A Cannon Mystery


During Memorial Day weekend, we attended a family cookout in Coleman, Michigan.  We were shockingly early for the scheduled gathering, so we spent a few minutes at a playground.  This cannon has been displayed at Coleman’s park since at least the 1950s.  My mom remembers playing on it when she was a child.  Last year, I posted a photo of Christian and Rebecca on the cannon, and wondered of its origin. Sadly, no plaque is posted on or near the cannon.


Cannonballs and my feet.  Yes–socks with sandals.  Comfy.


Christian prepared to fire the cannon.  I’m certain that Rebecca was assisting with some vital function.


With these photographs, I commenced research.


According to my entirely untrained eye and Google, the cannon displayed in Coleman appears to be a Dahlgren Smoothbore.  These naval guns were utilized in…

the Civil War!


IX-inch Dahlgren shell gun. Total length, 131.975 inches; weight, 9200 pounds; total production, 1185 at Alger, Bellona, Fort Pitt, Seyfert, McManus & Co., Tredegar, and West Point 1855-64; known survivors, 53. Fort Pitt Foundry also made 16 for the Army in 1861 with no known survivor. Extremely reliable and widely used throughout the U.S. Navy, none is known to have burst in service.

The Encyclopedia of Civil War Artillery

I’m assuming that the 9193 lbs. imprinted on “our” cannon is close enough to the 9200 pounds listed in the description of the 9-inch Dahlgren.  And I’m wondering if the FP. indicates that this cannon was produced at the Fort Pitt foundry?


Dahlgren Smoothbores

Dahlgren’s soda-bottle-shaped naval pieces were the ultimate refinement in smooth-bore muzzle-loader design. They constituted nearly the entire armament of the Union coastal ironclads, and a number of the riverine ironclads as well.

The 9″ was used by both sides in the war, the Confederates having captured 52 at Norfolk (Gosport) Navy Yard. Dahlgren guns were commonly known by the Roman numerals of their calibers.

Ironclads and Blockade Runners of the American Civil War

We’re just beginning our study of the Civil War, so this “identification” is especially exciting [at least for the teacher]!


Now, I’ll be quiet while you peruse more of our adventure in Coleman.









One thought on “A Cannon Mystery

  1. Cynthia says:

    Gotta love history! And, I also enjoy research! Isn’t it nice when you find something that ties in with what you’re studying, have studied, or are about to study? (LOL). That about covers everything, doesn’t it?

    Oh.. and it’s just barely warm enough here to break out the sandals, but not quite warm enough to wear them all day so we wear ours with socks, too!

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