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Watch: Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park receive new carriages

When they make the short climb to the Mississippi Monument, visitors to the Vicksburg National Military Park will find a new addition — a Columbiad cannon resting on a gun carriage similar to that used by Confederate soldiers during the Siege of Vicksburg.

The carriage is part of an effort to replace eight of the existing gun carriages at the park with more historically accurate equipment. The carriage is behind the monument.

Other guns in the park receiving new carriages are at the Navy Monument, a battery position on North Washington Street near the National Cemetery and Navy Circle and South Fort, both on Washington Street.

The new carriages are being installed and the guns mounted by Paul Lynn Construction Co. of Vicksburg, which has the contract with Steen Cannons of Ashland, Ky., the builder of the carriages, to do the work.

Company owner Paul Lynn said the gun carriage at the Mississippi Monument was the sixth the company installed in the park.

“We mounted the guns at the Navy Monument and the Mississippi Monument and the three guns on (North) Washington Street,” Lynn said, adding the company would soon remount the guns at Navy Circle and South Fort.

Bill Justice, Vicksburg National Military Park superintendent, said the move to have more historically accurate carriages “is a project that’s been going on for some time and we’re quite happy to complete this and get those cannons properly placed.”

“This started when (former VNMP chief of operations) Rick Martin put together the project to purchase the carriages and replace the carriages we had up here,” Justice said. “The reason Rick did that or wanted to do that was the carriages that were used here (during the Siege) looked different from the carriages we had here at the time.”

The new carriages are called barbette carriages that enabled the guns to fire over the parapets of the earthen formations built in the defense of Vicksburg.

“They have a bottom rail and then the carriage itself would go back and forth on the rails. The carriage would be on top of that rail. That’s the type of carriage that the Confederate army placed here,” Justice said. “We wanted to get historically accurate and make them look like they were at the time.”

He said the carriages are all placed on concrete pads. The guns, which were mounted on the carriages, were previously removed from the older carriages at each site and placed on wooden blocks until the new carriages arrived.

Justice said Steen, which makes ordnance for the National Park Service and re-enactors, cities and museums “has done an excellent job of reproducing these carriages.

“They actually painted what looks like wood grain on the carriages,” Justice said. “That’s the thing about these carriages, they weren’t painted; they were raw wood. They were placed here and probably built here by the soldiers, the enslaved people and the engineers who were here preparing the defenses for Vicksburg.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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