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Robert Juet, in his  journal of  Henry Hudson’s third voyage, calls the small cannon aboard stone pieces or murderers.    Some call the weapon below a gun, meaning the bronze tube or barrel  in wooden truck, wooden tampion in muzzle mouth serving as a cork in a bottle to be removed before firing.  The two objects that look like heavy-duty beer steins are antique noise-makers called “thunder mugs,” demonstrated in this youtube video.


The end of the rod invisible inside the tube is the rammer;  it rams the charge back to the breech.  The opposite end made of sheepskin is called the sponge;  this wet sponge is used to ensure that no embers remain when the charge is loaded.  The rod lying on the table near the gunner’s right hand is called the worm or  screw and used to remove debris from the tube after firing.


The linstock is a rod holding a fuel-soaked rope used as a match, ignition.   It keeps the gunner at a relatively safe distance from the touch hole aka vent and gun.


Onrust will eventually carry these tubes plus four others


mounted on these trucks.


For Onrust launch day these were set up, but without vent holes drilled, they cannot function.


Why is this bollard so strangely shaped?


It’s a repurposed cannon in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  In this case, as weapons systems were upgraded, older tubes were redefined, not scrapped.  Like swords beaten into plowshares, these are barrels into bollards.


Memorial Day:  it’s about remembering those US military folks who died while fighting for our freedoms.  Some may not have wanted to take up arms or fire cannon, may have wanted all barrels turned into bollards or bells, but they fought anyhow, facing the fears, suspending their misgivings, struggling with nuances.  That’s eminently worthy of remembering this week and all year.

And back to Juet and Hudson, they did use their cannon on the trip 400 years ago;  follow the journey at Henrysobsession, updated biweekly aka halfmoonthly.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated:  See frogma’s slide show of Hudson River pageant here.  Looks like warm-up act for Mermaid Parade, less than a month away.

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May 2009