How far Guns can be Heard

Boston Transcript

Professor Hughes has collected a number of cases showing the great distance at which the firing of heavy guns can be heard. For instance, during the battle of Camperdown in 1797, the firing of the guns was heard in Hull, two hundred miles off. The sound of the guns fired at the siege of Sebastopol was heard at Kerten, which is 158 miles away. During the Civil War the roar of the guns at Bull Run was perceptible at Lexington in Virginia, 125 miles away. When the Alabama was sunk nine miles off Cherbourg in 1864 the sound of the guns was heard 108 miles off and 125 miles off respectively.

The great naval review in Spithead in 1867 was held in rough, boisterous weather, but the report of the guns traveled to Castle Frome, which is distant 110 miles. In July of last year a sham fight took place between two portions of the French fleet at Cherbourg. The number of vessels engaged was forty-three, including thirteen of the largest and most modern battleships in the world. The next day the English newspapers came out with accounts of a series of supposed earthquake shocks felt shortly after 10 P.M.—the time of the fight—at different places along the southern coast, from Torquay to Bognor. Professor Hughes, being opposed to the seismic origin of these shocks, made special inquiry concerning them of a large number of persons. Though a few persons in the open air asserted that a tremor was felt, the great majority stated that the sound traveled through the air and not through the ground. Windows rattled loudly without there being any movement of the floor, and at Lancing (one hundred miles from Cherbourg) observers placing their hands on the wall felt is distinctly vibrating, the noise causing a drumming in the ears. The sound was heard to the east and west along the English coast at all the equal distances from Cherbourg. At all the places mentioned by Professor Hughes the air vibrations were strong enough to make the windows shake and rattle, and there are accounts of this or a similar effect being observed at Plymouth, 123 miles off, and at Menheniot, 136 miles away. At the latter place the sudden rattle of a large window was heard about the time of the beginning of the firing, but it was unaccompanied by any sound.—Boston Transcript.

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I need not leave the jostling world,...
June 20, 1901

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