Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic National differences in the position of gun crews? Reply To: National differences in the position of gun crews?

General Slade

Looking in Franklin’s British Napoleonic Field Artillery it seems that the British practice was to carry the ammunition along the left side of the gun, passing the guy holding the portfire, so presumably they didn’t regard the proximity of the slow match and the ammunition as a major worry?

I don’t know why the British put the portfire holder on the left rather than the right (presumably cannon of the period were cylindrical so it wouldn’t have made a difference one way or the other?)  The one advantage of being on the left could be that if you are right-handed you can face the way the gun is firing and so be sure that you are clear of the wheels of the carriage when it recoils. If you stand on the right of the gun you might be tempted to look back over your shoulder as you fire the gun and I imagine this could lead to accidents.  Of course, the guy holding the portfire isn’t responsible for aiming so it doesn’t actually make any difference which way he is facing but I would have thought human nature would make you want to turn your head to see where the cannonballs were flying.