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After the powder and ball were rammed down the barrel, number three on the crew stepped in and pricked (punctured) the powder bag through the vent hole with a vent pick or priming wire. Then number four inserted a friction primer into the vent hole. He attached a lanyard to primer with a hook on his lanyard. The friction primer was a brass or copper tube that was filled with fine ground priming powder and fulminate of mercury. It was crimped at the top around a roughened wire the protruded at a 90 degree angle. On the coomand fire, number four pulled the taught lanyard which pulled the roughened wire through the tube which created the effect of striking a match which sent the fire down the tube into the powder bag. Reenactors use the same method today. If you attend a reenactment ask a cannoneer to show you a friction primer. We don't bite and we love to talk about our guns.

Keith Saunders
First Sergeant (Commanding)
Third Richmond Howitzers
Artillery Regiment
First Division

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