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December 23, 2012

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Bill Turnier

While not used in a memorial context, I do believe that in was common to reuse enemy cannons captured in battle in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is not very surprising because their fabrication was laborious and they were not so high tech that reuse was easy. Moreover, many times they came as booty of war when forts in strategic locations, such as Ticonderoga, were captured and it would be foolish to melt down the enemy's old cannon and fabricate your own. I think that this practice has left many old forts, left as memorials and historic sights, outfitted with cannons of various national origins.

Alfred Brophy

That makes perfect sense, Bill. And on the statehouse grounds in Raleigh I think there's a cannon from the Revolutionary war that the Confederacy used during the war. I think the North Carolina statehouse also has some Confederate cannon that were captured by the US on loan from the Defense Department to the state of North Carolina (or maybe they're US canon -- I need to check this next time I'm in Raleigh).

Peter Reich

Al, in Avalon, Catalina Island (22 miles off the coast of Southern California) where I spent some time in the 1960s and 70s with relatives, there's a captured WWI German machine gun that was set up with a plaque in 1924. Everyone thought it was perfectly natural that a seized weapon would be displayed, and it was a favored spot for kids to play. The city periodically repainted it and once had a Vets Day ceremony there. This was the only war memorial in the small city of Avalon; I don't remember having the sense that it was viewed as having anything to do with reunion or the Germans specifically -- it was seen as a reminder of U.S. military involvement and sacrifice in general.

Alfred Brophy

Thanks for this memory, Peter.

Ian Holloway

Al,

This is not exactly the same point, but I once read that the British Army used to have a custom of adopting an item of headwear for their uniforms from enemies that they had defeated. It's another way of paying tribute to one's adversaries, perhaps?

Alfred Brophy

Really interesting, Ian -- I didn't know this. Maybe pays tribute -- or perhaps is a form of celebration?

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