Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DEMING, William, the first maker of wrought iron cannon, born in 1736; died in Mifflin, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, 19 December 1830. He was employed in the Revolutionary army, and contributed two wrought iron cannon of curious construction, one of which was captured by the British at the battle of the Brandywine, and is still preserved in the Tower of London. These singular pieces of ordnance are described as being "made of wrought iron staves, hooped like a barrel, with bands of the same material, excepting that there were four layers of staves, breaking joints, all of which were finally bound together, and then boxed and breeched like other cannon." The first gun was made at Middlesex, Pennsylvania, the second was begun at Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania, but as the patriotic blacksmith could find no one to assist him, on account of the heat, which is said to have been so great as to melt the lead buttons on his coat, it was not completed. The British are said to have offered a large sum of ready money and a stated annuity to any one that would instruct them in the process of manufacture; but the sturdy artisan was not to be seduced from his allegiance. Although he had striven to serve the republic, with traditional ingratitude it refused to compensate him until near the close of his long career.
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