At the end of an anonymous 1845 poem
praising the Wonders of Progress, we find this curious end-note describing a steam-powered battle-car. Perhaps a SWAG member might care to illustrate it (or include it in a story):
"Steam wagons to run on common roads have been invented in England. They are made to ascend rising ground and go down declivities at a suitable regulated speed.
"From reflecting on this invention and the late improvements of the implements of war, my mind is fully impressed with the belief that a steam car could be so constructed as to be impenetrable to cannon balls, and prove a most deadly engine of destruction to an invading army. It should contain a cover extending over the car and locomotive reaching near to the ground, so as to protect the wheels of both: this protecting cover should be made in the form of an elliptical cone, but nearly sharp at each end, and to have suitable slant on all sides from its downward extremities towards the top, so that balls coming from any direction would strike it obliquely and bound off. It might be made of tough sheet iron of a suitable thickness, supported by elastic springs firmly attached to the framework within: the inner surface to consist of strong wire-work about two inches from the sheet iron, and the space filled in with sponge or wool driven together with considerable force. It should contain a sufficient number of portholes on all sides for the discharge of rifles and muskets, each of which might contain several charges of bullets or buck-shot, that could be let off in quick succession. This car might require wheels of much greater diameter than those used on the common rail-roads, and very broad tyre; it might have one or more sky lights in the top, and a trap-door for entrance in the floor. The outside cover should be oiled or be thoroughly rubbed with hard soap on all sides previous to its being brought into action.
"A war-car thus constructed, it is believed, would
prove the most destructive engine ever used in battle: it might bid defiance to the artillery; its very appearance would throw the cavalry into confusion, and it could march through columns of infantry without receiving the least injury from rifle bullets.
"This chariot of Mars would soon clear the way for one to be directed by the Goddess of Peace."
(This last remark refers to the author's belief in deterrence, rather anticipating Mutual Assured Destruction!)