Always check your ammo? Try the chamber

Some cannon just refuse to believe the war is over. Take for example this cannon sitting in a shed in New York’s Central Park, said to originate aboard the H.M.S. Hussar during the American Revolutionary War.

My amateur opinion is that a few hundred years of rust and the effects of New York humidity on the gunpowder probably neutralized this threat a few years back. But what do I know.

The article says it was last fired over 200 years ago, so either the journalist’s math was off by a century, or some 19C gunner screwed up.



3 responses to “Always check your ammo? Try the chamber”

  1. Gene Hughson says :

    Black powder is pretty tricky…getting it wet disables it while it’s wet, once it’s dry, it become effective again (wet mixing was used during manufacture to improve safety). The chemical changes that take place over time tend to make it more rather than less volatile. Back when I was in law enforcement, the local (central Virginia) bomb squads owed a significant portion of their hours to unexploded Civil War ordinance, which they hated with a passion due to its unpredictable nature.

    • jostwald says :

      Ah, corned gunpowder. Once, a rather bad student who clearly hadn’t done the reading or been attending class, asked why they put corn in the powder. D’oh! It probably wouldn’t have helped if I told him not to worry because when the English said ‘corn’ they actually meant ‘wheat’.

      • Gene Hughson says :

        Should have told the lad that the corn was to make the corned powder hash taste better 😉

        Interestingly enough, the effect from corning it is the same reason that grain silos sometimes go “boom” – an efficient fuel/air mixture.

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