What is a Rodman?

Ever seen that comical ‘cannon’ that the circus performers shoot acrobats out of? Well, if you were to make a real one out of cast iron, you would have a Rodman. Thomas Jackson Rodman was a Union artillery officer and engineer who came up with a radically different way of making large guns. Until 1861, most large cannon were cast in one huge block of iron and then drilled out. This made the gun prone to developing cracks that could (and did) break apart the entire gun over time. Rodman invented a method of hollow casting the gun in layers using water constantly pumped over the metal to cool it. This made large and strong cannon that dwarfed the older cast guns. They are identified by thier characteristic coke-bottle shape and flat cascabels.

They were the Rodmans…

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk

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