On This Date In History: American ingenuity knows no bounds…which means sometimes it can go out of bounds. In this case, we will go back to the time of the American Civil War. When the nation is at war, it’s not unusual for new weapons related to violence to come about. Quite often, the new inventions can be converted to peacetime uses after hostilities have ended. The atomic bomb is a good example. The research, money and effort came about quickly as a direct result of the government wishing to unlock the nuclear genie for the purpose of creating a new weapon. After the war was over, new ways to utilize the technology for peaceful means came about. Rocket engines are another example.
Wernher (Werner) Von Braun was really a rocket geek but had a difficult time getting funding for his research. After World War II broke out, the Nazi’s thought that Von Braun’s rocket ideas might be an effective delivery system for weapons or maybe even power aircraft. Von Braun really wasn’t interested in the war effort but went along with the party so that he could get the funding for his dreams. The Nazis ended up with the V-2 Rocket, which today is more or less the Scud Missile, and also jet aircraft. Wernher’s interest in rocketry was so much more than his interest in weapons that he was actually arrested in 1944 for putting his space efforts ahead of this weapon work. What he needed was funding and freedom so toward the end of the war, Von Braun arranged for he and about 500 of his top aides to be captured by the Americans. Subsequently, he went to work for Uncle Sam. To a lesser extent, his knowledge helped the US develop jet aircraft but, more directly, Von Braun’s knowledge of rocketry was unmatched in the world and NASA developed greatly due to the leadership of Wernher Von Braun with his masterpiece being the giant Saturn V rocket that powered the astronauts to the moon. Von Braun liked America so much he became an American Citizen.
Now, let’s remember that our takes place in the 19th Century not the 20th Century. And one might conclude that if the year was 1862, then any innovation in weaponry might involve the Civil War. But, not everyone was fighting the Civil War. Westward expansion was continuing and there were still hundreds of thousands of Americans living on the edge of civilization. At that time, Americans on the frontier needed protection from Indians who didn’t take too kindly to their settling the land, bad guys and wild animals. In some states and territories farmers may have had to deal with Civil War guerrilla warriors on the prowl. With that in mind, C.M. French and W.H. Fancher thought they’d come up with a gold mine of an idea.
People on the prairie needed defense and they needed to plow their own field. If you combined the two, then you could do both at once! So, on this date in 1862, the pair received a patent for their armed plow from the US Patent Office(US Pat. No. 35,600). It would be interesting to determine if the NRA would consider this contraption a Second Amendment Issue or if Gun-Control advocates would object to the Combined Plow and Gun, which was a standard plow with what looks like a cannon mounted on the front. I suspect that the firearm was a standard shotgun which clearly meant it was not a handgun. It seems that it’s intent was certainly for defensive purposes because the description on the patent included the passage, “This combination enables those in agricultural pursuits to have at hand an efficient weapon of defense.” It said it was good for people on border localities who were subject to “savage feuds and guerrilla warfare.” It touted its unrivaled utility in fighting off surprise attacks on “those engaged in a peaceful avocation..” Needless to say, they didn’t get rich. Had their idea caught on, we might have bicycles today with a forward mounted howitzer or maybe a cannon mounted on automobiles in an effort to deal with drivers on cell phones or texting.
Weather Bottom Line: Same story, mainly. We’ll stay warm but humidity will be bearable. Snow White and I went for a walk this morning and it was lovely. I think tonight will again have lows in the mid to upper 60′s but then the humidity returns by Friday night and lows are back in the muggy 70′s. A cold front knocks on the door and stick around raising rain chances to some degree by Saturday afternoon and it carries through for several days. It’s really too early to accurately ascertain the level of the rain chances but at least they will be isolated to scattered on a daily basis. In short, by the weekend we will be returning to the hot and humid regime we had last weekend and early this week.