The quest for a Salisbury cannon dating from the Revolution lead a committee of the Salisbury Association Historical Society to another town in NW Connecticut which has an antique field piece that may be a candidate. As none of the more than 837 artillery pieces known to have been manufactured at the Salisbury Cannon Foundry during this period is known to have any distinguishing markings, or has even been definitively proven to have survived to the present day, our task has been to take detailed measurements and build up a database of potential Salisbury guns as an important step in a process which we hope will one day enable one of these cannon to come home to its town of origin. Here was an opportunity to test our data gathering methods on a likely cannon with a fascinating history of its own.
The cannon proved to be an iron small bore field piece (possibly firing something less than a 3 pound ball). The first documentation of its provenance dates from 1811, when it was removed from the county seat of Litchfield to participate in 4th of July celebrations in another town and never found its way back. It was purchased locally and fired off on numerous occasions, as a local history puts it, "Indiscriminately, by both political parties to express the greatest jubilation and complete dissatisfaction." Clearly, when pamphleteering was insufficient for sounding off in the new Republic, a bunch of civilians with an old iron cannon could really draw attention to themselves.
The frequent noise and disturbances associated with this exercise of 1st and possibly 2nd Amendment rights inspired several of the women in the community to purloin the cannon, which had been left unattended on the town green, and bury it in the back garden under a pear tree under the watchful eyes of several small boys who nonetheless declined to share this secret. So the offending field piece lay dead and buried, until the mid 1840s when a 12-year-old boy digging for worms unearthed the gun and brought about its resurrection and much masculine rejoicing and cannon fire shortly ensured.
In 1856 the cannon was tossed into a mill pond by the Republican party and retrieved by the Democrats. It was later buried in cement in a basement but exhumed. It now is in the care of the local historical society, on a rebuilt carriage and in remarkable shape considering its hard usage after its previous military service.
And what of its history before 1811? Was it a trophy from the French & Indian Wars, or a surviving Revolutionary war field piece? It is a light cannon (I was able to life the carriage off the ground by the axle) and has 4 reinforcing rings. It is a practical barrel, free of other adornments, though it is pitted and has lost whatever light markings it may have one retained, such as were sometimes laid on the barrel below the vent and to either side to guide with sighting for guns with a bore that was not exactly true. We will need to compare it with many other cannon before we start to see any patterns, but we do have permission to do a metallurgical analysis to compare with what is known about Salisbury iron. We shall see.