J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cannon Taken and Retaken at Saratoga

Earlier this month the New York Times reported on an artillery piece associated with the Saratoga battlefield:
The cannon is one of only three known remaining “six-pounders” — artillery that fired six-pound cannon balls — used by the British general John Burgoyne’s army. It was surrendered to the American colonists after the Battles of Saratoga in 1777.

Despite its weight and historical significance, the cannon somehow disappeared around 1961. No one seems to know for certain whether it was stolen, misappropriated or simply forgotten. In any event, it was gone, and life went on. . . .

And then, a conversation overheard by chance four years ago led to its eventual return.

Joseph Craig, a ranger at the park, heard a tourist from Alabama compare the borrowed cannon to one he had recently seen in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Mr. Craig grew curious, and an investigation began.

National Park Service law enforcement officials in Atlanta were dispatched to Alabama. They found the cannon in question at the Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art in Tuscaloosa, now called the Tuscaloosa Museum of Art.

That’s when a new battle began.
The rest of the article details the findings of N.P.S. curator Christine Valosin, tracing the cannon from its manufacture in 1756 through display at various New York sites in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The gap between 1961 and four years ago is still foggy, but the gun’s present location is solid.


Mark Jacobson said...

What happened to the cannons that were pl;aced astop Dorchester Heights by Knox, et. al. Any of them left in museums, etc.?

J. L. Bell said...

The Continental Army needed those artillery pieces badly, so Col. Henry Knox probably took them with the bulk of the regiment to New York. The Americans were less systematic in keeping track of their weapons at that point in the war, so I've found it impossible to track individual guns.