Saturday, April 10, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 58

The old Cannonsburg cannon was older than 1885 writers said and the deadly description sure made a mess of Bob Alcumbrack's plan in his search for the missing Cannonsburg cannon. Small and military didn't describe the cannon, but the word's ancient, strange and ornate does give the impression the cannon was something out of the ordinary and not standard issue. Finding the cannonballs gave Bob a solid clue of what it wasn't - no six pound cannon.

The size of the cannonball indicated it was from a brass Falcon or Falconette. What is amazing is the fact that English brass guns were extremely rare after 1698 and such cannons were rarely made after 1635. Only for special occasions before a king or queen were such guns cast. Both are classed of "birds of prey" and known as 2 pound caliber.

About 1698 England had 323 naval ships. SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS and PRINCE were two mighty galleons built for Charles I at great expense. These were known as the king's Money fleet. SS carried 97 percent brass guns in 1637 and it was the biggest in the world. She was the first ship to mount 100 guns, but she carried no brass guns in 1698. Bronze guns were trophies of war. Another reason why the Sovereign of the Seas was so special was that she was the prototype for every English capital ship built for 200 years until 1860. It was possible the Cannonsburg cannon predates 1698. Naval guns aren't ornate, but rather plain, but Bob knew the Cannonsburg cannon had to be made of bronze in order for the original seven men to keep firing the cannon repeatedly without any accidents for 38 years.

The VICTORY was built in 1737 and the vessel was known as Sir John Balchen's Victory, because she carried his flag to her lost demise in 1744. Sir John was the greatest Admiral in English history. She was then the biggest ship in the world with 100 brass guns and several 3-pound naval cannons on her poop deck and nothing smaller. Built during the reign of King George II (1727-1760) she was of the TITANIC class a hundred years later; the unshinkable. She was a formidable sight on the open seas and stood 27-stories tall, as tall as the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier today. She was a tiger, a powerful ship going in harm's way and she carried things that changed just before her demise. The copper cooking kettles could date the ship were she ever found again.

No matter how powerful the sea claimed her within six years. She was lost in powerful seas off Guernsey in the Casquets on a dark stormy night and nearly 1000 men to the bottom. She was the only British first-rate vessel to be lost due to reportedly navigational error by Sir John Balchen and the English lighthouse keeper, who failed to keep the lamp lit that stormy night. She disappeared without a trace until 2008 when the deep-sea treasure hunting group known as Odyssey Marine Expeditions, Inc. found her. They were using towed electromagnetic sonar with GPS and solved one of the greatest mysteries of English naval history. We were the pioneers of this sonar in 1986.

Discovery of the world's mightiest and technically advanced warship of her time sank in 1743 carrying a compliment of nearly 1000 people aboard comprised of 900 sailors, a compliment of marines and 50 volunteers from the nobelest families in England. Gone to the bottom of the sea without a trace for 265 years.

Odyssey Marine Excavators, Inc. out of Miami, Florida, found the vessel some 62 miles from its original location of maritime coordinates. Mariners and historians said she sank in the Channel Islands, south of England near the coast of France. She was transporting four tons of gold to Portugal, but floundered by being overloaded off the northwest coast off Calais, France. She reportedly dove into a wave going straight to bottom like the EDMUND FITZGERALD in Lake Superior only she broke in three pieces between the gigantic waves. Gold and cannons are worth more than half-a billion dollars. The VICTORY wreck has one of the largest collections of lost bronze cannons in the world. They recovered two large cannons, a 12-pounder with the royal arms of King George II and a 42-pounder bearing the crest of King George I plus two copper cooking pots that date the ship before 1743. Just the copper pots alone proved OME's discovery of the Victory.

After 1743 copper cooking pots were removed because naval physicians had reason to believe that cooking food in copper pots caused scurvy. Scurvy actually was caused by the lack of vegetables and fruits in diets on long voyages. Discovery of the vessel carrying the largest consignment of bronze guns and the location of the Victory cleared Admiral Balchen and the English lighthouse keeper of guilt. History 265 years later found them innocent of all charges and family names lost their stains. Both were presumed guilty of dereliction of duty, but found innocent of charges by American treasure hunters. Never overload a ship or vessel.

During the Civil War the Confederates built the steamer SULTANA in 1863. In 1865 the vessel exploded in a horrendous blast near New Orleans while transporting Union prisoners who had just been released from Confederate prison camps. Over 1700 perished making it the worst disaster in steamboat history in America. The vessel was blown to smithereens, the cause unknown.

I've thrown out lots of cannon history, but its simply a prelude to help you discover what Bob should have been looking for in the correct size cannon. He had been wrong on what size cannon he had to envision. To find cannons using dowsing rods means the dowser must envision objects precisely. No guessing. Dowsing isn't witchcraft.

Can you imagine what Mr. Cannon's "odd looking cannon sitting on an ornate carriage might resemble as opposed to a standard cannon?" Cannons and carriages look basically the same or do they not? Ponder that until next time.

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