Thursday, May 27, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 88

Progression of time changes models like automobiles and cannons. DeSoto's and Thunderbirds are extinct and two-pound cannons were no longer cast by the early 1700's, which is why the Grand Rapidians called the Cannonsburg cannon an ancient relic. These were replaced with 3-pound falcons and culverins and one-half pound rifle guns were made.

It was indeed rare to find a 2-pound cannons on His Majesty's Royal Navy fleet or have cannons with French registry. British naval regulations state that 6-pound cannons not exceed 72 inches in length, but field cannons sitting on a carriage could be more than 13 feet in length. The increased size provided the necessary weight to keep the cannon from flipping while being fired.

This is the size of cannon Bob attempted to find at dig sites number one and two. Discovery of the cannonballs put Bob on a collision course of destiny to envision the correct cannon of his wildest dream. Dowsers must have a correct mind's eye and use a silent mantra that isn't flawed in wording. One word can make a difference.

Bob Alcumbrack was correct when the old timer's said "the cannon's blast was awesome." When firing falconets and culverins these 15th and 16th cannons did indeed deliver an 'awesome deafening roar' whether by sea or land. They shot 1-2 pound projectiles or grapeshot that could obliterate the naval decks of weapons, rigging and men. Several fired from the upper decks could wipe an attacking vessels decks clean. Its awesome firepower was more deadlier than the bigger naval cannons below decks.

Bob assumed that because of the awesome firepower over Cannonsburg remarks that it must be a six pound cannon, but it was the elevation of this weapon on a carriage that confused him. Had Tompset been shot with this cannon the ramrod would have struck him anywhere from the lower abdomen to his chest and not in the knee.

Estella Ward told Bob that when the cannon on carriage passed her parent house in the wee hours of July 5, 1885, the carriage wheels squeaked loudly indicating it was old, but Bob never found out how old. If it was a specially designed steel carriage why didn't someone oil the wheel hubs. They couldn't if hubs were made of wood. Oil would make wood expand causing the wheels to lock. If hubs were wood and metal something was being pinched. Could it be that over the years they lost the correct lubricant? If metal carriage hubs why didn't they grease the wheel rims? The only reason they sacrificed such an honorable historical piece of Cannon history is because it killed their best friend and colleague.

They buried the cannon or dismembered it so they wouldn't be constantly see the visual portrait of a killer. The tragedy wouldn't have happened had they obeyed the township elders desire to rid them of the cannon before it injured or killed someone in their community. Too many people without military artillery training were dying for the thrill of firing celebratory cannons on the Fourth of July. Fireworks replaced cannons, but present day medical personnel would argue that fireworks are just as dangerous. Still too many injuries or deaths.

The discovery of 1.87 inch diameter cannonballs energized Bob Alcumbrack. They originate from a 2-pound (2 inch calibre) English falconet or culverin with French registry. What made them unique was that these cannons were cast in bronze in pairs before a King, Queen or Prince of Denmark, Norway, Scotland, France or England from 1450-1635. Those made of cast iron in England were made between 1635 and 1754, but the Cannonsburg cannon was bronze because it had been used for 38 years without mishap. Iron cannons are good for only 25 years and the rapidians called it an ancient relic. Ancient means over 100 years old.

Tompsett was killed by a muzzleloader (ramrod), while some cast iron pieces are breechloaders. This also time dates the cannon. After 1650 some cast iron cannons were manufactured in England, but these were more deadly to those firing them than against combatants. That's because of faulty workmanship and covering up the fact that lords and sovereigns were taking kickbacks between good and bad cannons. They were supposed to be solid bronze or iron and not lead covered in bronze or iron. His Majesty preferred quality brass cannons, but they were expensive, but less deadly to his loyal sailors and more expensive to replace. It costs one ducat to purchase a bronze cannon. That today is equilavent to nine shillings and four pence or $100 in US currency. Proably in the 1600's less than $25.00 each.

King Henry VIII (1491-1547) was a cheapskate and he didn't care how many of his loyal subjects perished fighting England. Quality control of cannons made in England he left to others, but they took advantage of his stupidity by taking kickbacks from passing off bad cannons as quality. Dead men don't tell the secrets about why they died and Henry wouldn't listen to the complaints of those who survived premature explosions.

Prior to 1768, the best English cannons were made in the Flander countries of Europe on the North Sea comprised primarily of Belgian, Dutch and French origins. All these countries had the highest registry of captured 2-3 pound cannons (approximately 66 in 1691) and by 1768 very few existed. In 1768 His Majesty's stores listed that only 3rd and 4th class ships carried small cannons. These were listed as swivel or pivot guns on poop stations. England's master gunfounders had not perfected good quality iron cannons until the 1700's. England however was a world leader in manufacturing ship riggings, gunpowder and iron ore cannonballs. England was exceedingly rich in iron ore remains, but it wasn't until 1768 a contract was written between Officers of His Majesty's ordnance and Sameul Walker and Company gunfounders to begin production of iron guns made in England.

During the 26th year reign of Sovereign Lord George III (1786) an agreement was made between the Officers of Ordnance and Joshua Walker, Joseph Walker and John Crawshaw, of Rotherham in County of York, gunfounders and co-partners to rearm his Majesty's fleet. No small cannons of two-three pound poop station cannons were in existence in 1786. This is the year Le Grand Cannon was born, however, a cannon could have been purposely purchased upon his birth and kept in family storage.

Could the cannon have been purchased from a French supplier or might the cannon have originated from Capt. Gillispie's travels when he retired (Lt. Col.) from the Merchant Marines?

In 1787, the Sameul Walker and Company cast and delivered to His Majesty's storekeeper at Woolrich Warren approximately 1000 tons or iron ordnance with His Majesty's crown and ciphering engraved in each piece. They included six small cannons ranging from 65-72 inches long, but with 2.75 inch diameter bores and cast from sand molds and delivered for poop deck operations.

The era for true falcons and smaller-bore diameter culverins was over. Could Mr. Cannon have purchased a small cannon directly from Samuel Walker and Company in 1847 or could the cannon have been a stored family gift of Le Grand Cannon's French heritage? Was the small cannon resurrected from a sunken shipwreck or captured or found during the War of 1812? These are secrets only Le Grand Cannon or God knew! Present day historians in New York couldn't find any paperwork in Cannon's personal archives. The Cannonsburg cannon was a secret gift.

Well, it intends to storm this morning. Hear the thunder rolling and its getting closer so I must quit. I'm hungry. Have to eat breakfast before shuffling off to work. I own the day.

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