Talk:Horse artillery

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I'm currently working on updating and rewriting the article. I'm a bit puzzled about the inclusion of the picture of German WW II artillery, though. The source describes it as "horse-drawn artillery". Isn't this just an example of artillery using horses for transportation rather than rapid deployment on the battlefield?

Peter Isotalo 22:38, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Would the Anglophobes protest if the East India Company's use of horse artillery in the 1750s was mentioned?

Against whom? And is there a source for it?
Peter Isotalo 11:45, 14 August 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:52, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Great War[edit]

I believe this article would benefit with more on WWI. Were horse artillery units at the time simply ordinary field artillery units in (or attached to) cavalry divisions, or were they using specialist guns? Our section on mountain artillery is enviable and could be used as a model, maybe. Boris B (talk) 10:19, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree, but I keep wondering how much there actually is to say about the Great War. I don't know anything about the use of the arm by actual combatants, Britain in particular, but from what I remember of Hedberg the Swedish horse artillery regiment wasn't disbanded until 1927 and kept doing their excercises well into the 1920s.
Peter Isotalo 15:50, 4 January 2008 (UTC)


There's been a few rounds of reverting of categories for this article now. Mrg3105 doesn't seem to want to list this under Category:Cavalry and keeps switching the artillery category. Moving it from Category:Artillery to Category:Artillery by type seems okay, but I really don't see the merit of removing the cavalry category. It's technically not a type of cavalry, but it's differs enough from regular horse-drawn arty to merit special treatment. I see no harm in keeping it in both categories.

Peter Isotalo 06:33, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

Never ever tell gunners they are cavalry :) The horse artillery was always, in every country artillery, and the simple fat that they rode horses to the line did not make then cavalry in the least since they never received cavalry training, had very distinct uniforms, and were, well, artillery--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 07:19, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
It's established rather clearly that this is a type of artillery, but the article also points out that it deals with a rather unique type of hybrid unit. The category does not interfere or contradict the article content, so unless there is a better argument than wounding inter-arms pride, I see no valid reason for removing the cavalry category.
Peter Isotalo 07:37, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
Fair point, but horse artillery was not a hybrid unit. There was nothing cavalry about it--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 07:58, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
Except that the crew rode into battle and remained mounted throughout the course of fighting except when operating the guns. No other non-cavalry unit ever did that as far as I know.
Peter Isotalo 10:06, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, horses were the only mode of transport at the time, so its not like they had a choice. There were experiments in Austria and Russia on having the crew ride on special wagons, but their mobility was bad on a battlefield, and they interfered with the deployment of caisson lines. Besides that the destruction of a wagon rendered the entire piece foot again. There is nothing cavalry about horse artillery other then horses and some parts of uniforms. They were not trained cavalry drill, they did not use cavalry ranks, they did not even parade in the same way. Of course horse artillery batteries were attached to cavalry units, but that should be in the orders of battle and not categorised. Categories are for grouping articles in the same subject area. Fox hunting also used horses, but that's not in the cavalry category either for that very reason.--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 13:40, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

War categories[edit]

What I would like to see is some logic behind the removal of the article from this category. I appreciate that you and Buckshot06 don't like the categorisation, but does it actually contravene any categorisation guidelines? What is the problem? If someone was doing a project on military history of the Napoleonic Wars, do you think they would not want to know what types of troops fought in them? The parent Category:Types of military forces was set up over a year and a half ago, so what is the problem? I am following a fairly accepted category branching of "by conflict" or "by country" found in other categories within the Military History categorisation structure--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 13:45, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Can you imagine what would happen if we started categorizing every type of unit in this way? Horse artillery wouldn't be particularly hard hit, but we'd still be talking about dozens of categories for every imaginable war. And just imagine what would happen with articles like hoplite or main battle tank. This is neither practical nor useful to readers. Types of military forces in the Napoleonic Wars has some merit, but that does not extend to starting separate categories for these kind of articles.
Peter Isotalo 07:27, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Can you give examples? I'm not sure what you mean.--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 11:28, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Give you examples? I though you were the true aficionado in this matter. Just start counting all the wars where horse artillery has been in and do the math. I don't need to explain it to you how utterly unpractical a situation we'd wind up to if everyone started adding categories for every single war that happened to utilize everything from military engineers to cavalry (!). I'm nominating the category for deletion, and thereby moving the discussion elsewhere.
Peter Isotalo 20:15, 29 July 2008 (UTC)
Practicality is not a consideration in a reference work.
Napoleonic Wars actually included 8 wars in Europe alone.
Horse artillery only existed as a type of troops from the 18th centiry to just after the First World War.
Anytime I see someone saying "I don't need to explain", I stop reading--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 00:28, 30 July 2008 (UTC)
"I don't need to explain" is your wording, not mine. Considering your track record with other editors, I really encourage you to approach this issue with a modicum of civility instead of trying to steamroll me with irrelevant nitpicking. Try looking at disagreements as an opportunity to re-evalute your standpoints instead of using it as an excuse to escalate conflicts with your fellow editors.
Peter Isotalo 01:12, 30 July 2008 (UTC)
Is this your wording "I don't need to explain it to you how utterly unpractical a situation we'd wind up to if everyone started adding categories for every single war that happened to utilize everything from military engineers to cavalry (!)."?
My track record has nothing to do with your contention. I approach each case on its own merit.
Oh, and I suppose you are also into behaviour modification :)
Which part refers to "steamroll" and which to "irrelevant nitpicking"?
My standpoint is that Wikipedia has rules for categorisation. The suggested category has not breached any of these rules. What I am trying to understand is your standpoint. It seems to be that you think I should not have created this category because others may also for for "every single war that happened to utilize everything from military engineers to cavalry" (your words).
However, you will note that I have not created a category for the Types of troops during the 1812 Russian campaign. In fact I contemplated naming the category Category:Types of military forces in the Gunpowder Era, but realised it was too broad. Including the 18th century may have been ok, but the name seemed unwieldy.
Essentially your, and Buckshot06 suggestion is that because other editors may in future also create similar categorisations for other notable periods in military history, and because these will amount to too many categories, I should not give them the idea?
There are five broad historical periods. Within each one there are sub-periods of notable warfare. Napoleonic Wars are in the Modern period that also includes the European and American wars of the 18th century. Now, I suppose people can claim that all foot troops are "infantry" but the truth is that the term did not enter application until the 16th century although Wikipedia article says that

As a meaning for an organised type of combat troops the word dates to 1579 in the French infantrie and Spanish infanteria.[1] However, in military history it has become a common English term to apply to troops from earlier historical periods.

I can certainly suggest that if the Category:Types of military forces was created, it was certainly not intended to accommodate all the different types of forces that ever existed anywhere, so some will have eventually need to be sub-categorised to depopulate the Category:Types of military forces, right?--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 08:04, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Measurement template dispute[edit]

To avoid an editing war and 3RR problems, I am taking the issue of whether to use the "hands" template to describe horse measurements to talk. The underlying issue is how to explain the height of horses. The hands template, used thus: {{hands|15}} with whatever number is needed creates something like this: 15 hands (60 inches, 152 cm). There seems to be two disputes: 1) Whether to include the traditional "hands" measurement for measuring horses at all. "Hands" is used in the source, it was the term used in the time horse artillery was used, and it remains today a term of art still used to measure horses throughout the English-speaking world, though metric measurements have become more common on the European continent. 2) Whether the hands template is the best and most effective method to convert measurements. I really fail to see why not use it, as the cm and inch convert template gives a more awkward-looking result, IMHO. If anyone else is interested, the diffs in the history window outline the basic dispute. Montanabw(talk) 21:03, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Template's are not required in any way. I generally oppose them and I've never had anyone try to actually force them on an article, especially not when they . The problem is twofold:
  • The measurement is an approximate estimate, and if you give an estimate in cm, you do it in by units of tens, which the template doesn't allow since it's too rigid.
  • I'm surprised that I as a European am saying this, but for the vast majority of US readers, height is something that is understood in feet and inches, not hands and cms. That you or anyone else used to horses personally don't like seeing it is not a valid argument for removal. The point is to give as many readers as possible a sense of reference, and calling a simple conversion "original research" is a comment that completely misses the mark. As editors we're free to explain and summarize sources however we feel is necessary for our readership to understand it. And to stress my point here, our readership is more than horse experts. We're not supposed to be in the business of judging our readership only by our own standards of reference.
Montana, you've gotten your will through here. Hands are used (and linked) as the primary unit of measurement. Asking for full control of virtually all details is not a reasonable demand.
Peter Isotalo 05:22, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
I've started an RfC debate on this matter on the Equine talk page, since it is relevant to the whole project and not just a couple of articles.
The Convert template works just fine, by the way - you can set the level of precision of the output with the greatest ease. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 13:18, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Or you can simply write it out in plain text. I don't see why one would be preferably over the other. Either way, WP:MILHIST and WP:MOS are far more relevant to this article than WP:EQUINE alone, so consider taking it up there first.
Peter Isotalo 18:46, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
I have had very little to do with this article other than some material on the horses themselves. I haven't touched it in months until now, and all we are discussing is ONE sentence on measurement. I'd say "getting my will" on one lousy sentence is not "asking for full control of virtually all details." And your counter of a "compromise" that is essentially, to do it your way and incorrectly to boot, and not to use the best option available, is not a compromise, Peter,it's OR, particularly when you clearly can't even convert the numbers properly (15 hands is 60 inches, which is 5 feet, not 4 feet, 11 inches and 60 inches is not 150 cm). That's why we have templates! Hands is not an "approximate estimate," it's a specific amount: 4 inches. Horses are measured in hands, the source cited stated their measurement in hands. The template provides conversions in both inches and cm for people who don't know what a "hand" is, such as yourself. As JLAN noted, he has now requested that WPEQ debate the overall template issue, and I have restored the original version here with the original template until a consensus is reached. I strongly suggest that you cease edit-warring on this issue. This is a military history issue that is about the use of horses. The measurement unit used for horses is relevant, just like measuring the wind in knots is relevant for an article about naval warfare. Just because you don't "like" templates, it's silly to not use something that you obviously would benefit from using. (Sometimes I'm no fan of them either, but I learned to deal with them, they have their place). That also applies to properly formatting references, by the way. Among other things, you put the author's name in last name first. Montanabw(talk) 19:30, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Except for the addition of a link to horses in warfare your editing in this article has been confined to reverting my edits. To me, that comes across as asking for a lot of editorial control. As for where the boundaries of how much individual members WP:EQUINE (or the project as a whole) are supposed to decide individual articles that happen to measure a horse's height, that's something that should be decided by others than just the project itself.
The text says "around 15 to 16 hands", referring to a recommendation in a 19th century artillery manual. Saying that this should be converted to exact cms is making is too literal to be reasonable. A recommendation is intended to be an estimate, and translating it to exactly 152-163 cm makes it look extremely odd to someone who's used to metric since it's obviously not intended to be that exact. Even Justnumbers agrees on this. And you're perfectly welcome to correct ft/inches if you feel it's that incorrect.
And Montana, please stop reverting unrelated edits to the refs. You're just making it look as if this has more to do about antagonism between you and myself than anything substantial.
Peter Isotalo 19:55, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I reverted your edits to my sourcing because you screwed them up. And I fixed another cite you had wrong (you don't put the author's first name first, you put their last name first). The current version is at least correct in measurement, and I'm tired of wasting my breath on you and sick of your personal attacks. Your arguments are not persuasive but I am going to just quit arguing with you until the hands template stuff is settled. I note a lot of other people revert your edits here too, so I'll just let it site for now, as at least you are no longer claiming that 60 inches is not 5 feet. Montanabw(talk) 23:23, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

Montana, how about looking at the actual reality of the situation here? That you're still actually dwelling on the minor error I made in calculation (I converted the ft/inch from the metric approximate) is just not constructive. And I accidentally switched a last name and first name. Mea culpa by all means, but it does seem like pretty minor sins to me. To put things in perspective, here's where we started:
"15 to 16 hands high"
And here's where we are right now:
"around 15-16 hands (c. 150-160 cm or 5 ft to 5 ft 4 inches)".
The hands that you prefer is the primary unit, I've rounded off the cms since approximate figures are appropriate to give in tens (almost exactly one hand, btw) and as far as I know, using feet and inches for are far more easy to recognize as a measurement of height for US readers. Whether its done with a template or not is when you think about it wholly immaterial, since the appearances are what matters. How is this still an issue worth fighting over?
Peter Isotalo 00:19, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

For reference, until I make improvements[edit]

There's a lot of confusion over the term horse artillery. That is to say, in English, not in German. Most of this arises from what in the U.S. is called mounted or harnessed artillery, and in German was called Fahrende Artillerie or more whimsically Wurst or Pickle artillery. This was artillery drawn by large teams of horses and similar to horse artillery in mobility and power, but with the gunners mounted on the guns and moving with the infantry. Much field artillery in wars like the American Civil War was of this type. Most horse-drawn artillery in WWII was too, but the German and Japanese cavalry did have some true horse artillery, as I believe the U.S. did in the 30s. I'll improve this article and create a new one to reflect this, but it will take time to find the (print) references, and I am busy with real life and other articles. —innotata 00:26, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

Innotata, your recent edits erased some of Peter's sources and you also added raw URLs without formatting them. I suggest that you and Peter work out what you want to add here rather than to just insert material as you have been doing. I will let the two of you determine if a split in the article is needed or not. But work it out here first. Montanabw(talk) 05:05, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Peter seems to be fine with my corrections, now that I added sources. He thanked me for the edit; the only issue he had was that I made changes before adding sources. Formatting for sources is not a requirement, and I'll add formatting sometime soon. As for Fahrende Artillerie, it will need an entirely new article, with no content taken from here. —innotata 05:12, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
And, for the record, the reason I reverted Peter twice is that he was making 'corrections' that did not reflect what was in the text. I suppose correcting it without adding sources wasn't the right move either, but I've added sources, so I hope it's all OK now. —innotata 05:25, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Your explanation is kind of incomprehensible. If this article is not about horse artillery, then define what YOU mean by "true" horse artillery and clarify what differences (I honestly see no significant difference) there are with field artillery. And this is English wikipedia, so you need to translate your German into the English language equivalent. It all appears to be horses pulling guns to me. Montanabw(talk) 05:50, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Montana, try not to revert wholesale. Focus on the stuff that you actually disagree with. You know, spirit of collaboration and all hat. From what I can tell, innotata has made useful contributions. This article isn't perfect, so raw URLs are hardly a serious issue. WP:SOFIXIT comes to mind.
innotata, regarding the definition of horse artillery, I really don't see much confusion here. From what I can tell, Fahrende Artillerie ("travelling artillery") was just the official German term for their horse artillery, as opposed to the Austrian Berittene Artillerie ("mounted artillery"). They don't seem to be distinct enough to merit separate articles even. At least not about the type of weapon.
Peter Isotalo 11:03, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. As for Fahrende Artillerie, as I said, the distinction was made everywhere, including in the U.S. Today, people may get the terms confused, but in the American Civil War people knew that this was not horse/light artillery. It's just that I'm not sure which English name—harnessed, mounted, or propelled artillery—is most appropriate. (For this discussion, I'll use the Civil War term harnessed artillery.)
Horse artillery was never used as a term for harnessed artillery in the U.S. or British militaries of the 19th century. Units such as the Royal Horse Artillery never included it. As for German units, you've got it reversed; Berittene Artillerie was the German term, and as the German Wikipedia says "the Feldartillerie of the German Army was made up of the Berittene Artillerie together with the Fahrende Artillerie". They're quite different types of weapons, although harnessed artillery arose from horse artillery. Having the gunners ride on the guns makes a big difference (and in countries like the U.S., they often went on foot). The tactics this article talks about mostly apply to horse artillery. Horse artillery moved with and provided fire support to the cavalry, harnessed artillery was too slow to do so and moved with and mostly supported the infantry. To quote Gibbon: "Light or field-artillery, is that portion which manoeuvres field-pieces with troops in the field. It is divided into horse-artillery and mounted batteries. In horse-artillery, the cannoneers, of which there are eleven to each piece, are mounted on horses, from which they have to dismount before attending on the piece, the two extra men holding the horses of the rest. In the mounted batteries, formerly called foot-artillery, the cannoneers are on foot, and remain so during the manoeuvres of the battery, except when it is desired to move at a very rapid rate, when they are mounted on the ammunition-boxes."
And, Montanabw, what this article is definitely is not about is horses pulling artillery. All artillery was transported strategically by horses, including Napoleonic-era foot artillery and even siege artillery, unless cattle or some such slower option was taken. This article talks about what was actually known as horse artillery: artillery that could be moved tactically by horses. (Maybe we could have a new article, use of horses in artillery, or something of the sort.) Peter Isotalo, an example of the confusion is over WWII horse artillery. A lot of people refer to any artillery pulled by horses in the war, largely harnessed artillery, as horse artillery, as you noted above. This confusion obscures the fact that German cavalry divisions made some use of horse artillery, as Axis Cavalry points out.
On that topic, I'd eventually like to replace the discussion of the ideal artillery horse with one that applies specifically to horse artillery, as Gibbon is mostly referring to harnessed artillery. (Maybe it should be removed now.) I think Swords Around a Throne talks about this in the Napoleonic era… And, in general, I need to get ahold of more sources before I can do much with this article. —innotata 13:56, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Seems to me the whole article could be retitled "Use of horses in artillery" and then both types explained; for the sake of style, flow and the reader who is not already an aficionado, overview articles are very useful. You can always create spinoffs later (note, e.g. cavalry, which has the spinoffs light cavalry and heavy cavalry). Those of us who are not into the military end of things pretty much have the attitude that "it's all stuff that goes boom, so who cares?" (grin). An overview can introduce the newbie to the topic, and then if there is a need for more complex analysis, the spinoffs can be developed and Main links give in the overview. Montanabw(talk) 20:32, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
I like the idea, but this article as it exists is now about a certain type of artillery universally called horse artillery, that deserves its own article. It doesn't substantially talk about harnessed artillery, or about the use of horses in the rest of the artillery, and never has. Creating an article on the use of horses in artillery would require staring nearly from scratch as well as being at a new title. —innotata 21:05, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Monatana, I agree with innotata's assessment. There is no need to redefine this article. "Horse artillery" is a pretty well-defined type of military unit overall, and that's also the focus here. This is not an article about the use of horses in warfare, but a specific tactical role where horses happen to play an essential part (along with the guns, limbers, etc). Compare with the infantry types grenadier or airborne infantry. Strictly speaking, for horse artillery, horses are the equivalent of the equipment of a rifleman.
Peter Isotalo 21:47, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
If you're OK with it, then fine. I don't think a spinoff is ready, though; particularly as I'm not sure I really think the difference is particularly well-explained in the article; at least to those of us who don't really study issues of weaponry that much. Maybe additional basics early on are needed to address concerns about two different things called "horse artillery" if there is an argument here that THIS article isn't about "real" horse artillery? I guess I don't really have a strong opinion other than I don't really care for unnecessary forking or splitting of articles if the issue can be addressed within one. Montanabw(talk) 19:29, 23 September 2014 (UTC)