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NEWS RELEASE u.s. department of the interior
national park service
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (904)829-6506
CANNON RETURNS TO CASTILLO
(St. Augustine, Fla.)--SUPERINTENDENT GEORGE F. SCHESVENTER OF
CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS AND FORT MATANZAS NATIONAL MONUMENTS ANNOUNCED TODAY
THAT THE CASTILLO WILL RECEIVE A LARGE CIVIL WAR ERA IRON CANNON.
On Wednesday, January 25, 1978, personnel from the U. S. Naval
Base at Mayport will deliver to Castillo de San Marcos the spiked
iron cannon found last September 5, during dredging work in the Mayport
turning basin. The Navy reported the find to the Department of the
Interior, which is the agency which determines the disposition of
historical objects found in Federal property. The Navy has also kept
custody of the gun until a decision was made. Now the Department
has finally awarded the cannon to Castillo.
The gun in question is a 32-pounder iron seacoast cannon, Model
1841. The diameter of the bore is 6.40 inches, the length of the
gun is 10 feet and its weight 7,200 pounds. A 32.6-pound ball, propelled
by an 8-pound gunpowder charge, was fired from the gun a distance of 1,922
yards or a little over a mile.
The list of the armament at Fort Marion (now Castillo de San
Marcos) at the beginning of the Civil War includes 32-pounder seacoast guns.
By April 1861, the Jacksonville Light Infantry (later Co. A,
3rd Florida Infantry) had built an earthwork, named Fort Steele, on a high
dune west of the "Run" at Mayport. The earthwork was designed to prevent
the Federals from ascending the St. Johns River to Jacksonville, and it
was armed with four cannons brought from Fort Marion in St. Augustine.
In March 1862, a Federal squadron approached Fort Steele. The
Confederates decided not to defend Jacksonville, and abandoned the fort
after spiking the guns.
The fact that (1) there were 32-pounders in Fort Marion in
1861, (2) guns were moved from Fort Marion to Fort Steele, (3) the
gun found in Mayport Basin is a 32-pounder, (4) the guns at Fort Steele
were spiked, and (5) the 32-pounder gun found is spiked, offer a very
strong historical presumption that the cannon found in Mayport Basin is
one of the four moved from Fort Marion to Fort Steele.
Schesventer stated that the cannon will be temporarily stored
under water in the fort moat to protect it from oxidation. Special
preservation treatment devices will be constructed at a later date to
prepare the cannon for painting and eventual placement in the east water
battery of the Castillo.