Orem, Utah negligent cannon discharge (courtesy kutv.com)

“What was supposed to be a celebratory lesson in American history has sent three children to the hospital,” cnn.com reports. “They were a part of a Civil War re-enactment group watching a parade in Orem, Utah, when a cannon set off an explosion Saturday. Witnesses said two of the three children injured were initially engulfed in flames, according to CNN affiliate KUTV.” Well that sucks. But what the hell are civil war re-enactors doing giving a cannon access to explosives? Let’s try that again . . . “The cannon was fired, and a spark landed on a pouch containing additional charges for the cannon. The smoldering ember set off the contents of the pouch, blowing it up and injuring all three children, the [Orem, Utah Department of Public Safety] press release explained.” Cue calls for cannon registration in three, two, one . . . [h/t DrVino]

29 Responses to Passively Constructed Negligent Cannon Discharge Story of the Day: Civil War Edition

  1. I’ve wanted a full scale 12 pounder Napoleon or a 3 inch ordinance rifle since I was a kid… One day.

    Powder should be kept in a locked ammo chest well behind the gun.

  2. Calls to ban civil war era cannons, weaponry, re enactment, are already underway. I mean, who needs to learn about the civil war anyway? Or history for that matter. Its full of violence that our children shouldn’t be exposed to. Its time to cancel all history classes and replace them tolerance and obedience drills. (sarcasm obviously)

    • I know you’re joking but you have a real point. Have you seen what they teach in American History classes? There is a whole section on Armed Revolution!

      Apparently some hick farmers took up arms and overthrew an unjust government that didn’t have their interests at heart. We need to stop teaching this stuff before the subjects get any funny ideas.

  3. Cue calls for cannon registration in three, two, one . . .

    If it’s a destructive device under the NFA, it’s already registered.

    • It’s not. Black powder cannons are pretty much considered toys by our evil overlords because they don’t use cartridges, or something. I grew up next to a reenactor who had about a dozen working cannons, including a few Parrott rifles that were a real hoot to fire off.

      • I actually bought 2 black powder revolvers with Colt 45 conversion cylinders by mail. Actual cartridge firing pistol with no FFL, no background check, nothing! How did this slip thru the cracks?

  4. Home Town pride. (facepalm) I am moving soon I swear! Also: I’m glad I wasn’t there. Easily could have been my own. Hope the kids recover swiftly.

    • Yeah, we skipped the parade (I’m an Orem boy, recently moved back to the old home town). Looks like all the kids are going to be OK; the Herald reports that the two still in the hospital are stable. What a rotten thing to happen at the parade. I’m glad things weren’t worse; I really can’t think of an excuse for leaving powder charges where sparks would fall on them.

  5. First of all, why in the Hell was the cannon loaded while parading through town? Second of all, why in the Hell didn’t they keep powder clear of the muzzle where they should damned-well know sparks can come from?

  6. By “pouch” they no doubt mean a “bag.” Cannon of this era (and larger cannon to this day: anything 155mm and up) are loaded with their propellant by means of cloth bags. The whole bag is inserted into the breech (or muzzle, for Civil War era cannon) and then is set off by the primer. The whole bag is consumed in firing. However, to make the bag consumed in firing, it is, of course, highly flammable. Hence spark and powder must not mix. Until they do (inside the breech, preferably).

    • I think typically reenactment loads are constructed of aluminum foil, but bags were used in the Civil war. There is also a leather pouch which would be used to carry ammunition from the Limber (ideally kept in defilade to protect it from counter battery fire) to the gun. As part of the loading sequence, the gun is swabbed with a wet sponge (a fleece wrapped around one side of the ramrod) to extinguish any burning embers before the next round is rammed home. If this wasn’t done, air compressed by the cartridge being rammed home would fan embers to life as it rushed through the vent hole. That never ended well.

    • I’m wondering just what they were reenacting anyway. I don’t recall seeing the “Battle of Orem” in the Civil War history I’m familiar with.

  7. How insane. I find it odd there is so little in remembrance of the Civil War. When I was a kid there were gigantic festivals “celebrating” the 100 year anniversary. I do see way more down south. Hope the kids are OK. This s##t should never happen.

  8. I can’t help but wonder why almost every time I hear about people getting injured at reenactments it’s almost always at Civil War battles. Do people think they don’t have to be as careful with black powder or what?

  9. http://fox13now.com/2014/06/14/children-injured-during-cannon-firing-at-parade-in-orem/

    This link is for the local news channel story. Take a look in the comments section for the comments made by “BRIAN CHRISTIANSEN” (first comment). He is supposedly with the crew. Sounds like a potentially unsafe practice to me (if he is who he really says he is). They stopped using foil-wrapped charges years ago! I also wish he could write using proper grammar! It makes it very difficult to read.

    I am also surprised someone from that crew would publicly post on the news website. It might not be the smartest thing for the litigation cases over the next 4-5 years . . .

    • There are some “interesting” comments following that story. Especially intriguing was the comment that the kids’ uniforms “melted” due to the flash fire. WTF were they wearing? And around a cannon???? Negligent doesn’t begin to describe that.

      And good wishes and prayers to the kids and their parents.

  10. You don’t need to register cannons, or any black powder weapons. You can buy them in the mail

    • There was no such place as “Utah” during the Civil War. Just a settlement of “Tea Party”-like religious refugees from New York and Illinois. They first came to the Salt Lake Valley on July 21, 1847.

  11. Excuse me but why was the powder stored forward of the gun? Shouldn’t it have been in the caisson behind and away from the gun?

  12. Actually there is an issue of phasing history out schools. Lately its all about math and reading test results than any sort of real learning. And I could actually see the cool factor of firing a cannon but the liability would be a bear.

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