Boys will be boys… with cannons.
It was Christmas night 1910, in Henderson Kentucky. It was a tradition in the South to celebrate Christmas with fireworks, so three young men decided to create a louder explosion than usual by pulling a prank with a Civil War cannon in the park. Said a local paper:
"Just before the clock struck one a terrific explosion was heard in the vicinity of Washington and Main streets. Those who were not asleep would have gambled that one of the big tanks at the gas works had exploded and those who were in slumberland were almost shaken out of their beds."
Historical accounts differ as to the explosive – the boys used either gunpowder or dynamite to shoot off the cannon. A book recounts:
"All of the boys ran, of course, as soon as they had ignited the fuse, but unfortunately young John Dorsey ran into a telephone-pole guy wire, which caught him under the chin and threw him down, temporarily knocking him out. So, while the others escaped he was caught red-handed."
"The chief gunner is a young man who has had a military training… The cannon was swiped out with a mop filched from the city building. The man who acted as chief gunner was certainly onto his job and knew how to prepare and shoot off a big gun."
The blast shattered the plate glass windows in the nearby Klee Funeral Home. The father of the boy who was caught, John Dorsey, paid for the damage. His check to the funeral home had a written notation: "For bombarding Fort Klee."
After this incident, the cannons were spiked so they could no longer be fired.
– Bombarding Fort Klee: Christmas prank shook many from their long winter’s nap, The Gleaner, Henderson, Kentucky>>
– Civil War re-enactors fire cannons at a Civil War encampment, Photo Gallery, Courier Press photo by Mike Lawrence>>