The 24-Pound Cannons

The five large cannons at Fort Phoenix were installed before the Civil War. Their trunnions are marked, “W.F.” on one side and “1828” on the opposite side, indicating they were cast at the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York, in the year 1828. All of the guns were originally smooth bore, firing a 24-pound ball. Three of them were shipped to Boston where the bores were rifled. These guns were then capable of firing a 48-pound conical projectile.

The fort was equipped with eight large cannons during the Civil War, but at the end of the war three were transferred elsewhere.

After the fort was decommissioned in 1876, the carriages for these guns fell into disrepair and were chopped up for firewood. The barrels lay on the ground for some time until an out-of-town buyer asked to purchase them for display on a private estate. At that time, Warren Delano II, the grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, offered to buy the guns to keep them in Fairhaven if the Improvement Association would raise funds to build new carriages for them. This was done so these guns would never leave Fairhaven.

Cannons pre-1960 on less accurate mounts.

The carriages have been rebuilt several times since then. While reminiscent of the style of carriage used during the Civil War, they lack the large side wheels that would have been used to move the upper section of the carriage forward prior to firing.

These cannons have been fired during historical reenactments during the 1970s and 1980s. Since 1996 they have been fired each year on the morning of July 4th. They are also fired at dusk during a historical encampment staged each September by the Fairhaven Village Militia.