The Gribeauval System was the system of artillery introduced into the French army by Jean-Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval in the middle of the Eighteenth Century. Gribeauval's system covered everything from the structure of the artillery units to the guns and supply wagons that accompanied them. It remained in use (with some changes) throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars,
The first two thirds of the book look at the uniforms of the officers and men of the artillery. The pictures contain all of the information required by the wargamer, with hundreds of full colour frontal and side views of the uniforms of the men and officers of the artillery, as well as their flags. The focus of the text in this section is on the uniforms themselves, but there is also some info on the structure of the units. I must admit the minutia of uniforms isn't of that much interest to me, but this is a good example of the genre.
The last third of the book was of most interest to me. This looks at the guns themselves. It starts with a look at the crew positions and operations of the 12 pounder gun. We then move on to side and top views of each type in use, complete with the equipment needed to operate each gun and the ready access coffer. After this we look at the limbers used to move the guns any distance, and the caissons that carried more shells and ammo. The sections on the internal arrangement of the caissons is fascinating, showing how much thought went into supplying the artillery. Finally there are plates showing the standard support wagons that went with the guns.
From a historical point of view the changes in uniform do cast an interesting light on the changing nature of the French armies. We start with the Royal Army, with flags that would have been familiar for many years. In 1791 the first Republican flags appear, with the slogan 'Discipline and Obedience to the Law' and the familiar colours of the tricolour. This lasted until 1803, when Napoleon made his first appearance, as First Consul. Only one year later the Consul goes and is replaced by 'L'Empereur Des Français' at the same time as the Eagles were handed out. In 1812 the process is complete, and the flag is dedicated to 'L'Empereur Napoléon', with no mention of France at all!
Author: Ludovic Letrun and Jean-Marie Mongin
Publisher: Histoire et Collections