Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Athens double barrelled cannon

I don`t know why but the idea of a decrepit "elite home guard" unit of businessmen and local luminaries called the "Mitchell Thunderbolts" coming up with a weapon so deadly that it could only perform "sturdy service for many years in celebrating political victories" appealed to me. Here is a bit more on its test firing:
"According to reports one ball left the muzzle before the other and the two balls pursued an erratic circular course plowing up an acre of ground, destroying a corn field and mowing down some saplings before the chain broke.

The balls then adopted separate courses, one killing a cow and the other demolishing the chimney on a log cabin. The observers scattered in fear of their lives ... The Watchman [newspaper] promptly reported the test an unqualified success.

The Cannon was then sent, at Gilleland's insistence, to the Augusta Arsenal for further tests. Colonel Rains, arsenal commandant, tested the gun and reported it a failure for the purpose intended. Colonel Rains had tested a similar weapon at Governor's Island in 1855 with the same results.

Gilleland, however, was still of the opinion that the gun was a perfect success and engaged in a heated correspondence with the Confederate Secretary of War. " (from
Gilleland was a builder, mechanic and dentist. A scary crossbreed if ever there was one! I have a mental picture of the man: the sort you don`t want outside the tent pissing in, or indeed inside the tent pissing out, but preferably nowhere near the tent pissing in the wind.

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