The New Student's Reference Work/Artillery

For works with similar titles, see Artillery.

Artil'lery, originally any projectile weapon or engine of war, even bows, arrows and slings; now it signifies either cannon of any kind or the soldiers who manage them. When field-guns began to be used, it was necessary to have a special body of men to study and become familiar with the flight and range of balls, the weight and strength of cannon and the manœuvering of heavy masses of field artillery. This was the origin of the artillery corps. After the great wars of the nineteenth century artillery had become the third great branch of military service, ranking with the infantry and cavalry. When cannon first came into use, the gunners were looked upon as mechanics and had a guild of tneir own. When a war broke out, the different monarchs hired as many of them as they wanted, their pay being four times that of an ordinary soldier. In battle, artillery tactics consisted simply of putting the guns in position, generally in front of the line, but taking care to hide them as much as possible, until they were ready to open fire. In case of defeat they nearly always fell into the hands of the enemy, because of the difficulty of moving them. Louis XIV in 1671 was the first sovereign to create a special artillery force, and he also founded the first artillery school (1690). Among those nations which have done most to improve the artillery service are the Americans, French and Germans, the latter standing at present foremost in this line. English artillery was mainly developed within the 19th century. Field ordnance has become very effective of recent years, and, being lightened, its mobility has been greatly increased. The rapid-fire field-gun to-day fires more aimed shots in a minute than a whole battery of the old field-guns could. The new American artillery combines the best and essential features of the Wheeler and Ehrhardt guns. One of the largest guns ever built is the 16-inch breech-loading rifle of the United States seacoast cannon. It is almost fifty feet long, weighs about 130 tons and throws a 2,400 Ib. projectile nearly twenty-one miles. It can pierce 42 inches of the strongest steel. The heaviest guns ever put on ships were the 110-ton guns of the British Navy. The gatling and mitrailleuse types have become obsolete. The rapid-firing, single-shot Hotchkiss cannon, the Maxim-Nordenfeldt automatic cannon and the Krupp, Canet and Vickers-Maxim are the best-known types of artillery today. The rapid-fire guns vary from one-pounders to 13.5 rifles and from one round every two minutes to sixty in a single minute. Their range is from 7,500 to 18,000 feet. In the United States the artillery troops of the regular army now consist of six regiments of field artillery, 199 officers and 5,245 enlisted men, and of a coast artillery corps of 170 companies with 569 officers and 19,321 enlisted men. In time of peace the president is authorized to reduce the battery organization. The law requires that one battery in each regiment shall be mounted, though it gives the president power to mount as many others as shall seem best to him. When not thus mounted, the batteries serve as heavy or garrison artillery, mainly in the seacoast fortifications. Special schools for artillery instruction have been founded in different countries. The United States Artillery School is at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. It aims at a course of training which shall not merely make expert artillerymen but men fitted for any office, however high in rank or command. The course is two years, and is properly a post-graduate course with reference to the united States Military Academy.