As we are preparing for the 2022 Campaign, we remember what huge responsibility in regard to SAFETY we have. Our Canons blow enough gun powder to cause harm to anyone within 50 (!) yards from the muzzle. Therefore, safety is one of our main concerns.
The worst that could happen is that any reenactor, Cavalry horse, or spectator would get harmed/injured in "the line of fire"
Every year, the Artillery Unit Members of Longstreet's Corps / Alexander's Battalion hold a School Of The Piece. A certification, based on the rules and regulations of the National Civil War Artillery Association ( http://www.ncwaa.com )
Nationally recognized instructors and experds certify Artillery Unit members on every position on the Canon. Intimate and detailed knowledge of every piece of the Canon's assembly, every "tweak and turn" of handling the gun are examined in detail.
While our Canon Drill has slight variances, most Canon drills in the reenactment community are based on the 1860 US manual, Patten's Artillery Drill (Union and Confederate), other various manuals of the period and follow the military protocol of Teaching, Practicing, and Demonstrating the loading and firing of artillery "by Detail". Loading "by detail" need not be used in the field, unless a slow controlled fire is required. In the field and in battle the "battle drill" is used. That means that not EVERY step in the loading of a shell would be announced by the gunner, who is in charge of the gun crew.
The NCWAA has never required the use of loading by detail, other than while teaching and drilling. Some commanders find this to be a safer method for reenacting, and allows them more control over their guns and crews, but this has never been a requirement of the NCWAA. Necessary steps have been added, to address specific safety issues that were not addressed in the original drill. The original procedure had very little concern for the safety of the crew, and none for those in front of the guns. In the sprit of honoring those who fought in this terrible conflict, both the Drill and/or the Procedures, have been kept as close to the original manual as safety will allow.
Our Certification Card for the year:
While the (yearly) certification of Artillery men and women is a serious matter that serves the greater purpose of keeping everybody safe, this gathering, too, is a gathering of fellowship and camaraderie, where members of units share fellowships and a "good time".
PS: on a side note, NOBODY whether newbie or experienced Canon Crew Member failed this year's certification (applause!)! And while we all are trained to keep everybody safe, we CAN'T WAIT to see you all at one of our battles or visiting us in camp!
I also want to extend my thanks to all organizers, instructors, and participants who made this event a wonderful day in our beloved hobby!
Looking forward to seeing you, at a battle or in camp!
Cpl Jack Mager, 4th Maryland Light Artillery