The College CannonPhoto of the cannon firing
The college cannon displayed in the foyer of Haldeman-Thiessen Hall was manufactured in 1864 and used extensively in the Civil War and the Indian Wars. In 1903 the federal government offered outdated cannons for display to organizations which could demonstrate having contributed to the struggle to preserve the Union and to end slavery. Monmouth College, with its extraordinary record of student and faculty service in that conflict, easily qualified.
The Class of 1903 obtained the cannon from Rock Island Arsenal, but their plans were frustrated by the Class of 1904, which stole the cannon and dumped it in Cedar Creek. Class rivalries were very intense in those days, with the annual Pole Scrap resulting in numerous minor injuries (and some major ones) and ending with either the freshmen having to wear their beanies until Monmouth won the Thanksgiving football game against Knox College (or, in the sad case of a loss, until the end of the school year).
In 1950 one of the conspirators told the college where the cannon was to be found. Professor Garrett Thiessen used the latest technology to locate the 815 lb barrel under many feet of sand, several feet from the expected location. Thiessen placed the cannon nose down in a bed of concrete underneath his window at McMichael Academic Hall. Good thing, too: students tried to steal it again, but their hoist broke, leaving the cannon and its concrete ring slightly askew. In 1989, to allow landscaping for the Wells Theatre, the cannon was moved to a site in front of Haldeman-Thiessen Hall.
In 1996, at the urging of Don Harker, and his daughter Sytil, a Monmouth College student, the cannon was taken out of the ground and restored by a Quad Cities Reenactment group, Scott's Tennessee Battery, which represents the Confederate artillery in summer activities throughout the region. The Kenneth Mueller ('60) family generously provided funds to purchase an authentic gun carriage.
Scott's Battery first fired the cannon to an admiring audience at homecoming in the fall of 1996.
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