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creel
08-01-2006, 06:53 AM
I saw several instances of artillary practices at Manassas of pieces firing rather close/over to "wounded/dead", firing after infantry groups marched past them and rotating guns with loaded barrels and even firing toward public.

Also mountain howitzer crews carrying all thier rounds in Ammo pouches rather than in boxes.

Was anybody else present concrened with these aspects?

Tom Scoufalos
08-01-2006, 10:51 AM
Yes. The ad-hoc 1st Fire Zouaves Bn. was all the way on the right flank of the Federal line. The 4 full scale rifles apparently representing Ricketts' Battery and the section of Griffin's on HHH (never saw that abbrieviated like LRT before!!) were handled in a very unsafe manner; at times being manhandled, charged, with the muzzles not 1-2 rods from our faces; they were not primed, but did have the picks in the vents, pierced into the cartridge. At another point, right before that, the rifle on the far right- its hub literally no more than a couple yards from the yellow tape in front of the crop of 'taters- was about to FIRE until shouted down by us not to, given the proximity.

We registered a formal complaint, and one of our members in the 5th NY sent us this follow-up email:

(nuts, it was deleted from my Yahoo email archive!)

Anyway, whatever unit was operating those pieces was apparently suspended for 3 years by whatever governing body oversees them.

-Tom

Jubilo
08-01-2006, 11:28 AM
Dear Sir ,
I served with the Third Regulars and the artillery did fire a mite too close for comfort. Several of the fellows turned and yelled at them but I did not see any officers chastise the careless and unsafe artilleryman. Being a Westerner I kept my mouth shut and crammed some cartridge paper in my ears .
All for the old flag,
David Corbett

bentbayonet
08-01-2006, 02:40 PM
At the circus one sees elephants.

VaTrooper
08-01-2006, 03:38 PM
Yea but they dont get shot by cannons......but mabey outta one.

reb64
08-01-2006, 04:33 PM
Why did you just not move out of "danger" instead of whining and crying to the officials. Let them play like it was real, isn't that what you always say on this forum.

VaTrooper
08-01-2006, 04:42 PM
When some Federal Cavalryman tramples you we dont wanna here a ****ing thing about it!

reb64
08-01-2006, 09:27 PM
I've been stomped on by a horse that charged by and over the dead and wounded, not fun but it was realistic. I guess the soft ground saved me from broken bones.

Jeffrey Cohen
08-02-2006, 03:50 AM
I've always wondered why some people insist on taking hits in front of cannons. Are they unconsciously trying to shut the guns down?
Our cannon was so far out of the way the only people we saw for most of the battle were stragglers leaving the battle early, and yes for some reason they chose to walk in front of our loaded battery.
Speaking for the battery I was in, when are guns were loaded our sponge rammers were on the hubs. for the uninformed this signals our guns are hot. Unfortunately most posers tend to ignore this as they also ignore our frantic waving and yelling to them to get out of harms way.

tompritchett
08-02-2006, 07:55 AM
Again, this is a reason for some type of training or, even better a video, for infantry commanders on artillery drill so that they can recognize what is going on with the guns.

Pvt_Idaho
08-02-2006, 10:37 AM
Dear All,

It would be usefull for infantry and cavalry reenactors to drill on an artillery piece with a well-trained crew themselves. You pay much more attention to those big guns, their danger zones, and to respectfully walk the long way AROUND the gun and the limber that serves it when you know the drill and dangers that an artillery piece can pose.

I was part of the CS artillery at Manassas and we had women civilians(!) and retreating CSA stragglers stop our fire at points in the battles when they WALKED too close to our danger zones. Mr. Cohen, like you, we saw the battle only from a great distance. While poorly-drilled cannoneers need correction (for their own safety as well as all those around them) the best insurance for non-artys is to pay attention to your surroundings in the fray and avoid getting too close to the business end of a battery unless you know those guns are secured from that artillery's command.

My 2 cents worth,

Audrey Scanlan

Forquer
08-02-2006, 11:06 AM
The unit on the far right of the forward federal artillery position was portraying Hunt's Battery. I never did make it down that far, so I was not in a position to see how close they may have been to the tape, and in what direction their barrels may have been oriented. As to anyone being "suspended" for their actions, I've heard nothing to confirm or deny. This was the first that I had heard of such an occurance.

I know of only one instance where the Confederates who were assigned to charge and take a battery may have made contact with their Union counterpart to coordinate signals, etc. for knowing when to move in on the guns. That was on the left of the forward Union artillery with Griffin's Battery. I was in a position to watch that action on Sunday and it looked outstanding. It was obvious, in the way the Confederate infantry stood in front of Ricketts' and Hunt's with their thumbs shoved up their 4th points of contact, that no such coordination took place. No wonder they didn't know when to move in.

As for artillery firing over "dead/wounded" I also did not personally witness any instances where that ocurred. I would hope that if it did occur the battery commander assessed the situation and determined that those bodies were far enough forward of their pieces so that it did not constitute a hazard. One person's sense of comfort, however, will differ from someone else's, particularly if their backside is where it should not be and is about to be "powdered." I would agree that ranges of "1 or 2 rods" (16.5 feet - 33 feet to the uninitiated) is much too close, and that I, personally, don't like to see targets (anyone or anything forward of the tubes) within 40 yards. There is no hard and fast rule on this. As Mr. Cohen pointed out, our sister branches have a nasty habit of shutting artillery down at inopportune times whether it's by a lack of observation or pure ignorance.

This is why I'm a firm believer in a good field walk prior to a battle, and with all parties concerned. Unit commanders should have opportunity to fine tune and choreograph what should be taking place on the field.

tompritchett
08-02-2006, 11:29 AM
It would be usefull for infantry and cavalry reenactors to drill on an artillery piece with a well-trained crew themselves.

Indeed it would be usefull but not always practical. That is why I suggested the video. The other solution would be to include a demonstration and safety lecture as part of battalion drill at larger events when all branches are present.

redlegs
08-02-2006, 12:18 PM
[cannons] were handled in a very unsafe manner; at times being manhandled, charged, with the muzzles not 1-2 rods from our faces; they were not primed, but did have the picks in the vents, pierced into the cartridge.
This is very unsafe behavior especially to the crew themselves and should be reprimanded severly.

On an unrelated note, what does everyone think of the practice of crews crossing 'rammers' when there is a failed primer, i.e. misfire.

I personally am not a fan of this as while it does signify that there is a hot round in the gun, thus danger present, the flip side is that it would seem to lesson the danger in the eyes of others when they do not see the crossed rammers. A loaded gun having suffered a failed primer is just as dangerous as one that is primed or otherwise loaded.

As noted above, knowing the basic drill is the best way to know when a gun is dangerous or not.

creel
08-02-2006, 02:44 PM
"Indeed it would be usefull but not always practical. That is why I suggested the video. The other solution would be to include a demonstration and safety lecture as part of battalion drill at larger events when all branches are present."

Here in Florida in Hardy's Brigade, INC we have one event every year for just our brigade members (and other interested reenactors) to work on coordination of individual companies and show the safety/dangerous aspect of rifles and guns.

Since I have my own mountain howitzer I try to be more concious of gun pieces when I'm in the infantry ranks as I was in US marines at Manassas.

This was the first large event I've been to and I had never seen that many people on the field. Brooksville and Olustee are our largest FL events with about 2500 each.

Videos are a good idea, but I don't it sinks in till your on the field.

Do any other groups drill overall brigade levels other than trying to just cover everything at actual events?

captdougofky
08-02-2006, 03:06 PM
I agree safe distance on a cannon is everyones concern, but I would like to point out static guns do not move. The person in charge of those individuals that got to close should bear some fault for having got that close. Common sense and safety should go together, it's sad at times that people show little respect or understanding for what is at stake, peoples lives.

Doug Thomas
Lyons Battery
Kentucky

tompritchett
08-02-2006, 03:36 PM
I personally am not a fan of this as while it does signify that there is a hot round in the gun, thus danger present, the flip side is that it would seem to lesson the danger in the eyes of others when they do not see the crossed rammers. A loaded gun having suffered a failed primer is just as dangerous as one that is primed or otherwise loaded.

I tend to disagree because I consider a misfire even more dangerous than a loaded gun for which the primer has not been pulled. There is a greater probability of a misfire spontaneously firing than merely a loaded gun. Therefore I would argue strongly for continuing the crossed rammers. I know that I give such guns a very wide berth.

Pvt_Idaho
08-02-2006, 04:31 PM
I agree with Mr. Creel that "it doesn't sink in 'til you are on the field" An artillery drill demonstration at a battalion COI would be ideal.

Some infantry units already work closely with artillery and have opportunities to drill on a cannon. I am part of the crew of the 4th MD Light Artillery PACS and we share an annual demonstration with the 2nd Maryland Infantry at Gettyburg NP. Members of the 2nd MD help move the gun if we are together at a big event and members of the infantry unit are drilled on the piece and are a welcomed part of the team on the 4th MD's gun(s). We learn much from watching each other drill and move on the field.

As to the crossed implements to signal a misfire--I agree with Mr. Pritchett that this is an important warning to those around the cannon to stay out of harms way and let the crew do their misfire drill.

Is it cooler anywhere else today--how are those English faring?

Regards,

Audrey Scanlan