Thursday, March 25, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 47

Ultimate treasure hunter Bob Alcumbrack found some cannonsballs that validated the Cannonsburg cannon really existed. Tompsett's accident was real and now he had to find a rare cannon. It wasn't a standard issue cannon. He presented me, his historical researcher with solid evidence and as such I, like him, was bold enough to per chance assume we might be right or wrong to continue the search for secrets.

Despite all that had gone wrong for Bob and crew it would have been easy to give up when the first big dig was a failure, but treasure hunters are a different breed of chance takers like everyone else who has a wild dream to be successful. Try and try again if you fail. Never give up following the clues that lead to discovery of secrets. Think positive thoughts and don't dwell on the "What if I'm wrong?"

Pity me thoughts are negative reactions that fester and inflate faster with more failures. To do so makes us afraid to take bold chances and let our imaginations explode or run wild, which might be clues to uncovering secrets and that ultimately might lead sooner to the treasure of one's affection.

What Bob, the crew and I found on our expedition was the fact that clues lead to clues, which opens doors to more clues until they abruptly stop. I didn't give up then. I just changed course and I got to tell you sometimes I didn't find another clue for weeks until I found something in the most unusual places. Clues are like spider silk, each strand connects to another strand until the whole web is seen as connection points. Some strands cross over each other or are connected until for some strange reason you realize some strands hang out in space to ride the breeze. What it was attached to is the mystery to uncover?

One could wonder what it was connected to or was it just an extra silk strand or parachute to an unseen or unknown secret landing until the destiny of a future event released it. Well this is treasure hunting. You never know where your gonna' wind up or what you'll discover in the distant future. Treasure hunting doesn't happen like clockwork -- that's everything falling into perfect order like glamorous Hollywood movies portray treasure recovery.

Bob Alcumbrack didn't know how far he'd have to go to find the cannon. He and his crew took many interesting sidetrips and little did he know until after his first dig failed that his journey wasn't just local history, but state, national and international. The direction of Bob's wildest dream expedition led his crew to startling conclusions far beyond his own personal thoughts of what really happened on July 5, 1885. When clues ended we went with gut reactions that lead to surprise secrets or shock of destiny that would pit the intelligence of the past seven accident men to and against seven cannon hunters in the future.

Bob concentrated most of what he knew on key old timers that had knowledge of the accident. What he didn't do was backtrack Le Grand Cannon's personal history for if he had done so he would have found out that Mr. Cannon, was himself a very secret agent man. He was a man Agatha Christie, Mrs. Marple or Columbo (Peter Falk) would have enjoyed unraveling his mysterious ways. It took me several years to unravel Le Grande Cannon's secret life, but more than that it was the personal contact with other people outside of Cannonsburg or Michigan that helped unravel some of his secrets.

On American soil lost cannons are ghosts. Few if any originals were left after three major wars where many were recycled into larger cannons. The crests, seals, decorations, etc. weren't photographed or sketched so lost was their illustrious histories. Ordnance plaques on carriages were recycled, too. Cannon hunting is the ultimate treasure and piece engravements are what give it a higher auction value. The Cannonsburg cannon's value and especially all cannons deemed rare could fetch prices into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and those with "raised reliefs" are rare finds. Nearly all cannons on Michigan's Mackinaw Island are reproduction cannons barren of original legends. The original cannons from War of 1812, with the exception of the 32-pounders at the base of Fort Makinac, were removed in 1942, scrapped for metal recycling war efforts for World War II.

Lake Huron's depth are littered with a treasure trove of ancient British and French cannons after the Rush-Bagot Treaty brokered by France was signed in 1818. Different areas of underwater bottomland preserves are protected from salvagers and scuba diving enthusiasts. Once the Great Lakes shipwrecks are documented they are registered with the State of Michigan for protection. Signatures on the treaty prohibits American and Canadian military vessels from engaging each other on the five Great Lakes. Live fire exercises are prohibited, but Coast Guard and law enforcement vessels may take precautions and use lethal force in emergencies dealing with smugglers, drug and gun runners, terrorists and illegal aliens. Military forces may not engage each other. Naval vessels other than Coast Guard search and rescue crafts and floating museums are not permitted to operate on the Great Lakes, a neutral basin. That's why you don't see submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, missile boats or any type of war vessel operating on the lakes. Each country can build war vessels in shipyards in bays or drowned river mouths, but once launched must leave for sea duty trials. Certain areas of the Great Lakes are reserved for military training exercises and the general public is prohibited from entering these areas. Doing so puts private boaters in grave danger.

After Americans were overrun by the British at Fort Mackinac on July 16, 1812, the British discovered a secret about their lost cannons. When the Americans surrendered the British discovered they had recovered two of their own lost cannons during the American Revolutionary War. The cannons bore inscriptions that said they had been captured from the British at Saratoga and Yorktown, NY. We Americans engraved capture details., too. We let our imaginations explode, too, on what other decorations the Cannonsburg cannon might record?

We want you, the public to know at the time the cannon might have "raised art". Some decorations were pure art with raised or depressed fancy scrolls with statues of animals, Indian savages, fish and mermaids, curlicues all which were either made by the French and Spanish master craftsmen. These were considered trophies of war or high art treasures and rare finds.

Fancy coat-of-arms and inscriptions in Latin are found on the top and breech. Along the cannons chase, that's forward of the trunnions, are the marks of the Fleur-de Lis alternating with special capital letters like "F" meaning it originates from King Francis I of France. Raised relief decorations increase the value when on highly prized bronze trophies of war.

The barrels of cannons from 1650-1750 were elaborately decorated and easier to decipher while the cascable that looks like a doorknob is sometime sculptured in the form of a lion's head. Rarely can you identify a cannon by the knob. During this span of years the breeches and upper barrel surfaces are engraved with two or three inscriptions encased in elaborate scrolls with a big escutcheon forward of the breech. Any low relief designs elsewhere says its probably of French or Spanish origins. Its physical characteritics on a cannon that can date it. After 1760 the highly decorated art subsided to when cannons were only engraved with names, escutcheons, ogees and symbolic features like the spread-winged eagle over the trunnions. English cannons were void of such engravements.

Bronze pieces of Dutch, French and Spain origins the founders name is listed in Latin and casting date around the back of the breech. The Dutch made most of England's six-pound bronze cannons and they had the most beautiful engraved decorations on the escutcheons listing reigning families. Iron cannons were engraved with the marks of kings. Bob's small military cannon mentioned in the history book wasn't an American cannon, but a captured English cannon, but he imagined it wrong. It wasn't a 6-pounder, but at least he got the metal right "bronze."

Secrets are what treasure hunters don't tell before something is found. Time for lunch. Next time a little more info on cannon markings, Napoleon and discovering secrets from the Le Grande Cannon's past.
I realize I could just tell you the who, what, when, why, where and how 's of Bob's secret, but you wouldn't see the whole picture of our cannon expediton and you wouldn't discover the mystery secrets about America's rich historical heritage in our own communities.

No comments:

Post a Comment