2011-08-27 / News

Civil War history comes alive

MILLERSPORT – If you are wondering what brought the Civil War and the Sherman cannon to Buckeye Lake Marina and Weldon’s Ice Cream last Saturday, you can blame it on young Gavin Geiger (see photo at right).

His grandmother, Marilyn Pierce, said he visited Gettysburg with his family and joined the Civil War Trust. When a recent newsletter asked for contributions to help preserve some battlefields he told his mother, Lisa, that he needed to send in some money. She suggested that he earn some money to donate to the cause. That lead to Saturday’s Civil War Battlefield Benefit at Weldon’s Ice Cream.

Buckeye Lake Marina owner and Civil War buff Dave Levacy quickly signed on, sharing some of his collection with visitors. He also got to pull the lanyard, firing the 1861 Parrott 10-pounder field rife, known locally as the Sherman cannon.

The historic cannon – local legend is that Lancaster native General William Tecumseh Sherman donated the cannon to the local Grand Army of the Republic post in 1882 after the post requested a “proper” cannon for salutes and observances – was recently restored with an all aluminum carriage by The Save The Cannon Committee.

It took an eight-man crew to fire the cannon which could fire a 10-pound round four miles every 30 seconds or so. After each shot, a crew member would have to “worm it out” with a curved tool to remove any remaining debris from the barrel. Another crew member would sponge it out with a wet wool sponge to put out any remaining hot sparks so the next charge wouldn’t fire prematurely. Often wet sponging was followed by a dry sponge so the next charge would ignite. Then the black powder, fuse and the shell would be loaded.

The cannon would kick back some 10 feet after every shot, requiring other crew members to move it back in place and re-sight it in. Cannon duty was very dangerous and the Parrott had problems with the breech exploding during a shot, killing or maiming crew members. For more information visit www.savethecannon.com

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