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Jonathan Gingerich


You did Not Conrad Sage, which is why I edited my post and changed four to three

Look, the OP addresses a particular interaction that plagues Napoleonic discussions.  It’s not unique to any one site, but it is handled better or worse according to site. TWW is not an island. Many of the players here are players elsewhere, and I don’t anticipate Esdaile making an appearance here anytime soon. That said I understand this is not a path Mike would like to trod (and I alluded to that already), so I will leave it.

Not Conrad Sage your speculation that canister spread less than a grapeshot round is a reasonable hypothesis, but I don’t think there is any evidence. There was some contemporary experimentation, like the Mueller(?) tests, and it was understood that lead shot was not a suitable canister ingredient, as the heat of the combustion fused it together.  So if there was a performance difference, one might expect to find it in the technical training of the time. The late Paddy Griffith suggested that canister spread out in a fairly narrow pattern and did not penetrate, so that the expected casualties against a dense target were actually less than round shot. I was surprised to find (I cannot remember where) that an early analysis of the Battle of Arcole suggested just this about Austrian artillery firing down the bridge. Anyway, I am rather dubious of Paddy’s analysis. His description, approximately “most of the shot was concentrated on 2-3 files with a couple of lethal strays” isn’t exactly a statistical analysis. If you think about, much of the scatter will be over or under the target, so there is a diminishing return with too much spread. It’s also unclear that a grape shot would not have enough power to penetrate a second rank of bodies.

As the the question of counter-battery fire in canister range, all that comes to mind is an anecdote in Zhmodikov and Zhmodikov describing the Russian Horse Artillery at Borodino getting decimated as they deployed, one battery at a time against a French bombardment, but the range is not clear.