How a cannon crew operates  

If I were to hand you my “orders” they might describe Ned Hector something like this:

March 10, 1777

Let it be known that Edward “Ned” Hector has been assigned to Captain Hercules
Courtney’s unit of the 3rd Pennsylvania Artillery Company. From there he is
ordered to report to Colonel Proctor’s Regiment in Brandywine, Pennsylvania for
the defense of Philadelphia. There under the command of General Washington he
is to serve to halt and repel the advancing British forces.

General George Washington
Commander-in-Chief of The Continental Army


Edward Hector is listed in the "Pennsylvania Archive" book as a bombardier. A bombardier is a soldier with the artillery that is capable of operating in the two rear position of the cannon. A cannon could be manned by as many as 15 soldiers and as few as 3. Three to five would operate the cannon, the rest would defend it. The positions would vary from army to army, but in general would be like the following:

The five uniformed soldiers (for identification purposes, 1 to 5 going from left to right) had the following functions when the cannon was fired:
(not seen here is an officer who would issue the commands)

Did you notice the man and woman dressed in civilian (non-military) clothing? The man could be a teamster or wagoneer (wagon driver) like Ned. Ned, being a soldier bombardier, could step into position #2 or #3 if either were killed or wounded. The woman would be like Molly Pitcher, bringing water to the cannon.


For more information contact:
Noah Lewis

11 Wellington Road
Upper Darby, PA 19082-3320


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