Continuing the story of the secesh cannon. On July 13, 1861 in Tucker County, Virginia (now West Virginia), Confederate Brigadier General Thomas A. Morris and his force of 4,500 men encountered 20,000 Union soldiers under Major General George B. McClellan. Quickly recognizing the disparity in strength, the Confederates withdrew across the Cheat River at Carrick’s Ford (sometimes called “Corrick’s Ford”). The escape was largely successful: there was only minor skirmishing and few casualties on either side; however, the Confederates were forced to abandon several cannon, which the Union troops divided up as war prizes. The 1st Regiment of Light Artillery, made up of men from Cleveland and Geneva, Ohio, secured the “six pound iron rifled” Napoleon and shipped it to Cleveland. (The 1st Regiment of Light Artillery had historic ties to the Grays; that’s a story for another day.)
The secesh cannon was taken to Camp Cleveland (in what is now the Tremont neighborhood). Each time a new regiment left Cleveland for the war, and with news of each Union victory, a salute was fired with the captured cannon. When word came of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender in April 1865, salutes were fire hourly throughout the day. With war’s end, the cannon was moved to Cleveland’s Public Square.
The secesh cannon stood in various locations in Public Square from the 1860s until the 1960s. It was stolen, recovered, and then unceremoniously moved to a City storage lot. In the 1970s members of the 135th Field Artillery Battalion of the Ohio National Guard tracked it down, acquired it, and paid for restoration. (Much of the restoration was done by long-time Grays member Bill Lentz.) The artillerymen placed the restored cannon in the Grays’ care, where it remains.