Loaded Revolutionary War Cannon Discovered in Central Park

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Loaded Revolutionary War Cannon Discovered in Central Park

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A British gun sat ready to fire for over 230 years, until the NYPD stepped in.

It may be over 200 years since the Revolutionary War came to an end, but the British almost got a chance to fire one last shot in New York this past weekend. An antique cannon that has spent the last 100 years on display in New York City's Central Park was undergoing restoration when workers discovered that the cannon has been loaded and ready to fire for over two centuries.

The artillery piece was donated to the city after it was salvaged in New York's East River from a sunken British ship. The cannon was capped with a concrete stopper and put on public display in Central Park from in around 1860 until the mid 90s, when it was brought indoors to keep it from being vandalized.

The cannon was loaded over 230 years ago before the ship that was carrying it sunk, and has remained ready to fire ever since. Approximately 800 grams of fire-ready black powder, some cotton wadding, and a cannonball were sealed inside before NYPD officers disarmed the gun. Let's file this one under "That Could Have Been Bad."

Source: CBS via Geekosystem

[Image credit: Gigi4791]

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It makes you wonder how many other old war relics are lying around out in the world ready to blow. Here in Georgia you can still find random Civil War artifacts lying around in the wilderness.

Wait wait. It was ready to fire and they DIDN'T fire it? Come on. Point it at the ocean and blast away. Would have been fun.

Fappy:
It makes you wonder how many other old war relics are lying around out in the world ready to blow. Here in georgia you can still find random Civil War artifacts lying around in the wilderness.

Probably more than anyone of us would feel comfortable with. It's kind of like the landmine problem; weapons of war don't surrender once one side wins, they just sit and wait to to kill something.

In this case, I doubt the cannon would have been able to successfully fire the ball, given its deteriorated condition. I imagine if the black powder had been ignited, the cannon itself might have just turned into a giant bomb, which could be even more deadly.

MikeWehner:

Fappy:
It makes you wonder how many other old war relics are lying around out in the world ready to blow. Here in georgia you can still find random Civil War artifacts lying around in the wilderness.

Probably more than anyone of us would feel comfortable with. It's kind of like the landmine problem; weapons of war don't surrender once one side wins, they just sit and wait to to kill something.

In this case, I doubt the cannon would have been able to successfully fire the ball, given its deteriorated condition. I imagine if the black powder had been ignited, the cannon itself might have just turned into a giant bomb, which could be even more deadly.

I was thinking the same thing. Kind of like when an antique gun backfires DX

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So THAT's where I left it!

Fappy:
It makes you wonder how many other old war relics are lying around out in the world ready to blow. Here in Georgia you can still find random Civil War artifacts lying around in the wilderness.

You call your public schools a wilderness?
image
Things must be harder down there than I thought.

That thing won't be firing any time soon, even if it was loaded with gunpowder. Look at the state of it!

Worst case scenario, and I mean an incredibly unlikely if even possible worst case scenario, it blows itself up if someone had tried to set it off deliberately.

It might have been a danger 200 years ago, but now it's far, far too damaged to pose a threat.

There's a story ready to write itself.
A comedy about a British cannon accidentally going off into some schmo's apartment in New York sparking a war with the Brits.

Bvenged:

It might have been a danger 200 years ago, but now it's far, far too damaged to pose a threat.

Decidedly deteriorated bronze tube, filled with gunpowder, held in place by a large metal ball? That's not a cannon, that's a fragmentation grenade. Pretty sure we can call that a threat. Also do keep in mind that by that time the British navy was in the habit of using pre-packed charge dishes, as they were waterproof. that, in combination with it being sealed by a cannonball, pretty much ensured it didn't get wet.

Well glad someone didn't try to ingite it, and didn't someone think to check the barrel beforehand?

Thats gotta be some old gunpowder.

Can black powder sit around that long and still be, y'know... boom capable?

Kargathia:

Bvenged:

It might have been a danger 200 years ago, but now it's far, far too damaged to pose a threat.

Decidedly deteriorated bronze tube, filled with gunpowder, held in place by a large metal ball? That's not a cannon, that's a fragmentation grenade. Pretty sure we can call that a threat.

Wasn't it water-damaged? That gunpowder can't still be combustible after all that time. gunpowder certainly isn't water proof and if it spent nearly 200 years outside...

if it stays dry then i dont see why not but the cannon was found at the bottom of a river so maybe not.

Zhukov:
Can black powder sit around that long and still be, y'know... boom capable?

It can if it's dry, and I'm pretty sure 200 years is long enough for that to happen, even if there's a concrete stopper in it.

OT: I'm kind of curious as to how they only found out recently.

Zhukov:
Can black powder sit around that long and still be, y'know... boom capable?

Technically, yes. It's less reliable though, but by no means harmless.

Bvenged:

Wasn't it water-damaged? That gunpowder can't still be combustible after all that time. gunpowder certainly isn't water proof and if it spent nearly 200 years outside...

Edited that in as after-thought, but I'll just say it again: if you check the video, you'll see a copper dish holding the gunpowder, much alike a cookie jar. That's a cartridge, used by the British navy to make the loading process faster, safer, and more reliable. The advantage over the cloth sacks used before was that - you guessed it - they were water-proof.

I think this highlights a really important issue that isn't being talked about enough: artillery control legislation.

So there was cannon standing around in a public park and not a single nutcase tried to put a fuse in and light it for two centuries?

I am disappoint.

I can assure you. After that time the powder has degraded to the point where if it was going to off, it would have. Once you add moisture to black powder it tends to not burn. 200 years of sitting dormant in a wet environment like Manhattan, the powder is useless.

However, cannons are one of those awesome things that will always work no matter what. As long as the Breech is clear and undamaged it will fire. No moving parts, no way for it to mechanically fail.

I'm just surprised that it took this long to discover that. How did no one notice that it was loaded when they salvaged it in the first place?

Fappy:

MikeWehner:

Fappy:
It makes you wonder how many other old war relics are lying around out in the world ready to blow. Here in georgia you can still find random Civil War artifacts lying around in the wilderness.

Probably more than anyone of us would feel comfortable with. It's kind of like the landmine problem; weapons of war don't surrender once one side wins, they just sit and wait to to kill something.

In this case, I doubt the cannon would have been able to successfully fire the ball, given its deteriorated condition. I imagine if the black powder had been ignited, the cannon itself might have just turned into a giant bomb, which could be even more deadly.

I was thinking the same thing. Kind of like when an antique gun backfires DX

Looking at the article it was CAPPED. So that was just a bomb on display.... Still active..... "look kids that could kill you right now!"

MikeWehner:

Fappy:
It makes you wonder how many other old war relics are lying around out in the world ready to blow. Here in georgia you can still find random Civil War artifacts lying around in the wilderness.

Probably more than anyone of us would feel comfortable with. It's kind of like the landmine problem; weapons of war don't surrender once one side wins, they just sit and wait to to kill something.

In this case, I doubt the cannon would have been able to successfully fire the ball, given its deteriorated condition. I imagine if the black powder had been ignited, the cannon itself might have just turned into a giant bomb, which could be even more deadly.

You're forgetting the part where it was capped with concrete, or am I missing some piece of vital info that is currently making me look stupid?

Fappy:

MikeWehner:

Fappy:
It makes you wonder how many other old war relics are lying around out in the world ready to blow. Here in georgia you can still find random Civil War artifacts lying around in the wilderness.

Probably more than anyone of us would feel comfortable with. It's kind of like the landmine problem; weapons of war don't surrender once one side wins, they just sit and wait to to kill something.

In this case, I doubt the cannon would have been able to successfully fire the ball, given its deteriorated condition. I imagine if the black powder had been ignited, the cannon itself might have just turned into a giant bomb, which could be even more deadly.

I was thinking the same thing. Kind of like when an antique gun backfires DX

Well land mines don't kill everything, look what happened in the Falklands; http://www.mentalfloss.com/article/25973/how-island-full-landmines-led-thriving-penguin-population

Edit: spelling errors my bad

Zhukov:
Can black powder sit around that long and still be, y'know... boom capable?

no particular reason it shouldn't be although black powder is renowned for being a stubborn and unstable product, and if it gets wet or contaminated with other chemicals it becomes unpredictable but would rarely self ignite
in our cannon here i guess some of the chemicals could have reacted with the charge casing but that would be a minimal loss of reactants my guess is it would still detonate if you used a charge cap on it and probably fragment the cannon tube into some nice shrapnel

most modern explosives, by contrast are very stable and require serious punishment or contamination with harsh corrosives to explode
you literally cannot detonate c4, for example without a detonator cap you can shoot it, set fire to it, hammer it, stamp on it melt it, dissolve it into a goop with acids ect ect, but only a blasting cap will deliver enough shock to set it off

quite fantastic really.

Hey, hey, hey, disabling that is a serious blow to the second amendment. The NRA will be all over them for daring to make a weapon safe!

McMullen:
I think this highlights a really important issue that isn't being talked about enough: artillery control legislation.

... Well played sir. Well played.

Have a cookie. (I'm afraid it's an invisible one.)

OT: I know it probably would have exploded like an overly large frag grenade, assuming the gunpowder is still viable (which, as some people have pointed out, could actually be the case), but a part of me wishes they'd tried to fire it.

And, well, huh. There's been a genuine British military presence in New York for 200 years. Does this mean we can claim to have been occupying New York? Maybe just Central Park?

EDIT:

ritchards:
Hey, hey, hey, disabling that is a serious blow to the second amendment. The NRA will be all over them for daring to make a weapon safe!

Nah, it's ours (British), and we don't have a second amendment, so it's cool.

If that thing can still fire I doubt it would be safe to fire it. The whole thing might blow up in your face if you tried.

Radoh:
There's a story ready to write itself.
A comedy about a British cannon accidentally going off into some schmo's apartment in New York sparking a war with the Brits.

Forget about a comedy. That could be the premise for the next Call of Duty.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 - The American Revolution: Part 2 - This time it's personal: FUCK YEAH AMERICA! Edition

Seriously though, I'm so glad they caught this. With the way the cannon had been capped, and as finicky as black powder can be, the thing was basically a bomb waiting to go off.

rcs619:

Radoh:
There's a story ready to write itself.
A comedy about a British cannon accidentally going off into some schmo's apartment in New York sparking a war with the Brits.

Forget about a comedy. That could be the premise for the next Call of Duty.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 - The American Revolution: Part 2 - This time it's personal: FUCK YEAH AMERICA! Edition

Seriously though, I'm so glad they caught this. With the way the cannon had been capped, and as finicky as black powder can be, the thing was basically a bomb waiting to go off.

Yeah, it would definitely fit the current trend of satirising the Modern Warfare series, that's for sure.

juyunseen:
Wait wait. It was ready to fire and they DIDN'T fire it? Come on. Point it at the ocean and blast away. Would have been fun.

note: really old firearms are a terrible thing to test when you are standing anywhere near them

EDIT: Wrong thread. Ignore me please.

juyunseen:
Wait wait. It was ready to fire and they DIDN'T fire it? Come on. Point it at the ocean and blast away. Would have been fun.

I think the barrel would have blown up... wait a sec.... I stand corrected, It would have been fun to watch the cannon blow up.

From a good distance away, of course.

AHH We have undeniable proof Alex Jones was right the red coats are trying to launch a new invasion!! GRAB YOUR GUNS CALL THE MINUTEMEN!

This week on Sons of Guns...

Radoh:
There's a story ready to write itself.
A comedy about a British cannon accidentally going off into some schmo's apartment in New York sparking a war with the Brits.

I woulda laughed far too hard, people were vandalizing it apparently?

Just imagine if those vandals had managed to set this two hundred year old pipebomb off in their faces. xD

Cnn would be calling for Cannon law reform :P

So you thought WW3 would start in the Middle East? Or China? Or Russia? Wrong!

British American Revolutionary War cannons are where it's at. Oh yeah.

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