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View Full Version : A Short Guide to British, Peninsular war, Military terms.



Hengist_Sharpe
24th Jun 2005, 09:15
Aide de Camp
Junior staff officer attached to a marshal or general

Anfrancesados
Spanish natives who collaborated with the French

Baker Rifle
Rifle used by British rifle battalions during the Peninsular War. The rifle had a 30 inch, seven groove, quarter turn barrel and was accurate up to 250 yards although it was slow to load.

Banquette
Firing step behind a parapet

Bastion
Defensive work with two front faces forming a salient from the curtain wall, to allow flanking fire along the wall.

Battalion
Tactical infantry unit varying between 500 to 1000 men (sometimes less)

Brigade
Tactical military formation of about 3000 men and containing 2 or 3 battalions.

Brown Bess
Nickname of the British smoothbore musket, originally applied to the Long Land Pattern musket.

Ca├žadores
Portuguese rifle- or infantrymen. Uniforms were brown. Translation = 'hunter'

Caltrop
A four pointed metal spike that was thrown on the ground, always with one spike upright. Used against cavalry horses.

Canister
Artillery projectile of lead balls in a tin container. Resembled a giant shotgun cartridge and had similar effect over a short range.

Carcass
Incendiary or illuminating shell of oil soaked hay, fired from a mortar or howitzer.

Carronade
Large calibre short range cannon, commonly used on ships for firing canister.

Cazadore (a caballo)
Spanish chasseurs or light cavalrymen

Chasse Maree
Small coastal sailing or fishing boats.

Chasseur
Light troops. Translation = 'hunter'

Cheval de Frise
Portable barrier of sword blades used to block breaches. Could also be made of stake- or sword studded beams.

Chosen Man
Title given to a corporal in a British Rifle unit.

Colours
Battalion flags which represented the honour of the unit. Usually each battalion held the King's Colour (Union Flag) and the regimental colour.

Company
Basic military unit of about 50 to 100 men and commanded by a captain.

Congreve's Rockets
Invented by Sir William Congreve. They looked like overgrown fireworks, were extremely erratic and not used a great deal, although Wellington used them occasionally in the Peninsula and at Waterloo.

Corps
Military formation of 2 or 3 divisions commanded by a general.

Counterguard
Earthwork to protect the base of a curtain wall.

Counterscarp
Vertical face of a ditch around a fort on the outer side.

Crapaud
French meaning 'toad', used by the British of the French in general.

Cuirassier
French armoured heavy cavalry. The cuirass being a breastplate.

Cunette/Cuvette
Deep narrow ditch, often filled with water, in the main defensive ditch of a fort.

Curtain Wall or Curtain
Main wall surrounding a fort.

Demi Brigade
French military formation consisting of part regular and part conscript battalions.

Division
Large military formation of about 4000 to 6000 men, containing 2 or 3 brigades and commanded by a lieutenant general.

Dragoons
Originally mounted infantry, they usually carried curved sabres, carbines and pistols.

Eagle
French equivalent of the British colours. Presented to all regiments by the Emperor.

Enfilade
Adjective used to describe fire coming from the flank and raking the length of a formation.

Ensign
Infantry second-lieutenant.

Escalade
Attack on walls of a fort using ladders.

Forlorn Hope
First storming party into a breach, usually volunteers under a junior officer, who drew enemy fire. Officers and sergeants who survived were usually rewarded with promotion.

Galloper Guns
6-pounder guns drawn by horses to accompany cavalry.

Glacis
Open space or slope surrounding a fort.

Goddam
Dates from the Hundred Years War, French nickname for the British troops taken from their extensive use of the expression.

Gonfalon
Banner or standard.

Gorget
The crescent-shaped plaque worn around the neck by officers, a symbol of a commisioned rank and a relic from the days of armour.

Grapeshot
Close range artillery ammunition

Guerilla
Spanish 'little war', also a term for partisan fighters

Half Pay
An officer holding a commision, but unemployed, received half pay.

Howitzer
Short barrelled cannon designed for high angle fire.

Imperial Guard
Napoleon's elite formation of veteran troops.

Kings German Legion (KGL)
Formed from the old Electorate of Hanover's army after Napoleon overran the country in 1803.

Kligenthal
Hand forged sword all made from one piece of steel, strong and durable.

Light Company
British company composed of agile men and good marksmen, used as skirmishers. Were relied upon to use their initiative more than line troops.

Loophole
Small hole un a wall, allowing defenders to fire out.

Magazine
Storage place for munitions or a soldier's supplementary ammunition container.

Necessaries
Issued items of personal kit.

Parole
System of releasing prisoners of war.

Pelisse
Hussar jacket with fur trim sometimes worn over one shoulder.

Picket (Piquet)
Infantry outpost or sentry.

Provost
Early military police, commanded by a Provost Marshall, universally unpopular throughout the army, but supported by Wellington.

Quartermaster
Officer responsible for supplies, uniforms, stores, weaponry etc.

Ravelin
Triangular outwork, built in a ditch of a fort to split the attacking force and cause confusion.

Regiment
In the British Army, an administrative military unit which recruited soldiers and sent them to war in battalions. Usually two battalions to a regiment.

Roundshot
Projectile of cannon, simple iron balls, they were the main cannon ammunition in the field.

Sapper
Originally a soldier who dug narrow siege-trenches (or saps), but later became a generic term for engineers and those trained in siege operations.

Shako
Peaked, cylindrical hat, usually made of felt and often black. Worn by all armies in the Napoleonic wars.

Shell
Artillery ammunition. Hollow iron ball filled with gunpowder which exploded by means of a fuse.

Stock
Leather collar worn around the neck under the jacket collar. British infantry wore them and they were universally disliked. Can also mean a fabric strip worn around the neck.

Subaltern
Junior officer of ensign or lieutenant rank in the British Army.

Voltiguer
French Light infantry companies of line battalions. Translation = 'vaulter'.

Eruan
24th Jun 2005, 12:17
:eek: wow, amazing, but very interesting ;) thumb up :thumbsup:

giskard
24th Jun 2005, 21:58
Hengis: Glad you made it. :)

Personally I think Wellington would have had a much easier time if he had taken the humble Ullar along :)

Oh yes, I dont know if you heard about this but the guy who did Sharps war also did a documentory series based on his book. He mentioned an incident in one battle where English and French troops had a bit of a drinking session on the Engish fortifications between battles.

The commander found the french sleeping next to his own men next morning and was not happy about :)

Can you imagine IG supporting that level depth ?
5 of the your Grenadiers walk off to the nearest house and you hear drinking songs echoing across the battlefield :)

Giskard

Hengist_Sharpe
29th Jun 2005, 12:28
Hi Gis.

You know one of the books I recommended to you, over at the TAFN forums, the one about the Peninsular War, well it has several accounts of British and French soldiers sharing tobacco/alcohol and on one occasion actually fighting together lol.

One event still makes me laugh. In one battle (this was actually witnessed by Lord Wellington who was 100 yards away), the Spanish were positioned on the right flank of the battle line. Some French dragoons appeared, 1000 yards away, and started to fire off their pistols in a show of bravado (they didn't have a cat in hells chance of hitting anyone). However, without any orders, the Spanish started to return Musket fire. Then the Spanish troops started to panic at the sound of their own Musket fire, they then deserted their position and ran, to the amazement of the on-looking and slightly bewildered Wellington. But the fiasco didn't end there, the deserting Spanish went on to ransack the British baggage train at the rear... lol :)

5/77 Armd
29th Jun 2005, 13:05
Be prepared for a sharp Spanish rebuke from Tartesos if he's still on this forum. That same episode spawned several threads on the Cossacks 2 forum and it got quite vicious with some mods having to close some threads! Just a heads up! Seems there's a couple of different versions to that story.

Hengist_Sharpe
29th Jun 2005, 14:07
Not that I care about having to defend myself, but I could quote directly the passage, word for word, give the page number, book title, publisher title and international standard book number if needed :)

If they want to challenge this, then I would expect to see their source also, otherwise they have no credibility to their argument.