This scene features a replica 32-pound cannon that would have been employed here during the 1850s and 1860s. Thirty-two pound refers to the weight of the cannonballs used in this weapon. The soldiers are in the process of sponging the bore, or cleaning the cannon barrel, and are getting ready to load a cannonball.
To fire the cannon, a seven-man gun crew (five shown in the scene) engages in a sequence of intricate and precise movements. In fewer than 20 seconds, the crew sponges the bore, inserts the powder bag, loads the cannonball, rams it home, cuts the fuse, aims, shoves a slender pick through the vent into the powder bag, and hooks a friction primer to the lanyard, which ignites the fuse when pulled. At the gunner's command of "Fire," the crew tugs the lanyard and fires the piece, sending the cannonball nearly a mile to the target. Before the smoke clears, the crew pushes the cannon back into loading position, the gunner cries, "Load," and the sequence begins again.