Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Mysterious Roadside Cannon

I was driving through the Northwest Ohio town of Whitehouse yesterday, in the Oak Openings region west of Toledo, and decided to stop and investigate this big cannon mounted in front of a Civil War monument in a small park.

Unlike the two cannon in nearby Perrysburg, the artillery here seems to be an original casting, dating at least to the first part of the 19th century. I measured the bore at the muzzle, which came out to 6 inches. This indicates that the piece is a  24-pounder. The trunnions mounted on the bottom of the tube rather on the centerline, as well as the lack of dolphins on the top, suggest a naval gun-- but there is no loop above the cascabel, the knob at the back of the cannon.

There is no plaque or notation to identify what kind of cannon it is or where it came from-- not even any makers marking on the breech or trunnions. This isn't nessecarily unusual in a gun as corroded as this one was. It could be a trophy of some long forgotten battle, or simply a cast for one of the many coastal forts of the second or third systems of fortification in the early 1800s and never fired in anger. In the late 19th and early 20th century the War Department gave cannon away to various communities who wanted them for parks and monuments like this one. The true story of Whitehouses gun is probably hidden in an unassuming inventory in the National Archives.