The National Guard has a new piece of armament, but the weapon’s purely decorative for it’s museum and not for security. Retired Colonel Russel Bierl, director of the Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston, describes the new cannon. It’s a 1841 Civil-War model howitzer that had graced the burial place of major General Nathaniel Baker at a Des Moines cemetery. He says it was moved for security reasons to Camp Dodge. Mike Vogt is curator of the museum where the small cannon was placed Wednesday. The bronze gun weighs 788 pounds and is 53 inches long, and Vogt says it was a standard weapon used by both Confederate and Union troops, and bears an impact scar on the barrel. The hit by another cannonball was probably what allowed the gun to be captured from Confederate soldiers using it, according to the gun’s history. He says it’s the first piece of Civil-War ordnance the museum has aside from small-arms, and he says it’s appropriate since Iowa, a state of 600-thousand people at the time, sent 76-thousand to serve in the war, the highest participation of any state. The gun’s mounted on a two-wheeled carriage that was pulled by horses for quick raids on the Union forces. Vogt says the museum’s free to all visitors. The museum is to honor all Iowans who served in war, conflicts, peace actions, or state emergencies like floods and tornadoes. Visitors are invited to come see the new piece at the free military museum on Camp Dodge, just north of Des Moines. It’s open Monday through Friday 8-30 to 4-30, and for larger groups can be open by appointment at other times.
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