Best Monument in New Clothing

Cannons in Lafayette Park

Just north of the lake in Lafayette Park, the three pitted bronze guns seem steeped in romance. But until recently there was no explanation of their origin and purpose. Now, thanks to the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee, any passerby with the curiosity to stop and read the newly installed stone will know they are in fact spoils of war. Oh, there had been a bronze plaque near the cannons, but it was stolen long ago. Lafayette Square resident Ward Buckner found a picture of the plaque and, with a magnifier, was able to discern the text. In July, a large granite marker was placed, bearing this inscription: "These guns are from the British Man O' War Acteon, sunk in an attack on Sullivan Island in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina on June 28, 1776. In 1867, a British vessel entering Charleston Harbor ran upon an obstruction which proved to be the forgotten guns of the Acteon. They were raised and sold at auction and they were bought by the Missouri Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion and presented to Lafayette Park on October 20, 1897." The Missouri Commandery was a group of Civil War veterans who, for reasons now unknown, wanted these cannons. But Charleston would very much like to have them back. Says Buckner, "Every year they have a big celebration to commemorate the battle of Sullivan's Island -- it's part of their heritage. So they know all about the battle but don't have the cannons, while we know nothing about the battle but we have the cannons. Funny how those things work."
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