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Lyster, Thomas Rice, -1842

Practical course of artillery / by T. R. Lyster.

Woolwich, circa 1835.
Physical Description:
1 v. ([12], 352 p.) : ill. ; 21 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
UF155.G74 L97 1835
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
Thomas Rice Lyster was the son of Colonel Anthony Lyster, "a substantial Irish landowner with an aristocratic lineage traceable to the reign of Elizabeth I" (cf. DNB). Lyster appears, in 1838, as a subscriber to Papers on Subjects Connected with the Duties of the Corps of Royal Engineers. The 1842 New Army List shows that he was made a second lieutenant on 18 December 1835, perhaps around the time that he completed the present manuscript. He was promoted to first lieutenant on 20 November 1837, but died while serving in the Royal Engineers Corps in Barbados in February, 1842.
According to the Records of the Royal Military Academy (RRMA), published in 1851, it was common for cadets like Lyster to copy material distributed to them by instructors into blank books, such as the present manuscript. Thus, it is probable that this manuscript was an important piece of Lyster's educational materials. According to the standards of the RMA, as detailed in the RRMA, cadets' books were often gathered by instructors and then shown to the Lietuenant-Governor in charge of the school. Prizes may have been awarded to superior student work. The Records note that there were multiple instructors teaching cadets how to make mechanical and plan drawings, landscape drawings, and how to survey. The curriculum established for the Corps of Royal Engineers, which seems to have been newly designed in 1832 (according to the RRMA), notes that students were expected to be "employed in the practice of surveying, in drawing, or in study, for not less than eight hours per day" (RRMA, 136).
Bound in half red morocco and brown marbled boards. Stamped in gilt on spine: Artillery, 1835. On Whatman paper watermarked 1835.
Manuscript cadet exercise book, profusely illustrated, by Thomas Rice Lyster. The manuscript, neatly copied in pen and brown ink, was probably completed circa 1835 while Lyster was a cadet at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich Arsenal (the forerunner of Sandhurst). It includes numerous tables, diagrams, and watercolor illustrations throughout the text. It also features an elaborate title page with several armorial devices, along with a detailed table of contents (11 pages). The manuscript reproduces a course in artillery, from basic information to schematic drawings and various other practical tactics. Lyster would have been roughly eighteen or nineteen years of age when he created it, nearing the end of his education at the Academy.
The text covers a diverse array of artillery subjects. Some of the topics covered at length include: the general construction of iron guns; casting brass ordnance; ricochet firing; general rules for the charges of mortars at various ranges; gunpowder; the weights of field carriages & timbers (a table); garrison or standing carriage; devil carriage (an exercise); knots; and military law.
The illustrations include careful diagrams and artful views and depict everything from the smallest pieces of equipment used in forging guns to elaborate processes for testing and using them. Diagrams are generally uncolored, in pen and black ink. Views are executed in watercolor over pen and black ink, with delicate shading and shadowing. Larger, full-page illustrations include: the boring of cannon; a selection of rocket making tools; field gun carriage (with a detailed key to component parts); the conveyance of mortars on platform wagons; the hoisting of a gun onto a raft; the shifting of a gun from one carriage to another; and a selection of 10 standard knots. The men depicted are clearly Academy cadets, and sport a uniform consisting of blue-gray trousers with a red stripe down the leg, a blue single-breasted jacket cut to waist-length, and a blue cap. This uniform is consistent with the RRMA description of the uniforms officially adopted by the cadets around 1836.
Subject Terms:
Artillery -- Great Britain -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Artillery drill and tactics -- Great Britain -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Gun-carriages -- Great Britain -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Lyster, Thomas Rice, -1842.
Military art and science.
Military cadets -- Education -- Great Britain.
Military cadets -- Great Britain.
Military law -- Great Britain.
Ordnance -- Great Britain -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.
Military manuals.
Exercise books.
Ink drawings.

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