Limbering

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Aug 16, 2019
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I am interested in how long it took gun detachments to limber field artillery. I would appreciate any opinions from this forum on suggestions as to further reading. I would like to know if being under fire would hasten or retard limbering and withdrawal. I would also like to learn how much benefit could be gained from training or experience. Any referrals would be appreciated; especially to those available online or in Kindle format.
 

captaindrew

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Welcome Richard, from South Florida and the Reenactors Forum. I'll page one of the artillery guys to answer your question exactly, @drezac @Albert Sailhorst @Frederick14Va In the meantime I'm sure being under fire would have an effect but the better trained and experienced crews could deal with it much better. Enjoy the forum!
 

WJC

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Welcome! You may find Robert Anderson, Instruction for Field Artillery, Horse and Foot. (Philadelphia: Robert p. Desilver, 1839) helpful.
It is available at multiple sites on-line.
Meanwhile, I look forward to your perspective in our discussions! Enjoy!
 

Belfoured

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I am interested in how long it took gun detachments to limber field artillery. I would appreciate any opinions from this forum on suggestions as to further reading. I would like to know if being under fire would hasten or retard limbering and withdrawal. I would also like to learn how much benefit could be gained from training or experience. Any referrals would be appreciated; especially to those available online or in Kindle format.
I don't recall having seen anything specific on times for limbering/unlimbering (as opposed, for example, to how often a well-drilled crew could fire in a minute). If somebody else has, that would be interesting. Regarding drill specifications, the 1861 Instruction for Field Artillery, "school of the piece", and Patton's simplified version of the Instruction, "school of the piece", are very precise regarding the steps for executing these actions. Keep in mind that the prescribed requirement was that after unlimbering, the limber was to be positioned in rear of the piece, team and limber behind it facing towards the front. That would necessarily add time for limbering. The first manual which was specifically based on the relatively new concept of "mounted" field artillery (adopted in 1838) was probably Ringgold's 1845 manual, which again had precise steps for limbering and unlimbering in its "school of the piece". Without going into detail, limbering would involve bringing the limber around so that the trail could be moved to it, the lunette and pintle joined, and the key used to lock it in place. In truly desperate circumstances, a crew might move the gun to the rear by prolonge until getting to a position where it could be properly limbered. Again, if somebody has information on average time required in practice under fire, that would be helpful.
 

Frederick14Va

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A well drilled and trained gun detachment can bring a gun into battery in just a few short minutes or less. Once the trail is dropped each member on the gun have specific items to perform.. such as who unhooks and who retrieves what. The only two implements normally retrieved is the Sponge-Rammer and maybe the trail spike. Water bucket remains hooked in place. Use of the worm was actually rarely needed, if you even had one. (they didn't make cartridges of foil then) While this is being done the horses and limber move off and turn about facing the gun position. Poof, gun is in battery and ready for action.

Haven't timed it but limbering up likely takes less time. When order is given the implements are secured, while the horses with limber advance. Trail of the gun is simply turned to engage the hitch, and off you go.

These guys drilled... drilled... drilled.. and when completely worn out... drilled some more. All the motions and tasks became second nature, that one didn't really have to think much... just do as you've been instructed. In drill or in battle the same training falls into play. It actually takes much less time than most would expect it to take. Ive done horse drawn artillery quite a bit over the years. Its an entirely different forte and experience than a static gun demo. It also tends to be quite the physical challenge most times.
20621079_10155628749842210_2403555352769804533_n.jpg


20707963_10213851138540416_8341825012569261269_n.jpg
 

Mrs. V

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A well drilled and trained gun detachment can bring a gun into battery in just a few short minutes or less. Once the trail is dropped each member on the gun have specific items to perform.. such as who unhooks and who retrieves what. The only two implements normally retrieved is the Sponge-Rammer and maybe the trail spike. Water bucket remains hooked in place. Use of the worm was actually rarely needed, if you even had one. (they didn't make cartridges of foil then) While this is being done the horses and limber move off and turn about facing the gun position. Poof, gun is in battery and ready for action.

Haven't timed it but limbering up likely takes less time. When order is given the implements are secured, while the horses with limber advance. Trail of the gun is simply turned to engage the hitch, and off you go.

These guys drilled... drilled... drilled.. and when completely worn out... drilled some more. All the motions and tasks became second nature, that one didn't really have to think much... just do as you've been instructed. In drill or in battle the same training falls into play. It actually takes much less time than most would expect it to take. Ive done horse drawn artillery quite a bit over the years. Its an entirely different forte and experience than a static gun demo. It also tends to be quite the physical challenge most times.
View attachment 321344

View attachment 321345
I think doing with the inclusion of horses would be way cool. But then, I like horses!
 

DixieRifles

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I had the idea that limbering and unlimbering was a breeze----that is if no horse was killed. But I never considered things like securing the implements. My only question would be how does the limber and cannon position for limbering up? Note in the above photo, the gun and limber are both to the Front. In most artillery demonstrations without the horses, the limber is facing to the Rear so the gun crew would have direct access to the ammo.
Does the limber ride out in front of the cannon so it will be positioned facing to the Rear and ready to attach the cannon? Or did the gun crew rotate and move the cannon to Rear-facing limber?
I guess I need to read the manual.
 

Frederick14Va

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I had the idea that limbering and unlimbering was a breeze----that is if no horse was killed. But I never considered things like securing the implements. My only question would be how does the limber and cannon position for limbering up? Note in the above photo, the gun and limber are both to the Front. In most artillery demonstrations without the horses, the limber is facing to the Rear so the gun crew would have direct access to the ammo.
Does the limber ride out in front of the cannon so it will be positioned facing to the Rear and ready to attach the cannon? Or did the gun crew rotate and move the cannon to Rear-facing limber?
I guess I need to read the manual.
When in battery the Limber should be facing the gun. (Limber pole / horses facing towards the gun) Hence cannoneer #6 tending the limber stands at the limber facing towards the gun. Also so when the limber is opened it faces away from the action. When order is given to go, the horses-limber advances straight forward up along side of the gun. Cannoneers simply pick up the trail, turn it towards the back of the limber, move it inward about two feed til it can be hitched. A good trained detachment can have it limbered and on the move in less than a minute. The only implements that would normally need to be secured is the sponge-rammer, and the trail spike if it was used. If retiring by prolonge, the cannoneers just carry the implements along with them.
 
Last edited:

Rick Richter

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A well drilled and trained gun detachment can bring a gun into battery in just a few short minutes or less. Once the trail is dropped each member on the gun have specific items to perform.. such as who unhooks and who retrieves what. The only two implements normally retrieved is the Sponge-Rammer and maybe the trail spike. Water bucket remains hooked in place. Use of the worm was actually rarely needed, if you even had one. (they didn't make cartridges of foil then) While this is being done the horses and limber move off and turn about facing the gun position. Poof, gun is in battery and ready for action.

Haven't timed it but limbering up likely takes less time. When order is given the implements are secured, while the horses with limber advance. Trail of the gun is simply turned to engage the hitch, and off you go.

These guys drilled... drilled... drilled.. and when completely worn out... drilled some more. All the motions and tasks became second nature, that one didn't really have to think much... just do as you've been instructed. In drill or in battle the same training falls into play. It actually takes much less time than most would expect it to take. Ive done horse drawn artillery quite a bit over the years. Its an entirely different forte and experience than a static gun demo. It also tends to be quite the physical challenge most times.
View attachment 321344

View attachment 321345
The horses were as well trained as the men, and could execute all maneuvers with minimal direction.
 
Joined
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Messages
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I have not seen anything regarding how long it takes to limber up the gun. The gun crew attaches the rammer and water bucket to the carriage, spin the gun around and attach the trail spike. When the limber has pulled past the gun, it is run up to the limber and attached. This should be able to be done quickly.
Gentlemen and Lady,



Thank you all for your prompt replies!



I am more interested in limbering than unlimbering. While there IS some material available that details the steps involved, I have not seen estimates of how long this process actually took. Indeed, do the manuals state how long it should take? I fully appreciate that both training and experience would greatly affect the process.



I ask this question in regards to electronic war gaming. As a newbie to the site where a club of dedicated Civil War buffs compete, I am constantly losing my guns. They insist that the amount of time allocated to limbering a gun and removing beyond rifle range is historically accurate, I insist that it is not. Since they are very much senior to me, I have sought your opinions to bolster my position.



Would any of you care to estimate, in seconds, the time required?



I have seen two videos on You Tube and I believe with one responder here that this could be a very fast operation.
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2019
Messages
14
I think doing with the inclusion of horses would be way cool. But then, I like horses!
Gentlemen and Lady,



Thank you all for your prompt replies!



I am more interested in limbering than unlimbering. While there IS some material available that details the steps involved, I have not seen estimates of how long this process actually took. Indeed, do the manuals state how long it should take? I fully appreciate that both training and experience would greatly affect the process.



I ask this question in regards to electronic war gaming. As a newbie to the site where a club of dedicated Civil War buffs compete, I am constantly losing my guns. They insist that the amount of time allocated to limbering a gun and removing beyond rifle range is historically accurate, I insist that it is not. Since they are very much senior to me, I have sought your opinions to bolster my position.



Would any of you care to estimate, in seconds, the time required?



I have seen two videos on You Tube and I believe with one responder here that this could be a very fast operation.
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2019
Messages
14
The horses were as well trained as the men, and could execute all maneuvers with minimal direction.
Gentlemen and Lady,



Thank you all for your prompt replies!



I am more interested in limbering than unlimbering. While there IS some material available that details the steps involved, I have not seen estimates of how long this process actually took. Indeed, do the manuals state how long it should take? I fully appreciate that both training and experience would greatly affect the process.



I ask this question in regards to electronic war gaming. As a newbie to the site where a club of dedicated Civil War buffs compete, I am constantly losing my guns. They insist that the amount of time allocated to limbering a gun and removing beyond rifle range is historically accurate, I insist that it is not. Since they are very much senior to me, I have sought your opinions to bolster my position.



Would any of you care to estimate, in seconds, the time required?



I have seen two videos on You Tube and I believe with one responder here that this could be a very fast operation.
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2019
Messages
14
I had the idea that limbering and unlimbering was a breeze----that is if no horse was killed. But I never considered things like securing the implements. My only question would be how does the limber and cannon position for limbering up? Note in the above photo, the gun and limber are both to the Front. In most artillery demonstrations without the horses, the limber is facing to the Rear so the gun crew would have direct access to the ammo.
Does the limber ride out in front of the cannon so it will be positioned facing to the Rear and ready to attach the cannon? Or did the gun crew rotate and move the cannon to Rear-facing limber?
I guess I need to read the manual.
Gentlemen and Lady,



Thank you all for your prompt replies!



I am more interested in limbering than unlimbering. While there IS some material available that details the steps involved, I have not seen estimates of how long this process actually took. Indeed, do the manuals state how long it should take? I fully appreciate that both training and experience would greatly affect the process.



I ask this question in regards to electronic war gaming. As a newbie to the site where a club of dedicated Civil War buffs compete, I am constantly losing my guns. They insist that the amount of time allocated to limbering a gun and removing beyond rifle range is historically accurate, I insist that it is not. Since they are very much senior to me, I have sought your opinions to bolster my position.



Would any of you care to estimate, in seconds, the time required?



I have seen two videos on You Tube and I believe with one responder here that this could be a very fast operation.
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2019
Messages
14
I don't recall having seen anything specific on times for limbering/unlimbering (as opposed, for example, to how often a well-drilled crew could fire in a minute). If somebody else has, that would be interesting. Regarding drill specifications, the 1861 Instruction for Field Artillery, "school of the piece", and Patton's simplified version of the Instruction, "school of the piece", are very precise regarding the steps for executing these actions. Keep in mind that the prescribed requirement was that after unlimbering, the limber was to be positioned in rear of the piece, team and limber behind it facing towards the front. That would necessarily add time for limbering. The first manual which was specifically based on the relatively new concept of "mounted" field artillery (adopted in 1838) was probably Ringgold's 1845 manual, which again had precise steps for limbering and unlimbering in its "school of the piece". Without going into detail, limbering would involve bringing the limber around so that the trail could be moved to it, the lunette and pintle joined, and the key used to lock it in place. In truly desperate circumstances, a crew might move the gun to the rear by prolonge until getting to a position where it could be properly limbered. Again, if somebody has information on average time required in practice under fire, that would be helpful.
Gentlemen and Lady,



Thank you all for your prompt replies!



I am more interested in limbering than unlimbering. While there IS some material available that details the steps involved, I have not seen estimates of how long this process actually took. Indeed, do the manuals state how long it should take? I fully appreciate that both training and experience would greatly affect the process.



I ask this question in regards to electronic war gaming. As a newbie to the site where a club of dedicated Civil War buffs compete, I am constantly losing my guns. They insist that the amount of time allocated to limbering a gun and removing beyond rifle range is historically accurate, I insist that it is not. Since they are very much senior to me, I have sought your opinions to bolster my position.



Would any of you care to estimate, in seconds, the time required?



I have seen two videos on You Tube and I believe with one responder here that this could be a very fast operation.
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2019
Messages
14
Gentlemen and Lady,



Thank you all for your prompt replies!



I am more interested in limbering than unlimbering. While there IS some material available that details the steps involved, I have not seen estimates of how long this process actually took. Indeed, do the manuals state how long it should take? I fully appreciate that both training and experience would greatly affect the process.



I ask this question in regards to electronic war gaming. As a newbie to the site where a club of dedicated Civil War buffs compete, I am constantly losing my guns. They insist that the amount of time allocated to limbering a gun and removing beyond rifle range is historically accurate, I insist that it is not. Since they are very much senior to me, I have sought your opinions to bolster my position.



Would any of you care to estimate, in seconds, the time required?



I have seen two videos on You Tube and I believe with one responder here that this could be a very fast operation.
 
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