Limbering

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Belfoured

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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.
Good description. I would add that IIRC the prescribed US spacing between unlimbered guns (14 yards) was based on bringing the limber through.
 
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Howdy and Welcome!
Sorry for my delay in responding, but I was at a reenactment all weekend!

I agree with everyone else, in that a well trained crew could have a gun limbered rather quickly. With each man doing his job, regardless of being shot at, in as much as an Infantryman continues to do his job while under fire (ie coming into line, advancing, etc)
Thanks!
 
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DixieRifles

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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.
I have done a little war gaming. I played some Civil War battles but never got into the nitty-gritty to understand the background for many of the rules. You can fall back if engaged. You can't re-mount during a fire-fight. Only your first volley has a bonus effect & every volley fired the rest of the battle is degraded. I know many of the Rules are based upon averages and generic data.

My nephew is an avid wargammer for WW2 period. One day I showed him the Daily Journal of my Dad's 105mm Howitzer battery (see my avatar). He was surprised---You can't shoot that much ammo in one day. The rules don't allow it!
I forget what the rules said was max amount you could fire but it was low---maybe much lower than 2,000 rounds. Maybe you were allowed to fire all your 2,000 rounds at once and the battery was out of the game---or something like that.


Real Data from 328FA Daily Journal
This was the amount of ammunition expanded by 1 battery for the launch of Operation DIADEM against the German GUSTAV Line by my Dad's battery. The 85th Division, which has 4 batteries, was trying to capture and hold Hills 66 & 69 just northwest of Minturno.
WW2 Arty 3.JPG



This was amount of ammo used to attack the GOTHIC Line and take Monte Altuzzo, that over-looked the Il Giogo Pass.

WW2 Arty 4.JPG
 
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Limbering gun takes a short amount of time, given the distance between the gun and the limber......Now, the horses were kept quite a distance from the limber (to keep them from being shot)......
So, the question is NOT how fast can the guns be limbered, BUT rather how fast can 4 or 6 horses be harnessed to the limber, and, thus, make their retreat.......
 
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drezac

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Looking at the Field Artillery manual, I did not see any mention of removing the horses from the limber. If the horses were removed, this would create logistical issues for the battery - slowing down the ability to retreat or redeploy, and would make replenishment of ammunition difficult since this was done by exchanging the limber from the caisson with the one from the gun. That's not to say there were not instances where they were unhitched from the limber and moved back, but I did not see anything regarding that in the manual.
 

Belfoured

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Looking at the Field Artillery manual, I did not see any mention of removing the horses from the limber. If the horses were removed, this would create logistical issues for the battery - slowing down the ability to retreat or redeploy, and would make replenishment of ammunition difficult since this was done by exchanging the limber from the caisson with the one from the gun. That's not to say there were not instances where they were unhitched from the limber and moved back, but I did not see anything regarding that in the manual.
You're correct about all of the manuals. The presumption is that they don't go into "park". And there are any number of accounts of enemy infantry targeting the horses, for obvious reasons. I have little doubt that the teams may have been unhitched on occasion but it was not prescribed.
 

Frederick14Va

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The ideal location to run into battery during an active fight would be a spot that you could easily reach out and touch the enemy.. but their Infantry not yet close enough or able to reach out and touch you back. Speed and mobility was a critical factor. Unhitching the horse teams was not an every event thing, nor prescribed / commonly instructed to do so. Counter battery fire was a common threat. Hence wasnt unusual for ones battery to have to relocate to another spot several times during the course of a battle to evade incoming rounds when the enemy has determined your range. Having everything quickly at hand to be able to move out quickly. If your taking in effective Infantry fire you stayed put in that spot too long. Horses were commonly seen to be expendable... artillery guns were not... If one lost too many horses on that team, the caisson would generally be swapped, or just abandoned/discarded and that team would be used to get the gun safely off the field.
 
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Story

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I'd suggest there are multiple factors at play that result in an answer of "it depends".

1. Is the battery/company supporting the Defense or the Attack?
2. If in the Defense, with caissons dropped it would make sense to move the limbers and horse teams to a protected (reverse) slope - yet close enough to move forward, should the guns need to be moved back.
3. If in the Attack, will the battery/company be A) firing over the heads of attacking troops or B) moving forward by bounds with the attacking troops? A) would dictate something similar to 2. while B) would dictate the horses and limber be far closer.

This is over-simplified, but y'all get the jist.

For those with 20th/21st century experience, it seems that METT-TC sorta guidance is in play.
 

Belfoured

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I'd suggest there are multiple factors at play that result in an answer of "it depends".

1. Is the battery/company supporting the Defense or the Attack?
2. If in the Defense, with caissons dropped it would make sense to move the limbers and horse teams to a protected (reverse) slope - yet close enough to move forward, should the guns need to be moved back.
3. If in the Attack, will the battery/company be A) firing over the heads of attacking troops or B) moving forward by bounds with the attacking troops? A) would dictate something similar to 2. while B) would dictate the horses and limber be far closer.

This is over-simplified, but y'all get the jist.

For those with 20th/21st century experience, it seems that METT-TC sorta guidance is in play.
Confirming the prescribed facing, go to Plate 29 of the Hunt/Barry/French "Instruction" manual (after p. 278). It couldn't be "clearer".
 

Story

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Confirming the prescribed facing, go to Plate 29 of the Hunt/Barry/French "Instruction" manual (after p. 278). It couldn't be "clearer".
Since you're looking at it, could you right-shift copy and drop the URL here so we don't have to hunt around?
 
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Story

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I tried to upload but the file is too large. You can find several manuals to view/download at www.artilleryreserve.org
This is your page where your manuals are found. http://www.artilleryreserve.org/forms.html

If you hit the Hunt/Barry/French link, it's a 404 (not found).

Highlight and click Hunt/Barry/French in your post, right shift google and you get a link to an extant host url.

List of plates is found on this page https://archive.org/details/instructionforf03deptgoog/page/n19

Plate 29 is found on p.369 https://archive.org/details/instructionforf03deptgoog/page/n369

I still don't know what you mean by "it couldn't be 'clearer'", with regards to what I wrote.
 

Belfoured

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This is your page where your manuals are found. http://www.artilleryreserve.org/forms.html

If you hit the Hunt/Barry/French link, it's a 404 (not found).

Highlight and click Hunt/Barry/French in your post, right shift google and you get a link to an extant host url.

List of plates is found on this page https://archive.org/details/instructionforf03deptgoog/page/n19

Plate 29 is found on p.369 https://archive.org/details/instructionforf03deptgoog/page/n369

I still don't know what you mean by "it couldn't be 'clearer'", with regards to what I wrote.
Good work. We're talking about "mounted" artillery here - the first formation shown in the plate.
 
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Story

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Good work. We're talking about "mounted" artillery here - the first formation shown in the plate.
1. Thank you. Feel free to throw me a 'like' at the bottom of that post, then.

2. The plate shows distances under ideal conditions and does not take into account fluctuation of terrain or fields of fire. Reality will force variations and accommodations.
 

EJ Zander

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Nice thread with good discussion.
A veteran working horse will know its job. At least in farm work they get to know their body position and spacing/ distances required for the job at hand quite well thru task repetition. Difference being that the average artillery horse only had a shelf life of a few months not years. So new stock was regularly coming in.
On the human side. I could harness a horse (much larger then theirs) from scratch in just a couple minutes. With the drilling and daily practice these guys had they would be much much faster.
 
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Limbering gun takes a short amount of time, given the distance between the gun and the limber......Now, the horses were kept quite a distance from the limber (to keep them from being shot)......
So, the question is NOT how fast can the guns be limbered, BUT rather how fast can 4 or 6 horses be harnessed to the limber, and, thus, make their retreat.......
ok, thats the question, but whats the answer?
 
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Nice thread with good discussion.
A veteran working horse will know its job. At least in farm work they get to know their body position and spacing/ distances required for the job at hand quite well thru task repetition. Difference being that the average artillery horse only had a shelf life of a few months not years. So new stock was regularly coming in.
On the human side. I could harness a horse (much larger then theirs) from scratch in just a couple minutes. With the drilling and daily practice these guys had they would be much much faster.
so, how fast is that?
 

Belfoured

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1. Thank you. Feel free to throw me a 'like' at the bottom of that post, then.

2. The plate shows distances under ideal conditions and does not take into account fluctuation of terrain or fields of fire. Reality will force variations and accommodations.
Absolutely - the prescribed 14 yards between pieces, for example, was "aspirational" and modified by the realities of the terrain. Any battery commander in Sickles' III Corps on July 2, 1863 was well aware of that little problem. In fact, many photographs of Civil War batteries posing in unlimbered formation clearly show a smaller distance between pieces. The bottom line, though, is that the limbers generally were positioned as shown in the plate.
 
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