30/01/2016 - NEXT MEETING - 30th JANUARY 2016

Our Round Table will commence the New Year with a bang as our very own Miles Thomson (Royal Artillery – Ret.) Speaks to us on the role and evolution of artillery during the American Civil War. The details of the meeting are as follows


Date: Saturday 30 January 2016


Time: 13:00


Subject: Artillery in the American Civil War – Weapons and Tactics – How Did it all Work?


Speaker: Miles Thomson


Venue: The Civil Service Club, 13 - 15 Great Scotland Yard, London SW1A 2HJ.


Close: 16.30 hours


You can download the meeting reservation form by clicking here. The form contains all the details of how to register for the meeting. Please note that your registration form needs to be sent in by Monday 25th January 2016.


You can access the raffle application form by clicking here.




Miles writes: Was the American Civil War the last Napoleonic war, or the first Modern One? What a silly question - we all know that it was both.


It is an interesting era for an artilleryman to study. While I was just too young to have been at Appomattox myself, I haves spent quite a few years studying and pondering how the combatants employed their artillery. What were the favoured weapons? Which were less successful? What ammunition was used for what end and how was the combat arm organised?


During my presentation I will discuss the pros and cons surrounding the introduction of rifled guns and recount the introduction of rudimentary breech-loaders. Were they a leap ahead for the arm or just inventors’ toys? I will also describe the different types of ammunition expended. After all it is the ammunition what does the business - the gun just facilitates its arrival at the target!


I will then survey for the roundtable the different systems the opponents devised to achieve efficient tactical command of artillery in the field. I will do so in the context of actual practical difficulties encountered by the red legs both blue and grey. Who tells whom what to do - ammunition resupply - target identification - local protection - smoke - communications – horsepower - and much more.


I will close with several examples of how artillery was actually used in Civil War battles. Because of time constraints, I will confine myself to discussing the artillery operations in the field armies – forts and ship vs. forts will have to wait.



Miles wore the cap badge of the Royal Artillery for thirty-four years. The first half of his career was with the guns in various capacities including commanding a battery of the Sultan of Oman’s Artillery in the Dhofar War and commanding the specialist Naval Gunfire Support Spotting Unit in support of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.


Editor’s note: as many members know, Miles is congenitally bad tempered and it will come as no surprise that Jubal Early is one of his heroes. However, he has promised not to behave like “Mr Angry” just because he thinks he knows more about artillery in the Civil War that anyone who was there at time.