A friend passed along a link yesterday about efforts to locate Civil War era cannon reportedly buried at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. The three sites under investigation include the wartime locations of Forts Cass and Whipple.
According to the article, in December contractors used ground penetrating radar to assess potential archeological sites. The effort bore some fruit – “We imaged a large area of 10 by 5 meters in which we saw a pit, and in that surface we saw long linear objects that look like a cannon…”
Reports of the “lost” cannon date back to the mid-1970s. At that time, the Army contracted for a steam pipe laid across Summerall Field. In the excavation process, the team ran across six to eight Civil War-era cannon. A member of the excavation team brought the incident to the attention of historian Kim Holien in 1995.
Holien thinks the cannon are linked to General George Patton, who was commander of Fort Myer in the years prior to World War II. In light of the World War I scrap drives in which many historic cannon went to the smelters, Patton may have protected the Fort Myer cannon using unconventional means.
I would add that many interesting pieces at Petersburg National Battlefield today avoided scrapping using similar unconventional means.
The first thoughts are the cannon, if they are there, were part of the wartime Washington defenses. The forts in that sector contained 4.5-inch Siege Rifles and 20-pdr Parrotts as their heaviest guns, in addition to field pieces,24-pdr siege guns, and coehorn mortars. On the other hand, with so many old guns used to commemorate cemeteries, what if these were part of a stockpile of guns waiting distribution as memorials?
Certainly a news story I’ll watch for updates.