SCHOOL OF THE PIECE
Below are the commands and procedures recommended and endorsed by the National Civil War Artillery Association in the loading of artillery pieces. All verbal commands and responses are CAPITALIZED while all actions are in normal print. When specific cannoneers are involved in an action, the individuals illustrated are darkened.
This sequence of activities (steps) commences after the detachment has been marched into position and posted as in Position E of the Limber Drill. Any activity may be interrupted by the command "Cease Firing", "Cease firing" may be ordered by any cannoneer at anytime. The command "Commence Firing," ordered by the Gunner, reinitiates action.
Gunner orders TAKE IMPLEMENTS
(Cannoneers take up their implements and prepare to respond to additional orders.)
Position A: Number 1 detaches the sponge bucket and positions it on the ground. He takes the wet sponge from its hanger, wets it in the bucket and, keeping the wet sponge in hand, returns to his post (facing forward as described in Position E above). Number 2 takes the dry sponge and the worm iron from their hangers and, keeping the worm in hand, returns to his post (as described in Position E above). Number 3 uncovers the vent and removes the handspike from its hanger, placing it in the pointing rings at the trail of the piece. The Chief-of-the-Piece informs the Gunner of the firing order, the number of the gun and other information from the Section Officer. When implement acquisition has been completed, Numbers 3 and 4 face front, and the Chief-of-the-Piece returns to a place where he can coordinate the loading and firing sequences.
Satisfied that all implements are in hand, the cannoneers are properly posted, and that the gun has been prepared, the Gunner begins the cleaning steps in the loading sequence.
Gunner orders- ATTENTION DETACHMENT, LOAD BY DETAIL, LOAD (all cannoneers come to attention for the first step in the loading sequence.)
Position A: Numbers 1 & 2, with their implements in hand, turn inward to face each other.
Gunner Can also Order: LOAD, (TYPE OF ROUND), RANGE (xxx) YARDS or, if in a practice situation, LOAD, SIMULATED (or LIVE) CARTRIDGE (This order alerts the cannoneers and specifies the type of cartridge to be prepared.)
Number 8 or Number 6 repeats: LOAD (TYPE OF CARTRIDGE) RANGE (xxx) YARDS. The gunner then issues the command to proceed.
Gunner orders: TEND, VENT
(Number 3 steps well inside the wheel establishing Position B)
Position B: Number 3 cleans the vent using the vent brush. Then Number 3, with the thumbstall on his left thumb, places the thumbstall over the vent with the fingers to the left side of the gun tube and the elbow elevated to exert downward pressure to shut off the flow of air to the tube. Having accomplished this, Number 3 announces the completion of the step.
Number 3 reports: VENT STOPPED
Satisfied that the vent is properly covered and that no air can escape, the Gunner continues the cleaning steps.
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