This week, amid the report of rifles and the clash of sabres around the Gettysburg battlefield, an Altoona man's basement creation rose above the din.
Dave Seedenburg's 3-inch ordnance rifle - fully operational and capable of firing shells, a rarity among re-enactment cannons - spent three days in front of the Pennsylvania State Memorial for the battle's 150th anniversary. A crew of eight men demonstrated the heavy work required to operate 19th-century artillery.
Seedenburg, a re-enactor with the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteer Artillery, Battery D, built the 2,300-pound piece largely in his home two years ago, piecing together a wheeled carriage and machining the metal parts to create a historically accurate gun.
Dave Seedenburg of Altoona, a Civil War re-enactor, build a 3-inch ordnance rifle in his basement.
"I've always built and restored Kentucky long rifles," Seedenburg said Wednesday, referring to an 18th-century musket type. "I must have little-man syndrome or something - I wanted to go bigger."
The cannon fires a 10-pound metal ball and requires a pound of gunpowder to fire. While most re-enactors' cannons merely make a loud "boom," Seedenburg's gun has fired on targets for annual competitions, he said.
Videos posted online show the cannon's crew backing away just before the blast; as it recoils some 12 feet and a cloud of powder smoke spreads through the air.
During the Civil War, a Confederate gunner offered a grudging compliment to the Pennsylvania-built cannons used by his enemies and replicated by Seedenburg's unit, according to a war historian.
"The Yankee 3-inch rifle was a dead shot at any distance under a mile. They could hit the end of a flour barrel more often than miss, unless the gunner got rattled," the officer said.
Seedenburg's comrades, hardcore re-enactors who wear Civil War gear down to the underwear, are granted much-sought-after permission to work on the historic battlefield, he said. Most traditional re-enactors are kept in surrounding areas.
The crew refrained from firing the shells Seedenburg handworks in his home; instead, they demonstrated the loading and firing process for anniversary tourists and onlookers.
Seedenburg said he wasn't able to attend this week's demonstrations - he had to work in Altoona - but soon the cannon will return to its home: a specially built addition separate from his house.
"I put it in a garage up the road from me," Seedenburg said. "I ran out of room."
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.