Sunday, May 01, 2011

Swivel gun…from the…

Swivel Gun
Thanks to the generous support of the Friends, the Museum was able to acquire a rare wrought-iron swivel gun tube which was "dug up" on Ocracoke in the early 1960s.
The barrel is 27 inches long and the socket at the breech is eight inches long giving an overall length of 35 inches. The barrel is 2 ¼ inches in diameter and the bore is a little over an inch.
The trunnion ring in the middle is rare and the lugs which hold the ring in position on the barrel are extremely unusual. The fact it is made of wrought (as opposed to cast) iron and its similarity to pieces in collections in the Czech Republic, Geneva, and Basel, strongly suggest a European origin and a date of around the late 15th or early 16th century.  It was relatively common to convert a socketed handgun to a small ordnance piece during this period and the use-life could well have extended into the early 18th century.  In the opinions of Mr. Earl O'Neal and Mr. Chester Lynn, both of Ocracoke, the most logical Ocracoke provenance for the gun tube would have been Springers Point.  We will continue to research the piece and encourage our readers to provide any information they may have.

I don't directly have any info per general request, but thought to state that a reputed brass one was once on display at the small lab and museum "New York Unearthed" a once small archaeology museum at 17 State St. in NYC, part of the "South Street Seaport Museum". Nearby to it Herman Melville lived and worked as a US Customs agent, and perhaps wrote.

Across the harbor on the Buttermilk Channel, that between Brooklyn and Governors Island, there was what appeared to be a molded partial replica of one at the south end of Governors Island, on-top of a stone monument commemorating the landfall of John Peter Zenger from the German Palatine at the age of 10. He later would help establish "freedom of the press" at a trial in New York city, incarcerated for an opinion published in New York's second printing press, which he owned, the first more for "official" use. I was working in geoarchaeology for four days over there in the interim, before the National Parks Service and after the US Coast Guard, and regrettably can't recall the other stone monument it stood next to. Perhaps its where there was a print shop or island newspaper.

I admire your work and have had the pleasure to work for Gordon Watts, PhD who discovered the "USS Monitor" on a North Carolina state survey, I think while at East Carolina University. My grandfather's brother, Leman C. Urquhart was a Master Mariner and a Savannah, Georgia harbor pilot, and captain of the "SS City of Atlanta" when it left New York City in January of 1942, torpedoed and sunk by U-123, not far from Cape Hatteras.

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