Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cannons at the Armory: More Is More

Two weeks ago, Gossips mused about wartime scrap drives and wondered if the cannons that once stood on the armory lawn had been given up for the cause in World War I or World War II. That prompted a reader to offer the information that only one of the cannons had been melted down, during World War II. The other(s) had been moved to the armory in Leeds when the Hudson Armory was decommissioned. Gossips' curiosity about the cannons inspired city historian Pat Fenoff to provide copies of newspaper articles from the mid-1920s that provide evidence that, at one time, there were more than two cannons outside the armory--in fact, according to these accounts, in the decade after the Great War, as many as seven cannons may have studded the lawn around the armory. The first article is from the Hudson Daily Star for March 10, 1924.

Received by Co. M From Albany Friday--One English Piece--Both Were Made for Civil War
Residents about the armory were met with an unusual sight on their return from shopping or any business last evening. The sight that met their eyes was that of two brass, muzzle loading cannons mounted on heavy, large carriages. Both came down from Albany yesterday where company M procured them from the capital. Two more are expected shortly and all will be used to decorate the beautiful spacious lawn about the armory building. 

One of them is an elaborately carved three inch piece, much dented and nicked, but a splendid relic of the Civil War. It has a shallow fuse trough and its breach is finely carved. About the muzzle it is also evenly and cleverly worked with raised designs of leaves. Both guns are pegged so that they are useless as weapons of war and only act as reminders of that struggle for the negro's emancipation. The small three inch piece bears the figures 1 and 3 on its middle. It is said to be a captured prize from English [sic], destined to the South for use against the Blue defenders of the Union.

The other cannon is a larger one, an American make, with big brass "handles", a five inch piece, similarly mounted and equally as attractive as its shiny mate.

Two months later, on May 14, 1924, the Hudson Daily Star reports the arrival of more cannons, these relics of the Revolutionary War. (For those who despair about the quality of local journalism today, it is interesting to note that, nearly ninety years ago, the reporter and editor of the Hudson Daily Star did not correctly distinguish between capital and capitol.) 

Local Militia Company Steals March on Others in This State.
Captain Klein and the other commissioned and non-commissioned officers of Co. M. 10th Inf. of Hudson are stealing a decided march on the commanding officers of other state armories. While nearly every armory is clamoring for old cannon from the State for decorative purposes, the local officers have brought four pieces here from the capitol. Last week they brought two brass cannon here which had long graced the staircase of the capital. While these pieces contain no markings, two other identical pieces at the capital show by inscription they were captured at the battle of Yorktown and another place during the Revolutionary war. There is no doubt that the brass cannon given the local armory also were captured in the Revolutionary war.

Yesterday another trip was made to the capital and two iron cannon of Revolutionary war design were brought back. These two cannon for years were outside the capital building, near the entrance to the steps. 

The cannon will be mounted on the lawns of the armory and will add much to the property.

At seems by the summer of 1924, there were six cannons displayed on the lawn of the armory--two from the Civil War and four from the Revolutionary War. Then, in the spring of 1926, yet another cannon was added to the collection--this one captured from the Germans, presumably during the Great War. The cannon was unveiled on Memorial Day, and on June 2, 1926, the Hudson Daily Star had this report.

The big field piece--it weighs 12 tons--secured by the Veterans of Foreign Wars for this city, was unveiled Monday morning in front of the armory, where it has been placed on a concrete bed. The captured German field piece has been camouflaged by paints since its arrival and its size and appearance makes [sic] it an interesting object.

The members of Co. M., under command of Captain Carl Klein, were drawn in double file along State street and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion men also lined up, while about were many people including G. A. R. veterans, Spanish American war veterans, Sons of Veterans and others. Remarks were made by the Rev. J. Harvey Murphy, pastor of the Reformed church, who said that owing to the rain which had begun to fall, he would be brief and he confined himself to reading two bits of verse and making some comments on the sentiments so expressed.

In this picture, taken in 1929, two of the cannons are visible--one at the corner of State and Fifth streets, another at the corner of Fifth Street and Rope Alley. In the picture of the cannon at the beginning of this post, it appears that there is a cannon in the background, along the south side of the building. One wonders where the other four were displayed.

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