Everyone probably knows what a revolver is, but do you know which one is the biggest? The S&W 29, beloved of Dirty Harry? The Colt Walker? Naah, not even close. It was Pate’s revolving cannon. Not a hand cannon, mind you, but a real one on a carriage.
Each ball for the revolving cannon weighed 4lbs or 28000gr! The cannon was as close to a scaled-up percussion revolver as one could get. It utilized a 5-shot cylinder, a striker that would impact a percussion cap, and, to improve velocity and safety by reducing gas leakage, was also a gas-sealed design! One could seal the cylinder to the barrel via the usage of a screw lever. A separate lever would rotate the cylinder, which was held in place for firing via a hefty spring-loaded mechanism.
Apparently only two examples of Pate’s cannon were made, and one burst during testing. The other, however, seems to have been used during the Petersburg campaign in 1864-65.
Speaking of cannon, the local news has an item on the finding of a live projectile on the Monocacy battlefield.
“The unexploded military ordnance was determined to be a live cannonball round used during the Civil War. Bomb technicians conducted diagnostics and determined the fusing mechanism was still intact,” a statement reads.
The local bomb squad disposed of it in a nearby quarry.
These old cannon balls are not safe unless they are solid shot. If you find one don’t assume it’s safe because it’s old. In fact, it may be even more dangerous. Fortunately finding things like this in this country is rare, not at all like the “iron harvest” in France and Belgium.