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RODMAN GUN, John Paul Jones Park


Paul Jones Park is the site of one of the three 20-inch Rodman guns ever
produced. Fort Hamilton, in 1864, tested this new cannon, designed by Capt.
Thomas Jefferson Rodman, which weighed 58 tons and fired shot weighing 1080
pounds up to 4 1/2 miles. A derrick had to be used to load the cannon. The
cannon’s effectiveness was judged minimal after it failed two trials.

Shortly after being mounted the piece was fired four times with 50-,
75-, 100- and 125-pound charges. In March of 1867 it was again fired with
charges of 125, 150, 175 and 200 pounds of powder. At an elevation of 25
degrees a range of 4-1/2 miles, was obtained.

These were the guns that established the International “Three Mile Limit” for territorial waters. In the 19th and early 20th century a nation “owned” those waters that it could defend with cannon fire.

One of the two Rodman guns produced wound up here, along with a goodly number of cannonballs in what is commonly known as Cannonball Park. The second was located at Fort Hancock in New Jersey, and is now on display at the Sandy Hook National Park Site. The third was sold to Peru. Records of this cannon were lost during Peru’s war with Chile from 1879-1883.

John Paul Jones Park, 4th Avenue and 101st Street in Bay Ridge, is named for the US naval hero (1747-1792), who, through victorious leadership in the American Revolution, became known as “the father of the Navy.”

Enlisting in the newly established Continental Navy in 1775, Jones distinguished himself as captain of the sloop Providence, as First Lieutenant of the flagship Alfred and captain of both the warships Ranger and Bonhomme Richard. On September 23, 1779 Jones’s ship slipped into the midst of a British mercantile convoy. In attacking the convoy’s escorts, the H.M.S. Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough, Jones’s smaller vessel suffered severe damage. His vessel afire and sinking, Jones refused the enemy’s demand for surrender, replying “I have not yet begun to fight.” Three hours later, the Serapis surrendered. After this and other Revolutionary War victories, Jones received honors from all over the world, including a gold medal from the newly formed Continental Congress, and a gold-hilted sword from King Louis XVI who made him a chevalier of France. {NYC Parks]

The Guns of Bay Ridge [FNY]

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”


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