From the Earth to the Moon is a novel by Jules Verne. It tells the story of the Baltimore Gun Club, a post-American Civil War society of weapons enthusiasts, and their attempts to build an enormous Columbiad space gun and launch three people--the Gun Club's president, his Philadelphian armor-making rival, and a French poet--in a projectile with the goal of a moon landing.
The story is also notable in that Verne attempted to do some rough calculations as to the requirements for the cannon and, considering the comparative lack of any data on the subject at the time, some of his figures are surprisingly close to reality. However, his scenario turned out to be impractical for safe manned space travel since a much longer muzzle would have been required to reach escape velocity while limiting acceleration to survivable limits for the passengers.
The character of Michel Ardan, the French member of the party in the novel, was inspired by the real-life photographer Félix Nadar.
The story opens some time after the end of the American Civil War. The Gun Club, a society based in Baltimore and dedicated to the design of weapons of all kinds (especially cannons), comes together when Impey Barbicane, its president, calls them to support his latest idea. He's done some calculations, and believes that they could construct a cannon capable of shooting a projectile to the moon. After receiving the support of his companions, another meeting is held to decide the place from which the projectile will be fired, the dimensions and materials of both the cannon and the projectile, and which kind of powder they are to use.
An old enemy of Barbicane, a Captain Nicholl of Philadelphia, designer of plate armor, declares that the enterprise is absurd and makes a series of bets with Barbicane, each of them of increasing amount, over the impossibility of such feat.