Civil War relic to move Thursday

BY WILLIAM MOORE wmoore@gulfcoastnewspapers.com
Posted 7/16/13

BAY MINETTE – After 150 years on the move, a Sea Coast mortar will find a permanent home this week.

“We are going to place it in the Veterans Memorial area inside Bicentennial Park,” said John Jackson, director of the Baldwin County …

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Civil War relic to move Thursday

Posted

BAY MINETTE – After 150 years on the move, a Sea Coast mortar will find a permanent home this week.

“We are going to place it in the Veterans Memorial area inside Bicentennial Park,” said John Jackson, director of the Baldwin County Department of Archives and History. “At some point in the near future, it will probably need more conservation (to slow the rusting process).

“We’ll have to get expert advice on that. There was some conservation work done on it in the 1960s when it was pulled out of the river. But with something that was underwater that long, conservation is an ongoing job.”

The 13-inch mortar has sat outside the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce since 1999. Before that, it was a landmark outside the county schools central office in Bay Minette for more than 30 years.

Work began at Bicentennial Park last week preparing a site for the cast iron behemoth.

“It’s super heavy,” said Jackson. “(Just the barrel) weighs 17,200 pounds. We had to have a special concrete pad poured that will be strong enough to support it.

“North Baldwin Utilities volunteered to move it and get it in place for us. They’ve got all the equipment including cranes and trailers. We’re lucky to have them help out.”

The move is scheduled to begin Thursday morning at 8. The move should be completed in one day.

 The barrel was cast in February 1862 at a foundry as Fort Pitt, Penn. The massive tube is 43 inches in diameter and 55 inches long. It is believed to have been brought to that area by federal forces for the siege of Spanish Fort and Blakeley in April 1865. Others say confederate forces captured the artillery piece and placed it at Fort Huger. From that location at the north end of an island in the Tensaw River, it was used to protect both Blakeley and Spanish Fort.

Rebel forces blow up Fort Huger before it was captured. The mortar found its way to the riverbed where it was located in 1967 in about 5 feet of water and under several more feet of mud.