By John Ballard
One of Athen's most prized possessions, the famous Double Barrel Cannon, was cast at the Athens Steam Company in 1862 and today stands on the lawn of the City Hall in Athens, Georgia. The Athens Steam Company was renamed the Athens Foundry and Machine Works in December 1863 and most reports name the Foundry as the site of manufacture. The Cannon is a double six-pounder, cast in one piece, with a three degree divergence from the parallel between the barrels. Each barrel has its own touch hole so it can be fired independent of the other and a common touch hole in the center is designed to fire both barrels simultaneously.
The idea was to connect two cannon balls with a chain and mow the enemy down like a scythe cuts wheat. The gun is four feet eight and one-half inches long, the bore is three and thirteen-hundredths inches and the gun weighs about thirteen hundred pounds.
The gun was designed by John Gilleland who has been identified as a local house builder and mechanic, a Jackson County dentist, a private in Mitchell's Thunderbolts and as an employee of Cook's Armory. The Cannon was financed by a $350 subscription raised by 36 interested citizens and the casting was supervised by Thomas Bailey.
The Cannon was taken out on the Newton Bridge Road in April 1862, for test firing. The test was, to say the least, spectacular if unsuccessful.
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.
Some reports claimed two or three spectators were killed by the firing. The reports of the deaths have not been substantiated. The Watchman 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. Gilleland contended the Cannon had been fired successfully and James W. Camak reports one successful shot. Camak also stated that the Cannon was very effective if both barrels were loaded with canister or grape shot and fired simultaneously.
More at the link.
If this historic factoid has been missing in your history classes there is a good reason.The experiment was not the success that was originally reported. Then, as today, the public were credulous and reporters slow on the uptake. But what's the point of downplaying stupidity when you have papers to sell?
Two stories this morning passing as "news" are from a couple of behind-the-scenes Republican big guns. With over-the-top idiotic pronouncements each is a bel-weather indicator of how far off the nut the GOP has drifted. If the elected leadership of the Grand Old Party don't stop letting themselves be manipulated by crazy advisors like these, they will only have themselves to thank when their house of cards comes tumbling down.
These two links are what reminded me of the double-barrel cannon mentioned above.
NORQUIST We�re focused on the fact that there is this Damocles sword hanging over people�s head. What you don�t know is who will be in charge when all of this will happen. I think when we get through this election cycle, we�ll have a Republican majority, [though] not necessarily a strong majority in the Senate, and a majority in the House.
The majority in the House will continue to be a Reagan majority, a conservative majority. Boehner never has to talk his delegation going further to the right. If the Republicans have the House, Senate, and the presidency, I�m told that they could do an early budget vote�a reconciliation vote where you extend the Bush tax cuts out for a decade or five years.
You take all of those issues off the table, and then say, �What do you want to do for tax reform?� Then, the question is: �OK, what do we do about repatriation and all of the interesting stuff?�
And, if you have a Republican president to go with a Republican House and Senate, then they pass the [Paul] Ryan plan [on Medicare].
NJ What if the Democrats still have control? What�s your scenario then?
NORQUIST Obama can sit there and let all the tax [cuts] lapse, and then the Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach. The last year, he�s gone into this huddle where he does everything by executive order. He�s made no effort to work with Congress.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus compared President Obama to Francesco Schettino, the Italian cruise ship captain who took off in a lifeboat after his ship ran aground at Isola del Giglio, Tuscany and is suspected of multiple counts of manslaughter. �In a few months, this is all going to be ancient history,� Priebus said in response to a question about the brutal GOP primary, �and we are going to talk about our own little Captain Schettino, which is President Obama who is abandoning the ship here in the United States and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president.�
These two wild and crazy pronouncements by Reince Priebus and Grover Norquist together remind me of that Civil War era double-barrel cannon.
Newt isn't the only loose cannon in their ranks. They seem to have an armory full.
As they say, you can't make this stuff up.