources, both primary and secondary (and these to include Imperial, Soviet and modern writers) are rather lower than as reported in French sources – the number of killed or mortally wounded for the whole battle is more like 4000 men.
So, if we are to believe that some 4000 men and several Russian units were "destroyed" (however defined) by artillery fire from general de Sénarmont's guns, may I please ask that someone say which Russian units these were? Upon a quick scan of Russian sources, I just could not find any reports which could be readily thus interpreted. But I would be happy to look some more.
Amicalement, - Alexandre
This is an ongoing debate of Kevin Kileyof over 20 years - I ask readers just to visit the archives of the Old forum and also TMP - in case they suffer from lock down syndrome and boredom
Just to give another view by the well read Russian Zmohdikov, in case you read Brechtel. this is Kevin Kiley
Believing everything that is written in the sources is usually also an inaccurate road to take.
Such are the French claims. The Russian sources say that the Russian troops first retreated from the Sortlack Forest at a distance of about half-gunshot. Yakov Otroshchenko, a staff-captain and company commander in the 7th Jaeger Regiment:
After sunrise cannonade sounded, enemy cannonballs flew above us and fell into the river; several companies of our regiment were ordered to march forward into battle, including my one. We came up to the wood; we were met with battle fire; we rushed all together forward with bayonet, drove the French into a marsh and captured 200 guardsmen and one colonel; but then the French, having rallied, overthrew us and drove us out of the wood; we also got reinforcements, advanced into the wood, but should yield to the superiority of the enemy, [we] went out of the wood, deployed in skirmish order in the open field and remained there…
Otroshchenko Y. O., Zapiski generala Otroshchenko. (1800-1830 gg) (Memoirs of General Otroshchenko), Moscow, 2006, p. 34. The same in Russkiy Vestnik, 1877, vol. 131, p. 177: PDF link
Right before both Ney's attack and Senarmont's cannonade started, the Russians were preparing to retreat back over the River Alle. The battery artillery was ordered to retreat first (Bennigsen's memoirs, t. 2, p. 201). The artillerymen of the Guard Battery Artillery Company were limbering their guns when Senarmont's battery opened fire (Ratch V. F., "Publichnye lektsii, chitannye pri gvardeiskoi artillerii polkovnikom Ratchem." (Public lectures given to Guard artillery by Colonel Ratch.) // Artilleriiskii Zhurnal (Artillery Journal), 1861, No. 1, part 3, p. 74-75). Ratch describes the positions of the Guard artillery in such detail, that it is obvious that he had a detailed source. He probably used documents from Arakcheyev's archive, he mentions this archive in other places, and says that Arakcheyev interviewed artillery officers after the 1807 campaign. Ratch also personally knew some Guard artillery officers who were still alive in 1850s. Ratch didn't know the reason why the Guard Battery Artillery Company was limbering in that moment, because Bennigsen's memoirs were published only in 1900.
Ivan Zhirkevich, an officer in the 2nd Guard Light Artillery Company, says that after noon all Guard artillery was brought forward and fired a few shots, and the French answered with a few shots, one gun carriage was broken. General Kaspersky sent Zhirkevich back over the River Alle to bring a spare carriage from the artillery park, and said him that all other artillery material should remain there (i.e. on the eastern side of the river). When Zhirkevich brought the spare carriage to the battery, he didn't find General Kaspersky there. He was told that the general went back across the river. Zhirkevich went there and found the general, who said him that he was ordered to find a position for the battery, and that soon all Guard would march to that road. It was at 5 or 6 p.m. Zhirkevich says that riding through the town he saw many Guard officers sitting in the houses, while the soldiers were standing almost near the town's wall. He concluded that nobody expected any serious fighting, and that the officers were waiting for their regiments to march through the town. But at 7 p. m. a cannonade started around the town, and very soon two bridges over the Alle were set on fire. (Zhirkevich I. S., Zapiski Ivana Stepanovicha Zhirkevicha 1789-1848 (Memoirs of Ivan Stepanovich Zhirkevich), Moscow, 2009, p. 39-40). Ratch was not aware of Zhirkevich's memoirs, they were published in 1874 (Russkaya Starina, 1874, vol. IX, p. 233-234).
There were no such attempt. Read Yermolov's memoirs carefully: it was just his supposition that Bennigsen had the intention to destroy an isolated enemy corps. But, instead of that, the Russian troops busied themselves with a worthless firefight and uselessly lost much time, and then the enemy cavalry arrived at the right flank and the enemy infantry filled the woods before the Russian rearguard (the Sortlack Forest).
Before noon, the Russian troops crossed the river by parts (regiment by regiment, as Zhirkevich says) only in order to push the French some distance from the town, where Bennigsen wished to have some rest. Alexander Obolensky, an ADC to General Dokhturov, says that in the second half of the day Dokhturov sent him to Bennigsen for orders. Obolensky arrived and said to Bennigsen that it was impossible to stay at that position, because the Russian troops had come up to a wood (he probably means the Sortlack Forest), and that the enemy had brought their artillery and fired at the Russian troops from this wood, killing many soldiers. Obolensky says that Bennigsen replied: "Pass on to General Dokhturov from me: don't annoy the enemy, because I am sure that he had no intention to give a battle." Obolensky says that in the moment he was leaving Bennigsen, Sir Robert Wilson arrived and informed Bennigsen that strong enemy columns with artillery advanced at the center of the Russian army (Obolensky A. P., Khronika nedavnei stariny. Iz arkhiva knyazya Obolenskogo-Neledinskogo-Meletskogo. (Chronicle of recent times. From the archive of Prince Obolensky-Neledinsky-Meletsky). St.Petersburg, 1876, p. 95-96).
Memoirs of Otroshchenko, Zhirkevich, and Obolensky on the 1807 campaign are translated into English and published by Alexander Mikaberidze: Russian Eyewitness Accounts of the Campaign of 1807.
The range of 60 toises is just Senarmont's claim. Girod de l'Ain didn't mention such close range actions of Senarmont's battery. Senarmont says that his battery fired 2516 shots, 362 of them cannister. It is not very much, 83 or 84 shots per gun on the average, if only 30 guns fired. Firing at the normal rate of two shots in one minute, this would take only 41 to 42 minutes. At Borodino, Napoleon's artillery fired about 60,000 rounds, or more than 102 shots per gun on the average (587 guns). The cannonade was not equal in intensity over the whole front and during the whole day. This means that some guns fired less than 102 rounds, but some other fired more than 102 rounds. Several Russian artillery officers mention in their memoirs that at Borodino they had spent all ammunition from the caissons of their artillery companies (110 to 120 rounds per gun, the incendiary shells were probably not used), and received additional ammunition from the artillery park.
Such expressions as "ghastly battery" or "fierce cannonade" are absolutely meaningless, if we have nothing to compare with. Any enemy battery would seem ghastly to anyone, who is under its fire, and any enemy artillery fire would seem fierce to anyone, who is under this fire. If we have something to compare with, we can get meaningful expressions, such as "the battery was ghastlier than that well known battery", and "the cannonade was fiercer than that well known cannonade".
So, Senarmont's cannonade hadn't ceased when the Russian center was driven back, Senarmont continued firing at the retreating Russian troops. This was the normal French practice, see such examples at Austerlitz:
Meanwhile, the enemy had advanced his artillery, and vigorously plied it in cannonading the allies during their retreat, which put the finishing stroke to the disorder they were in.
Stutterheim, A detailed account of the battle of Austerlitz. London, 1807, p. 106).
And at Bautzen:
The battle was fought in a most clear and beautiful day of spring … it was finished at 5 or 6 p. m. Fortunately to us, the French had no light cavalry, otherwise we might had suffered huge losses during our retreat, but their artillery pursued us in the most dreadful manner.
Zhirkevich I. S., Zapiski, Moscow, 2009, p. 109; Russkaya Starina, 1874, vol. XI, p. 426.