Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Prussian Artillery Bricoles?

Minden Miniatures Pioneers painted as Prussian artillerist in waistcoats. RSM limber and driver.

Here is a picture of an artillery vignette that I created back in 2010, based on the Knotel print below, where we see Prussian artillery crew manhandling the cannon back into its firing position. They use a combination of ropes to pull the cannon, and a lift bar to keep the trail from dragging alone the ground creating friction. The ropes were called avancir-Riemen according to Christopher Duffy -- 

"(they) were attached to hooks on the carriage cheeks and the ends of the axle and pulled over the right shoulder of the crewmen. At the same time, a transvers bar was inserted (see below) by two of the crewmen through a set of eyes on the trail of the carriage, lifted to clear the ground and pushed from the rear. Over reasonable ground the piece was capable of being moved at slightly more than the pace of marching infantry, and on each bound the gunners reckoned to haul their cannon far enough ahead to enable them to get off a couple of rounds before their infantry caught up. The heavier pieces were dragged by horse-power all the way to the battery sites."

-- The Army of Frederick the Great (page 179)

Prussian artillery crew manhandle the cannon into position. Knotel print.

Artillery crews were using drag ropes to haul the heavy cannon back into place for many years prior to the Napoleonic Wars. They were certainly using drag ropes during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740 - 1748) and during the Seven Years War.

In my artillery vignette, I used florist wire to create the rope by twisting two pieces together to form a cable. At one end, I twisted the wire into a loop so that it could be attached to the axle of the cannon model. The "rope" is then fit into the open hands of the Minden Miniatures "Pioneer" figures. These are wonderful figures, very versatile and useful for a number of purposes. They can be holding the tools that come with each set. They can be holding planks of wood or rods used for pontoon bridge building. They can carry sacks of flour or gunpowder by making a burlap bag out of green epoxy putty. You are only limited by your imagination. I use the same figures for both Austrian and Prussian artillery crew matrosses (helpers) and countless other uses.


  1. At the Fort Erie 1812 reenactment, the crew from Ft. Meigs, OH, usually bring a true 6-pounder and haul it around "en Bricole" pretty much like the artillerists in your scene do, although they have it hitched to a limber and pull that which pulls the gun. It's a heavy beast.

  2. Can you imagine, how difficult it was at Kunersdorf, pulling the guns through the "Kuhgrund" and the muds with such Avancier-Riemen? You made your vignette absolutely realisitic - I adore it already a long time!

  3. Very nice indeed. An inspiring piece of modelling