πŸ₯‡ BANNER *Possible* Colonial Iron 3" Smooth Bore CANNON DUG TODAY!!!!!!

FoundInNC

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Hey folks, I am pretty excited to say that I think I have dug what appears to be an exploded cannon barrel fragment!

***EDIT***

CANNON FRAGMENT CONFIRMED!!!!!!!! Thanks THECANNONBALLGUY for an excellent ID and narrative!

I was hunting in Mebane, NC in a yard where an old home once stood and I got this iffy signal on my Garrett AT-Pro(bouncing from iron to silver dollar) and I decided to dig it. Boy am I glad I did. I finally hit some metal at about 9" down, and started carving around this massive chunk of iron with my worn out Lesche. After about ten minutes of hard core digging, I could finally get my hands on it and tug. It was cemented in the clay. I went to the neighbor's house and borrowed a pry bar, because I just had to see what this thick, solid chunk of iron was. Normally if I dig down that deep and see that it is a plow point, I will cover it up, but this had me curious. After prying on it a few different ways with the prybar, I had it loose in the hole, and had to widen the plug at the top so it would fit through. That is when I laid it up on the dirt pile and the thought ran through my head, could this be a cannon barrel fragment? The inside of it was round and smooth like a pipe, but the walls of the pipe would be 3"+, weighing AT LEAST 30 pounds. I showed it to the property owner and he was unsure but didn't reject the idea of it being a cannon.

I can't see what else it could be. I do not have an explanation for where it was found, but it was so deep, it had for sure been there for a while. I am confused as to why a cannon would have been on this property, much less have been fired, and exploded! I am open to discussion if you guys and gals do not agree with my analysis. (it just looks too beefy to be farm junk!)

Other finds for the evening included a small brass cuff link or button, an old "tombac" cow bell, and a early to mid 1800s toe tap, with fragments of leather and nails!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the pictures!

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The Rebel

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Very interesting! Looks legit but I'll wait for the experts to chime in. If it exploded it might have traveled a distance & when it landed went deep into the ground.
 

TNGUNS

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Wow.......... if so that probably resulted in the loss of the whole crew unless intentionally destroyed.
 

birdman

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Now that is cool!
 

Erik in NJ

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I think if you contact CannonballGuy you will get a definitive answer on that one....looks promising to me!
 

arrowhead82

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Amazing! I really hope it's real! if it is, you have my vote for banner!
HH
 

Rick (Nova Scotia)

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I'll wait for cannonball guy, to tell us, but got to say an extreamly small chance, simply built into the safety factor. Guns, for a 99.9% factor just don't explode.
 
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FoundInNC

FoundInNC

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@ rick, I agree that the likelihood of a cannon to explode is small, however, the two sides that are fractured underwent some pretty violent trauma to separate them from whatever it is that they were attached to. That simple fact just bothers me into believing it is a cannon. I am not an expert by any means, but this was my best guess. Can't wait to see what Cannonballguy thinks.
 

Rick (Nova Scotia)

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@ rick, I agree that the likelihood of a cannon to explode is small, however, the two sides that are fractured underwent some pretty violent trauma to separate them from whatever it is that they were attached to. That simple fact just bothers me into believing it is a cannon. I am not an expert by any means, but this was my best guess. Can't wait to see what Cannonballguy thinks.

I'll admit this...I have no idea what I'm looking at, but seeing the "id" of what would be a "barrell" it does not look smooth (which could be explained by rust), but nor does it look uniform (a barrell can't suddenly shrink in diameter). Not a canon, will bet $100
 

parsonwalker

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Rick, I too am wanting to read what CG thinks. But as to the "id" looking "variable" . . . I believe that could be due to perspective. Ie: More of the "barrel" broke away on the left side, leading us to see it as smaller, when in fact we're just looking at less metal. Could the finder tell us if his 3" can lid seems to fit the curvature inside all the way? Front to back?
 
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FoundInNC

FoundInNC

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Rick, I too am wanting to read what CG thinks. But as to the "id" looking "variable" . . . I believe that could be due to perspective. Ie: More of the "barrel" broke away on the left side, leading us to see it as smaller, when in fact we're just looking at less metal. Could the finder tell us if his 3" can lid seems to fit the curvature inside all the way? Front to back?

The "barrel" (groove) is uniformly cast, and the reason it looks like it is getting smaller is because of my trick photography. The 3" can will sit anywhere in the groove, as flush as I can get it without sanding away some more rust. I think I am going to stay away from electrolysis on this one because there is some original finish left on it with no rust and I am hoping I can manually clean it so that the outside looks nice and smooth. I think electrolysis would eat this original finish up to bare metal.
 

HutSiteDigger

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Lot of times when you find something cannon related you will find more cannon related artifacts... Lets see what CBG tell you what you got, he surely is the expert when it comes to Cannons and Projectiles of the Civil War and pre.
 

rlc1940

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Neat find...if it is a cannon fragment, I sure wouldn't have wanted to have been within 200 yards of it when it went off!
 

TheCannonballGuy

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It appears to be a piece of a burst 3-pounder caliber Revolutionary War (or a few decades later) cannon. The bore-diameter of a 3-pounder Smoothbore cannon was 2.9-inches. The next largest caliber of 1750s-to-1840s cannon was a 4-pounder, with 3.3-inch bore diameter. The 3-inch diameter can in your photos indicates a 3-pounder is the closest size-match.

The 3-pounder cannon dates from the Colonial Era into approximately the 1840s. The US Ordnance Deparment had declared it obsolete by the 1850s. Insofar as I'm aware, none were used in the Civil War. No 3-pounder Smoothbore cannons appear in the armaments-list of any Confederate or Union army. But since a few were still in existence, there is at least a slight possibility that the needy Confederates used a 3-pounder at some location.

Your cannon fragment shows a very unusual characteristic: the trunnion on it is located on the underside of the barrel, instead of "centered" on the barrel's side. (To see what I'm talking about, examine the diagram on this post, BELOW the video-link.) That helps a great deal in identification, by greatly narrowing down the possibilities.

For anybody here who doesn't already know:
"Trunnions" are two very thick (but short) cylindrical bars located on opposite sides of a cannon's barrel, which enable you to attach the barrel onto the cannon-carriage. You will see them in the diagram.

Durung the Revolutionary War, the British had a "3-pounder Light Infantry Gun." Its trunnions were located where your fragment's are/would-have-been. However, that British cannon was made of bronze, and yours is iron. The Americans may have had manufactured iron copies of the British version. I'll have to do some more research for you, tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's an Educational link:
About the Cannon : What's New : Colonial Williamsburg Official Site

And a video you may enjoy:
 

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FoundInNC

FoundInNC

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You are amazing! That is great news! I had hoped it was what I thought it was! As for the 2.9" diameter, I would say that is SPOT ON because the can sits slightly on the edges, indicating the bore is just shy of 3". The trunnions are definitely on the base of the barrel. This is by far the most interesting thing I have ever dug up! Mebane has lots of Colonial and Civil War history, but more Colonial than anything. Most of the Civil War activity was a couple miles south by the railroad. There was so much colonial activity in the area due to the intersections of two colonial trading paths. I am so grateful that we have such a knowledgeable cannon and ball expert! Thank you so much CANNONBALLGUY!
 

Zodiacdiverdave

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Thats a pretty dang good find right there. I am willing to be you can find more pieces around there somewhere so keep on looking. Put that ATP on Pro zero and iron disc. at 20 and dig those iron hits.
Good luck,
ZDD
 

Erik in NJ

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Looks like you made yourself $100 as well :laughing7: Congrats on an epic find. I would not sand it or clean it any further at all at this point! You may want to display this piece in a local museum. Certainly worthy of an article in the paper as well. I'm going to cast my vote to place it on the banner!

Best, Erik
 

westkybanded

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With the trunion being so far back, is it possible that it's a moartar rather than a cannon?
 

TheCannonballGuy

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Westkybanded, it cannot be a piece of a mortar, because until approximately the start of the 20th-Century there were no mortars whose bore-diameter was smaller than 3.67-inches.
 

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