Artillery Chain of Command

Zack

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#1
How did the chain of command work within an artillery battery? Who made decisions about the type of round to fire, the distance to the target, the length of the fuse if applicable, etc.?

In other words, a courier dashes up to a battery commander and says, “Captain, your orders are to engage a line of Confederate infantry emerging from the woods over there!” (Or would that order be more specific?)

How would that order progress from the battery commander to the chief of section to the chief of the piece to the gunner to the other men (chief of the caisson and so on)?

In my head it goes:
Courier to Battery Commander: Captain, your orders are to engage a line of Confederate infantry emerging from the woods over there!

Battery Commander to Chief of Left Section: Lieutenant, direct your guns to hit the left flank of the rebel line emerging from those woods.

Chief of section to chief of the piece: Sergeant, engage the left flank of the rebel line emerging from the woods 800 yards from here.

Chief of the piece to gunner (corporal): Load gun number one, case shot, 800 yards!

Gunner to platoon: Load case shot 800 yards, x second fuse!

And then the number 6 and number 7 men prep the round while the rest of the crew begins the loading process and the gunner aims the piece.

Is that correct or have I messed up the process? Would the fuse length be called out or just the distance? How would the decision be made as to which part of a formation to target? Which type of round to use?
 

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#3
How did the chain of command work within an artillery battery? Who made decisions about the type of round to fire, the distance to the target, the length of the fuse if applicable, etc.?

In other words, a courier dashes up to a battery commander and says, “Captain, your orders are to engage a line of Confederate infantry emerging from the woods over there!” (Or would that order be more specific?)

How would that order progress from the battery commander to the chief of section to the chief of the piece to the gunner to the other men (chief of the caisson and so on)?

In my head it goes:
Courier to Battery Commander: Captain, your orders are to engage a line of Confederate infantry emerging from the woods over there!


Battery Commander to Chief of Left Section: Lieutenant, direct your guns to hit the left flank of the rebel line emerging from those woods.

Chief of section to chief of the piece: Sergeant, engage the left flank of the rebel line emerging from the woods 800 yards from here.

Chief of the piece to gunner (corporal): Load gun number one, case shot, 800 yards!

Gunner to platoon: Load case shot 800 yards, x second fuse!

And then the number 6 and number 7 men prep the round while the rest of the crew begins the loading process and the gunner aims the piece.

Is that correct or have I messed up the process? Would the fuse length be called out or just the distance? How would the decision be made as to which part of a formation to target? Which type of round to use?
I'd say you've got it right. The fuse length would not be called out; only the range and the type of round. The two guys back at the limber had a chart that said how long to cut fuse for a given distance (and there were also pre-cut fuses in some cases) or, in the case of Bormann fuses, how many seconds to punch.

Chief of section would give general orders as to target but the chief of the piece would literally call the shots as to type of round and range. The captain of the battery (usually a captain) would make the big decisions: where to position the battery, if it was time to move out, what to engage, rate of fire. With all the noise and smoke beyond that it had to be delegated to the man in charge of each piece.
 
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Zack

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#4
According to the 1864 Field Artillery Tactics manual (https://books.google.com/books?id=S...hAhXWi54KHXrACwQQuwUILzAA#v=onepage&q&f=false)

From page 73 Loading and Firing:
97. The gunner gives all executive commands in action. He is answerable that all the numbers perform their duties correctly. He communicates the orders which he receives for the kind of ammunition to be fired; sending to No. 6 the time or 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.

Based on this, it sounds like the chief of the piece will tell the gunner what type of round to use and the gunner determines everything else. He can apparently call out either the time or distance as he sees fit.

Article Sixth explains that, to get a battery to fire (page 218):

548. When everything is prepared for firing, the captain commands:
COMMENCE FIRING
This command, given by itself or after LOAD, is repeated by the chiefs of sections, and the firing is immediately commenced. The firing by battery, by half battery, by section, and by piece, will be governed by the principles laid down in No. 477, the captain giving the directions prescribed for the instructor.

No. 477 (page 181) reads (remembering the instructor becomes the captain on the battlefield):
477. When everything is prepared for firing, the instructor commands:
COMMENCE FIRING
This command, when given by itself, or after the command LOAD, is repeated by the chefs of pieces, and the firing immediately commenced.
When the section is formed for action, the pieces are not loaded until the command LOAD or COMMENCE FIRING is given by its chief. When the command LOAD is given, the pieces are loaded; but the firing does not commence until ordered.

Interpreting what follows, if the chief of section wants both guns to fire together he says "Section, FIRE." If he wants only one gun to fire he says "Right/Left piece - FIRE." The manual specifies: "These commands are not repeated by the chiefs of pieces."

It continues (still page 181):
If, after the loading is completed, or at any time, the instructor [captain] gives the command COMMENCE FIRING, the firing is continued by the chiefs of pieces under the direction of the chief of section.
For the real execution of the firings, the instructor gives the preparatory commands: Load with cartridges, (or shot-shell, etc., as the case may be:wink: LOAD, or COMMENCE FIRING. These commands are repeated by the chiefs of pieces and of the section.

I cannot anywhere find indications as to how targets were indicated on the battlefield within the manual. It talks about how to change the direction of the firing generally, but not specifically.

So it seems my educated guess is rather close besides the redundancy of calling distance and time of fuse.
 



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