Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Diary of David L. Day.

Diary of David L. Day.

August 1, 2013

David L Day–My diary of rambles with the 25th Mass

A Field Day.

August 1. We had been drilling and going through the motions of artillery firing every day for a month, and a few days ago it was thought best to test our theory by a little practice. Each gun was to fire eight rounds. The targets, about the size of a large barn, were set up (500 yards in front of the guns.

At noon the pickets were called in from out the woods and soon after the firing commenced. I ordered a blank to commence with to see if the old gun would shoot. It spoke out splendidly; I was pleased with it; I then ordered a solid shot. It was fired and went somewhere, I don’t know where; but it didn’t hit the target. Calculating that a shell will travel a mile in seven seconds and the target was about a third of a mile away, I thought I would try one with the fuse at three seconds. It was fired and burst at the muzzle of the gun. That was not satisfactory. I then ordered another with the fuse at five seconds. This exploded when about half way to the target. I began to think those shell were all intended for short range anyway, and ordered one at one second. It was fired, and I heard it whizzing off through the woods a mile away. I was disgusted with shell practice and thought I would try canister. We fired one and I could see the bushes cut away at about 200 yards. Those shots had been fired at two degrees elevation. I ordered the corporal to sight the gun at the tops of the trees out in the woods, and tried another canister. This was better, the shot scattering about the target. We had now only one more shot, I thought I would try a solid one, and ordered the gun sighted at the top of the target. This was an excellent shot and I know it must have gone very near the target as I saw the top of a tree shake out in the woods in a direct line of the target.

On the whole, the firing was not entirely satisfactory, but the gunnery was all that could be desired and I am inclined to think the fault was in the ammunition. I think it must have been shopworn or second-hand. But perhaps I ought not to find too much fault, as this was our first practice. I am now impatient for an attack, for I know we can hold this post against any force that would be likely to be brought against it, and demonstrate to the country that we are heroes descended from heroes.

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