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Big_Les
Miso Horny


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This is the text of a complaint I sent in to the makers of "Brainiac History Abuse" a while ago. As I've had no reply I thought you lot might be amused by it. Anyone ever heard of this myth?


Dear Brainiac,

I write strictly in a personal capacity (but with professional interest) as a fan of your programmes, and regarding a feature in one recently repeated episode of your “History Abuse” spin-off series. In one episode, Stephen Wisdom’s “Ernest Clough, History Buff” character makes reference to an incident supposedly occurring during the Battle of Fontenoy involving a dog firing a cannon after the massacre of a British artillery unit. I was intrigued and set out to find a reference for this in the literature (there is an extensive library at the museum here). I could find none, and even Internet research yielded only this comic book:

http://digital.test.lib.msu.edu/collections/index.cfm?action=view&TitleID=63&Format=gif&DivisionNumber=4

I wonder if you could clarify for me where Mr Wisdom sourced his version of what appears to be a myth. I would hope that it was not this comic! I would also suggest that, although it would be interesting if there was a contemporary reference for the anecdote, presenting such myths as unqualified fact, even on an entertainment-orientated programme, is misleading for the viewing public.

Posts: 6 | From: Edinburgh, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
greatbeast
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I cannot imagine a dog, no matter WHAT his feelings for his deceased master are, being ABLE to carry a burning wick in mouth, KNOWING where to put the wick, and somehow NOT managing to take Severe injury from the kickback of the cannon.

Conveniently enough, the cannon was aimed, loaded, and the enemy all came running right at the cannon itself.

(Of course I have no idea whether balls or "grapeshot" would be more common at the scene, but Im not sure if 40 people can be taken out by a cannon ball)

The show sounds a bit silly.

Posts: 23 | From: Taunton, MA | Registered: Jul 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Delta-V
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by greatbeast:
I cannot imagine a dog, no matter WHAT his feelings for his deceased master are, being ABLE to carry a burning wick in mouth, KNOWING where to put the wick, and somehow NOT managing to take Severe injury from the kickback of the cannon.

That is a bit of a stretch.

quote:
Conveniently enough, the cannon was aimed, loaded, and the enemy all came running right at the cannon itself.
Cannon generally always point towards the enemy in a battle. A good gun crew could probably fire two rounds a minute, so the odds of the gun crew being killed while the gun is is in some sort of firable condition (even if the ramrod is still in the barrel) aren't all that bad.
And, actually, I think tactics of that era called for charging the guns. That's the only way they had of taking the guns. The French would, of course, have thought the gun position was knocked out and be trying to capture the guns before other British troops could man the cannon.

quote:
(Of course I have no idea whether balls or "grapeshot" would be more common at the scene, but Im not sure if 40 people can be taken out by a cannon ball)

Cannon ball, no, unless they were able to hit them with enflilade fire...shooting down a long row of soldiers with a large iron ball that doesn't stop when it hits one solder might do it. Grapeshot, however, is quite devastating to massed infantry. Grapeshot was definitely available at the time, and faced with charging French troops, they would have been using it.

--------------------
"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

Posts: 1225 | From: Wichita, Kansas | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Big_Les
Miso Horny


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I was less interested in whether it happened or not, than whether there was any contemporary mention of it (or even since). There was nothing at all, and I honestly think that they went with the comic as their basis! Then of course they claimed it was true as well. So crap all round really. They've also been caught faking their science "experiments" on their science show.
Posts: 6 | From: Edinburgh, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

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