01848 - Federal Battery; Fair Oaks, Va; June 1862 [LC-DIG-cwpb-01848]
A typical battery was made up of six cannons and 100 men. Each cannon was supported by a limber and caisson (essentially a supply wagon) that carried the ammunition and powder. The limber was on two wheels and held the ammunition chest and the weapon. The caisson was also two wheeled and carried additional ammunition chests and a spare wheel.
The limber and caisson typically weighed about 3,800 lbs. each and had to be towed by a team of horses. The “teamsters” were responsible for the horse teams and moved the animals and equipment to each battle. In addition, a supply of forges and blacksmith equipment were necessary to repair the weapons and shoe the horses. A typical artillery horse might only last eight months due to exhaustion, disease and injuries and had to constantly be replaced. Horses also were often killed during battle making it difficult to move equipment.
Each man in the unit was assigned to support a specific weapon and had a task. A typical gun crew consisted of eight men, plus an additional four to manage the horses. Each man was responsible for a task such as loading, cleaning or positioning the weapon. A lieutenant was in command of a section that consisted of two cannons. A battery of six cannons was managed by a captain, while a brigade of five batteries (30 cannons) was headed up by a colonel.