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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Perkins Steam Gun (1824)

It seems to be history week for me. I just ran across this strange weapon via a site called Lateral Science. Are we lucky or unlucky, I wonder, that the military minds of Perkins' day were too cheap and conservative to buy the thing? The London Mechanics' Register seemed impressed:

"If Mr. Perkins's steam guns were introduced into general use, there would be but very short wars; since no fecundity could provide population for its attacks. . . .

What plague, what pestilence would exceed, in its effects, those of the steam gun? - 500 balls fired every minute . . . one out of 20 to reach its mark - why, 10 such guns would destroy 150,000 daily. If we did not feel that this mode of warfare would end in producing peace, we should be far from recommending it. . . .

We have heard, but we do not vouch for the fact, that the Emperor of Russia, who has more knowledge of the importance of steam than some of us Englishmen, has sent an agent to procure a supply of Perkins's steam guns, which that gentleman's patriotism will not allow him to offer. . . ."




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