Saturday August 29, 2009 W.Va. dad makes son cannon to fulfill birthday wish Took two weeks and $6,000 to build by Times West VirginianMessage 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2009View SourceSaturday August 29, 2009W.Va. dad makes son cannon to fulfill birthday wishTook two weeks and $6,000 to buildMike Daugherty and his son Logan fire a homemade Civil War cannon for the first time. Daugherty built the cannon as a gift for his son, a Civil War buff.
FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- Mike Daugherty asked his 11-year-old son Logan what he wanted for his birthday.
The boy said, "I want a cannon."
Dad didn't scoff at Logan's request by saying, "How about a hippopotamus instead," as a Christmas song from another era lamented.
No, Daugherty is not that kind of guy. He granted his son's wish and built him a Civil War-era cannon not a model, the real deal. The howitzer fires and rivals anything seen at Civil War reenactments across the country. He said it took him about two weeks to build and is worth about $6,000.
"It looks like something right out of the battle at Gettysburg," Daugherty said. The cast iron and steel 4-inch gun barrel is 36 inches long. It is mounted on a wooden gun carriage with two 36- inch diameter wheels. The cannon weighs about 700 pounds, so it is not something Logan will be able to carry to school in his backpack.
"I've always been interested in the Civil War and cannons, so I thought it would be a good gift," the boy said.
Daugherty said his son is very mature and would be able to handle the responsibility of owning a piece of artillery.
"He's a good kid. One thing about my son he has a great respect for guns and weapons, so he will not be firing this anytime soon without an adult present."
Daugherty said he is not worried about the federal government coming to get his son's cannon because he has spoken to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the National Security Agency. Though Daugherty said he is still stunned that he had to get clearance from the NSA for the archaic artillery piece, it is legal to own such a cannon because it does not use a firing pin or is breach loaded. He said the government does not consider the weapon a threat.
Two days after the family celebrated Logan's 11th birthday, father and son offered a field demonstration of the new cannon to the Times West Virginian on Tuesday. The cannon had never been fired. While Daugherty is an accomplished machinist, there was an element of danger involved in packing a virgin gun barrel full of gunpowder and lighting the fuse. Sometimes cannons blew up during the Civil War, sending shrapnel flying every which way.
And then there is the boom. Anyone who has been to a Civil War reenactment knows that sound shakes the ground and rattles the rib cage.
Daugherty and Logan placed the cannon on top of a grassy hill overlooking Fairmont.
"Any rebels charging up this hill would be in trouble with a cannon like this at the top," Logan said.