Monday, October 23, 2023

1848 PIEDMONTESE ARTILLERY - Horse Artillery "Voloire"

 It was time I face this post concerning the Piedmontese Artillery in the First Italian Indipendence War (1848-1849) for what concerns the uniforms and the organitation of this army that was considered one of the top in Europe, for training and efficiency. For this post, that I think it will be huge, I will also post my sources (books) and personal researches.

The Corps of Artillery was composed of the Fortress Artillery (on 2 brigades) and the Mobile Artillery on 6 brigades (6 during the war): 3 Field Artillery, 2 Position Artillery, 1 Horse Artillery.

The Horse Artillery battery was composed as follows:

6 cannon - 8 punder

2 howitzer - 15 pounder

At the very start of the war, this Brigade was on just 2 batteries. On 25th March 1848 is formed the third Horse Battery.

Each Battery was divied in 2 half-batteries (each with 4 cannons), again split in 2 sections (the first and the second) with 2 cannons each. Usually, a battery never fought as a single unit, but it was habit that the minimal tactical formation, i.e. the section, was fighting as autonomous unit.

Eact battery was formed by:


2 Lieutenants

1 Second Liutenant

1 Quartermaster

6 Sergeants

1 Corporal-Quartemaster

12 Corporals

2 specialists

2 trumperters (1 for each half-battery)

1 saddler

1 farrer

24 gunners of first class

164 gunners of second class

210 horses.

What was a real plus of this unit was its capacity to move fast: 

All personel was on horses, but 3 gunners per piece (cannon) that were sat on the casson.

Piedmont 1848 Gunner of Horse Artillery

I did some researches and I modified my template. In 1837 the shape of the shako was modified in order to make it more cylindrical; I also hid the plume getting out from the back because there is no wind and added the yellow ribbon (used to keep the shako attached to the body of the gunners, or while riding horses, even worse).

Piedmont 1848 Horse Battery "Voloire" 
Gunner at the piece.

As I did with the Austrian Artillery train, also for the Piedmontese Horse Artillery I will have to make a double number of gunners: one on foot ready to shoot and a second on horses for moment. This is possible just with papersoldiers and their multiple possibilities. Here we are with a gunner/driver on a horse

Piedmontese Army - Horse Artillery "Voloire"
Copyright Michele L. SAVASTA FIORE

Here too, after some more researches on the Book "L'Armata Sarda e le Riforme Albertine" of Stefano Ales, published by Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito - Ufficio Storico, I increased the details and accourancy. The new template is as follows:

Piedmontese Army - Horse Artillery "Voloire"
Copyright Michele L. SAVASTA FIORE
(corrected version)

It is possible to compare with the original template of Austrian Artillery train

Another question to be solved is the colour of the cannon in the Piedmontese Army; I had some hints they were painted in light/pale blue. So I searched some "direct" source and I found this painting of the Battle of Pastrengo

This painting represents a Piedmontese cannon at the Battle of San Martino in 1859 in light blue; the artillery did not change the colour during the period, so it is evident also in 1848 they had the same colour. Here detail:

This colour is also confirmed by some figures published by Soldiershop Publishing "play the Italian Wars of Indipendence" of Luca Stefano Cristini and Gianpaolo Bistulfi, bu limited to the train, while the cannon has a very pale blue.

Another hint comes from a painting of an episode of the Battle of Custoza in 1866 (Third Italian Indipendence War) where the cannon is well depicted and with no doubts in light blue (the colour was still the same as 18 years before)

A further confirm we have from a painting of the Battle of the Goito Bridge at the very beginnig of the 1848 Campaign where the colour of the cannon is with no doubts pale blue (see detail here underneath)

and again in a painting of the Battle of Santa Lucia on 6th May 1848. (here bottom)

So I started first of all with a casson. I had this form the above mentioned book of the Esercito Italiano:

From this template (above) I was able to make this one (bottom):

1848 Piedmontese Casson
Copyright Michele L. SAVASTA FIORE

From this casson, with some little changing (above all concerning colours) I added the 3 gunners that were transported on it (bottom).

1848 Piedmontese Casson with gunners
Copyright Michele L. SAVASTA FIORE

and here (bottom) a different version i.e. with rucksack
1848 Piedmontese Casson with gunners and rucksacks
Copyright Michele L. SAVASTA FIORE

From this casson, I finally achieved the final result (bottom)

I then thought that usually these troops were flying (hence their nickname "Voloire")  and I should reproduce them as gallopping, considering that all troops were on horses:

I didn't like the position of the legs of the horse, considering that with guns and cassons probably they were not galloping but simply trotting or a sort of canter. This (here bottom) is the evolution
Copyright Michele L. SAVASTA FIORE (2023)

Now starts the most interesting part, i.e. the entire train of horse artillery: here (bottom) the unique example I found of it.

From this, and above all from the books I have, I prepared my first template of a train of horse artillery:

Further reaserches pointed out that the cannon (the 16/15 pounder howitzer) had a different gun-carriage (called Gribeauval)

So I changed the previous template to a more correct (bottom):
Horse Artillery train. Howitzer 16 pounder
Copyright Michele L. SAVASTA FIORE (2023)

Further researches pointed out that the Piedmontese Army underwent a deep programm of rationalization of the carriage and transport, using the same gun-carriage called "Cavalli" from the name of its inventor the Captain Cavalli; the front axle was the same for the gun-carriage as for the ammunition carriage. So I changed again:

Horse Artillery train. Howitzer 32 pounder
Copyright Michele L. SAVASTA FIORE (2023)

Other element that was present in the batteries was a carriage called "carro a ridoli". I found on the book "Caricat! Voloire - 150 Anni di Artiglieria a Cavallo"  by Cavallotti Editore - Milano a painting representing this carriage (year 1865) with the correct colour as well.

From this painting I did my template as usual. It was pulled by 2 horses (1 pariglia)

Ammunitions casson


  1. Thank you (again !) for all your work ! And let me assure you that your English very much better than my Italian (be assured this is an understatement ;-))). Since you mentioned on TMP (where I can pick up on your posts - I am not really very clever in things like blogging etc) that you have not much time for English, may I humbly suggest some repair ? "indEpendence" (no "i"), teMplate, ("m" added), flying (not "fliying" - no "i"). Please do understand those are not critic, it is a little help from a friend (quoting The Beatles, to give an impression of my age ;-)))).

  2. Thanks a lot. Absoultely not taken as a critic but as a suggestion and compliments. The mistakes you quoted are mostly due to the typing errors but still ... I will change as I will get time. The idea in fact is to publish (privately) some handbooks on this period 1Artillery, 2 Infantry, 3 Cavalry with my templates and some pictures of papersoldiers fighting "on the field"... Als U bent uit Nederland het is een plezier deze taal met U te gebruiken ... bedankt