According to Napoleon, 'It is with artillery that one makes war'. Well as a trained gunner he might be expected to say that, but there is no doubt the French artillery was the finest in Europe at the time. Several manufacturers have produced French artillery of one sort or another, and this set depicts the Line Horse artillery - less glamorous than the Guard, but an important part of all Napoleon's armies.
The gun in this set has quite a short barrel, which means it is best suited as a 4-pounder piece. The barrel is nicely sculpted, but the carriage is greatly simplified. While much of this is difficult to avoid it also lacks such simple features as a cross-piece and the pintle hole, so it cannot be hitched up to a limber.
A 4-pounder gun would be served by a crew of about six gunners, assisted by infantrymen as necessary. Each gun in this set has six gunners which are, from left to right, top to bottom:
The remaining gunners such as the sixth one here ensured that ammunition was kept supplied.
- No. 1 - NCO, who issued orders, aimed the gun and noted the fall of the shot
- No. 2 - Spongeman
- No. 3 - Loader
- No. 4 - Ventsman
- No. 5 - Firer
All the gunners are well posed. No.3 is feeding a round into the barrel, No.4 is holding his thumb over the touchhole while the barrel is being rammed and No.5 is applying the portfire to fire the gun. This last man also has a portfire case, which held the portfire and quick-match. These figures must be about the most authentically equipped Napoleonic artillery figures so far made, and show an attention to detail which is rarely seen.
The uniform is that introduced in 1812, with the short-tailed jacket and closed lapels. It would have been first seen clothing the 1813 replacements for the disastrous Russian campaign of the previous year.
As always we would have liked to have seen a limber, and in this case the small chest carrying ammunition that was held between the cheeks of the carriage should also have been included. However the figures themselves are very good, with more attention than normal paid to exactly what each man did and what equipment he would be carrying. The level of sculpting is good, with little in the way of flash and mould lines. Put the figures with guns and limbers from other manufacturers and a splendid battery can be created.