What was the Prescribed Distance Between Civil War Artillery Pieces?

8/5/2014 • Ask Mr. History

A quick question from the American Civil War in regards to field artillery.  Were there prescribed distances between the guns when bringing a battery on line, and if so, what was it?



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Dear JA

If you are a Civil War artillery enthusiast, you must know of The Artillerist’s Manual by Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, published by D. Van Nostrand in 1860? That goes into detail on just about everything there is to know about the subject, including a chapter on the use of field artillery. With consideration for the real world, Gibbon did not get too specific about deploying a four-gun battery in the field, other than that the distance between guns should be “little greater than the maximum of deviation of the fire in order that the enemy, in firing upon one piece, may not strike the one next to it.” In the case of prepared defensive positions or fortifications, however, he did specify “16 feet in embrasures,” which might provide a basic rule of thumb, subject to variation depending on the terrain and the general situation.


I believe it is possible to download a free copy of this book.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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