Western Artillery Reserve

Branch Commander Position Description

Colonel Kevin Harris

Information coming soon!

First Federal Division Artillery Branch
Regulations and Requirements for Ordnance and Crews


The following is the organizational guideline for the First Federal Division Reenactor Artillery Reserve and Staff. In as much as the First Federal Division acts as an umbrella organization for individual reenacting Brigades and Battalions, the Artillery Reserve serves the same function for those portraying an Artillery impression.

Section 1: Artillery Reserve Mission Statement

1.1 The Artillery Branch Chain of Command and Staff will enforce these regulations prior to and during an event to ensure safety of personnel and equipment. In addition, the chain of command is charged with conducting historically based events.

1.2 Each unit commander is responsible for the conduct of his unit and shall be held accountable for the actions of any unit member. Also, the Chief of the Piece and /or the Gunner is responsible for the discipline of the detachment, safe operation of the piece, and carrying out of orders of the recognized Chain of Command.

Section 2: Event Participation

2.1 All units/pieces are expected to register for events within a complete 4 or 6-gun battery structure whenever possible. The battery commander or his designate is responsible for the registration of unit. Individual units/pieces can be refused participation based on Event size; however, 1FD units are given priority for registration.

2.2 Individual Registered non-division detachments may attend upon the approval of the Artillery commander with the agreement and understanding that they will be assigned to an existing battery. Input from the detachment commander will be considered by the Artillery commander in such assignments. All such units will abide by the orders of that battery commander and will follow all established inspection and firing procedures.

Section 3: General Information and Safety Procedures

3.1 All units will have their tubes, carriage, limbers and ammunition chests inspected and certified ready at the event registration process by Division Artillery staff, or authorized event personnel. Any unit arriving late WILL NOT take the field until inspected. THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS.

3.1.1 Failure of inspection -Any failed piece will remain off the field until the Chief of Artillery is satisfied and has given approval for the piece to be activated. It is the responsibility of the chief of piece, the gunner or the battery commander to notify the Chief of Artillery when the piece is ready for re-inspection. The Chief of Artillery may designate an inspector to act in his place.

3.2 There is to be no discharging of cannon in camp. All discharging other than in the scripted battle shall take place at an approved battery position after required notification and approval process through the Chain of Command.

3.3 No cannon crew member will be allowed to serve the piece if he has consumed any alcoholic beverages 6 hours preceding the commencement of the scenario and/or he appears to be intoxicated.

3.4 The maximum rate of fire for any one cannon will not exceed one round per minute, from time of discharge to placing next cartridge into muzzle. Slower rates of fire are encouraged. Battery Commanders are responsible controlling the Rate of Fire.

3.5 Batteries shall only be assaulted using a pre-arranged signal and ONLY if it is part of an scripted scenario agreed upon by both overall Military commanders. The signal for such an assault will be agreed upon by the commanders involved in scenario.

3.6 While on the field, the ammunition chest shall be placed a minimum of 35 feet to the rear of the piece. All rounds will be kept in ammunition chests, except for rounds being delivered to the pieces. The lid of a chest shall remain closed and the chest locked at all times except when rounds are being removed, during inspections, or while work is being performed inside chest.

3.6.1 There is to be no smoking or open flame within 100 feet of any ammunition storage chest or limber chest.

3.6.2 A 150 foot minimum safe firing distance shall be maintained between the muzzle and any person, animal, or vehicle in its front at all times. At 150 feet the crew shall load only “light cartridges.” A “light cartridge” is defined as no more than 3 oz of black powder per inch of bore with NO COMPRESSION FILLER. No cannon shall discharge or be loaded with any persons, animal, or vehicle within 100 feet of the muzzle, -be conservative. If “light cartridges” were not prepared beforehand, then firing will cease at the 150-foot minimum. When possible, if the artillery is static, the minimum range for artillery to operate will be marked by Artillery Reserve staff.

3.7 All artillery officers on the field will hold a position as either battery commander, section commander (chief of section) or as liaison to brigade or division artillery staff.

3.7.1 Supernumerary officers will be assigned duties as needed by the Chief of Artillery and rank is to be commensurate to the duties assigned.

3.8 The Chief of Artillery, prior to the commencement of any scenario must approve and communicate to the battery commanders any deviation from these Artillery Regulations. It is the 1FD and Artillery Reserve’s goal to have a safe and enjoyable, historical event. The Chain of Command is in place to provide all participating artillery personnel and units full support. If you forget an implement, break a lanyard, are short a cannoneers or have other difficulties, please request assistance through the chain of command before the field inspections. We can help you assist in meeting the requirements that will be enforced.

3.9 It is the responsibility of each individual unit attending to prepare adequate rounds for the event. Rounds will not be supplied by the event or Artillery Branch.

Section 4: Ordnance Inspection and Requirements

4.1 Only full-scale “War Between the States Artillery” field pieces will be allowed. No mortars will be allowed unless plainly stated in event package. No Mountain / Pack Howitzers (MPH) are allowed except those previously “Grand fathered” under Artillery Branch guidelines. M.P.H. must be acceptable per event host regulations.

4.2 All Reproduction artillery tubes will be equipped with a steel safety liner or sleeve. Original tubes will be inspected for serviceability on an individual basis. All carriages will be inspected for general condition and determined serviceable on an individual basis per inspection checklist. (Reference Section 3.1 &3.1.1)

4.3 Only friction or percussion primers will be used to discharge the piece.

4.4 Blank artillery cartridges will be made up of Black Powder only, not to exceed 4 oz. per inch of largest bore diameter. Cartridges require a minimum of three wraps of heavy-duty aluminum foil and will be packed to a firm consistency. Cartridges will be subject to random selection for inspection. Only cannon grade, 1F, or 2Fg black powder will be used. Powder grades cannot be mixed. In the event that additional rounds are needed by units, the CoA may designate a safety area where rounds can be manufactured. (Reference Section 3.9)

4.4.1 Artillery cartridges will be stored in the ammunition chests at all times. All rounds will be individually stored in a sealed cardboard/steel container within the ammunition chest. The chests must remain free of loose powder residue and no loose powder (cans) will be stored. This will be fully enforced after July 1, 1999.

4.5 The bore of every cannon shall be thoroughly sponged and wormed as agreed upon by the battery commander and Chief of Artillery. Wet/dry sponging is a matter of unit preference.

4.5.1 Each piece will be cleaned at the conclusion of each day’s action. Also, each piece, carriage and limber will be given a post scenario examination by the battery commander. Division Artillery may conduct inspections as needed.

Section 5: Equipage and Implements

5.1 Each piece will be equipped with the following implements in good working condition:

  a) Two Sponge/Rammers -Shall fill the bore and be capable of sponging the bottom of the breech. The sponge for field howitzers shall fill the breech.

  b) Worm -Shall be of a size capable of dislodging all foreign objects in the bore.

  c) Sponge Bucket

  d) Thumb stall or Glove for thumbing the vent.

  e) Priming Wire (brass)

  f) Gunner’s Haversack

  g) Friction Primer Tube Pouch

  h) Gimlet or Vent Punch

  i) Vent Brush

  j) Leather gauntlets or gloves for Position’s Nos. 1 & 2

  k) Model 1848 Ammunition Chest (period) – Limber recommended.

    i. Airtight and lockable

    ii. Individual tubes for each round (Reference Sec. 4.4.1)

    iii. No loose powder in chest (Reference Sec. 4.4.1)

5.2 Towing -After initial arrival at Event site all pieces / carriages are expected to be equipped for towing between scenario sites, without loading onto trailers. Depending on time and site factors, each 4-6-piece battery may be limited to only one towing vehicle between scenarios.

Section 6: Detachment Composition, Inspection and Requirements

6.1 All detachments shall be inspected on their piece for proper drill and safety. Each artillery unit will provide the Chief of Artillery a written copy of their drill. Detachments will be inspected in accordance with their own drills. If units do not file a written drill with the Chief of Artillery, the unit will be provided one on which it will be judged. It is highly suggested a copy of the unit’s drill be maintained with each piece’s to avoid delays.

6.2 An artillery detachment consists of a minimum of seven men including the Gunner (corporal rank is recomended). Position Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, Gunner, and Sergeant (chief of piece) must be 18 years of age or older. Nos. 5 through 8 must be 16 years of age or older. (Participants 15 and younger shall not serve on the line.) Artillerymen under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or recognized guardian with the necessary release forms and medical information.

6.2.1 A Chief of the Piece (sergeant) is authorized for a crew that meets the minimum crew size (7). The Chief of the Piece cannot take the place of the Gunner (corporal). No enlisted cannoneer is authorized to carry revolvers/pistols. As Chiefs of the Piece (sergeants) were mounted in all battery types, sabers of any period type are permitted.

6.2.2 All artillerymen are expected to wear jackets/coats, canteens, and haversacks in the field. Red trimmed artillery shell jackets or 4 button sack coats are acceptable. Knapsacks and blanket rolls are highly encouraged for cannoneers.

6.3 Position’s No. 1 & 2 shall wear their jackets/coats with sleeves down while serving the piece. The No. 1 man shall not double or triple “tamp” the charge. The charge will be seated home in one motion only.

Section 7: Mounted Artillery (Horse-Drawn)

7.1 All Division Rules and Guidelines for Mounted Cavalry shall apply to artillery horses, harness, tack, and its inspection and care.

7.2 There shall be at least one outrider or Section Chief (lieutenant) per section of guns. If there is only one horse-drawn gun on the field, that gun shall be accompanied by a mounted Chief of the Piece (sergeant).

7.3 When in standard movement, mounted artillery shall not travel at a rate greater than a trot. Rate of movement in the field may be greater if so directed by the Commander of Mounted Artillery. Cannoneers shall walk at least an arm’s length to the outside of the wheel. If this interval cannot be maintained, the Gunner shall give the command to march to the rear, and the detachment shall march to the rear of the piece. Cannoneers shall only ride on the ammunition chests of limbers and caissons, with a maximum of three per chest. They will mount the limber or caisson and ride according to directions in “Instructions for Field Artillery.” No one shall ride on the gun or foot board of the limber.

7.4 If there is more than one mounted gun operating as part of a larger unit in the field the following will be observed:

  a) When in column, pieces shall maintain a minimum distance of five yards between the last cannoneer or the muzzle of the lead piece, and the lead horse of the following piece.

  b) When in battery, pieces shall maintain an interval of fourteen yards. The terrain will dictate actual interval.

  c) The only cannoneers to step inside the wheels to limber or unlimber the piece shall be the Gunner and the No. 5 man. The following shall be observed:

  • To Unlimber: after the piece has come to a full stop, the Gunner and No. 5 shall step in, remove the key, and lift the lunette off of the pintle hook. When the lunette is clear, the Gunner shall command the wheel horse Driver to “drive on.”
  • To Limber: after the piece has been moved to the limber and the lunette placed on the pintle with the key in place, the Gunner and No. 5 man shall step clear of the wheels. Before moving the piece, the wheel horse Driver shall look at the Gunner and call out “clear wheels.” The Driver will not initiate movement of the piece until he hears the Gunner respond “wheels clear” to indicate that all cannoneers are outside the wheels of the gun and limber.
  • To Lock the Wheel: upon encountering a steep grade on the line of march, the Chief of the Piece or Gunner shall halt the piece, and the No. 5 man shall step between limber and piece to lockout the gun wheel before descending the grade. The order to move shall be the same as when limbering.

  d) Pieces shall not be loaded or fired until the horses are behind the piece. If there is more than one gun on the field, no gun in a section or battery shall be fired until all of the horses are behind their piece. Pieces shall not be moved when loaded.

  e) The emergency command to stop all movement shall be “All Stop!” This command should be given in a loud voice by anyone upon the recognition of an imminent hazard, a person or horse in distress, or an equipment failure. The command should be repeated until all pieces have come to a halt. The command to resume movement shall be given by the officer or NCO in charge only when the problem that initiated the emergency command has been corrected or eliminated.

Section 8: Mishaps, Incidents and Misfires

8.1 In the event of a misfire (for any reason) the command is given “do not advance, the primer has failed”. Postion No. 1 will immediately place his rammer on the outside of the hub of his wheel as a clear indication of the misfire. With this the crew shall initiate the proper failed primer drill after a minimum of 3 minutes. During this time the cannon will not be moved or left unattended. The misfire shall be cleared when the Gunner is satisfied that it can be done safely.

8.1.1 Should a piece have three consecutive misfires the Battery (battery commander should already be aware of this!) and Battalion commanders (Artillery Staff) will be notified. Prior to any additional action, the Battery Commander will be present. The No. 1 will continue hold his rammer on hub until piece is cleared.

8.1.2 Once the Battery Commander is present, the piece shall be flooded with water through the vent, then the muzzle. The cartridge shall then be when the Gunner is satisfied that it can be

done safely. No cartridges shall be reseated or “tamped” if the primer fails to discharge the piece.

8.2 All Misfires will be reported by the battery first sergeant who will report to the battalion ordnance officer per Special Orders. A written copy detailing the misfire and actions taken will be forwarded to the Artillery Command Staff before the next action.

8.3 Mishaps or incidents involving personal injuries or significant property damage shall be investigated and reported per Artillery Branch Bylaws. A written copy detailing the mishap, injury or safety incident and actions taken will be forwarded to the Artillery Adjutant before the next action.

8.4 Minor injuries that occur in camp or in the field not involving ordnance shall be reported to the Artillery Adjutant to insure that the Artillery Chain of Command and Division Medical are notified. The Artillery Chain of Command will take responsibility to forward this information to First Federal Division Command.

Amended and revised on April 18th, 2009

2nd revision on May 17, 2011