There are fewer sights more impressive on a battlefield than a cannon being fired, with its incredible noise and smoke.

Although still relatively basic during the Civil War, front-loaded iron or brass guns that fired balls of iron were becoming increasingly important and mobile. They could easily decimate large blocks of tightly-packed soldiers and the noise would have been terrifying.

Manchesterís has its own cannon called The Lady Ann, named after a former Gun Captainís wife, and serving on its crew can be hard work but tremendous fun. A small-sized piece, our cannon uses real gunpowder but no projectile.

Frequently asked questions

It looks a bit dangerous

Cannon crews are specially trained to load and care for the cannon, with safety paramount.

The procedure is meticulous and the gun captainís job is make sure all the rules are adhered to. You wonít be put into danger by being a part of the cannon crew.

Itís actually an excellent way to watch and participate in a battle at the same time - you have a very important role, but you can also get a unique perspective on the battle itself.

What kit will I need?

On top of your normal kit of jacket, breeches and hose, you will need:

  • thick gloves
  • a sturdy pair of boots
  • a healthy respect for your gun captain!

Your basic uniform can often be borrowed from the regiment for your first few musters.

So What Does a Gun Crew Do?

The cannon crew, commanded by the Gun Captain, moves, prepares and loads the gun ready for firing.

Each person has a separate task, whether it is cleaning the cannon after firing or priming it for its next shot.

The artillery is usually coordinated by a high ranking officer, who will ensure that the cannon act together as part of the battle.

Safety is paramount when using an artillery piece and although there is a regular crew it is recommended people spend at least one day helping with the cannon, to appreciate the need to be aware of where they are on the battlefield.

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Gun Captain

Danni Sheldon

Danni Sheldon:

"I am in charge of the Lady Ann both on and off the field, and have the responsibility of its maintenance including the tools we use when firing."

"We do regular training including drill before each battle so that we work perfectly on the field together. This is really important if you are coming to play for the first time as you need to be very aware as we do deal with a large amount of powder."

"I am proud of being a member of Manchesterís artillery and it is a joy to use the Lady Ann as while she is small she is perfectly formed and has a huge bang. I love hearing and seeing the surprise of spectators at just how loud we can get her to sound."

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