During the Revolution, a foundry in Salisbury Connecticut cast at least 837 iron cannon barrels - from swivels to 18 pounders and even mortars - to aid the patriot cause. Today, the Salisbury Association Historical Society is hoping to bring one of them back.
The Salisbury Furnace supplied Washington's army in 1776 with 40 cannon, some of which are thought to have been used by Henry Knox at the Battle of Trenton. Another 69 cannon were sent to the Northern Army between October 1776 and January 1777. Salisbury Cannon defended the Hudson Highlands, The Continental Frigates Hancock, Trumbull and Confederacy were armed with naval cannon produced in Salisbury, as were numerous privateers. Connecticut's militia and coastal fortifications also used Salisbury cannon, including at Fort Griswald during Arnold's Raid.
They were mass produced, with no record of any unique identifying marks, but neither is there any record of a Salisbury Cannon bursting when fired and they are believed to have been made with particular skill. A significant number may have survived the war, but tracing existing examples of American made Revolutionary War cannon back to Salisbury is a much more difficult question.
Aside from the absence of maker's marks, authentication presents a number of difficulties. Metallurgical analysis of cannonballs and other items made with Salisbury Iron that do not require samples of a size that would damage an artifact have not yielded a unique signature for Salisbury Iron, except that it is very high quality and contains a lot of manganese. Nonetheless, the Salisbury Association Historical Society is starting what many expect to be a lengthy process of researching and tracking down antique cannon which may have come from the northwest corner of Connecticut and I am delighted to be part of this Cannon Search project.
We will be working on compiling the physical characteristics of what are reputed to be surviving examples of Salisbury cannon, and documenting their provenance. We will also be trying to work our way forward from the time the cannons left the foundry. The Massachusetts-made frigate Hancock carried 22 Salisbury 12 pounders in her full compliment of 28 guns, and was captured by the British who bought her into their service as the Isis. We will be tracing her fate, and that of her ordinance. Many old guns were melted for scrap during the wars of the 20th century, but our hope is that we will be able to identify with a high degree of certainty whether a surviving cannon was made in Salisbury, and perhaps, if we are very fortunate, to be able to acquire one and bring it back to town. I will keep you abreast of developments, but suffice it to say I will be haunting various Revolutionary War battlefields and other relevant places for a long while to come with this as one of my objectives for being there.