Cannons Scrapped for War Effort.
Bay City, MI. History contributions made by Alan Flood and Jim Petrimoulx.
The followings are a series of articles relating to the military cannons that were on display at various places in Bay City, until they were melted down to support the U.S. effort during WWII.
Feb. 7, 1898 - Contributed by Alan Flood, transcribed April 2007.
Proceedings of the Bay City Common Council - Feb. 7, 1898.
To the honorable common council, Bay City.
Gentlemen -- The join committee from the G. A. R. posts having in charge the procuring of guns from the government to be placed on the grounds of the city hall, have arranged to exchange the 8-in. howitzer for another 30-pounder Parrott gun, at a cost only of drayage to and from West Bay City.
This will give the city two fine large cannons to be put in position on the grounds when graded.
The war department at Washington has advised us that the ordinance officer has been directed to issue to us, also, one 3-in wrought iron gun -- a field piece -- which can be had at the cost only of freight and drayage; and this will not to exceed $10 probably.
The gun is a war relic which, in a few years cannot be obtainable, and the opportunity to get it, we think, should not be lost.
1904 Oct.: Two cannons secured. (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - Mar., 2009)
The Bay City Tribune - Sunday, October 30, 1904 (page 6)
ARTILLERY ON WAY HERE. _______
Two Pieces Secured by Col. Loud Coming This Week. _______
The two pieces of artillery from the flagshipHartford, of Farragut fame, which are to come to Bay City through the good offices of Col. Geo. A. Loud, are en route now from Chicago to this city. Col. Loud received a letter from the Northern Michigan Transportation Co. stating that L. S. & M. S. car No. 4040 had been dispatched with three cannon, two for Bay City and one for Gaylord. On the arrival of the guns here the two for Bay City will be unloaded and the car will proceed to Gaylord with the other. It is expected the car will arrive in Bay City some time the present week.
1904 Nov.: Guns here. (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - Mar., 2009)
The Bay City Tribune - Friday, November 4, 1904 (page 5)
BIG GUNS ARE HERE. _______
Cannon Secured by Colonel Loud Have Arrived in City. _______
Three cannons have arived in the city over the Michigan Central. Two of them are for Bay City and the other goes to Gaylord. They were secured through the efforts of Congressman Loud and came here from San Francisco, the city paying the freight in order to secure the big guns. It is the intention to place the guns in the parks at Center avenue and Jefferson street, but it will be necessary to construct a substantial foundation, probably of cement.
Note: Parks reference is to Battery Park, which covers the four corners of the Center and Jefferson intersection.
May 24, 1907 - Transcribed April 2007.
The Bay City Tribune - Friday, May 24, 1907.
HISTORIC OLD MORTARS READY FOR THE PARK.
Gifts of Hon. George A. Loud to the City Await Placing by Common Council. ----------
After nearly 50 years within the walls of Fort Sumter, in Charleston, S. C., harbor, two large guns recently obtained from the government by Congressman Loud reached Bay City yesterday, and now await the action of the common council as to placing, the city government having accepted them. It is expected they will be place in Battery park, on Center Avenue and Jefferson street.
The historic significance of these pieces, pictures of which are herewith given, is that they witnessed the first bloodless conflict in the civll war and were in Fort Sumter during the entire period of the war. When Colonel Loud was at Charleston some months ago he visited the famous old fort, conceived the idea that the historic associations of its guns would make them valuable as ornaments in Bay City, and he applied for two but was turned down. He was tendered a couple of other guns the historic value of which, if any, was unknown and he insisted in setting two of the armament of Fort Sumter. Finally, by agreeing to pay the transportation of the guns from the fort to Bay City, he was given them, and his good friend Congressman Legare, of Charleston, well and favorably remembered in Bay City, looked after the details of getting the guns from the fort to the cars and starting them on their long journey.
The first conflict in the civil war, the mightiest conflict in all modern history, is doubtless, or at least should be, familiar to every American citizen. It is well understood that during the last year of President Buchanan’s administration in 1860, a number of his cabinet officers were intense southerners and did all in their power to strengthen the south in the expected conflict. For that reason Colonel Gardner in command of the federal troops at Charleston was relieved and Major Robert Anderson placed in command. The latter was a native ofKentucky, and it was supposed could be depended upon to make it easy for the south if war ensued. He was a loyal officer, however though he was so crippled by reason of lack of men and supplies that he did not put up much of a defense. Fort Sumter could have been properly garrisoned and held had the government acted as it should have done, and it would have exerted a powerful influence upon the future of the war. Lieutenant General S. D. Lee, of the confederate army, who was an aide-de-camp of General Beauregard at Charleston at the battle says it would have been an easy matter to have reinforced Fort Sumter with men and supplies and have held it, but it evidently was not to be. It was the inauguration of a conflict that even those who participated in it lacked the faintest conception of its colossal scope and consequences.
Major Anderson, who held his little garrison of 65 men in Fort Moultrie, deeming Sumter the most advantageous point for defense, transferred his force to Sumter the day after Christmas, 1860. Thenceforward events culminating in the final appeal to arms developed rapidly. The confederates erected batteries on Sullivan and Morris Island, James Island, built a floating battery and occupied Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney, in fact circling the old fort at the mouth of the harbor with points of attack.
Sumter is a pentagonal structure built on an artificial island at the mouth of Charleston harbor three and three-eights miles from the city, one and one-fourths of a mile from Fort Moultrop; three-fourths of a mile from Cummings Point, the nearest island; one and three-eights miles from Fort Johnson on James Island, and two and five-eights miles from Castle Pinckney.
Sumter was built to accommodate 140 guns but only 75 were in the fort when the battle took place and not all of them were mounted. The heaviest guns were three 10-inch columbiads, and four eight-inch columbiads were mounted in form of a mortar battery. April 11, 1861, General Beauregard sent a note by Lieutenant Lee, Colonel Chestnut, and Colonel Roger A. Pryor to Major Anderson, demanding the surrender of Fort Sumter. The latter declined to entertain the proposition, and at 3:30 the following morning those officers bore a message to Anderson informing him that General Beauregard would open fire in one hour.
There has been some controversy as to who fired the first shot of the war on this occasion. Lieutenant Lee, Colonel Chestnut and other staff officers who were present, state that the first shot at Fort Sumter was fired byCaptain George S. James, commanding the Fort Johnson battery on James island, at 4:30 a. m., April 12, 1861. The claim made that it was fired by Edmund Rutlin, of Virginia, from Cummings Point, is not held to be tenable, but he fired the second gun. Captain Abner Doubleday, First United States infantry, fired the first shot from the fort in return. The fort surrendered April 13, at 7 p. m., and was evacuated the following day, the command of Major Anderson being transferred in a union steamer waiting outside. Not a man was killed during the fight, but one man was killed while saluting the flag after the surrender.
The guns are not regarded as safe for firing purposes but as relics of the equal value of American soldiers, they will be cherished with pride by Bay City.
A matter of local interest is that Deputy Postmaster George Keating, of Bay City, was cabin boy on the steamer R. R. Cuyler, running between New York and Charleston and Savannahwhen the war broke out, and witnessed the bombardment on the steamer while lying outside of Charleston harbor.
June 21, 1907 - Transcribed April 2007.
The Bay City Tribune - Friday, June 21, 1907.
GUNS FOR SAGE LIBRARY PARK
Congressman Loud Gets Couple From Main Battery of Old U.S. Ship Portsmouth. ---------
Will be Brought to City and Placed in Position as Quickly as Possible.
Not unmindful of the desires of his constituents, Congressman George A. Loud has secured for and will present to Sage Library park, on the westside, two of the main battery guns of the United States ship Portsmouth, one of the historic ships of the old navy.
These are eight-inch guns and possess historic value. When Mr. Loud secured the Hartford guns some years ago the people interested in the Sage Library put in a request for recognition and later when he obtained the Fort Sumter mortars the west side requested that one of them be placed in the Sage park, but the congressman had made the riffle for those guns for the express purpose of getting a battery of four historic guns for Battery Park, and he said he would obtain other guns for the library park. This he has done and they should and undoubtedly will be highly prized by west siders.
June 28, 1907 - Transcribed April 2007.
The Bay City Tribune - Friday, June 28, 1907.
MORTARS BEING PUT IN PLACE.
War Implements Given by Col. Loud to City Going Into Position in Battery Park. ----------
The big mortars given to Bay City by Congressman Loud are being place on the concrete foundations prepared for them in Battery park. The first one is now in place at the southeast corner of the park, being hauled on rollers from the Pere Marquette freight house yesterday. It is a big mass of iron weighing several tons and is pierced by a hole that looks small in comparison to the size of the fighting engine. The other mortar will be placed in position today.
It may be necessary to erect fences around all the guns in Battery park as some vandals are defacing them. Names and letters have been scratched upon the paint covering the guns and in some instances this has been cut through to the iron. Some persons take delight in climbing upon the guns and sitting there. A little vigilance on the part of the police department is suggested as a remedy for the conditions that have resulted in disfiguring the guns.
May 15, 1942 - Transcribed April 2007.
The Bay City Times - May 15, 1942 (page 14)
Delays Actions on Cannon Salvage.
Commission Seeks Views of Veterans on Move. ------------
The artillery of ancient vintage which stands a mute and also in-effectual guard over the city hall and two of the city’s parks will continue in that capacity at least for another week, the city commission decided in informal session Thursday night.
Pondering at some length over the proposal of Commissioner Howard M. Hayes that this antiquated armament be salvaged for the melting pot of a brand new and quite effectual war, the other city legislators felt that the move although entirely patriotic was not particularly timely.
The government will probably ask for these relics when and if they are needed was their answer to Hayes’ suggestion.
But, to make the matter more easily disposed of, they referred the proposal to the city manager with a view that he contact the various veterans organizations in the city to get their reaction to the plan to salvage the metal contained in these guns long since beyond the stage of anything but decoration, and not too highly decorated at that.
Proper Rites Urged.
Although the information apparently failed to reach the commissioners officials of the War Production Board, in a letter to a local resident who made the same suggestion more than a month ago, revealed that it did not feel that the government needed the metal contained in the old cannon as yet. However, it was suggested by the WPB that there might be a patriotic motif attached to at least offering the artillery pieces to the government and proposed that the city and veterans’ organization make capital of the project with proper ceremony.
In addition to the government’s attitude concerning these relics, there is some misconception about the time in which they were used. But, the mortars inBattery park have a very definite history.
These two odd looking sinews of war were once a part of the defenses of Fort Sumter and dispatched much uncomfort to the rebels of the 1860's who sought to capture this strategic fort as the Civil War opened.
Loud Started Move.
In 1907 the then Cong. George Loud decided that these two mortars would look very nice in Battery park in Bay City. First of all they would help set the park off and secondly, Cong. Loud needed votes in Bay City to be reelected and at that time the G.A.R. was still a lively and very politically minded organization.
After much finagling and the transfer of a couple of mortars from the Watervliet arsenal, the two 7,500-pound items were freighted to Bay City and set on a perch in Battery park.
There they have since remained although their history has been somewhat forgotten in the backwash of newer and greater wars.
In recent years now they have served as a backdrop for amateur photographers, and parade perches for youngsters, bound to get a better look at what was going on down Center avenue.
October 27, 1942 - Transcribed April 2007.
The Bay City Times - October 27, 1942.
8 Moved from Resting Places
Total Weight Approximates 25 Tons. ------------
Eight old cannons, given to the city as war mementoes many years ago by an enterprising congressman, are on the way to the smelting furnace today.
Yesterday they were ceremoniously lifted from their resting places of years, hauled to the H. Hirschfield Sons Co. yard, and in a couple of hours were loaded on cars bound for the smelter.
The cannon were turned over to the Bay County Salvage committee several weeks ago by the city commission.
Yesterday afternoon there was an appropriate ceremony at the city hall when the two guns which had stood a mute guard over its entrance for years were jerked from their mountings and trucked away.
Left behind was a legend which informs the public that once there were cannons in the mountings.
Participating in yesterday afternoon’s ceremony were Lt. Col. A. H. Gansser, Charles C. Engelhardt, head of the county salvage committee, City Manager J. Harry Nelson, and Probate Judge Raphael G. Phillips, all of whom spoke. Commissioner Joseph M. Kerr was master of ceremonies.
The cannon were removed by a mobile crane built by Bay City Shovels, Inc., for the U.S. Army through arrangements made by Commissioner George E. Shaw.
Following removal there was a parade of the old cannon through the city streets.
Total weight of the eight cannon was approximately 25 tons. The two mortars in Battery park weighed 10-1/2 tons each. Thomas Glull, head of the department of public works was in charge of the removal project.
Shown are cannons from the USS Hartford and Fort Sumter and a map showing thier location in Battery Park. The Fort Sumter pic is before its installation. All were removed and scrapped in 1942 for the war effort.
History of Cannons from Ft. Sumter.
According to the pdf document reference below, the two cannons relocated to Battery park in 1907 from Ft. Sumter, were guns left behind at the fort by the Confederate army (page 83). The cannons were cast at the Tredegar Foundry in 1862.
Confederate 10-inch columbiad.
Details from page 105:
Serial Nos.: 1656 & 1664
Bore: 10 inches
Weight: 13,290 lbs.
Length: 122.5 inches
Shot: 128 lbs.
Charge: 18 lbs.
Range: 2.4 miles.
[-] The Historic Guns of Forts Sumter and Moultrie by Mike Ryan (1997).
The 8 Cannons Removed. The location of only six of these cannons have been identified as of this writing:
Battery park: The two cannons from Ft. Sumter, one located in the n.e. and the other in the s.e. quadrants of the park. In addition the park had two cannons from the ship U.S.S. Hartford, which were located in the park's n.w. and s.w. quadrants.
City Hall: Two cannons, one on each side of the entrance.
Anderson, Robt. Major
Doubleday, Abner Capt.
Englehardt, Charles C.
Gansser, A.H. (Lt.Col.)
Hayes, Howard M.
James, Geo. S. Capt.
Keating, Geo. P.M.
Kerr, Jospeh M.
Lee, S.D. Lt.
Loud, George, Cong.
Nelson, J. Harry
Phillips, Raphael G. Judge
Pryor, Roger A. Col.
Bay City, MI
Bay Co. Salvage Comm.
Bay Cith Shovels
City hall, Bay City
H. Hirschfield & Sons.
L.S.& M.S. R.R.
Michigan Central R.R.
Michigan Transportation Co.
Pere Marquette Frgt. Hse.
Sage Library park
San Francisco, CA
Steamer R.R. Cuyler
War Production Bd.
World War II
[-] Ft. Sumter National Monument. (U.S. National Park Service)
[-] The Tredegar Iron Works (Civil War Richmond)
[-] Photos of Tredegar Iron Works. (Civil War Photographs)