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Civil War Round Table of Arkansas

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Mammoth Springs - The Big Gun

Mammoth Springs, Fulton County, Arkansas


The Big Gun
This U.S. Model 1861 4.5-inch Ordnance Rifle was known locally as "The Big Gun." The annual Reunion of the Blue and Gray, held at Mammoth Spring, became so popular the U.S. War Department furnished this cannon in 1893. During reunion week, it was fired daily at sunrise and sunset.


Model: 1861 4.5 Ordnance (Siege) Rifle
Tube: Rifled Cast Iron (bored from solid piece)
Weight: 3,569 pounds (not including cartridge)
Range: 3,265 yars (1.86 miles) at 10 degree elevation

  • 25.5 pound Dyer shell

  • 30 pound Hotchkiss shell

  • 30 pound Schenkl shell

    Fire Rate: 12 to 20 rounds per hour

    Cleaned in 2006: Found broken rammer in tube; Black powder still in vent hole; Both have been removed.

    Siege Carriage: A reproduction built by Paulson Brothers Ordnance Corporation of Clear Lake, Wisconsin; Made of aluminum with steel axle; Weighs 2,250 pounds; Meets or exceeds standards in 1861 U.S. Ordnance Manual.

    Funded By: A grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council.

Veterans standing around the "Big Gun"

Reunion Activities

The reunion has seen many changes over the years, but it has always honored veterans who fought to protect their families and preserve their way of life.

In 1890, the first Reunion of the Blue and Gray was held at Mammoth Spring, attracting Civil War veterans on both sides from North Arkansas and Southern Missouri. It quickly became a popular August event, with most participants arriving by team and wagon, and in later years by automobile. Eventually, the Reunion of the Blue and Gray became today's Old Soldier's Reunion.

On Wednesday there was a parade with floats and military bands.

Civil War veteran, Captain A.L. Cooper, shown with his wife, is credited with the initial planning and promotion of the Reunion of the Blue and Gray.

During reunion week the town was filled with activity. Veterans and their families traded goods, participated in racing, shooting and other contests, and shared stories about the war. Wooden carnival rides were built for the children, and afternoon baseball games and evening concerts was also popular.

The mule-drawn merry-go-round, enjoyed at the reunion, was similar to the one shown in the photo above, near Mountain View, Arkansas, in 1910. Later, it was replaced by the first mechanical ride at the reunion; a steam-powered merry-go-round.