Armstrond 12lb (breech loader)

The Armstrong Breech loading 12 pounder 8 cwt, an example of a field artillery piece from 1859.

The Field Gun is a type of cannon or artillery piece. Specifically, the term field gun refers to smaller size cannons that are lighter and easier to maneuver on the field to better support infantry units in the field. The most famous use of the field gun was during the Napoleonic Wars where Napoleon Bonaparte ordered his cannon to roam around the field, firing a few volleys at the enemy forces before being moved off to different spot and engaging the enemy again.

Design DetailsEdit

The Field Gun is generally considered to be the smallest of standard artillery pieces, designed specifically for maneuverability and support of infantry. The carriage itself (particularly during the Napoleonic Wars) was given larger wheels than would otherwise be mounted onto the carriage, improving the turning circle and speed of the Field Gun around the field.

The field fun has evolved to use a variety of caliber and ammunition types. From the original iron cannon balls to the emergence of shells the field gun has evolved to fire virtually any type of ammunition at infantry within a reasonable range. A field gun is often referred to, wrongly, as a howitzer; the difference being that the howitzer is capable of being aimed at any angle, while the field gun was normally limited to the range of adjustment on its carriage.


The field fun is part of the larger group of firearms name Field Artillery. Their use was primarily focused upon quick engagement at random points on the field, disrupting the enemy forces' movements and organization before moving to a different point.

Napoleonic WarsEdit

Field Gun paint

Austrian Field Guns (picture) during the Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic Wars were dominated by Napoleon Bonaparte's use of his artillery units, particularly his deployment of Field guns. Although his most famous tactic of the "Grand Battery" (whereby a mass of cannon would join up in a single spot and bombard a single point) involved the field gun, Napoleon's most effective tactic would be to allow small groups of Field Guns to be towed around the field, before being unlimbered and unleashing a short barrage of shots. The field guns would then be limbered up again and towed to a new location.

First World WarEdit

The whole concept of field artillery evolved during the years between the Napoleonic Wars and the First World War. Virtually all artillery pieces could be mounted on rail or road to be moved, although focus remained on smaller artillery pieces, such as the field gun, that could be moved quickly in the field of battle.

Second World WarEdit

By the time of the Second World War the term Field Gun was being used to refer to any cannon or artillery piece that would fire at a low angle, while the term "howitzer" would be designated to artillery pieces that could be angle higher. By this time the field gun, in its conventional role, had been combined to form self-propelling guns and anti-tank weapons.

Modern eraEdit

The Field Gun has now become redundant as a firearm, replaced by the tank (for manoeuverability) and by mortars capable of being deployed by infantry. Likewise even the largest artillery pieces, even those that would dwarf a Field Gun in power and size, can easily be moved around and are far more effective than the Field Gun, although some forces still refer to their artillery pieces as Field Guns.


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