Learning About Artillery
Cannons are interesting. They are useful for interpretation, programming, and of course, people love to see them go boom! And while I should have gotten a little more into the fun of the learning experience, I went into serious mode and worried about nomenclature, identifying all implements, commands, and was determined to make an “A” on the written evaluation, which I did, but I focused too much on perfection and less on enjoying the moment with colleagues. Most of them are located across the state and I rarely see them. I also had the opportunity to meet new people in the field.
Coming from a 19-century background, I learned a great deal about artillery during the Age of Sail and our instructor is a fount of knowledge, down to why I was wearing a black neckerchief. When I returned back to work, I was able to stand in front of our cannon in the museum and spew forth “those are the cheeks, that is the caskabell, these are the linchpins, those are the trunnions, etc. etc.” It will be extraordinarily useful when giving tours and working on interpretation.
I cannot help but think about the damage these machines of war caused to wooden vessels. Splintered railings flying through the air, sailors slipping on blood-soaked decks, ships trying to keep formation in a rocking sea – all crossed my mind as we learned to check the piece, handle cartridge, and fire using a linstock and quills.