June Artifact of the Month: Civil War Cannon

By: Ernesto Rodriguez, III, Alamo Associate Curator

Photo Credit: The Alamo/Ernesto Rodriguez, III

Among the cannon currently on display in the Alamo’s Cavalry Courtyard is one associated with the early stages of the American Civil War. Donated to the Alamo by Judge A. P. Spohn of Zapata, Texas, this cannon has a 3.5 inch bore and is 61.5 inches in overall length. The cannon once belonged to Henry Redmond, an Englishman who arrived in Texas in 1834 and settled in Carrizo along the Rio Grande. Redmond held several government positions during his life, serving as judge, tax collector and postmaster. He built a stone house that was surrounded by a stone wall at his home in Carrizo. The cannon was mounted on the wall surrounding the house.

During the Civil War, Confederate forces used the cannon in their defense. Captain Santos Benavides of Laredo and his company had been ordered to find Juan Nepomuceno Cortina, a fugitive from justice. Prior to the Civil War, Cortina had waged his own war along the border against injustices against the Mexican people. Cortina had fled into Mexico but had returned with more men. Upon arriving at Carrizo, Benavides was informed that Cortina’s larger force was preparing to attack his position at Redmond’s home. Benavides’ men loaded the cannon and fired it against Cortina and his men. During the brief siege, Benavides sent a messenger for reinforcements. In the end, the cannon fire kept Cortina and his men away from the Confederate position. The house and wall were destroyed when the Rio Grande flooded in 1901. Following the flood, the cannon was salvaged and given to the Alamo.