Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Double Barreled Cannon in Clarke County

Paul Bridges

In 1862 Georgia dentist, builder, and mechanic John Gilleland raised money from a coterie of Confederate citizens in Athens, Georgia, to build the ultimate chain-shot gun for a cost of $350. Cast in one piece, the gun featured side-by-side bores, each a little over 3 inches in diameter and splayed slightly outward so the shots would diverge and stretch the chain taut. The two barrels have a divergence of 3 degrees, and the cannon was designed to shoot simultaneously two cannonballs connected with a chain to "mow down the enemy somewhat as a scythe cuts wheat". During tests the Gilleland cannon effectively mowed down trees, tore up a cornfield, knocked down a chimney and killed an unfortunate cow. None of the above were anywhere near the gun's intended target.
Gilleland tried to promote his invention to the Confederate States Army's arsenal in Augusta, Georgia, where it was found unfit for its purpose. He continued to try to promote his invention to other military leaders around Augusta, but failed to interest anyone. Finally his contraption was used as a signal gun in Athens to warn against advancing Yankees.
On 27 July 1864, the cannon was fired after a report was heard of several thousand Union soldiers approaching Monroe, Georgia. However, this report turned out to be false. The cannon disappeared in 1891 and was found again ten years later
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