The Washington Artillery
As proposed


*And as modified for reenacting*

Philadelphia, 1861



633.       Light artillerymen should, before receiving instruction in their duties at the piece, be familiar with the manual of the Washington Artillery and understand their duties as pertaining to the before mentioned treatise. The purpose of this treatise is to define the duties of the cannoneers and to lay out the methods of instruction of the same, in order that they may become familiar in their duties, both in drill and in battle. When in battle artillerymen should at all times take advantage of natural and man made features to protect themselves from fire yet maintain their duty to the unit. In battle certain positions are required to wear gloves as noted in this treatise. Notes are included to these instructions to conform to the battle requirements. In drill they shall maintain a military bearing, standing at the position of attention and making their movements with deliberation and precision.

634.       The cannoneers of a piece, when united, constitute a gun detachment, which is composed ordinarily of six men, one of whom --- the gunner who commands the detachment, should be a Sergeant..

The detachment is formed by the gunner, who causes the cannoneers to form in two ranks, eighteen inches between them, elbows slightly touching. He tells the detachment off from the right, No. 1 being on the right of the rear rank, No. 2 on the right of the front rank, No. 3 on the left of No. 1, No. 4 on the left of No. 2, and so on, the even numbers being in the front, and the odd numbers in the rear rank. The chief of caisson should there be one, is told off as No.8. When the detachment is composed of more or less than six men, the chief of caisson should be the highest even number. When the detachment, from any cause, consists of less than six men, the higher numbers are left out, and additional duties are imposed upon the cannoneers present.

When the first sergeant, is present, and takes command of the detachment(s) the gunner, then takes post one yard in rear of the right file, and acts as a file-closer.

For the purposes of instruction, after drawing equipment, each detachment should be halted in front of, and facing the piece, the latter being unlimbered (1), and the different numbers called upon successively, or the respective duties performed by the instructor in detail, while the rest of the detachment are required to attend to the instruction, and to the manner in which the motions are performed. For purposes of instruction, the gunner may call "by detail" at which time each man performs his duties by specific command of the gunner.

      ****(1) The piece shall be placed in position with the limber removed from the body, and carried to the rear 25 feet, the tongue facing the gun. The horses unhitched and removed to a safe position.

The chest shall be made up with the ammunition and primers in the right side compartment all in separate containers. The remainder of the equipment shall be in the left side and shall consist of the ammunition pouch containing the thumbstall, priming wire, brush and mirror. The tube pouch containing the lanyard shall also be in the ammunition pouch. Gauntlets for No.1 and No.2 and light gloves for No.4 to be used for battles shall also be in the left compartment. ****

The piece is then prepared for firing, or for action.


Mount the right hand trail spike on the trail



Remove the vent cover and tompion and place them in the left compartment of the limber with the rammer holders.



Remove the sponge bucket, fill it with water and place it to the right of No.1 position.



Place the worm and dry sponge on the stand



Place the wet sponge head on the sponge bucket
Note; Refrain from placing sponges on the ground where they may pick up dirt, rocks etc. Do not lean or place wet sponges where they will drip on painted wood.



Mount prolonge.



Inspect bore with mirror.



Mark the limits of the "safe Zone" with fire wood, logs or any suitable marker that can be seen clearly by the gun crew. The distance of this marker shall be a minimum of 50 feet unless otherwise directed.

The cannoneers shall draw the following equipment from the ammunition box.


Nos. 3, 4, 5 will find their equipment in the ammunition pouch.



No. 3 takes, vent wire, brush, gimlet and thumbstall, hangs brush, and gimlet on right side trail spike hook and holds vent wire in right hand.



No. 4 takes Halyard and tube pouch and primer block containing 10 primers. No.5 takes ammunition pouch. Ammunition pouch should have a mirror in the pocket.



For battles No.4 shall wear light gloves and Nos.1, 2 and 5 heavy gauntlets. No.3 may use light gloves instead of thumbstall.

Posts of the cannoneers. Piece unlimbered.

635.       The gunner is at the end of the trail handspike; Nos. 1 and 2 are about two feet outside the wheels, No. 1 on the right, and No. 2 on the left; with howitzers, they are 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 cascable, covering Nos. 1 and 2. No.5 five yards in rear of the left wheel; No. 6 in rear of the limber, which is turned about so as to face towards the piece;
The first Sergeant places himself so that he may view the entire section, the "Safe Zone" and all gunners may see him clearly.

Loading and firing.

636.       The piece is supposed to be upon the drill ground, unlimbered, and ready for action; the limber is in position behind the piece, and facing towards it, the end of the pole six yards from the end of the trail handspike; and the detachment in front of and facing the piece.

Before commencing the individual instruction of the cannoneers, the instructor should enter into an explanation of the different kinds of field guns, their names, and the names and uses of the different parts of the gun and carriage before them. This done, he commences the instruction with the gunner, who commands and points the piece in action.

637.       Commanding and pointing. --- The gunner is responsible for the manner in which the numbers discharge their duty. He communicates the orders which he receives for the kind of ammunition to be fired; sending No. 6 (who is charged with preparing the fuze) the time of flight or the distance for each round, when firing shells or spherical-case shot. He should, when the firing is slow, see that each fuze is properly prepared, and make such corrections as are necessary; for this purpose, he, as well as No. 6, should be provided with a fuze-gouge.

On receiving the command, or signal to commence firing, or to load, he gives the command load; takes hold of the handspike at the end with the right hand, and at the centre with the 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 placing the hausse on its seat, taking hold of a handle of the elevating screw, drawing back his right foot, bending over his left knee, and sighting through the slit in the hausse. When the piece is sighted he steps back indicating by raising both arms and gives the command piece is sighted to No.3 and No.4 so they may prick and prime the charge. He watches the position of the priming wire to see, with No.3, that the wire sits on top of the charge before the wire is pressed down. Stepping clear of the wheel to the left side where he can best be seen by No.4 and best observe the effect of his shot and the field of fire, gives the command "ready" in a loud and firm voice He gives the command "fire" when all are in the ready position and he has ascertained that the safe zone has not or does not appear to be encroached upon. As soon as the piece has been fired, he causes it to be run up to its former place, if the recoil has made it necessary.

When the, instead of receiving the command "commence firing", receives that of "load," the gunner repeats it, and performs his duties as before, except that he does not command "fire" until the manner of firing and the order to fire is given. When the command commence firing is given, the action is continued by the gunners without further command from the instructor, until one round of ammunition is fired.

638.       Sponging and ramming. --- Until the command load, No. 1 stands faced to the front, in line with the front of the wheels, holding the sponge about the middle of the staff in his right hand, (in battle he will wear heavy gauntlets) and trailing it at an angle of 45, sponge head up. The sponge shall be wet but not dripping with water. The sponge may be "spinned" to remove excess moisture.

The instructor commands:
--- LOAD.
      First motion. At the command load, No. 1 faces to the left, steps obliquely to the right with his right foot, without moving his left, and at the same time brings the sponge to a perpendicular position by drawing his right hand up in line with the elbow. The sponge is grasped firmly in the hand, the rammer head held over the right toe, and the elbow kept close to the side.
      Second motion. He 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 across the front of it.
      Third motion. He takes a side step to the right of thirty inches with the right foot, and bending the 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 right hand down, that of his left up, the sponge head pressing against the face of the piece.

      First motion. At the command sponge, No. 1 fixes his eye on the vent to see that it is closed. He inserts the sponge head, drops his left hand behind his thigh, shoulders square, feet equally turned out, straightens the right knee, bends the left, and, leaning over it, forces the sponge home then gives two turns to the sponge, pressing it at the same time against the bottom of the bore. The sponge should not be dripping wet.
      Second motion - He draws out the sponge, at the same time straightening his left knee and bending his right, seizes the staff near the sponge head with his left hand, back of the hand up, and places the sponge against the face of the piece.
      Third motion.. He turns the sponge by bringing his hands together in the middle of the staff, giving a cant with each hand, throwing the sponge head over, at the same time turning his wrists so as to bring the staff to a horizontal position; the back of the left up, that of the right down.

During the whole time of sponging, No. 1 keeps his eye on the vent. If at any time it is not closed, he will discontinue the manoeuver, and command, " stop vent."

      Fourth motion. He introduces the rammer head into the muzzle as soon as No. 2 has inserted the charge.


Two pauses and three motions.

      First motion.. At the command ram, No. 1 rams home, The charge is rammed by sliding it carefully down the bore, bending over his left knee, with the right arm only, and back of the hand down, in a horizontal position. He shall ensure that the charge is seated at the breach by giving a slight "tap" with the ram. At no time shall the charge be "pounded" into place.
      Second motion. He jerks the sponge out with his right hand, allowing it to slide through the hand as far as the middle of the staff, when he grasps it firmly, and seizing it close to the rammer head with the left hand, back of the hand up, places the rammer head against the face of the piece, straightens his left knee, and stands erect, eyes to his own front.
      Third motion. He then draws the sponge close to his body, and immediately steps back outside the wheel, first with the right, then with the left foot; so that when the right foot is brought to it, the right hip may be on a line with the front of the wheel. In drawing the right foot to the left, he gives the sponge a cant with his left hand, at the same time quitting it, and brings the sponge to a perpendicular position in the right hand, the rammer head resting on the right toe. In Battle he steps to the hub and places the rammer head on the hub.

      Ready. At the ready command and the firing about to commence, No. 1 breaks well off to the left with his left foot, bending the left knee and straightening the right leg, drops the end of the sponge staff into the left hand, back of the hand down, and fixes his eyes on the muzzle and his field of view for encroachment into the "Safe Zone". The heels should be parallel with the wheel, the body erect on the haunches, and the sponge and rammer held in his left hand covering the right ear with his right hand. (In battle he shall go to the ready and take the ram from the hub on the gunner's ready command, made after the charge has been pierced and primed).

The piece having been fired, No. 1 rises on his right knee and he resumes his position outside the wheel, and faces to the muzzle.

At the command load, he steps in and performs his duties in the same manner as before.

When the loading is not by detail, No. 1 goes through all his duties at the command load, and returns to his position outside the wheel.

In sponging and ramming, if the length of the piece requires it the sponge and rammer are to be pressed home in two motions, No. 1 extending his right hand to the end of the staff, as soon as it reaches the muzzle.

639.       Loading --- The instructor places No. 2 on the left of the piece, where he remains faced to the front until the command load. ( In battle he will wear heavy gauntlets) At this command, he faces to his right, and by two oblique steps, corresponding to those of No. 1, the first with his left foot, the second with his right, at the command two he places himself near the muzzle of the piece. At the command three, he brings up his left foot to the side of the right, and faces to the right, bringing his hands together to receive the ammunition from No. 5; the cartridge in the right, the shot in the left hand. As soon as the sponge is withdrawn by No. 1, he faces to the left, and puts the ammunition into the muzzle, taking care that the seam of the cartridge does not come under the vent, and then steps back, commencing with his left foot, to his position outside the wheel, in the same manner that No. 1 does.

At the command ready, he breaks off well to the right, with his right foot, bending the right knee, and straightening the left knee; the body erect on the haunches, the eyes fixed on the muzzle and his field of view watching for encroachment into the "Safe Zone".

The piece having been fired, No. 2 raises on his left leg, and resumes his position outside the wheel, and faces the muzzle in preparation to "clear the piece". (in battle he takes up the worm when the gun is fired and faces the muzzle in preparation to "clear the piece")

640.       Serving the vent. --- The instructor places No. 3 on the right of the piece, on a line with the knob of the cascable, and covering No. 1; he holds the priming wire in his right hand, the thumb stall on the left thumb. Alternately he may use light gloves in battle.

At the command load he steps to his left, wipes the vent field (or surface around the vent) with the thumbstall, which he then holds 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 to his side. When the piece is sponged, and the charge inserted by No. 2, he jumps to the end of the trail handspike, and seizing it with both hands, prepares to move it to the right or left, on a signal from the gunner, who taps the right of the trail for a movement to the left, and the left of it for a movement to the right. As soon as the piece is pointed, the gunner raises both hands as a signal to No. 3, who then resumes his post.

At the command ready he steps to the piece, pricks the cartridge, with two fingers on the outside of the ring, taking care that the vent wire is sitting on top of the charge before pricking. As soon as the friction tube is inserted he places his thumb on the lanyard link, taking care to be clear of the vent. At the second command "ready" he steps to his right, clear of the right wheel, covers his left ear, faces to the front to watch for incursions into the "safe Zone". At the command load, serves the vent as before.

No. 3 must keep the vent closed from the time the sponge enters the muzzle until the charge is seated by No.1 and the ram removed.

641.a.       Firing. --- The instructor places No. 4 on the left of the piece, opposite No. 3, and covering No. 2; he is equipped with a tube pouch on his right hip and lanyard. (in battle he shall wear light gloves)

At the command load, No. 4 inserts the lanyard hook into the ring of a primer, taking care not to foul the lanyard with knots and stands fast.

At the command ready, he steps in with the right foot, drops the tube into the vent, takes the lanyard in his right hand, moves to the rear so far as to keep the lanyard slack, but capable of being stretched, without altering his position, which should be outside the wheel, the left foot broken to the left and rear. He shall face the gunner and raise his free hand to indicate to the gunner that the piece is primed and ready.

On the command "fire" or as directed by the gunner in case of battery commands, no. 4 pulls the lanyard briskly and firmly, passing the hand, back up, in a downward direction to the rear, so as to keep the lanyard hook from flying back in the direction of the face.

In the absence of No. 4, No. 3 discharges his duties; after pricking the cartridge, he prepares and inserts a friction tube, steps to his post, faces the vent, breaks to his rear with his left foot, and at the command fire, discharges the piece. He then resumes his post and tends the vent as before.

641. b.       Immediately upon firing and the gun being run back up into position the gun shall be cleared of ammunition debris. (In battle this shall be done without further command) in drill it shall be done with the command "clear the piece" to differentiate the action as not required when using proper ordnance.

The gun shall be cleared in the following manner.

Each man shall perform the duties in clearing the gun as in serving the piece called out above.

No. 3 shall brush the vent, and shall stop the vent until all actions are completed. No. 3 shall take care that if undue resistance is met to the entry of the brush that he inspects to see if the primer shaft was not ejected, if so he shall remove it with the gimlet.

No. 2 shall take up the worm and worm out the debris, showing it to the gunner or #3 to ascertain it is complete and deposit it under the carriage.

No. 1 shall sponge the bore, inspecting the sponge to ascertain that no hot debris exists. If so he shall remove the debris and sponge the bore as before.

No.2 shall take up the dry sponge and sponge the bore.

The gun may not be loaded until three minutes has been expended from the last firing unless the wet and dry sponging is repeated then the time may be reduced to two minutes. The gunner shall mark the time.

641. c.       Should the tube fail to explode the charge, the gunner immediately commands, don't advance, the primer has failed.

      Nos. 1 & 2 shall cross their rammers over the wheels making an "X"
      The gunner shall attempt to determine the cause.
      If the primer has fired a three minute delay shall be observed before any further action is       taken.

At the end of three minutes the gunner shall step steps inside the wheel, close to and in front of, the axletree, received a priming wire over the wheel from No. 3, and with the vent wire probe to see if the charge is under the vent.

If not, the charge is to be carefully re tamped with the ram in the bore no longer than necessary and the "Safe Zone" clear.

If under the vent, the charge is to be re pierced

The gun shall be re-primed by the gunner with a primer attached to the lanyard that he has received from No.4 over the wheel from his position at the axle. And fired as if just loaded.
If the gun does not fire after three attempts, water will be placed in the vent and down the bore and the charge removed with the worm and placed in the sponge bucket.

If the primer has not fired the gunner shall re-prime from his position inside the wheel in front of the axel with a primer attached to the lanyard that he has received from No.3 over the wheel and re-fire the gun without the three minute delay.

The gunner shall record the misfire, the action taken and the determined cause in his daily report.


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