CLINTON — Memorial Day makes local historian Robert Betsinger think of a Civil War cannon that used to sit in Springdale Cemetery.
Betsinger’s father told him the gun was fired every Memorial Day. “He used to go up there with his grandmother,” Betsinger said. Both of his father’s grandfathers were in the Civil War.
The cannon sat near the Springdale Civil War memorial until the 1940s when it was dismantled for a scrap drive during World War II. Betsinger remembers a photo in the Clinton Herald showing people trying to cut it with a blow torch. You can’t cut cast iron with torch, Betsinger said.
The cannon sat on a base that said “American Defender 1861-1865. The cannon looks large, Betsinger said. “It wasn’t as big as you think it was.” The barrel was about five feet long and had a 2 1/2- or 3-inch bore, Betsinger said.
Two other Civil War cannons were displayed at the Clinton County Courthouse, and another overlooked the Mississippi River at Eagle Point Park, according to Clinton History Club President John Rowland. They were also removed for scrap metal during World War II.
“When I was a young boy, the first customer on my paper route was named James Trainer,” said Rowland. Trainer was 7 years old when the Civil War began in 1861.
“He had two brothers that fought in the Civil War. Sometime after the Civil War his family drove a covered wagon to the Black Hills area where his dad wanted to do some mining and farming,” Rowland said.
“[I] always enjoyed talking to Jim. ... He was around 104 when he died.”
Rowland thinks the G.A.R. Gen. N.B. Baker Post 88 obtained the Civil War cannons on the courthouse lawn from the Federal Government Congressional Committee Department of the Navy in 1896. The Courthouse was dedicated in August 1897.