Famous First Shot Gun fired Near Vicksburg


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Apr 1, 1999
Martinsburg, WV

  • Type: 4-pdr. Cast-Iron Smoothbore Gun
  • Transferred: July 1, 1873 from the Ordnance Bureau of the War Department
  • Current Disposition: Item #263. Mounted outside the Science Center's North Wing "Gun Doors" (the "Old" West Point Library entrance), United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
  • Special Notes: This pair are also referred to as the "Alpha" and "Omega" Civil War Guns

South Carolina seceded from the Union December 20, 1860 followed by Mississippi on January 9, 1861. A few days later on January 13, 1861, forces near Vicksburg fired several rounds from cannon on the eastern side of the Mississippi river at the "A. O. Tyler" coming south on the river towards New Orleans, believing it was carrying Union troops and munitions. The cannon balls passed over the bow, splashing into the river.

This was one of the very first shots fired marking the beginnings of a Civil War. The cannon mounted at West Point's old Library is alleged to be the gun to fire the first shot in this action.

The vessel was stopped, searched by authorities, and released to continue it's journey.

An historical marker at the foot of the bluffs of Vicksburg at Catfish Row Art Park describes the event.

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