One O'clock Gun Association Offers Support
One O'clock Gunners Ready to help with 'the Canons'
The One O'clock Gun Association, The Gunners with the International Reputation for audible 13.00 hrs time keeping in Edinburgh Castle, originally using a canon captured at Sebastapol, have been in touch with The Trustees volunteering to help with our Campaign. The Trustees expressed, as they do to all volunteers, their great appreciation for support and formally called upon them to 'put us straight' about the canons used at our battle, how to locate some specimens, how to fire them correctly and as soon as possible to join us in re-enactments with appropriate equipment and attire either just before or just after their bewitching hour! [As Trustees we were of course quick to inform them of the town's pride in the Senior Medical Officer during the Crimean War who worked there with Florence Nightingale and went on in 1858 to become Director General of Army Medical Services, Dr Thomas Alexander. Dr Alexander and our 'Unknown Soldier' are the only Panners with statues in town.]
They readily agreed.
Fiction has it in Scott's Waverley that The Prince had one antique iron canon beloved of the Highlanders that was attended by two or three French artillerymen. It fired but once during the battle and that to signal that the Highlanders should depart from The King's Park out of Edinburgh towards Carberry Hill and the high ground south of Cope's Army which was camped close by Preston House on September 20th 1745.
Sir John Cope, in fact, had six canons the details of which are carefully recorded in the analysis of the whole engagement:
"A Report of the Proceedings and Opinion of the Board of General Officers, on their Examination into the Conduct, Behaviour and Proceedings of Lieutenant-General Sir John Cope, Knight of the Bath, Colonel Peregrine Lascelles and Brigadier-General Thomas Fowke. From the time of the Breaking Out of the Rebellion in North-Britain in the Year 1745 till the action at Prestonpans inclusive.
The six canons were very light one-and-a-half-pounder 'gallopers' - like conventional canon but with their barrel mounted on a little flatbed two wheeled cart with no sides and rigid shafts. Cope also had four coehorns, very short and stubby five-and-a-half-inch mortars carried on carts but laid on the ground for firing. This artillery battery was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Whitefoord, an officer in the Marines and Major Griffith, the Edinburgh Castle Master Gunner. They were manned by nine naval gunners from HMS Fox and four Army Invalid Pensioner Soldiers.
They were called into service at dawn as battle was engaged across the WaggonWay towards Preston House. It was a very poor showing indeed in common with the entire redcoat defence. It was left to the Colonel to fire 5 of the six canons and the Major all four mortars, since first the naval gunners and then the pensioner artillerymen fled as the Highlanders charged. There was no opportunity of reloading and firing the guns again since the gunners had taken their powder horns used for priming with them and the battery positions were immediately overrun.
John Thomson, the Association's Archivist, and George Robinson, Secretary, are already advising on how to trace replicas made for earlier re-enactments and a visit to the
Royal Artillery Museum at Woolwich is clearly an early priority for the Trustees.
Keep watching this space, and with the One O'clock Gun Association's support we know we shall soon bring the sight and sounds of those canons to you here online as well as in our re-enactments in the future.....
P.S. The One O'clock Gun Association has published an excellent small booklet on the Battle of Prestonpans, available at the Castle of course and from them directly by phoning  1875 813617
Published Date: July 10th 2007