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The Details of the Rocket System

The Details of the Rocket System
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Title: The Details of the Rocket System
Release Date: 2018-08-28
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Cover created by Transcriber, using an illustrationfrom the original book, and placed in the Public Domain.

THE DETAILS
OF
THE ROCKET SYSTEM:

DRAWN UP BY
COLONEL CONGREVE

1814.


Reproduced from an original editionmade available by the Library of theRoyal Artillery Institute, Woolwich, towhom British Aircraft Corporation wishto express their appreciation.

BRITISH AIRCRAFT CORPORATION GUIDED WEAPONS DIVISION


THE DETAILS
OF
THE ROCKET SYSTEM:

SHEWING

THE VARIOUS APPLICATIONS OF THIS WEAPON,BOTH FOR SEA AND LAND SERVICE, ANDITS DIFFERENT USES IN THEFIELD AND IN SIEGES;

ILLUSTRATED BY
PLATES OF THE PRINCIPAL EQUIPMENTS, EXERCISES,AND CASES OF ACTUAL SERVICE,

WITH
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS
FOR ITS APPLICATION,

AND A DEMONSTRATION OF THE COMPARATIVE ECONOMY OF THE SYSTEM.

DRAWN UP BY
COLONEL CONGREVE,
FOR THE
INFORMATION OF THE OFFICERS OF THE ROCKET CORPS,AND OTHERS WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.

London:
PRINTED BY J. WHITING, FINSBURY PLACE.
1814.


i

INTRODUCTION.

His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, to whosegracious patronage the Rocket System owes its existence,having been pleased to command the formation of a RocketCorps, on the 1st of January, 1814, by augmentation tothe Regiment of Artillery, as proposed by his Lordship,the Earl of Mulgrave, Master General of the Ordnance;I have thought it my duty to draw up the following detailsof the System, for the Instruction of the Officers of theCorps, for the information of the General Officers of theBritish Army, and that of such departments as it is importantfor the good of the service, to make acquainted with theprinciples of this new branch of our naval and militarymeans of offence and defence.

I have, indeed, conceived it the more incumbent uponme to prepare such a document for the use of the RocketCorps, with as much expedition as possible, that nothingmight be wanting on my part towards its completion,having been induced to decline the offer graciously mademe of commanding it, with rank in the Regiment ofArtillery; a decision, in which I trust I have sufficientlyproved myself to have been actuated by the most sincereiiidesire of manifesting my attachment to that Regiment; as,however flattering the offer, it was sufficient gratificationto me to have brought my labours to a consummation,which enabled me to leave the undivided benefit of this newCorps in their possession: and to have succeeded in puttinginto their hands a weapon, which it is my greatest pride tohave already seen adding to their laurels, in the Plains ofLeipsic, and on the Banks of the Adour; a weapon, whichhas so early given them pledges of future and greatersuccesses, and which I hope the following pages will evinceto have already been brought to a state of organization andperfection, at least commensurate with its age. I will hope,also, that the further progress and extension of the powersof the Rocket System will be such as not to discredit thediscernment of the enlightened Prince, who first patronizedit, or that of his Lordship, the Master General, by whoseprotection it is now placed on a permanent establishment.It is almost needless to add, that this volume is intendedonly for the use and instruction of such as it may concern,and not in any way for publication.

WILLIAM CONGREVE.


iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Introduction.
General Instructions.
Formation of a Rocket Troop.
Plate 1. The Equipment of a Rocket Trooper.
Plate 2. The Equipment of a Rocket Ammunition Horse.
Plate 3. Fig. 1.—A Sub-division of Rocket Cavalry, in Line of March.
  Fig. 2.—A Sub-division of Rocket Cavalry, in Action.
Plate 4. Fig. 1.—Rocket Cars, in Line of March.
  Fig. 2.—Rocket Cars, in Action.
Plate 5. Fig. 1.—Rocket Infantry, in Line of March.
  Fig. 2.—Rocket Infantry, in Action.
Plate 6. Fig. 1.—The Conveyance of the Apparatus and Rocket Ammunition for Bombardment.
  Fig. 2.—The Firing of Rockets, in Bombardment.
Plate 7. Fig. 1, and 2.—The Projecting of Rockets from different Descriptions of Earth Works, in Bombardment.vi
Plate 8. Fig. 1.—A Rocket Ambuscade.
  Fig. 2.—The Use of Rockets for the Defence of a Post.
Plate 9. Fig. 1.—The Use of Rockets, in the Attack of a Fortress.
  Fig. 2.—The Use of Rockets, in the Defense of a Fortress.
Plate 10. Fig. 1.—A Repulse of Cavalry by Infantry, with Rockets.
  Fig. 2.—Preparation for storming, by Means of Rockets.
Plate 11. The Throwing of Rockets from Men of War’s Boats.
Plate 12. Fig. 1.—The Use of Rockets in Fire Ships.
  Fig. 2, 3, and 4.—The Equipment of a Rocket Ship, with Scuttles for throwing Rockets from her Broadside.
Plate 13. The different Natures of Rocket Ammunition, and the Implements used for fixing the Sticks.
Conclusion containing Calculations, proving the great comparative Economy of the Rocket System in all its Branches.

1

General Instructions for the Use of Rockets, both in the Field and in Bombardment, shewing the Spirit ofthe System, and its comparative Powers and Facilities.

It must be laid down as a maxim, that “the very essence and spirit of the RocketSystem is the facility of firing a great number of rounds in a short time, or eveninstantaneously, with small means,” arising from this circumstance, that the Rocketis a species of fixed ammunition which does not require ordnance to project it; andwhich, where apparatus is required, admits of that apparatus being of the most simpleand portable kind.

An officer, therefore, having the use of this weapon under his direction, must everbear this maxim in mind—and his first consideration must be—to make his dischargesagainst the enemy in as powerful vollies as he possibly can.

Thus—if the defence of a post be entrusted to him, and the ground be at allfavourable, he will, independent of the regular apparatus he may have at his disposal,prepare what may be called Rocket Batteries, consisting of as many embrasures ashis ground will admit; these embrasures being formed by turning up the sod, so asto give channels of direction four or five feet long, and three feet apart: by which agreat number of Rockets in a volley may evidently be arranged to defend any assailablepoint. In these embrasures, if liable to surprise, the Rockets may be placed in readinessthe vents not uncovered; though generally speaking, this is not necessary, as so short atime is required to place them—here and there one, only being in its embrasure.

In battle also, where there is not, of course, time to prepare the ground as abovestated, but where it is tolerably level, he may, in addition to the apparatus he possesses,add to his fire by discharging, from the intervals of his frames or cars, Rockets merelylaid on the ground in the direction required: and, if an enemy be advancing upon him,there is, in fact, no limit to the volley he may be prepared thus to give, when at a properdistance, but the quantity of ammunition he possesses, the extension of his own ground,and the importance of the object to be fired at. Under these limits, he may chusehis volley from 50 to 500—a fire which, if judiciously laid in, must nearly annihilatehis enemy: for this purpose trains are provided. This practice also requires theexposure of only one or two men, who are to fire the volley, as the remainder, with the3ammunition, may be under cover. And here it should be remarked, that the length ofranges, and the height of the curve of the recochét, in this mode of firing, depend onthe length of the stick—the stick of the full length giving the longest range, but risingthe highest from the ground; the reduced stick giving a shorter range, but keepingcloser to the ground. From this application, therefore, where practicable, by carryinga certain number of the 12-pounder pouches in the ammunition waggon, an officer,even with a dismounted brigade, may always manœuvre and detach parties to get uponthe flanks of any approaching or fixed column, square, or battalion, while he himselfremains with the heavier ammunition and cars in front.

This mode of firing from the ground of course applies only for moderate distances;the limits of which, with the smaller natures of Rockets, may be considered from 800to 1,000 yards, and for the larger from 1,000 to 1,200; where therefore greater rangesare required, the apparatus must be resorted to. And here it is proper to remark, thatin the use of the Rocket, at least in the present state of the system, no certain increaseof range can be depended upon by increasing the elevations from the ground-ranges upto 15°, for the smaller Rockets; and 20 to 25° for the larger; for in the intermediateangles, the Rocket is apt to drop in going off, and graze near the frame; but at the aboveangles it will always proceed in a single curve to very greatly increased ranges from1,500 to 2,000 yards.

In bombardment, as well as in the field, the quantity of instantaneous fire is equallyimportant, and the greater number of Rockets that can be thrown, not only increasethe number of fires, but, by distracting the enemy’s attention, prevent their extinction.To this end, therefore, an officer should always employ as many bombarding frames aspossible; and here again he will find, that in bombardment, as well as in the field, theweapon affords him the means of extending his fire beyond the compass of his apparatus.

Thus, he may form a Rocket Battery of any common epaulement, parallel to the faceof the town to be bombarded, by digging a trench in the rear of it to admit the stick,so as to lay the Rocket and stick against the slope of the epaulement, that slope being4brought to the desired elevation for projecting the Rocket, or by boring holes to receivethe stick; or he may construct a slope expressly as a Rocket Battery; and as, in firingthese vollies, his Rockets need not be more than three feet apart, it follows, that from anepaulement or battery of this description, fifty yards in length, he may keep up thisbombardment by a discharge of fifty Rockets in a volley, and repeat these vollies everyfive minutes if desirable; a rate of firing which must inevitably baffle all attempts ofthe most active and numerous enemy to prevent its effect.

It is obvious,

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