Horatio Ames was born in North Easton, Mass. on
November 18, 1805. He was a member of the famous Ames
family whose shovels built America. His father was Oliver Ames Sr. known to his
contemporaries as “Shoveling Ollie” because of the shovels that his company be Ames Shovel Company
produced in Eastern Massachusetts. His mother was Susanna Angier. He had six brothers and sisters the most
famous of who was Oakes Ames
who became infamous as one of the perpetrators of the Credit Moblier, a scheme
during the presidency of Ulysses
S. Grant in the 1870s.
Horatio Ames himself left
as a young man and moved to where he dealt an iron keeping his family's
business well supplied with Salisbury Iron.
He had already worked as a blacksmith on the floor of his family's
factory before going to Albany New
York Albany. He eventually migrated to the Salisbury
district of northwestern Connecticut
where he established the factory on the west side of the just below the Housatonic
Falls of the Housatonic. The named this company be Ames Iron Works and
the settlement of the Amesville grew up around it. Amesville and the Ames Iron Works are
actually located in the
and across the River is Township of Salisbury
located in the Township of the Falls Village Canaan.
|The largest cannon made for use in the Civil War. This gun was made at the Ames Iron Works in Amesville, Connecticut its maker, Horatio Ames can be seen as the tall man wearing a high silk hat standing at the rear of the cannon.|
As one of the more formidable characters that ever came into
Salisbury; Horatio Ames stood about
six foot six and weighed around 300 pounds.
For the size of him he had a surprisingly high-pitched voice that belied
his appearance. He had a strong face
with lines going up from his mouth to his nose, and piercing eyes. To think that he was overweight did not do
the man any credit for his size. He came
by this naturally as a blacksmith his size was the result of years of swinging
Like all big men his way of seeing things was larger than life. This attitude came to the forefront when the Civil War broke out and because his family was a heavy contributor to the election campaign that brought Abraham Lincoln to the White House. He knew Abraham Lincoln personally and had his ear.
One of the assets that the company had was a giant steam press named “Thor” that at the time was the largest steam hammer in the world.
developed a method for forging gun barrels using this press by rotating the gun
barrel while the press was working at it.
Basically the same method is used to this day for forging gun barrels in
our national arsenals.
It occurred to
that the Union Army would need cannon to prosecute the war. They also reached the conclusion that the
bigger the better the ultimate result of this was a cannon capable of firing
125 pound projectile over 5 miles. But
before that he built many other guns for the Union Army and Navy. As a result of this activity he was
challenged to a dual by Admiral Dahlgren the head of the Navy's Ordinance
Department and a gun manufacturer for the Navy himself.
the challenged party he had the choice of weapons. His choice in the situation was since in his
mind Dahlgren had a serious conflict of interest. This is what he chose. They would each straddle the breach of their
own largest cannon that were overloaded far beyond their maximum strength, and
then fired simultaneously. The winner
would be whoever's cannon didn't burst when fired. Dahlgren backed out!