A Civil War heritage activist is taking aim at a southwest Ohio cemetery’s plan to sell its two cannons from that era.
The Sugar Grove Cemetery in Wilmington wants to sell the cannons and replace them with reproductions. The cemetery’s board says having the cannons increases insurance costs, and notes such historic pieces have been stolen from other cemeteries. The cemetery also could use the money, expecting to get $50,000 or so for the cannons.
The Wilmington News Journal reports the plan is opposed by a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Area resident Bob Grim says the cemetery doesn’t have the right to sell the cannons. He says they were donated or loaned to local governments for memorial displays.
“The cannons belong to Civil War memorials and should stay there,” Grim said. He has asked Clinton County officials to intervene to halt the sale, or, he says, his group will sue.
“If (commissioners) fail to perform their duty, we’ll have to do it for them,” he said.
An assistant county prosecutor is looking into the matter.
The two cannons came to Wilmington in 1899 and were mounted in front of the county courthouse. In the aftermath of the courthouse being torn down for a new courthouse, the cannons were moved to a new soldiers’ monument in 1927.
The monument’s dedication included a march through Wilmington to the cemetery featuring Civil War veteran Dan Matson, then 85, as standard bearer, the newspaper reported.
The monument is at Soldier’s Point, a plot of ground set aside in the late 19th century at Sugar Grove Cemetery for war veterans.
Mac McKibben, president of the cemetery’s association, said the board’s own information is that it has legal ownership of the cannons.
However, he said board members are sensitive to community feelings about the cannons and have been meeting with local veterans’ groups.
McKibben said they want to make sure the reproductions to be put at the monument would look authentic, and they also intend to sell the cannons for display in a museum, or for use by re-enactors.
“We understand their feelings and are sympathetic to it,” he said. “Here I am, part of the veteran community in town … We would not let them go unless the reproductions were absolutely perfect.”