Demolition finds Civil War gun barrels

Published 3:08 pm Thursday, September 11, 2008

GRENADA, Miss. (AP) — It was like stepping back in time as some of Grenada’s Civil War history was discovered this week.

The gun barrels were found inside the walls and windows of the old Hamby building next to Spain’s Supermarket as it was being torn down for the grocery store’s expansion.

Spain’s owner Tim Golding said he was shocked to find that the barrels were being used inside the walls as rebar, or reinforcement rods.

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“When I bought the building 10 years ago I knew that barrels were used in the windows as rods, but I didn’t know about the others.”

After making the discovery, Golding called Civil War expert Dr. Sid Bondurant for further evaluation of the relics.

Bondurant is vice chairman of the Mississippi Civil War Battlefield Commission and president of the Grenada History Museum. He has also written a book on a Civil War regiment in Mississippi.

Bondurant said the barrels were from the Civil War era, but said there is no way to know if the guns were used during the war.

The barrels date between 1860 and 1870, said Bondurant.

The barrels, he said, are from both single barrel and double barrel muzzle loader shotguns, muzzle loader musket rifles and one small caliber barrel, which could either be a muzzle loader of a cartridge rifle, but because the end was broken, it could not be determined.

“By the 1880s, there were very few muzzle loaders in existence,” he said. “They were replaced by cartridge rifles.”

Bondurant said the barrels have little monetary value, but hold a vast amount of historical value.

Bondurant said the old Hamby building was built between 1886 and 1890. He said it was originally used as a blacksmith’s shop.

“The barrels were more than likely purchased from a war company selling scrap metal,” he said. “The barrels were not meant for use because each one was filled with cement.”

After the Civil War, it was common for people to buy surplus war material, Bondurant said.

“I have heard that Ulysses S. Grant — commander of the Union Army — used musket barrels to build a fence, but I’ve never heard of barrels being used as rebar,” he said.

The north wall of the Hamby building, which has barrels in the windows, will remain intact for historical purposes, Golding said.

Thirty barrels were found in the building. Golding said he plans to donate a portion of the findings to the Grenada History museum and keep some for his personal collection.

He has also given away several of the barrels to friends, family and history buffs.