Date added: 9 Jun 2015
The French artillery was well known for having vast firepower, and was used by Napoleon to start the battle of Waterloo. In his notes, the first thing Captain Leach mentions is the vast French military bombardment on the British. Wellington told his men to take cover behind a small ridge or to lie down so that they could be less easily located or hit by the French cannons.
Thankfully for the British, the weather leading up to the 18th of June was appalling and the ground was soaked and muddy. This meant that firstly, Napoleon could not move his cannons around easily as the horses could not pull the cannons out of the mud and secondly, that instead of the cannonballs bouncing and tearing through tightly packed ranks of men, they just got stuck in the mud on the initial impact on the ground.
The three main types of items fired from a cannon were roundshot, chainshot, grapeshot and barshot. 'Roundshot' is another name for a single cannonball fired from a cannon and a 'chainshot' was two cannonballs connected by a chain. This could pull apart exposed enemy cannons and cannon crews as well as having a devastating effect on infantry ranks. 'Grapeshots' were bags of musket balls and stones closely connected together by string and would have had a devastating effect on close range infantry or cavalry as the hundreds of random stones could injure and kill a lot of people in one shot. Also poor hygiene and medical treatment could mean a wound could easily become infected. Finally, 'barshot' was mostly used on ships to destroy sails, rigging or even masts! Although barshot wasn't used at Waterloo, it would have been used in Napoleonic sea battles like Trafalgar or the battle of the Nile.
Although if captured cannons could be sabotaged and the crew would struggle defending themselves in close combat, Napoleon's artillery was not to be underestimated.