Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Ft. Caswell Cannons

Have you ever wondered about those two cannons on either side of the Confederate monument on Union Square in Raleigh? Union Square? The North Carolina State capitol actually sits on a piece of land entitled "Union Square." That, however, is another story. Back to those cannons. They are large and have a great history of their own.

Those two cannons have quite a history. According to an article in the New Bern Weekly Journal (October 3, 1902), the "guns were originally naval 32 pounders, and they were taken at the Norfolk navy yard when Virginia occupied it in 1861. They were sent to Tredegar Iron Works, rifled and made 6 inch rifled guns and a wrought iron band was shrunk on the breech, making them greatly resemble Parrott guns. They were mounted on the sea front of old Ft. Caswell. When in January 1865 that fort was vacated they were left loaded and spiked."

 Another article, this one from the News and Observer (Raleigh, August 24, 1902), tell us that the cannon were buried sixteen feet underground prior to their excavation.

The Wilmington Morning Star reported (August 12, 1902) that "Before the two cannon could be shipped here [Raleigh] they had to be taken out of the sand into which they had been rolled and the charges taken out. This was a work of no little trouble... Up to about 1898 [Fort Caswell] was in precisely the same condition it was after the evacuation in 1865. Fire and powder have done their work upon it."

As with many sites connected to North Carolina and the War, there is much history to explore when talking about Fort Caswell. I for one would like to know what happened to the 8-inch English Armstrong rifle (cannon) that was captured at Caswell at the end f the war. But I guess that is a whole 'nother post! 

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