Requests for Ordnance for use in US War and Veterans Memorials

Civil War Memorial at Winterset Iowa

We currently have 3777 records listing requests for military hardware to be used as war memorials, as found in US Congressional or War (Defense) Department records.

Ownership for Military Items in US public memorials:

The US Government subsidizes items for public memorials by only requiring payment for transportation. The cost of the item is not included and ownership remains with the US Government unless specified in writing. Our default is to list government ownership for public memorials.

Applicable Congressional Acts and Resolutions:

Joint Resolution no. 61, 20 July, 1868. Allows Secretary of War to sell old cannon, arms, and ordnance stores that are damaged or otherwise unsuited for US military service.

54th Congress, Session I, Chap 231, Act of May 22, 1896. Authorizes the Secretary of War and the Secretary of Navy to give or loan condemned ordnance, guns, and cannon balls to veterans associations and municipal corporations.

Caution no 1 These listings show requests to the Congress, or to the War Department. In some cases the transfer of material was authorized but the end user could not pay for the transportation, in which case request was never filled. This is the beginning of this research. We have existing memorials without records and records without memorials in our databases.

Caution no 2 The Congressional documents can be as specific as including serial numbers to as generic as "ordnance." We link between the Memorial Requests table to our Living History Registry. The records are linked by our best logical assumptions. Until such a time that we have access to documentation that identifies what was shipped to fill the request, they remain assumptions.

Caution no 3 We have found discrepancies in written documents from the late 1800's. Specifically, records of the 47th Congress, Session 1, 1882. The website version does not agree with the published work in the Harvard Library as provided by The documents to not agree on numbering of the Statutes nor the pages within the document.

US Civil War: Requests for Civil War items began as soon as the smoke cleared. The majority of items were distributed in the 1882-1906 time frame. Included in the data are requests for cannon for "monumental purposes." Some of the "purposes" included melting down the ordnance and recasting as statues.

Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection: Items were brought back from Cuba and the Philippines. Many of the French and Spanish muzzle loading cannon in US memorials are trophies from that war.

World War I: There were so many requests for WWI trophies that the Congressional committee on Military Affairs took almost three years to come up with a viable accommodation. Some 20,000 items were provided. See the proposed 1921 remedy at
Shipment of articles was approved by the 68th Congress, Session I, Chapter 312, Act of June 7, 1924. Items were to be delivered to the Govenor of each State for further distribution. Any war material remaining after one year was to be disposed of as directed by the Secretary of War. This included sales of excess items.

World War II and later memorials were generally requested through the different Departments of Defense. At present, there are multiple sources of items for memorials in each of the Defence Departments, the Commerce Department, and the Defense Supply Agency. Current policy prohibits loans or sale of any ordnance to individuals.

We use the Web for most of our research. Some of our Sources are: for Congressional Reports

Google Books for all manner of information

If you can not find a particular location it is because it is not in our database. Please tell us about those items you cannot find. Corrections and updates always appreciated.


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