Texas A&M Restoring Massive Civil War Gunship Cannon

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

In a three car garage on Texas A&M's Riverside Campus, you'll find the Conservation Research Laboratory.

While the building isn't much to look at, the artifacts the lab is restoring are.

Everything you can imagine off of shipwrecks is restored there and placed into museums.

On Thursday, the lab unveiled its biggest project yet, a five-ton cannon fished out of the waters of Galveston Bay.

"Little boys like cannons and I love my cannon," said Jim Jobling, a Research Associate at the Laboratory.

Jobling is leading up the restoration of the Dahlgren Cannon that had a big part in the Civil War. It was part of the USS Westfield which ran aground in the Battle of Galveston in 1863. The union captain decided to destroy the ship to prevent confederate forces from salvaging the gunboat. However, the blast went off prematurely killing 14 sailors including the captain.

One hundred and forty six years later, the cannon is gently starting to see the light of day for the first time.

"This is a wonderful piece of history, only 1,201 of these cannons were made during the civil war. Before this one was recovered only 49 of them existed. This is number 50," said Jobling.

Since the ship was part of the union fleet, it still is a part of today's Navy. Technically it's up to them where the cannon ends up.

"Since the Westfield has a more prominent role in the region's history, we'd like to keep the collection here in Texas and in this general area," said Alexis Catsambis with the Navy.

"These artifacts belong to everybody. They belong to Texas because they are part of Texas history and a part of Galveston's history. These artifacts reflect the lives of those men and they should be displayed in an appropriate manner." said Jobling.

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