Military animals Species in The Engineering Corps | World Anvil

Military animals

You better like animals, because it's all new recruits' job to take care of them. Cleaning up piles of manure is good for forging one's character!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png

Table of Contents

French army, Engineering corps


Do not even bother to get attached to that horse. On campaign it will get killed soon enough by the enemies, if your own negligence has not already done the work by then...
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
  Despite what some people might say, horses are still the most important military animals. Whether you like all the snob in the cavalry or not, it stays an essential military formation. But even more than that, horses are used to pull all the luggage trains of the army with the very important rations, the weapons, our families, the sophisticated device of the engineers and the resources of the Medical Corps. Without horses, war would look very different.   Horses provide a number of challenges for the army. They need to be fed, maintain and replaced when they die. In normal circumstances, the remount is done through the large number of national and private studs that produce young stock that itself provide good quality cavalry mounts. However, those horses need to be broken before they can be ridden, and this process takes 18 months to 2 years.   If more horses die than they are horses who have finished their training, the remount requires asking for volunteer horses among the population—mostly provided by the nobility and well-off population—or purchasing new horses already trained. Conscripting horses is another possible solution, but not a popular one with the French population. In addition, it has an impact on the productivity of the farmers and other workers left behind.   All of these remount methods create huge delays for the horse to arrive, often only for the army to realise that they do not fulfil the criteria of the contracts, forcing them to send the animals back.   All those horses not specially trained for use in the army have a big drawback: they have been pampered all their life in warm stables, with regular consistent feeds. Many do not have the stamina to survive the rigour of army life and the harsh treatment from inexperienced riders.

The colour of the coat is completely unimportant. You will take what you are given and be happy with it! Yet new recruits always come to the army full of strange ideas and silly superstitions, thinking white horses to be dashing and black horses bad luck... I'd like to see you repeat one of those in front of a general!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
  Yet, many regiments and divisions are assigned a specific horse colour. The worse is the Artillery Corps! In 1812, King Napoléon decided that the 1st artificers would have whites, 2nd pales, 3rd red bays, 4th chestnuts, 5th bays, 6th blacks, 7th brown piebald, and 8th black piebald! So much troubles for so little achieved! Of course, as soon as war starts, all those considerations are forgotten...—at least by the officers with any good sense!
An officer in his carriage by Wellcome Collections

Criteria for buying military horses

The horse for artillery service should be from five to seven years old (the latter age to be preferred), and should be from fifteen to sixteen hands high.   The saddle horse should be free in his movements; have good sight; a full, firm chest; be sure-footed; have a good disposition, with boldness and courage; more bottom than spirit, and not too showy.   The draft horse should stand erect on his legs, be strongly built, but free in his movements; his shoulders should be large enough to give support to the collar, but not too heavy; his body full, but not too long; the sides well rounded; the limbs solid, with rather strong shanks, and feet in good condition.

Horse daily rations

While in quarters (no or light work)
5 kg Hay
5 kg Barley Straw
6 litres (2.25 kg ) Oats
Total 12.25 kg
if on grass, 40 kg Grass.
  With the Army on campaign (heavy work)
10 kg Hay
8 ½ litres (3 kg ) Oats
Total 13 kg
Or 7.5 kg Hay
5 kg Barley Straw
8 ½ litres (3 kg ) Oats
Total 15 kg

Messenger pigeons


Having good messenger pigeons is an unfortunate requirement to send rapid, discreet messages, although thankfully this will not last for much longer as the telegraphs network continues to develop. In the meantime, we are reduced to send messengers on horseback for short distance and pigeons for longer ones. All magical means we have attempted to replace them have been too easy to intercept or block completely—a lot more than the birds at least.

Of course, the problem with pigeons is that they can only go in one direction—return to their pigeonnier—and so you need to have a variety of birds on hand to be able to send messages everywhere. In addition, they require training and care and all of that is wasted as soon as they get noticed and killed by the enemies... And a great favourite of all armies is indeed the peregrine falcons, bred and trained to intercept and kill all suspicious birds, as well as to bring back the corpses and their messages back to their masters.

If you want a good word of advice—and even if you don't— never trust in the strength of your code! The enemies, no matter how stupid their leaders are, also have some competent members in the rank and file. Don't go risk the rest of us because of your arrogance.
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
Messenger pigeons by Wikimedia commons
Peregrine falcon by Wellcome Collection


France has a long and noble venery tradition, and the revolution has not changed any of that. The royal venery and the military kennels have had the good sense to resist the inclusion of those English foxhounds, contrary to some less discerning nobles in the country... The race we keep in the army is the St-Hubert, the same we have used for centuries! Bred and trained by our own, their sense of smell is even more acute and efficient in detecting any form of foreign and dangerous magic over a kilometre-wide radius—traps, potions and foreigners.  
Of course not, it's not all old wives' tales! We're all linked to the magic of our lands, it's normal that smell changes depending on regions. Take any dog raised in the South and they will go after all the Northerners they meet! Perfect to sniff out any spies and scouting parties! The only minor problem they have is with the recently conquered territories, since the newly changed land's magic has not yet had time to influence that of its inhabitant. Ha! Ever seen how the dogs react to the Colonel?
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
  The division of the Engineering Corps that is stationed in Lyon at the military alchemy manufacture does not have their own dogs. The official reason is that the dogs' nose is clogged by the pungent smell of the enormous volume of alchemical ingredients, making them useless and an unnecessary expense. Their lack of warning during the near catastrophe of Lyon 20 years ago is pointed as a proof. The unofficial explanation is, of course, the Flemish birth of Colonel Adalinde.  
If you have any sense, you won't mention that in her presence. However things were at the school, it is nothing compared to the amount of power your supervisors have over you and your life now... And you better keep your cute little pedigree to yourself! This is not the cavalry! We all got here because we're clever—certain persons more than others. Papa and maman's money has zero influence here...
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png

St. Hubert dog by Artbyheather on Flickr

St Hubert and other hunting dogs by MAH Musée d'art et d'histoire. Ville de Genève. Dépôt de la Fondation Jean-Louis Prevost, Genève, 2000


Leeches are small but very important workers inside the military. Those disgusting animals feed on our blood and the magic and nutrients it contains. People used to hunt leeches in swamps to sell them to doctors who have been using them in medicine for centuries. The principle is to use the leeches to get the blood flowing in—and out, of course!— of the body in order to avoid thrombosis and to rebalance the humours.   Since then, our doctors and scientists have been able to transmute leeches and give them a nudge in the right direction to get them to feed in priority on dangerous raw magic or poisons ,both chemical and magical, that would have found its way in our body. Thanks to careful breeding, those qualities have only been enhanced through time, resulting in an essential tool that all doctors keep around to treat numerous ailments.  
Leeches doing work for once! That's certainly more than can be said about the rest of them that are filling the army...
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
  The army has vats filled with the blood sucking creatures and never forget to store up on them before a big campaign. They have proved their efficiency in countering the effects of the soldiers' exposure to raw magic during battles, alchemical poisoning from enemies' ammunition, and even a basic cleansing of all wounds incurred so as to avoid gangrene. From time to time, one animal among the new generation is... faulty and does not feed on what it is supposed to. Those cases are never spoken of.  
If you skip safety instructions while working at the manufacture, the Colonel will send you to the corvée of feeding the leeches. What do you think they eat in time of peace?
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png

Leech finders by Wikimedia Commons

A leech by Wellcome Collections

A leech by EllWi on Pixabay

Insects spreading diseases

Let us just say that both the Engineering Corps and the Medical Corps have a lot of experiments going on and that not all of them are the most well thought-out... Giving them diseases is all well and good. Spreading the diseases around, that those creatures do extremely well! But as for recognising the enemies and only targeting them? There is a reason all experiments are kept secret from the public, and it is not only because of the strategic advantage! But you will learn soon enough...
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png

Cockroach by Wellcome Collections



The Engineering Corps has managed to get another animal on the pay roll: a fluffy black cat that was prowling for a while around the military alchemical manufactures in Lyon. Colonel Adalinde who is responsible for the oversight of the manufacture decided to adopt him and to make him the mascot of the division.   Thanks to her good rapports with her superiors, she managed to get the cat officially enrolled on the army payroll under the official role of mouser. After all, nobody would want a mouse to interfere with the alchemical vats or the numerous runes painted on the ground and cause a repeat of the near-catastrophe that almost completely destroyed Lyon 20 years ago! And since all the higher-ranking officers are in Paris and only come to Lyon for short visits, not one of them will ever notice that the cat in question is far too haughty—and lazy—to actually chase a mouse.   Meanwhile, Adalinde is keeping the cat in her private apartments and the army barracks, and the animal is deigning answering her regular apport of food and worship with a margin of loyalty.   Since the cat is our mascot and so loved by our superior, all the Lyon engineers are rivalling with each other to gain its affection. This is mostly done through making trinkets for him to play with or sleep on. But the little monster by far prefers the cloth collar made by Adalinde, as it allows him to control some form of wild magic to merge with the shadows... A very apt power for a beast named Abysse.

All new recruits think they can tame it and easily win the Corporal's affection like that. Such naivety never last long... And that shadow trick is rather light for the amount of magic focused in that collar, if you get my meaning... Let us say that those idiots never loaf about twice in front of the beast!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
Abysse by Stefan Ivanov on Unsplash
Abysse by Aswin C Ashok on Unsplash

Cover image: Battle by British Library on Unsplash


Author's Notes

Summer Camp 2021 prompt 4: A species of working animal.   Thanks
To Kefkejaco for the leech joke :D
To James Woodwright for the inspiration to write about the different colours of horse coats that are favoured by the army.   The bonus section is for Bart Weergang.   Source:
Composition of the royal venery of Louis XVI, Napoléon I, Louis XVIII, Napoléon III.
Napoleon’s Equine Strategy in 1813 by Paul L Dawson.
Artillery Horses: Harness and Draught of the Napoleonic Era by Paul L Dawson.
French Artillery During the Napoleonic Wars.

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Jul 7, 2021 04:35 by Bart Weergang

Six articles for the price of on, and! I like them all! Well done in the incorporation of magic on the leeches and hounds. Also lol at the colour coding of artillery horses :D. A magic colour for a black cat to disappear in the shadows is amazing! Very helpful in hunting mice.

Jul 7, 2021 07:44 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks :D That cat is not going to catch any mice any time soon XD And yes, that colour coding is hilarious... What people do for the aestheticTM...

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 7, 2021 08:00 by Bart Weergang

Well colour coded horse will look splendid on parade. :D

Jul 7, 2021 07:46

Fantastically detailed and the sarge's voice is just so full of salt that the entire thins becomes more and more funny very line. XD   Awesome stuff, and my favorite is definitely the cat. Horses, dogs, and leeches might be more useful, but the way everyone compete's for the lazy little bastard's affection amuses me to no end. Awesome :D

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Jul 7, 2021 13:21 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks :D That little kitty will be in the novel now, I'm going to have fun with it :D

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 7, 2021 10:19

Yeah my leech joke got into it ! :D They are finally doing some work!   Once again a great article and with so many animals ! :o Especially liked the remark of the seargant on the insects xp (of courses leeches quote remains the best :p)   The bonus section for the cat was a fun addition as well. What a way to suck up to your boss :p

Feel free to check my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!
Jul 7, 2021 13:20 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Adalinde is the main character, so that cat will have to feature in the novel now :p

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 7, 2021 17:53 by Mint

Now this is a fun mixture! The leech and hound sections were very interesting, and the horse section (and all the showmanship) was fun to read! Good article!!

Jul 7, 2021 18:02 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks :D

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 7, 2021 18:55

Wow, amazing! I can only imagine how much research has gone into this to make it accurate. Keep up the great work! :D

What do you want to discover in Computer Adventures?
Jul 7, 2021 19:25 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks :D I'm lucky that the Napoléonic era is very well research, so now that I've done the hard work of finding where to look it's easier to find information - the problem sometimes is even having too much information available XD

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 8, 2021 18:00 by Janelle

My first article in my binging read for the day and the Sergeant character is great! XD   Love the details and how this articles covers so many of the working beasts in the army and the bonus cat with the shadow collar! My favorite to read was that leech section because of the Sergeant. XD

Seek out Fate in the world of Auriga!
Jul 8, 2021 21:13 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks a lot for all the reading and commenting ❤❤❤   I've decided that the Sergeant is going to narrate all my summer camp articles because he makes every thing a lot more fun :D

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 10, 2021 11:12 by Annie Stein

I really enjoyed this read, and I've learned so much! This was super informative and super interesting, thank you so much Amélie!

Creator of Solaris -— Come Explore!
Jul 10, 2021 12:06 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks for the read and the comment :D

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 17, 2021 00:08 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I love the Sergeant.   ' From time to time, one animal among the new generation is... faulty and does not feed on what it is supposed to. Those cases are never spoken of.' *screams*   This is such a great article. I love the little touches of magic throughout - especially how the dogs can sense it.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 17, 2021 00:33 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks :D I had fun twisting things to integrate more magic with the dogs and leeches :D Though I don't really like dog so I also have an excuse why my MC doesn't :p

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
Jul 22, 2021 04:44

Nice article

Want to check out more read my bard article
Jul 22, 2021 09:29 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Thanks :D

To see what I am up to: World Ember 2023 list of articles.
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