par Jean-Louis Vial
The platform of battery
During sieges the batteries of mortars were installed on wooden platforms and protected by a parapet as built for cannons but without embrasures.
The construction of a mortar battery began by the construction of the parapet that measured 3 toises thick and 7 1/2 pieds high. This parapet was made of earth and bundles of wood called in French "fascine", the workers took the earth in the front of the battery making there a small ditch and they made alternately a coat of fagots and a coat of earth. The pioneers laid down the bundles of wood according to their length in the width of the parapet, they fixed them with stakes, likewise they put fagots in cuff, that was to tell laid down according to their length along all sides of the parapet equally fixed with stakes.
To construct the platform the workers began packing the earth to give a slope of four pouces from front to rear. The floor was usually composed with wood beams in 7 or 9 pouces square and 6 to 10 pieds length ( according to the piece) redoubled in cross, beams were fixed by wood stakes and interstices were filled in with earth just above girders level. The distance between two mortars was of 15 or 16 pieds.
A rammer witch had the same gauge than
the mortar to force earth and forage which covered the
Loading implements were tidied ahead the mortar against the retaining wall of the parapet. On right hand three handspikes, a stretcher, a spade and a rammer. On left hand two handspikes, a scraper, a wooden knife, aiming quoins and a hoe peak. The two shot firers were raised back of the mortar at 9-10 pieds of the platform.
Shell was a hollow iron globe filled with a powder bursting charge that was exploded by a time wooden fuse.
The implements used for pierrier were the same as for mortar, it was necessary to add baskets of 15 to 20 pouces in diameter by 20 pouces in high and wooden trays that had a slightly inferior diameter than the caliber of the pierrier, and at 10-15 pas behind the battery four dump wagons filled with stones to fill 60 baskets that were necessary for each pierrier.
Within each artillery battalion or
brigade were constituted companies of bombardiers
specialised in the implementation of mortar and pierrier
To serve the mortar the crew was of five
men including the officer.
To aim mortar the officer used a quadrant with a pendulum to measure the degree of elevation of the mortar, the soldiers passed their handspike under the bulge of the mortar to lift or to decline it, they put aiming quoins under the bulge of the mortar following the indications of the officer. To kept the firing axis despite the height of the parapet there were two small stakes sticked at the top of the parapet, after each shot the men put this landmarks and the mortar back in alignment swinging the mortar on its platform with handspikes.
The powder reserve was placed at 15-20 pas behind the battery the soldiers accessed there by a trench protected by wooden boards or fagots and covered with earth or skins from oxen that the army ate and that artillery officers took care to salvage. Shells were tidied near the powder store at 5-6 pas.
The service of pierrier pieces required only three men, the sequences of firing maneuvres were similar that of mortar.