Little did I know that a steam gun captured on its way to Harper’s Ferry not only existed, but was the subject of a Mythbuster’s episode!
The steam gun’s inventor was Charles S. Dickinson of Cleveland, Ohio. A patent was awarded to him for an “Improvement in Centrifugal Guns” where the gun barrel moves “by means of steam or other power”.
Here is the drawing:
Here’s how it appears in Harper’s Weekly, May 25, 1861-
It was the subject of much controversy as it was ultimately built by Ross Winans of Baltimore, Md, a wealthy inventor and designer for the B&O railroad, who had the gun shipped from Baltimore to Harper’s Ferry in May 1861 in order to further his secessionist goals. It was intercepted by a command under Brigadier General Benjamin F. Butler. Butler captured Winans in Baltimore and Winans would have been hung for treason were it not for the intercession of Secretary of State Seward.
Here are a series of Civil War era contemporary articles for you. Interesting stuff!
Thanks for reading!