Military park: Historical accuracy is goal of cannon update


VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — A national park on a Civil War battlefield in Mississippi is replacing the carriages of several cannons to make them more historically accurate.

One of the new pieces was installed last week at the Vicksburg National Military Park, the Vicksburg Post reported.

The new ones are called barbette carriages — a style that enabled cannons to fire over the parapets of earthen formations built to defend Vicksburg when the city came under siege by Union troops in 1863, said park superintendent Bill Justice.

“They have a bottom rail and then the carriage itself would go back and forth on the rails,” Justice said. “The carriage would be on top of that rail. That’s the type of carriage that the Confederate army placed here.

“We wanted to get historically accurate and make them look like they were at the time,” he said.

Justice said a former chief of operations at the park, Rick Martin, started working on this project years ago. Steen Cannons of Ashland, Kentucky, built the new carriages. They are being installed by Paul Lynn Construction Co. of Vicksburg.

The carriages are all placed on concrete pads. The cannons, which were mounted on the carriages, were previously removed from the older carriages at each site and placed on wooden blocks until the new ones arrived.

Steen makes ordnance for the National Park Service and re-enactors, cities and museums. Justice said the company “has done an excellent job of reproducing these carriages.”

“They actually painted what looks like wood grain on the carriages,” Justice said. “That’s the thing about these carriages, they weren’t painted; they were raw wood. They were placed here and probably built here by the soldiers, the enslaved people and the engineers who were here preparing the defenses for Vicksburg.”


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