, in Military Affairs, a long round hollow engine, made of iron or brass, &c, for throwing balls, &c, by means of gunpowder. The length is distinguished into three parts; the first reinforce, the second reinforce, and the chase: the inside hollow where the charge is lodged, being also called the chase, or bore. But for the several parts and members of a cannon, see Astragal, Base-ring, Bore, Breech, Cascabel, Chase, Muzzle, Ogre, Reinforce-ring, TRUNNIONS, &c. See also Gun, and Gunnery.

Cannon were first made of several bars of iron adapted to each other lengthways, and hooped together with strong iron rings. They were employed in throwing stones and metal of several hundred weight. Others were made of thin sheets of iron rolled up, and hooped: and on emergencies they have been even made of leather, with plates of iron or copper. They are now made of cast iron or brass; being cast solid, and the tube bored out of the middle of the solid metal.

Larrey makes brass cannon the invention of J. Owen; and asserts that the first known in England, were in 1535; and farther that iron cannon were first cast here in 1547. He acknowledged that cannon were known before; and remarks that at the battle of Cressi, in 1346, there were 5 pieces of cannon in the English army, which were the first ever seen in France. Mezeray also observes that king Edward struck terror into the French army, by 5 or 6 pieces of cannon; it being the first time they had met such thundering machines.

In the list of aids raised for the redemption of king John of France, in 1368, mention is made of an officer in the French army called master of the king's cannon, and of his providing 4 large cannon for the garrison of Harfleur. But father Daniel, in his life of Philip of Valois, produces a proof from the records of the chamber of accounts at Paris, that cannon and gunpowder were used in the year 1338. And Du-Cange even finds mention of the same engines in Froissart, and other French historians, some time earlier.

The Germans carry the invention of cannon farther back, and ascribe it to Albertus Magnus, a Dominican monk, about the year 1250. But Isaac Vossius finds cannon in China upwards of 1700 years ago; being used by the emperor Kitey, in the year of Christ 85. The ancients too, of Europe and Asia, had their fiery tubes, or cannæ, which being loaden with pitch, stones, and iron balls, were exploded with a vehement noise, smoke, and great effect.

Cannon were formerly made of a very great length, which rendered them exceedingly heavy, and their use very troublesome and confined. But it has lately been found by experiment that there is very little added to the force of the ball by a great length of the cannon, and therefore they have very properly been much reduced both in their length and weight, and rendered easily manageable upon all occasions. They were formerly distinguished by many hard and, terrible names, but are now only named from the weight of their ball; as a 6 pounder, a 12 pounder, a 24 pounder, or a 42 pounder, which as the largest size now used by the English for battering.

previous entry · index · next entry


Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

This text has been generated using commercial OCR software, and there are still many problems; it is slowly getting better over time. Please don't reuse the content (e.g. do not post to wikipedia) without asking liam at holoweb dot net first (mention the colour of your socks in the mail), because I am still working on fixing errors. Thanks!

previous entry · index · next entry