IMG_3692Location: Wildwood Cemetery, 34 Palmer Street, Winchester
Coordinates: 42°27’15.3″N 71°08’41.1″W
Date dedicated: 1882
Architect/Manufacturer: Unknown

On February 12, 1882, the House Committee on Military Affairs released a bill calling for the distribution of condemned cannon to many municipalities and Grand Army of the Republic posts. These were to be used to adorn GAR posts, soldiers’ monuments, or soldiers’ cemetery plots in various towns. The Massachusetts grants included cannon for soldiers’ plots or monuments in Boston, Abington, Brimfield, Paxton, Woburn, Wakefield, and Winchester. This process of granting condemned ordnance was repeated periodically and is the reason for the presence of so many cannons surrounding Civil War monuments and soldiers’ plots across the country.[1]

WinchesterIn Winchester, the four guns received were welded together to form a sort of tripod and placed on the soldiers’ plot in Wildwood Cemetery. This unusual form of Civil War monument can be seen in just a few other Massachusetts towns including Needham and the Chelsea. The soldiers’ lot had been established in 1879.

In all, 244 men served from Winchester. Among the first to volunteer was a group of 17 men who enlisted during the first weeks of the war with the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. The unit became part of the Army of the Potomac and took part in some of the largest battles of the war. Out of this first group, two did not return. Private Francis Hatch was killed in action during the Battle of Cedar Mountain in 1862 and Private John Gordon died of disease in 1863. Five additional members of this cohort were wounded.[2] In all, 10 men from Winchester died in the war.

[1] “Condemned Cannon,” Boston Herald, February 13, 1882, 1.
[2] Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War, vol. 1.

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