restricted access IV. Artillery
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114 IV Artillery If artillery had no greater range than the rifle, we could not risk separating them so far from their support, as it would have to wait until the enemy was only 400 or 500 paces to fire. But with its increase in range, supports can be placed farther away. With longer ranges of modern artillery, and the greater freedom of movement among all arms, they need not be positioned side by side for mutual support. The greater the artillery range, the easier it is to concentrate fire. Two batteries 1,500 meters apart can concentrate on a target 1,200 meters in front and between them. Formerly, they had to be too close together and the terrain did not always permit concentration. Too, do not position artillery immediately behind or to the side of the infantry, as is done three-fourths of the time in training maneuvers. Instead, conceal the infantry on the left or right well behind without worrying too much, and let the artillery call for support if the gun is in danger. Why should infantry be placed too close, and as a result demoralized, forfeiting the greatest advantage we French have in defense—defending ourselves by advancing, with morale intact—because we always take losses when we halt. There is always time to come to the aid of the guns, and skirmishers can be quickly moved between them. The skirmishers between the guns will have nothing to fear from enemy cavalry, and even being engaged by their infantry would not be so terrible. The skirmishers can take cover behind the guns and fire at an enemy approaching in the open. Guilbert, I believe, said that artillery should not worry whether it was supported , that it should fire up to the last moment, then abandon the guns, which supporting troops may or may not recapture. The supporting troops should not be too close. It is easier to defend guns, even to take them back, by advancing on an enemy scattered among them, better than defending Artillery 115 them by standing fast and sharing in the artillery’s casualties. (Note the English in Spain; the absurdity of artillery with infantry platoons in train.) Artillery in battle has men group around fixed rally points, the guns, dispersed , each with its own commander and cannoneers, who are always the same. Thus, there is a roll call each time the guns form as a battery. Artillery carries its men along; they cannot straggle or slip away. If the officer is brave, his men rarely desert him. In all armies, it is certainly in the artillery that the soldier can best do his duty. As General Leboeuf tells us, four batteries of artillery can be maneuvered, not more. Here it is exactly: four battalions is enough command for a colonel ; a general has eight battalions. He receives orders: “General, do so and so.” He orders: “Colonel, do so and so.” So in the absence of regulations for exercises of more than four battalions, you can exercise and drill as many as you like. ...