Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a collector of almost anything and everything. Someone once told me that my taste are somewhat mercurial. I get hot and heavy into various things, then cool off only to branch off into other areas with the same enthusiasm. But having said that, I have one heck of a good time going from interest to interest, then sharing with my friends.
Back when I
started doing Revolutionary War reenactments, one of the things that
fired me up were the reproduction artillery pieces that I saw in the
field. Sometimes I even served on several gun crews that were short of
members. Nothing is as much fun or gets as much attention as a field
piece, either a 3 pounder or even a 6 pounder going "bang" at the proper
Now for a short history lesson. Artillery in the
time of the Revolutionary War, was a bit different than what we have
today. Most field artillery was used like we today would use a heavy
machine gun, as close infantry support weapon. Most of the cannons used
in this time period were smaller so that they could stay up with the
quickly advancing troops. Swivel guns, 3 and 6 pounders were the norm.
(so named after the weight of shot fired) Any larger, and the combined
weight of the gun tube and carriage would make it impossible to move it
any great distance or with any speed in the field. Larger guns were used
on ship or in fortresses or fixed defensive positions. They were also
used in assaults or sieges on fixed defenses such as Yorktown.
had always wanted a big gun, but it was sorta like it was on the bottom
of my wish and want list. There were other items I could afford easier
or wanted much worse. Then, a few years back, that changed. A good
friend of mine told me he was looking for a shotgun to give his son to
keep around the house as a self defense gun. I had a couple of old
police riot guns that I was willing to let go, so I asked him what he
had to trade. He suggested a few odds and ends which didn't throw any
sparks but then he said "I've got a swivel gun" I developed "lock on"
and told my buddy, "let's talk. " After a haggling session that would
have made two Armenian rug merchants proud, we came to an agreement of
gentlemen and my friend ended up with a police marked Remington 870 and a
reasonably priced Tex-Mex dinner, and I ended up with a Swivel gun w/
carriage, as well as a Sergent's Halberd. The halberd was tossed in to
"sweeten" the deal, plus I am the only kid on my block that has one. I
am a fool for sharp pointed things and this is the ultimate in that field. *grin* The only minor problem is that with it's 8 foot length, that I can't move it around in the house very easily nor lean it up into the corner or store it very easy.
On the first day of the event, we took our post
on the battlefield. I set up my new swivel gun, bursting with pride and
trying to think of a proper name for this fearsome weapon. Many names
ran through my head, Retribution, Sudden Death, Thunderer, and so on.
This lasted until the swivel's first shot. At that point, I discovered
that as cool as the gun looked, with it's elevating carriage. It just
didn't work. We fired the gun and because of it carriage it flipped over
on it's back. This was with a simple blank charge, no projectile. I
looked at my brand new gun, picked it up and set it back up. We reloaded
it, and touched her off again. Once more, the gun did a back flip and
landed upside down. But this time, people were watching and one of my
shipmates yelled out, "Damn, did you see that thing jump?" So, at that
point, two things were decided. First, I didn't think it would be too
wise to fire it any more until it was a little bit more stable. And
second, this weapon would be forever more known as Jumping Billy.
Some time later, my messmate, Mr. Grimes told me that he was
doing some cannon work and would be willing to work up a new stand for
the swivel. I told him I would be willing to swap some leather work for
it. We came to a agreement of gentlemen and Mr. Grimes took custody of
the gun tube this past week-end and hopefully I will have a shooting
swivel gun to play with soon.
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