Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

TOP STORY >> Cannon to get makeover

Leader staff writer

The cannon from the Civil War era in front of the Lonoke County Courthouse is on its way to Historical Ordnance Works in Woodstock, Ga., to be restored.

The 800-pound cannon, which is actually a three-inch ordnance rifle Model 1861, No. 705, was crafted in 1864 at the Phoenixville Iron Company in Pennsylvania and will be returned to Lonoke in about six months.

“This is a great day,” said Ann McSwain of the Lonoke Historical Society.

“I overheard some people talking about the cannon at a Christmas party last year and apparently it is a very fine Civil War relic,” she added.

Since then she and other members of the Lonoke His-torical Society have been raising money towards the cannon’s restoration.
Emmett Powers of the Lonoke Historical Society researched the history of the cannon, which first appeared in front of the Lonoke County Courthouse in 1911.

No records have been found relating to the cannon’s role, if any, in the Civil War.

Powers said he did find out that about 1,400 of the cannon were delivered to the Federal army. More than 200 of the cannon are on display in places such as Gettysburg where No. 707, 709 and 710 are on display. No. 711 is on display at Chickamaugua and No. 398 is on display at Pea Ridge. No. 398 at Pea Ridge is the only other 3-inch cannon in Arkansas.

Powers is transporting the disassembled cannon on a trailer to Georgia.

Exposure to the elements, along with termites, has damaged the wooden carriage of the cannon. Tuesday afternoon workers sawed parts of the damaged wood in half to expedite the cannon’s transport.

At the Historical Ordnance Works, the metal parts of the cannon will be cleaned and it will be remounted on a carriage made of white oak.
The Lonoke Historical Society raised $3,000 towards the restoration of the cannon. The county put up $5,000 from the county maintenance budget for the cannon repair.

“I don’t know what it’s worth,” said Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman. “Historically, it may be worth $100,000. I don’t know what it’s worth as a collection piece.”