On a small sand island in a bayou not to far from Galveston ...
About this creation
To: Cmdr. Naval Weapons Development
RTN Headquarters. Galveston
From: Capt. Counter-Intelligence
We have intercepted communications coming out of the Mexican spy network in and around Galveston. They are reporting on the noise of testing of "very large" cannons and the large shipments of iron ore coming to Galveston from Llano. They also report on someone named "Joneriksun" who they think is involved. I don't know what you are developing, but I hope it's good enough. Because it looks like we could soon be back to open war with Mexico.
On a small sand island in a bayou not to far from Galveston
Secret testing of one of the new cannons continues!
More information below these photos.
Additional pictures are in a brickshelf gallery here.
Of course the "real" Texas Navy never had a large cannon like this. But, in my alternate history Texas Navy in LEGOs, I have John Ericsson leading the Naval Weapons Development, and that's how we have a such a cannon.
WARNING! some boring history! OK, not that boring.
There are more pictures and info below this history part.
In 1838 in England John Ericsson had developed an improved propeller-driven steamship but he was unable to interest the Admiralty his invention, he however came into contact with the encouraging American naval captain Robert Stockton who had Ericsson design a propeller steamer for him and told him to bring his invention to the United States of America, as it would supposedly be more welcomed in that place. As a result, Ericsson moved to New York in 1839. Stockton's plan was for Ericsson to oversee the development of a new class of frigate with Stockton using his considerable political connections to grease the wheels.
Stockton took leave in 1840 to undertake political work for John Tyler. Offered the post of U.S. Secretary of the Navy by President John Tyler in 1841, he declined the offer, but worked successfully to gain support for the construction of an advanced steam warship with a battery of very heavy guns.
Finally, funds were allocated for a new design. Unfortunately they only received funding for a 700-ton sloop instead of a frigate. The sloop eventually became the USS Princeton, named after Stockton's hometown.
Ericsson designed an innovative vessel with improvements in most of the ship's systems most notably fire control, gun power, and steam propulsion. The ship took about three years to complete and was perhaps the most advanced warship of its time. In addition to twin screw propellers, it was originally designed to mount a single 12-inch muzzle loading gun on a revolving pedestal. Ericsson had the gun made at the finest English foundry out of wrought iron. After some initial proof-firings conducted in America by Ericsson, pressure testing (water under extreme pressures) revealed that small cracks had developed. Ericsson had large hoops made that when heated to expand were installed to fit around the diameter of the gun, as the hoops cooled they contracted lending a tremendous amount of external pressure to the integrity of the barrel sealing the previously discovered leaks. This permitted the proof-firings to resume. After more than one-hundred proof-firings the gun was certified. This gun with it's twelve inch diameter bore could accommodate a fifty pound charge of powder and throw a 225 pound projectile five miles making it the largest naval gun afloat, ever.
The relations between Ericsson and Stockton had grown tense over time and, nearing the completion of the ship, Stockton began working to force Ericsson out of the project. Stockton carefully avoided letting outsiders know that Ericsson was the primary inventor. Stockton attempted to claim as much credit for himself as possible, even designing a second 12-inch gun to be mounted on the Princeton. Unfortunately, not understanding the design of the first gun (originally name "The Orator", renamed by Stockton to "The Oregon"), he went ahead with the second gun. It was commissioned and tested by Stockton himself after growing tired of Ericsson's insistence of being the final word in all aspects of Princeton's construction. Ericsson stressed that the Princeton's design wouldn't allow another gun like the Oregon gun. Stockton committed, moved forward having it made by a New York company. The second gun was twelve inches thicker in diameter (no doubt to help prevent any cracks as on the "Oregon" gun) this along with the extra metal welded (by hammer blows) to the breach added several tons to the weight of the gun. Stockton's second gun was christened "Peacemaker". This gun's proving was far less extensive than the Oregon's. Stockton towed the gun to sea on a barge and fired it only five times, slightly increasing the powder charge with each shot. He then reported the gun fully proof-tested. Ericsson was skeptical of Stockton's proving and certification of the Peacemaker. He was also concerned that the gun's design was flawed and may be unsafe when fired.
Once launched and commissioned the Princeton was put on show to demonstrate it's capabilities often with high ranking public officials on board. During a highly publicized race against the famed steamer SS Great Western. Stockton started the Princeton well astern of Great Western where upon she overtook her then circled her and then left to the point that Great Western was no longer visible in her wake. While in Washington D.C. the Princeton went on many excursions hosting the likes of congressmen, senators and officers attached to the Navy Department. These dignitaries were often treated to a firing of the Peacemaker mounted on the foc'sle. Where they reveled at the huge blast and the fact that it fired the largest shot ever fired. On the 17th of February 1844 President Tyler came aboard with some of his cabinet and members of the senate. President Tyler honored Stockton again on the 28th of February. This time there were 150 female guests and 200 male guests. Among the guests were Tyler's fiancee , Miss Julia Gardiner her father (Colonel David Gardiner, a New York state senator ) and her sister. Also on board were Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, newly appointed secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Gilmer and his wife, Ann Elizabeth.
After firing the Peacemaker once secretary Gilmer requested that it fire again to allow some of the guests who didn't have a good vantage for the first firing to view it better. When the gun fired a second time a large red ring of fire exploded from the forward part of the breech and a huge 4000 pound piece of wrought iron parted from the Peacemaker and flew through the air killing members of the viewing party as it went. The large piece as well as other smaller pieces killed a total of eight bystanders. Among those killed were Secretary of State Usher, Thomas Gilmer Secretary of the Navy, Senator Gardiner of New York, Virgil Maxcy U.S. charge d'affaires at The Hague, Commodore Beverly Kennon and I. More, President Tyler's devoted personal servant.
Stockton attempted to deflect blame onto Ericsson with moderate success despite the fact that Ericsson's gun was sound and it was Stockton's gun that had failed. Stockton had so much political power that he managed to get cleared by the court of any wrongdoing in the "Peacemaker" explosion incident. Stockton also refused to pay Ericsson and, using his political connections, Stockton managed to block the Navy from paying him. These actions led to Ericsson's deep resentment toward the US Navy.
In 1845 Stockton was sent by President James K. Polk to Texas. Stockton carried with him Polk's offer to annex Texas, sailing on the Princeton and arriving in Galveston. Stockton's observations while in Texas made him aware of the looming war with Mexico, a fact he communicated directly to Polk once he arrived back in Washington.
But, in my alternate history Texas Navy in LEGOs we stepped into "it" by sending a letter to Ericsson, after Stockton had claimed credit, blamed Ericsson, and "stiffed him for the bill". We asked him if he would consider coming to Texas to design a warship for us, I believe we may have called him a "genius" and we might have called Stockton an "idiot". Anyway Ericsson came and Stockton has never shown up. I don't think he likes us anymore...
Ericsson's 1842 "Oregon" gun and it's carriage
"Indeed, the 12-inch "Oregon" gun Ericsson had built in England, and which also constituted the U.S.S. Princeton's armament (along with the infamous "Peacemaker" of Captain Robert F. Stockton's build) was worked by an equally-revolutionary iron carriage of his own design."
The 15 inch Dahlgren
The 15 inch Rodman
I put my modeling date at 1845/6. These big smooth bore cannons were under development at that time. Ericsson's "Oregon" gun started it off in 1842, but soon there were Dahlgrens, Rodmans, Armstrongs, Columbiads, and others.
The 15 inch Dahlgren was my model prototype, my lego cannon however, has the flatish butt end of the 15 inch Rodman.
Ericsson's 1842 "Oregon" gun carriage was the my model prototype for my cannon's carriage, and yes it's too tall and it's sides are too thick, but I got my gearing in there and the siding disconnecting crank shaft.
Two of these large cannons were used in the RTS Legitor