Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the effective range of personal weapons. These engines comprise specialised devices which use some form of stored energy to operate, whether mechanical, chemical, or electromagnetic. Originally designed to breach fortifications, they have evolved from nearly static installations intended to reduce a single obstacle to highly mobile weapons of great flexibility in which now reposes the greater portion of a modern army's offensive capabilities.
Since the development of cannon, the word "artillery" in practice has largely meant cannon; in contemporary usage it usually refers to shell-firing guns, howitzers, mortars, and rockets.
In common speech the word artillery is often used to refer to individual devices, together with their accessories and fittings, although these assemblages are more properly referred to as equipments. By association, artillery may also refer to the arm of service that customarily operates such engines.
Artillery may also refer to a system of applied scientific research relating to the design, manufacture and employment of artillery weapon systems although, in general, the terms ballistics and ordnance are more commonly employed in this sense.
Artillery is the most lethal form of land-based armament; in the Napoleonic Wars, World War I and World War II the vast majority of combat deaths were caused by artillery. In 1944, Joseph Stalin said in a speech that artillery was "the God of War".
Famous quotes containing the word artillery:
“Another success is the post-office, with its educating energy augmented by cheapness and guarded by a certain religious sentiment in mankind; so that the power of a wafer or a drop of wax or gluten to guard a letter, as it flies over sea over land and comes to its address as if a battalion of artillery brought it, I look upon as a fine meter of civilization.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“We now demand the light artillery of the intellect; we need the curt, the condensed, the pointed, the readily diffusedin place of the verbose, the detailed, the voluminous, the inaccessible. On the other hand, the lightness of the artillery should not degenerate into pop-gunneryby which term we may designate the character of the greater portion of the newspaper presstheir sole legitimate object being the discussion of ephemeral matters in an ephemeral manner.”
—Edgar Allan Poe (18091845)