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So I looked it up...Google..what a country! When an artillery company was in danger of being overrun and had no time to pull their cannon with them in retreat, they would take a spike with barbs to drive into the touch hole to prevent it from being used against them. If the spike were not available, a bayonet could be pressed into service breaking off the blade at the cannon surface.
 

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I guess I learned that in high school, studying some war or another :D Yep, kinda hard to fire a cannon if the darn thing won't load a cannon ball.
 

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It did not prevent loading a cannon ball, it simply made it impossible to touch it off.....

Don
 

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It's fun reading military history and from the 1500's and up. I do that on a regular basis. Lots of gun related stuff goes on with that. Public libraries have a lot of old old books on the subjects from guns to the history portions. Going from wheellock, flintlock, and up the line in technology, and who the players were if fun to get to know.
 

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"Breaking Bad" taught us all how the GIs destroyed large bore guns with Thermite Plasma - the "pixie dust" inside an "Etch-A-Sketch". Walt and Jesse used it to burn the lock off a security door.
 

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Drive the spike into the touch hole and break it off as close to the outer surfaceof the barrel as possible. If time allows, file it flush. The cannon is out of service until the spike can be drilled out and the damage is repaired.

Spiking guns was also used as a spoiler during seiges. The beseiged would raid the seige lines in hopes of spiking the seige guns, thereby delaying the reduction of the walls and defenses until they can be repaired. Normally, it was combined with setting the carriages on fire to destroy or weaken them.

The modern equivalent would be taking the breechblock off of the gun and carrying it away along with disabling the carriage.
 

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And when the Marines raided the Barbary Coast, they spiked the guns of the forts to prevent shelling of the fleet. It also was typically used in an offensive action where the attackers (raiders) would not be able to carry the guns off with them when they left.
 
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So I looked it up...Google..what a country! When an artillery company was in danger of being overrun and had no time to pull their cannon with them in retreat, they would take a spike with barbs to drive into the touch hole to prevent it from being used against them. If the spike were not available, a bayonet could be pressed into service breaking off the blade at the cannon surface.
Yeah. The term is still used, but we're not plugging up "touch holes" anymore, just blowing out the barrels.
 
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