Friday, March 30, 2007

Bay City's Civil War Cannons

Bay City's City Hall remains a remarkable building. From the clock tower observation room located just under the area that in former times held the bell, you can see all the way to the Zilwaukee Bridge just outside of Saginaw. Fire watches were held there in the years before modern communications were available in the city and during the dark days of WWII, the skys were scanned for the approach of enemy planes. That was not terribly dangerouse work given the range of German and Japanese bombers at the time.

During the approximately forty years just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, large guns from Fort Sumter and Admiral Farragut's flagship, the Hartford, had stood guard at the corners of City Hall on Washington Street and in Battery Park on Center Ave. City Hall had two thirty pound Parrott Rifles. Battery Park had Columbiads from the Hartford and Mortars from Sumpter. All of these guns were removed at the beginning of WWII to be melted and reused in the effort to win that conflict.

One Civil War gun remains in the city. It is the Eight Inch Howitzer located in Soldier's Rest in Pine Ridge Cemetery. I have tried for several years to find out more about that gun. Common Council proceedings for Feb. 7, 1898 might give a hint of its origin.

Gentlemen--The joint 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.

I have to wonder where the eight inch gun was displayed and if it ended up as our Pine Ridge gun.

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