Right across from the J.V. Fletcher Library in Westford is the town common and placed there is a large cannon and several small piles of cannon balls. At first glance, one might assume it’s an American Revolutionary War or Civil War era canon. However, upon reading the small plaque visitors will learn that it’s not from either of those conflicts or from the United States at all.
The cannon was originally cast in England in 1809, weighing roughly 4,800 pounds and was taken from Morro Castle or as it’s known in Spanish, Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, overlooking Santiago Harbor in Cuba.
During the Spanish-American War, the Battle of Santiago de Cuba was fought on July 3, 1898, with a decisive American victory. The cannon was taken on July 17, 1898, and the town of Westford made an application to the Secretary of the Navy, John D. Long (once the headmaster at Westford Academy), and the cannon was gifted to the town in 1899. The Department of the Navy also donated 100 11-inch cannon balls from the American Civil War which were placed in small pyramids around the gun.
It is common for towns and cities across America to place statues, monuments, memorials, plaques, and markers dedicated to previous wars and the soldiers who fought in them. However, an actual war trophy taken from a foreign country during one of America’s shortest conflicts is definitely an unusual occasion and worth a quick look if you’re in the area and have an interest in Spanish-American War history.
Know Before You Go
The cannon is located directly across the public library and there is 15 minute parking spots outside in the front when the library is open.