French pontooniers building a pontoon bridge


A French pontoon

The pontoon bridges were an indispensable strategical assets of all Napoleonic armies, allowing to get the military forces across water obstacles, outflanking the enemy by crossing rivers in non expected places. In the case of the French pontonniers, their organization must be credited to General Jean-Baptiste Ebl.
Pontoons were rectangular-shaped flat copper-bottomed boats that would be positioned together, anchored, and then have planks laid across its length.
The materials for the temporary spans were carried by the pontonniers' wagon train right down from the pontoons themselves to the clamps, spikes and anchors needed to secure them. There were also mobile wagon-mounted forges used to make items that were out of stock. Whereas the pontonniers were men of the Artillery branch, the pontoon bridge trains were manned by French Auxiliary Service Troops.

HT will release a French Napoleonic Pontoon Bridge, Reference 8108. I have painted a proof sprue, kindly sent to me by HT staff.


French Pontoon
Ht 8108
Osprey MAA-96

New Vanguard 66

Links of interest:
Artillery Equipments of the Napoleonic Wars, (Men-At-Arms Series, 96), Terence Wise and Richard Hook,  Osprey-Publishing 1979.
Napoleon's Guns 1792-1815 (1) Field Artillery, (New Vanguard, 66), René Chartrand and Ray Hutchins, Osprey-Publishing, 2003.