almost as fun to shoot as the 8-foot long, 40+#, "market hunter's special", muzzleloader that a friend owns in the Chesapeake Bay area, which once belonged to his great-grandfather. = 2 INCH bore, loaded with 2 handfuls of FG black powder & 2 handfuls of #4 shot.
(can you say, CANNON, children? SURE you can!)
shooting it (after dark) was, to say the least, SPECTACULAR!
as i'm in TX & not any longer in VA/MD/DC, i don't know how i could make that happen.-
Michael is more than a little afraid of (unknown to him) people even SEEING the BIG gun.
(i'm not even sure that you can lawfully even possess such a "cannon".)
and YES Mitchener was FASCINATED with the oldtime market hunters (and their gear) & wrote about them in at least 2 other writings, besides CHESAPEAKE.
fwiw, there are at least TWO punt guns, including the "volley gun" (that one of the two "good 'ole boys" supposedly built) from CHESAPEAKE in the Smithsonian's American History Museum & while you cannot fire them, you could certainly see them, when in DC.
(to me as an unknowledgeable "amatuer" in such matters, that "volley gun" LOOKS about equally as dangerous on one end as the other. - it LOOKS like a sovereign recipe for a "blow-up".)
btw, somewhere in my books, i have a photocopy of an actual period plan for a MD gunning dory (which was given to me at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.), circa 1910.
NOTE: the barrel of Michael's gun is welded together out of "strips" of 1/2-inch thick wrought iron. - the muzzle is 9-sided, with the odd strip facing up. - Michael says that he thinks the "top strip" is supposed to be used as "a pointing aid".
speaking of punt guns, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has a punt gun on display that was used to SINK a VA "oyster raider" during "the oyster wars". - according to the writing from a Eastern Shore MD weekly, the owner fired the punt gun at the deck of the VA boat (clearing the deck) & then fired again at the waterline of the "raider", blowing a large hole in the port side of the VA boat.
fwiw, those "good 'ole boys" from MD "weren't no pussycats".
NOTE: during WWII, some "buy boats" & "arster drugers" were armed by the US Navy and/or by the USCG with (mostly) WWI-era MACHINE GUNS, including MAXIMS, Colt's "potato diggers", 1919 Brownings, TSMG, BARs & perhaps other weapons.= such vessels were called "auxiliary naval defense boats".
(according to a museum curator, those MG were NOT "surrendered" at war's end. - one wonders what happened to them!)
YEP. Really. = I have SEEN one of the "auxiliary naval defense boats". - It was built on Solomon's Island, MD in the 1920s as a "buy boat" & originally belonged to a fishing buddy's grandfather.
(These days, it's used as a "live aboard".)
In 1942, the USN gave the owner a new "surplus" diesel engine for the buy-boat & that old engine is still "popping right along" the last time that I saw the boat.
The "buy boat" , at least in 1987, had the heavy MG mounts still installed fore & aft. = I asked "Thomas", "What ever happened to the machineguns?". He thought a minute, whether to answer or NOT, chuckled and then said, "Oh, I'd guess that they're still around, someplace.")
Btw, SOME machineguns (mostly BAR "Lightening" Models & TSMG) & shotguns were "loaned to the watermen" by the Maryland Department of Prisons.
I asked a Maryland Ranger (after a CSA memorial ceremony at Point Lookout Damnyankee DEATH Camp) some years ago if Maryland ever "recovered" the "loaned-out guns".
He thought for a minute & then said, "I think probably yes, except those 'reported to have been lost over the side' during the War."
(As I said earlier, the watermen of MD are NOT "pussycats"; instead they are full-grown wildcats.)