ancestryink fisherman

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Artillery Fire Ends Severe Drought?

Seeding the clouds with gunfire??

By November of 1870, the scars of one of the most damaging summer droughts of the last hundred years in both the United States and parts of Europe, were finally starting to heal.

France seems to have exceeded even the U.S. in impact from this world-wide drought.  Headlines gave equal attention to both countries.  (See my previous blog posting for more...)

From June 20th, 1870: the Baltimore Gazette reports the state of the drought in France:

"No rain for three months!"  Luasanna, France
Much as the way we respond today after a troubling event of such epic proportions and suffering, attention now turned to finding a human-induced solution to any future drought that might visit itself upon a now very stressed-out population.

HEADLINES:  Can Rain be Produced Artificially??

"The Effects of Artillery Fire Upon the Weather.

Vicksburg, April 16th 1863
The drouth which began early in the summer, in Europe, as with us in New England, was succeeded, soon after the commencement of the war between Germany and France, by almost continued rains...It is asserted, and we presume correctly, that nearly every great battle and naval engagement during the war, was followed by a storm more or less sever, and especially was this the case after the engagements of Bull run, Roanoke Island, Gettysburg, Fort Donelson, and on the peninsula, before Richmond....It is also said that the cannonading (during the war) on the York river and James river, as well as the cannonading of Corinth and on the Mississippi, were followed by such fearful storms that the land was inundated."

This article published by the Columbian Register,  New Haven, CT on Saturday 26, 1870, is lengthy and full of wonderful examples supporting the theory that artillery fire brings about rain.  One of my own ancestors, Alexander Henderson, who survived the battle drowned during the intense rains and swelling river that followed.

Another excerpt, in regards to France:

"In the month of June, the great drought prevailing in France led a number of scientific men to suggest to the Minister of War, Leboeut, that cannonading should be instituted in order to bring about rain."

Speculation?  Truth in science?  Humankind striving to make order of an unruly, unpredictable universe?  I am sure we've made a few advances on this theory.
But still...I find it endearing.

Click here to download full PDF version of the article:

(Source Information:; historical newspaper archives
For Civil War Image:   Currier & Ives lithograph, 1863; Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Beverley R. Robinson Collection. Accessed at their website:

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