Monday, April 22, 2013

Plowed Up An Acre

An experimental weapon, the John Gilleland double barreled cannon was first fire tested on April 22nd 1862.

John Gilleland was a builder, mechanic and dentist.  He designed a double barreled cannon, and had it cast a cost of $350 in Athens, Georgia at the Athens Steam Company under the supervision of Thomas Bailey.  The cannon’s two barrels were designed to shoot simultaneously, two cannon balls which were connected to each other with a chain.  Each one of the six pounder barrels could be fired independently or as one.  It was first tested near Athens on the Newton Bridge Road on April 22nd 1862.  The powder combusted at a different rate, causing the cannon balls to go off center, causing them to travel in a circular course.  It was described by a witness as plowing "up about an acre of ground, tore up a cornfield, mowed down saplings, and then the chain broke, the two balls going in different directions."  On a second firing the ammo went into a pine thicket, and the third time the chain holding the cannon balls together tore off one knocking down a chimney and other ball killing a cow.

Gilleland tried to sell his gun to the Confederate Army, but they weren’t interested.  The double barreled cannon finally found a use in Athens, Georgia as a signal gun.  It was fired once on July 27th 1864 to report Union troops approaching, but it was a false alarm.

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