Headphones, wallets, socks — all things easily lost. But 150 years ago, a young Confederate captain lost something a little bulkier: his cannon. Yes, a cannon. One of those big guns with wheels.
While on a mission to destroy a bridge across the Gauley River in West Virginia to keep the enemy from crossing, Captain Joel Abbott and a small group of soldiers set out to the cliffs of Cotton Hill, an area off the banks of the Gauley River, in September of 1862. Though the men were successful in demolishing the bridge, it is not the story of their success that is still being talked about, but how the cannon that fired on that bridge is quite possibly still in the woods of West Virginia.
As Abbott retold his story to his family and peers, he explained that “trying to get the gun back and finding it a difficult job, we hid it in a deep ravine, and it is there yet.” And that’s led to a debate on whether or not the cannon is truly out there or not. And, if so, where is it now?
Because Abbott was such a respectable captain, it is believed that he would not make up such a tale. So where, oh, where is that cannon?
Several people in the area have come out with stories from family members and childhood stories of their own telling about their knowledge of the cannon. A few hunters in the area have claimed to come across the cannon, but those are the same people that tell hunting stories that, um, stretch the truth a bit.
In the early 1900s, a local coal miner supposedly came across the cannon and wanted to take it. Amidst the coal strike of 1902, the miner wanted to use the cannon against the coal companies. But without help from his mining friends, the cannon remained in the woods.
A man named Jimmy Blevins has told of his experience, coming across the cannon as a child. Blevins’ siblings confirmed his find; they were with him when he found it. Pretty sweet discovery for a kid, too! But, other than playing on it, they really had no use for the cannon, or a way to get it home if they did. Jimmy left it where it was.
So, do you think the cannon is still out there? It’s possible. But nobody can tell you exactly were to go to find it. The cannon has been spotted in several different locations and hidden by years and years of undergrowth if it exists at all. It could be anywhere in the New River area, for all we know.
So while you’re visiting, keep your eyes open. Maybe you too will see Abbott’s cannon while you’re rock climbing or hiking through the mountains. Who knows, maybe you’ll go home with a tale of your own.
Do you think he was telling the truth? Tell us in the comments. To see cannons of this capacity in action, share this with your friends to unlock a video of a blasting cannon.