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Two Crew Moving Gun (sponger/rammer, lever), 5th U.S. Artillery, The Union Army, The First Battle of Bull Run, 1861, ACW, 1861-1865--two figures

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Item Number: US5ART-05A

Two Crew Moving Gun (sponger/rammer, lever), 5th U.S. Artillery, The Union Army, The First Battle of Bull Run, 1861, ACW, 1861-1865

During the early action on Henry House Hill, two batteries were ordered to advance to a position near to the Henry House.  These were batteries of the regular U.S. army, efficient and well commanded.  Both these batteries had been actively engaged from the very beginning of the battle. The batteries were commanded by Captain James Ricketts, and Captain Charles Griffin.

It is believed McDowell made a serious tactical error in giving the order for the batteries to advance up the hill.  They were told that the 11th New York Regiment were on their way to support the advance.

The southern cause was helped by a case of mistaken identity. Colonel Arthur C. Cummings’s 33rd Virginia Regiment wore blue uniforms.  The Colonel, afraid his men would break and run if they were held in their position any longer, ordered them to advance towards the guns of Ricketts and Griffin.  Griffin saw them coming and swung two of his guns round and had them loaded with cannister.

Just as he was about to fire, his superior officer, Major William F. Barry, shouted , “Captain, don’t fire there; those are your battery support.”

“They are Confederates” Griffin shouted back, as certain as the world, "they are Confederates.”

But Barry insisted, and the guns were swung back to their original line of fire.

The Virginians, meanwhile marched ever closer, halted and fired a volley.

Griffin told a subsequent Board of Inquiry, “was the last of us, We were all cut down.”

Most of the horses and many of the gunners were killed.  Ricketts was severely wounded.  Griffin struggled to save what he could, but Cummings and his Virginians were among them quickly to capture the guns and much ammunition.

A typical “field piece” had an authorized crew of 12 enlisted men constituting a “gun section” led by a sergeant and assisted by one (and sometimes two) corporal.  Each section consisted of one “gun,” its “limber” (with one ammunition chest also serving as a seat), and (nominally) six horses (but often only four) to pull it, and a “caisson” (with two ammunition chests/ seats, a spare wheel, tools, and crew baggage) with its own limber pulled by another six horses, and two “spare” horses (when available) tethered to the rear of the caisson.  Each “vehicle” was known as a “half section.”  Two sections under the command of a second lieutenant constituted a platoon.

While the platoon commander and the two section sergeants (there were no “platoon sergeants” at that time) rode their own assigned horses, six artillerymen rode the three left-side horses in each half section, while the remaining six privates either rode on the three ammunition chests (two to three per chest/seat) or walked alongside.  Three platoons (sometimes only two, especially in Confederate units), plus a small headquarters, under a captain, assisted by a first lieutenant and a first sergeant, constituted a “battery.”

Released in MAY 2023.