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BATTERY A
FIRST REGIMENT, RHODE ISLAND
LIGHT ARTILLERY
Battery A Emblem Battery A Insignia Battery A Emblem


UNIT ASSOCIATION

BATTERY A, GUN DRILL
FIELD ARTILLERY MANUAL
SHOOL OF THE PIECE, 1864

TRAINING INFORMATION
FOR THE ARTILLERYMAN

ActionBattery ActionBattery

The following information is given in response to members of Battery A wanting to know more about black powder cannon drill. All Uniformed members of Battery A, First Regiment, R.I. Light Artillery should be familiar with this information.

FIRING THE PIECE

ARTICLE THREE (on Firing Drill).

MANUAL OF THE PIECE.

This version of the 1864 FIELD ARTILLERY MANUAL, UNITED STATES ARMY, is organized by the pauses and motions of each command, so that an entire gun detachment can be instructed safely at the same time.

CIVIL WAR PERIOD ARTILLERY
COMMAND STRUCTURE.

A 1st or 2nd Lt. shall be in command of a two gun section (left section, center section or right section, of a 6 gun battery) and he shall be the Section Chief and he shall direct the fire of his section, and he shall be one of the most experienced artillerists on the field; each gun, limber and caisson shall have the oversight of a 2nd, 3rd or 4th Sergeant who shall be the Chief of the Piece; each gun shall be under direct firing command of a Corporal and he shall be the Gunner. The limber shall be under direct command of a Corporal and he shall be the Limber Chief. The Gunner is responsible for seeing that his gun is fired safely, efficiently and accurately. The Limber Chief is responsible for seeing his gun and limber is supplied with ammunition, from the limber, the caisson and the ammunition or baggage train to the rear. The caisson shall shuttle ammunition and rotate fresh ammunition or limber chests from the supply train to the gun limber keeping the gun in action. The entire oversight of the operation of firing and supplying each gun shall be the responsibility of the Chief of the Piece.

From the manual.

93. The instructor should bear in mind that, in every change of numbers at the gun, each recruit has to learn different duties, and to handle different implements from those he was previously engaged with; and these, again, vary with the several natures of ordnance and machines which an artilleryman must use. It is impossible that such a variety of exercises can be well executed, or even remembered, unless the recruit is made to comprehend the object of the various duties he is called upon to perform.

For the purpose of instructing the recruit, each gun detachment is to be formed in front of the piece, unlimbered, and the different numbers are to be called upon, successively, to perform their respective duties in detail; while the rest of the detachment look on and observe their motions. When it is found difficult to make the recruit sensible of the defect of his position, etc., the instructor will place himself, or another recruit, in the correct position.

94. Nine men, including the Gunner, are necessary for the service of a field-piece. When, from necessity, the detachment consists of less than nine, the higher numbers are struck out, and additional duties are imposed upon those remaining.

10pdrParrottGunCrew
Artilleryman

POSTS OF THE CANNONEERS. -- PIECE UNLIMBERED.

95. The Gunner is at the end of the trail handspike; Nos. 1 and 2 are about 2 feet outside the wheels, No. 1 on the right, and No. 2 on the left; with howitzers, rather in rear of the muzzle; with guns, in line with the front part of the wheels; Nos. 3 and 4 are in line with the knob of the cascabel, covering Nos. 1 and 2 No. 5 is 5 yards in rear of the left wheel; No. 6 in rear of the limber, and No. 7 on his left, covering No. 5; No. 8, the Chief of the Caisson, is 4 yards in rear of the limber, and on its left; all face to the front.

The Chief of the Piece is opposite the middle of the trail handspike, outside and near the left cannoneers. In actual firing he takes his place on the right or left, where he can best observe the effect of the shot.

BatteryAguidon BatteryAguidon

LOADING AND FIRING THE PIECE.

96. The piece is taken at the drill ground, unlimbered, and prepared for action; the limber in position behind the piece, and facing towards it; the end of the pole 6 yards from the end of the trail handspike.

97. COMMANDING AND POINTING. The Gunner gives all executive commands in action. He is answerable that all the numbers perform their duties correctly. He communicates the orders which he receives for the kind of ammunition to be fired; sending to No. 6 the time or distance for each round, when firing shells or spherical case shot. He should, when the firing is slow, see that each fuse is properly prepared, and make such corrections as are necessary; for this purpose he, as well as No. 6, should be provided with a fuse-gauge.

On receiving the command or signal to commence firing, he gives the command LOAD; takes hold of the handspike at the end with his right hand, and at the center with his left; places his left knee against the left hand, bending over it, the right knee being slightly bent; looks over the top of the piece, and gives the direction. He then steps to the breech to give the elevation, which he does by taking hold of a handle of the elevating screw, drawing back his right foot, bending over his left knee, and sighting over the top of the piece. In the drill of recruits, the Gunner should be made to name the elevation and range before stepping back to the breech.

When the piece is loaded and pointed, he gives the command READY, and, stepping clear of the wheel to that side where he can best observe the effect of the shot, gives the command FIRE. As soon as the piece has been fired, he notes the time, and causes the piece to be run up to its former place, if necessary. After two minutes have elapsed he will ensure that the second wet and dry sponging are accomplished.

When the Instructor, instead of giving the command COMMENCE FIRING, gives that of LOAD, the Gunner repeats it, and performs the same duties as before, except that he does not command fire until the firing is ordered to commence. After the command COMMENCE FIRING is given, the action is continued by the Gunner, without further commands from the Instructor, until the firing is ordered to cease. When the commands are all given by the Instructor, as in loading by detail, the Gunner performs the same duties, but without repeating the commands.

98. The detachment being formed in front of and facing the piece, the Instructor commences by giving the following explanations:
The term CANNON embraces all kinds of heavy ordnance, GUNS, HOWITZERS, MORTARS; each is mounted on a carriage, and each field carriage has a limber.
The term PIECE is applied to the cannon, and is also used to designate it in union with its carriage, with or without the limber attached.
The front of a piece, when limbered, or prepared for moving, is the direction in which the pole points when unlimbered, or when the gun is prepared for action unlimbered, it is the direction in which the muzzle of the gun points; the right and left are in each case determined accordingly.

He then repeats the names of the following objects, indicating each of them.
The LIMBER: ammunition chest, lid, handles; POLE: pole-yoke, branches, sliding ring, pole-prop, and chain; WHEEL: spokes, fellows, nave, tire; PINTLE HOOK, and key.

limber&caisson
6pdrGun

The GUN-CARRIAGE: handspike, pointing rings, elevation screw, handles, sponge-hook.

The GUN or HOWITZER, giving explanations of the parts:

The bore is the interior hollow cylinder, which receives the charge.

The muzzle is the entrance of the bore.

The face is the front plane terminating the piece.

The vent is the hole through which fire is communicated to the charge.

The trunnions are the projecting cylinders which support the gun.

The Instructor then calls No. 1 to the right side of the piece, and indicates the following parts with his hand, after naming them. The SPONGE: staff, sponge, rammer-head, ferrules.

RAMMER: rammer-head, ferrules. GUN: bore, muzzle, face, vent.

The Instructor places No. 2 on the left of the piece, repeats the nomenclature as for No. 1, indicates the following named objects, and explains their uses; The SPONGE: staff, sponge, rammer-head, ferrules. The WORM: staff, worm head, GUN: bore, muzzle, face, vent. SHOT: Cartridge, ball, sabot; CANISTER SHOT: cartridge, canister; SHELL, or SPHERICAL CASE SHOT: Cartridge, case shot, or shell, fuse.

The Instructor places No. 3 on the right of the piece, indicates the following objects, and explains their uses: TUBE-POUCH; THUMBSTALL; PRIMING WIRE; GUNNERS' GIMLET; FRICTION PRIMER; LANYARD: lanyard hook; VENT: vent field; BREECH: cascabel, knob, and neck of cascabel.

The Instructor places No. 4 on the left of the piece, equips him with a tube-pouch, and repeats the nomenclature as for No. 3.

No. 6 stationed in rear of the limber chest, and issues the ammunition. He is provided with a fuse-gauge, and prepares the shell and spherical case shot according to the distance or time ordered, before delivering it to No. 5.

The Gunner Commands:

TO YOUR POSTS !

Posts

NOTE: The "Chief Of The Piece" or Gun Sergeant may at times also stand opposite the middle of the trail handspike, outside and near the left or right of the cannoneers. In actual firing he takes his place on the right or left, where he can best observe the effect of the shot, usually nearer to the limber so he can also monitor the limber chest and the expenditure of rounds fired. He can also hault the firing sequence and assume direct command of the gun crew at any time.

The "Gunner" or Corporal in direct command of the gun and gun crew is at the end of the cannon trail behind the gun's handspike, which he fixes in place after the gun is unlimbered for action.

No. 1 stands square to the front, in line with the front part of the wheels, holding the sponge about the middle of the staff in his right hand, and trailing it an angle of 45 degrees, sponge-head up.

No. 2 stands square to the front, in line with the front part of the wheels, holding the worm about the middle of the staff in his left hand, and trailing it an angle of 45 degrees, worm-head up.

No. 3 stands in line with the knob of the cascabel, covering No. 1, the thumbstall on the left thumb, the tube-pouch fastened to the waist.

No. 4 stands in line with the knob of the cascabel, and covering No. 2.

No. 5, stands covering the left wheel, 5 yards in rear of it.

No. 6 stationed at the rear of and centered on the limber chest, and issues the ammunition.

No. 7 stands to the rear of the left limber wheel.

No. 8, the Chief of the Caisson, is 4 yards in rear of the limber, and on its left; all men serving the gun and limber face to the front, which is the muzzle end of the gun unlimbered and deployed for action. No.8 assists the Gunner counting the type and number of rounds fired and echos the Gunner's ammunition commands to No.6 and No.7 serving the limber.

The Gunner Commands:

By detail--LOAD !
no pauses, 1 motion.
At this command: The Gunner communicates the orders which he receives for the kind of ammunition to be fired;
sending to No. 6 the time or distance for each round, when firing shells or spherical case shot.
He takes hold of the handspike at the end with his right hand, and at the center with his left;
places his left knee against the left hand, bending over it, the right knee being slightly bent;
looks over the top of the piece, and gives the direction.
He then steps to the breech to give the elevation, which he does by taking hold of a handle of the elevating screw,
drawing back his right foot, bending over his left knee, and sighting over the top of the piece.
In the drill of recruits, the Gunner should be made to name the elevation and range before stepping back to the breech.

First motion of LOAD

No.1manPost

No. 1 faces to the left.

No. 2 faces to the right.

No. 3 steps to his left and readies the vent brush.

No. 4 inserts the lanyard hook into the rings of a primer, and stands fast.

No. 5 runs to the ammunition chest, receives from No. 7 or No. 6 a single round which is placed in the ammunition pouches. They are worn by Nos. 5 and 7, hung from the left shoulder to the right side. No. 5 returns to and halts at his post.

No. 6 will be careful not to raise the lid unnecessarily. It should he kept closed when possible. In firing shells and spherical case, he prepares each fuse as directed, assisted, when necessary, by No. 7. TO CUT THE FUSE.--Place the projectile between the knees, fuse uppermost, and support it with the left hand. Holding the fuse-gauge in the right hand, place the left corner of its edge close to, and on the right of, the graduated mark indicating the time desired; then cut away gradually until the composition is exposed fore length about equal to the width of the gauge. Great care must he taken not to expose the composition, to the left of the proper graduation mark, and, to this end, particularly avoid commencing to cut too close to the desired mark; for after the composition is once exposed it is very easy to pare away; to the left, if the time has not been accurately cut. When time permits, it is well to expose the composition fully, either by cutting the opening larger, towards the right, or (with shells only) by cutting another opening to the right of the first. It is in all cases better to enlarge the first opening, and always by extending it towards the right. Care must be taken not to cut the fuse more rapidly than the demand for shells and shrapnel shot requires. He gives No. 5 the time or distance of the fuse with each round issued.

No. 7 places the round in the pouch of No. 5.

No. 8 stands fast.

The Gunner Commands:

TEND VENT ! 2 pauses; 3 motions.

No.3manStopsVent

At this command: Nos. 1 & 2 stand fast.

No. 3 cleans the vent by inserting and removing the vent brush. He then returns the vent brush.

Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

TWO !

Nos. 1 & 2 stand fast.

No. 3 wipes the vent-field with the thumbstall.

Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

THREE !

Nos. 1 & 2 stand fast.

No. 3 holds the thumbstall pressed upon the vent, keeping his elbow raised; his fingers on the left side of the piece, so as to allow the Gunner to point over his thumb; the right hand on the tube-pouch.

Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

The Gunner Commands:

CLEAR ! 5 pauses, 6 motions.

At this command: No. 1 stands fast. No. 2 steps obliquely to the left with his left foot, without moving his right and at the same time bringing the worm smartly to a perpendicular position by drawing his left hand up in line with the elbow. The worm is grasped firmly in the hand, and the end of the shaft-kept just over the left toe, the elbow close to the side.

Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

TWO !

No. 2 steps obliquely to the right with his right foot, planting it about half-way between the piece and the wheel, and opposite the muzzle; bringing the worm at the same time across his body to the right, so that his left hand may be opposite the middle of the body, the worm-staff being inclined at an angle of 45 degrees across the front of it.

Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

THREE !

No. 1 stands fast.

No. 2 takes a side step to the left of 30 inches, and bending his left knee, brings the worm to a horizontal position, the worm-head to the right, grasping firmly the shaft near worm head with the right hand, the back of his hands down, the worm-head against the face of the piece.

Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

FOUR !

No. 1 stands fast.

No. 2 inserts the worm-head, shoulders square, feet equally turned out, straightens the left knee, and, bending over the right, forces the worm home. He fixes his eye on the vent to see that it is closed, gives turns to the worm, taking great care to press it at the same time against the bottom of the bore, and catching the powder bag remnants.

Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

FIVE ! No. 1 stands fast.

No. 2 slowly draws out the worm, at the same time straightening his right knee, and bending his left seizes the powder bag remnants with his left hand. This process is repeated at least a second time, until No. 2 is sure that the bore is clear of powder bag remnants, when he places the worm against the face of the piece. During the whole time of clearing, No. 2 keeps his eye on the vent. If at any time it is not closed, he will discontinue the maneuver, and commands STOP VENT.

Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

SIX ! No. 1 stands fast.

No. 2 He then draws the worm close to his body, and immediately steps back outside the wheel, first with the left, then with the right foot, so that when the left foot is brought to it, the right hip may be on a line with the front of the wheel. In drawing the left foot he places the worm upon the ground and retrieves the dry sponge. He holds the sponge about the middle of the staff in his left hand, and trailing it an angle of 45 degrees, sponge-head up.

Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

The Gunner Commands:

No.1manPost WET SPONGE ! 5 pauses; 6 motions. No.1manSponge

First motion of WET SPONGE

At this command No. 1 steps obliquely to the right with his right foot, without moving his left, and at the same time bringing the sponge smartly to a perpendicular position by drawing his right hand up in line with the elbow. The sponge is grasped firmly in the hand, and the rammer-heed kept just over the right toe, the elbow close to the side.

Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

Second motion of WET SPONGE

TWO ! No. 1 steps obliquely to the left with his left foot, planting it about half-way between the piece and the wheel, and opposite the muzzle; bringing the sponge at the same time across his body to the left, so that his right hand may be opposite the middle of the body, the sponge-staff being inclined at an angle of 45 degrees across the front of it.

Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

Third motion of WET SPONGE

THREE ! No. 1 inserts the sponge head into the sponge bucket. Upon removing the sponge head he removes the excess water and takes a side step to the right of 30 inches, and bending his right knee, brings the sponge to a horizontal position, extending the hands to the ends of the staff, the sponge-head to the left, the back of his hands down, the sponge-head against the face of the piece.

Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 stand fast.

Fourth motion of WET SPONGE

FOUR ! No. 1 inserts the sponge