Thursday, April 1, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 52

Search for secrets of a sunken cannon was an expedition to find the missing cannon and a journey through life trying to solve a puzzle. The question that dogged us is how could five men over trail and down dale and dispose of the cannon and return an hour later?

I felt knowing who, what, when, where and why might lead us to discover a clue to its age, description, size and style. My gut feeling was it was not buried close to town, but put in a secret place for later disposal. A cannon nine feet long is not considered to be a small military ordnance. The U.S. Army requirement for weights of gun carriages and caissons equipped for artillery field service on a 6-pound cannon is 6,678 pounds.

What Bob did know was that five men disposed of the cannon, but he envisioned since the men were gone less than one hour they had to have buried it close to town or in the same hole. How this cannon in soft soil laden with springs and get it to sink in that same time frame? The hole dug had to be the size of a small mini-van. The piece only weighs nearly 900 pounds. That's hernia time to flip the carriage or remove and dismember the entire rig.

I'm a fan of USA or TNT's cable sitcom "Law & Order: Criminal Intent or Special Victims Unit. I loved the scene where D'Onofrio put pickle chips on his eyes and says he likes to connect the dots. That's how treasure hunters, archaeologists, historians and you must do help ease your search for lost historical objects or whatever you've lost or are trying to discover. Actually did you lose your job? Are you unemployed with no immediate prospects for other jobs? Instead of listening to too much daily news dribble on how bad the economy is turn off that TV and start educating yourself. Playing mindless videos, games, facebook, twitter and chat rooms to pass the time isn't going to get many jobs. With or without your employer you must keep your brain the cutting edge of technology. Stay energized and focused.

To keep life experience moving forward we should all learn as adults six new things each day whether or not it pertains to immediate circumstances. Learning new things keeps our brains young, lively and energized. Learning nothing makes you old before your expiration date. Whether employed or unemployed never stop learning for it is the profitable master key to living a happier life. Don't get so comfortable because you have a college degree that you are smarter than a fifth grader. Many times those with lesser schooling possess hands-on life experiences, where you have only book smarts. Book smarts without life experiences makes one life stupid.

Clues in life surround us all, but we must search and find them. What happens on TV sitcoms isn't reality. God will provide the bait, but we must dig for the worms of success. Keeping your job means constantly striving to learn and keep clues to your success secret. Failure to do so gives others the upper hand just as it is a teacher, instructor or professors job to teach students the proper attitudes for success and how to handle failures. Go into the future with open mind's seeking what others are afraid to challenge. This is the mission of treasure hunters, too.

Connecting the dots is what made the fictional TV shows like Columbo (Peter Falk), Mr. Monk (Tony Shaloub, Paul Drake and Paul Drake II would call dot connections to find the real criminals. Although fictional these men had to search or stumble to solve murder mysteries, but in Bob Alcumbrack's case the clues were needed to solve the secrets of a sunken cannon from Cannonsburg's ultimate secret society. No photos or line drawings have ever surfaced showing the cannon. My understanding leads me to believe when the Tompsett died and out of respect for him they destroyed any and all photographs and everyone at the picnic or witnessed the accident was sworn to secrecy. They took that charge seriously into eternity, while others who were being prodded for where it was taken simply left town to overcome the depression it caused.

Historians in Troy, New York in 1990 were unaware that Cannon Township and the village of Cannonsburg were named in honor of their wealthy and influential historical figure Le Grand Cannon. Some were dumbfounded to learn that Mr. Cannon gave a gift cannon to the people. His personal archives mention nothing about the cannon. Le Grand was so impressed by town elders that on a whim, dream or prayer he presented it to the founding fathers a secret of his affection, the cannon, but not just a standard cannon. It was something special from the heart gift, a source of honor and community pride for 38 years.

James Thomas was one of those town elders who accepted receipt of the cannon from Mr. Cannon. He was the fifth settler in the township along with the Heartwell's and Patrick's and others that served with artillery units in the Civil War. Most cannons originating before 1848 in America were captured or stolen cannons. A few were made in private American foundries, but considered experimental and getting them to proof without exploding when made of scrap metals was difficult. Most were passed off as 4-6 pound small military iron ordnances after the Civil War. These were inferior reproductions sold to wealthy individuals for protection from marauding Indian attacks. The military policed itself by arresting supply officers who purchased these hollowware cannons. Depending on the severity of disobedience men found guilty were court'martialed, imprisoned or drummed out of the Army with dishonorable discharge.

Bob and crew questioned if it wasn't a six-pound cannon what did Mr. Cannon purchase and present the town in 1848? Bob's only clue was it let out an "awesome blast," but that is precisely what all cannons do - they report "awesome" like at former President Gerald Ford's funeral in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The blast echoed between the buildings "awesome."

It took 4 years to unravel the life history of Capt. Gillispie. He, I thought, might shed light on the secret cannon. Gillispie knew Le Grand Cannon and John Ball and vice versa as friends. My gut feeling was that all three men were engaged in the War of 1812-18 and met on the battlefield or at the signing of The Rush-Bagot Treaty, brokered by France. Le Grand Cannon's father and James Thomas' father and grandfather were French patriots fighting against English rule in America.

Like most of us today we had early friends since childhood, but during periods of war, or employment we drift apart over the years and remember good and bad past relationships. The good are embellished, the bad we don't know what happened and lose track of time. We don't know the person's past accomplishments over a lifetime and we don't know or never will know the whole departed story until we read an obituary or memoire. Le Grand Cannon's remembrance of Gillispie was a dot connection. Investigation led to puncturing holes in Mr. Cannon's armour - his life, but Capt. Gillispie's life was an adventure.

According to the Registrar of Shipping and Seamon, the Public Record Office in KEW, Richmond, Surrey, UK, Capt. Gillispie's rank was Captain (1830-1846) in the Royal Marines, Major (1846-1848) in the British Army and promoted to Colonel in 1848, then retired as Lt. Colonel with full pay on October 6, 1851 and he arrived in Cannonsburg in late 1851 to protect Cannon's property. Gillispie over the years had been transported on Her Majesty's Royal fleet and had access to many small military cannons and stores, whether public or private realm and he knew where to procure, purchase or resurrect lost cannons. Had Capt. Gillispie and Le Grand Cannon met on the battlefield or high seas?

The British had the habit of shipping its oldest cannons to America during the Revolutionary war and England repeated this scenario during the War of 1812-18, but instead of English cannons they sent captured French and Spanish cannons. The British Royal Navy sent to North American stations ancient and outdated smaller 2-4 pound cannons aboard naval vessels and these were transported overland thru Canada to vessels being built on Lake Erie and Ontario. British warships were armed with no cannons less than 6-pounds, but not so on Great Lakes vessels except for field artillery units. This was adopted by the U.S. Army and its probably why Bob Alcumbrack believed this to be the Cannonsburg cannon. Six-pound cannons were the lightest guns on the upper decks of British warships, but decks below carried bigger cannons, the 24 and 32-pounders and bigger, which in the case of the HMS Victory 1744 disaster was due to too much weight.

Unlike the Americans, the British had smaller cannons, but British minimum regulations for field artillery was 6-pound cannons, too, in the British Army. Le Grand Cannon remembered Gillispie's rank as Capt. (1830-1846) as an old friend and nearing the end of his military career, he probably like most of us rekindles old friendships lost over the years. What really cemented their relationships was the fact that Gillispie served the Royal Marines at North American stations between 1816-18 and again 1838-1841. During that time all ships sailing to Canada and America were loaded with ancient or older than old cannons, the smallest ancient ones no longer being produced, with the exception of special occasionaries made before a king or queen after 1643, but usually in pairs. 1643 is the cutoff day for swivel and poop deck guns.

Time to quit for today, but as you can see when I dug for answers quite often more questions rose to cloud the picture. To my posters, tea party participants aren't hatemongers, they are the voice of those felt cheated out of debating with politicians the will of the people and the merits of the health care plan. Debate is not the politician's "in your face" tactic of denial. Yes, Reagan imposed the highest taxes, which Bush decreased for eight years, which Obama is now letting expire to increase higher taxes than Reagan. Obama needs to fill the potholes in his uncontrolled budget of spendthrift tactics. It's the circle of life and for those who couldn't afford health insurance with or without a job the law requires everyone to purchase health care insurance or the government fines you $4,500 or more for family health plans yearly. It's government control of personal freedoms that the Consitution warns against. The rights of the people have been infringed upon and is contrary to it. Those tea party enthusiasts that are shouting at the top of their lungs feel cheated that politicians didn't listen to them, but voted yes for kickbacks and special entitlements - pork or tea we are conscripted to pay without representation. This is intrusion into personal lives of Americans.

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