Congreve rocket, 1817.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
An example from a range of military rockets developed by the Englishman, Sir William Congreve (1772-1828). After British troops had rockets fired at them in India in the 1790s, the British Army became interested in their use. Congreve succesfully demonstrated a solid fuel rocket in 1805, and the following year his rockets were used in action for the first time, fired from special boats against the French fleet off Boulogne. Congreve's rockets had a range of about 2.5 km, depending on the elevation of the launching frame. They were effective, despite being somewhat inaccurate and prone to explode prematurely. In 1813, he was commisioned to raise a rocket troop for the Royal Artillery, which saw action with the Allies against Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813.