An NBC affiliate in Philadelphia reported this morning:
A Pennsylvania history buff who recreates firearms from old wars accidentally fired a 2-pound cannonball through the wall of his neighbor's home in Uniontown, Pa.It's not clear from this story or other reports on this incident (click here and here for some entertaining collections of stories and commentary on it) whether the cannon was a restored original from the Civil War, or a reproduction--or just something that Mr. Maser knocked together out of some old pipe and scrapwood. Moreover, by historical standards, his piece is a peashooter--during the Civil War, that ball would more likely have weighed 12 pounds or more, not 2, and he might have chosen instead to fire shrapnel-loaded canister or an exploding shell, either of which would have made mincemeat of his neighbor's house. No matter--Mr. Maser is obviously in possession of something to command real respect from his neighbors, as well as from the local authorities.
William Maser, 54, fired a cannonball Wednesday evening outside his home in Georges Township that ricocheted and hit a house 400 yards away. The cannonball, about two inches in diameter, smashed through a window and a wall before landing in a closet. Authorities said nobody was hurt.
State police charged Maser with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
No one answered the phone Friday at Maser's home. He told WPXI-TV that recreating 19th-century cannons is a longtime hobby. He said he is sorry and he will stop shooting them on his property, about 35 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Just a couple of weeks ago, while riding through Batavia, NY, I noticed a building (it looked like a private home, but maybe housed a veteran's organization or something like that) with two 19th century cannons out front. I wondered out loud to Melany whether the occupant might be persuaded to part with one of them, so that we'd have something really nifty to adorn our front yard. It might even be used to "discourage" those inconsiderate people who race their noisy motorcycles up and down our street! Well, she wasn't persuaded, and that was that. But I can dream, can't I?
UPDATE: Some of Mr. Maser's neighbors have reportedly organized a self-defense unit, and have been photographed beside an item with which they're prepared to deliver counterbattery fire should Mr. Maser be seen tinkering with his toys again. With any luck, the neighborhood will be treated to a real old-time fireworks show!