The Field Artillery: History and Sourcebook

The Field Artillery: History and Sourcebook

The Field Artillery: History and Sourcebook

The Field Artillery: History and Sourcebook


This reference book by a well-known historian is the very first to give a short history of the development of the field artillery from the Middle Ages to the present, along with biographical profiles of leading figures, and bibliographical essays about the most important writings on the subject. Dastrup defines the evolution of this combat force and weapons system in terms of technology, organization, tactics, and doctrine. This volume is designed for academic and professional library reference sections and for use in courses in military history and military technology. This guide is suitable for reference and text purposes, and made accessible for varied uses through internal cross-referencing, appendices, and a well-framed general index.


Over the years, field artillery has played a vital part on the battlefield. For example, in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, field artillery possessed an unprecedented ability to deliver tremendous amounts of accurate firepower rapidly, neutralizing and destroying Iraqi targets. The capability of furnishing such support, however, has not always existed.

Once Europeans had learned about the explosive properties of gunpowder and decided that it had military possibilities, they introduced gunpowder artillery to defend or attack a castle or fortification and to support a field army on the battlefield. Although early siege artillery was heavy, ponderous, and dangerous, it readily breached castle and fortification walls that had been designed to withstand projectiles thrown by trebuchets, ballistae, and catapults; and it had greater range and firepower than the defender's artillery. This situation permitted the attacker to lay siege with impunity and eventually led to a revolution in fortification design to restore the balance between the besieger and besieged, and this in turn forced reforms in siegecraft.

In the fourteenth century, as siege artillery and garrison artillery were fighting for supremacy, Europeans started employing artillery on the battlefield. Over the next six centuries, field artillery went through four distinct revolutions. The initial revolution was the first use of artillery on the battlefield, which occurred when the English under Edward III (q.v.) utilized crude artillery pieces during the Battle of Crécy in 1346. During the following three hundred years, field artillery became more widespread on European battlefields because of its firepower.

However, early field artillery had limited use in combat. Because they were heavy, pieces with enough firepower to damage the enemy could not be easily moved to stay abreast of the other combat arms' movements to provide close . . .

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