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 Post subject: Reloading Artillery
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:45 am 
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Location: USA
This is more a technical question of how they actually handled field pieces.
Could a gun crew change the type of ammo in the gun without having to clear the current load by firing the gun?

This is important in that it determines how fast a battery could respond to a sudden change in situation like infantry or cavalry suddenly coming upon a battery from an unobserved location. If they were loaded with the wrong ammo, shot or already fused for longer distance shell, they would need to change quickly to canister. If the only means they had of quickly changing was to fire whatever was loaded and then reload, that would give the attacker 30 seconds to close and kill the crew who without there gun were pretty defenseless.

I know they had equipment for pulling shot if the gun misfired but that would probably take considerable time.

If they had no quick way to change ammo this would also imply they would leave their guns unloaded until someone ordered them to fire on a particular target. This would shorten the reload time but leave them unable to quickly respond to an attack.

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 Post subject: Re: Reloading Artillery
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:10 pm 
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Hi, General,

Here is an interesting web page on all the rigamarole that goes into firing an artillery round:

https://www.civilwaracademy.com/civil-war-artillery

Checking Jack Coggins' Arms and Equipment of the Civil War, the diagram shows the limber 20+ yards to the rear of the gun muzzle, according to regulations.

I'm thinking the most efficient way to clear the gun is fire off what's loaded and hope your supporting infantry does their job while you prepare to load and fire a more appropriate round.

I read Long Arm of Lee but I don't think it was specific enough to cover situations like the one you outlined.

Here is a well-regarded book I haven't read though:

https://www.amazon.com/Grape-Canister-L ... 0811707024

Late thought: I know they fired double canister. Wonder if it was possible to load canister on top of a different round?

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 Post subject: Re: Reloading Artillery
PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:35 am 
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I'll take a look at those. I have the US Army Field Guide to Artillery but it mostly covers how to maneuver the guns similar to the Infantry guide.

I found very little on how they actually used the guns in battle. Most of what I am setting up for them is based on just logical assumptions with no facts to back them. But it doesn't mean it is correct since like not using repeaters, the army regulations don't always follow logic.

One thing I did come across is that the Union army favored not carrying Shot since Shells could be used as shot just by not setting the fuse. But it is difficult to determine how wide spread this was implemented.

Likewise, logically the ammo load for guns should consist of only Canister and Case. Case can be used for either long and medium range antipersonnel or as Shot. So why carry the poorer alternatives of Shell and Shot.

I am "assuming" that the guns would always be unloaded while moving. The bigger stretch is that they would be deployed unloaded so that they could quickly put in the correct ammo when a threat or order required it. But there are alternatives to this as well. One could load the gun with everything but the ball. This would allow the gun to quickly complete the loading and fire when needed. But it may create a problem if the gun was ordered to move to a new location with it partially loaded.

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 Post subject: Re: Reloading Artillery
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 12:21 am 
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Kwhitehead,

Traveling with a loaded, live artillery round would be foolish, wouldn't it? First of all, it could go off, secondly, the powder could get damp and not fire at all, no?

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 Post subject: Re: Reloading Artillery
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:44 pm 
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I guess the later being more likely, then you would have a gun fully loaded supposedly ready to fire but nothing happens when trying to do so. Noone commanding a battery would risk this.

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 Post subject: Re: Reloading Artillery
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:41 pm 
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KWhitehead wrote:
This is more a technical question of how they actually handled field pieces.
Could a gun crew change the type of ammo in the gun without having to clear the current load by firing the gun?

This is important in that it determines how fast a battery could respond to a sudden change in situation like infantry or cavalry suddenly coming upon a battery from an unobserved location. If they were loaded with the wrong ammo, shot or already fused for longer distance shell, they would need to change quickly to canister. If the only means they had of quickly changing was to fire whatever was loaded and then reload, that would give the attacker 30 seconds to close and kill the crew who without there gun were pretty defenseless.

I know they had equipment for pulling shot if the gun misfired but that would probably take considerable time.

If they had no quick way to change ammo this would also imply they would leave their guns unloaded until someone ordered them to fire on a particular target. This would shorten the reload time but leave them unable to quickly respond to an attack.


I have read that well-trained gun crews could load and fire a piece four times a minute. If they could do it in 15 seconds, I would think it would be just as well to fire whatever the gun was loaded with then reload with the 'proper' round.

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