Ozark couple unearths what is believed to be Civil War-era Union army cannonball in backyard

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - With apologies to Burt Reynolds, this is a “Cannonball Run” that’s really unique.

Joseph Faucett lives not far from downtown Ozark with his wife and child and recently while digging along the fence line in his yard, he struck a dark, rounded metallic object.

“So he yells at me, ‘I’ve found a big rock!’ and I was like, ‘O.K. let’s pull it out,” recalled his wife Nichole Mostowski. “So we get it out, and it’s a cannonball!”

A 12-pound cannonball to be exact. One that apparently belonged to the Union army during the Civil War that may been lying beneath the surface for about 160 years.

“It was covered in dirt and I think the rain just washed up a little bit of it,” Nichole said. “Our chain link fence was built over it.”

Joseph and Nichole were curious to find out more about their cannonball so they contacted Wanetta and Kevin Bright, who own Smallin Civil War Cave in Ozark.

“When he called me that morning he was very tentative,” Wanetta recalled of her initial phone conversation with Joseph. “He was like, ‘Well, do you have somebody who could help identify something?’”

And they did.

Research by their Civil War historian John Jehle found that in early November of 1862, rumors of a large force of Confederates planning to attack the camp in Springfield brought two units, consisting of approximately 6,000 Union soldiers under the command of General Francis Herron and General James Totten, to Camp Brown. Camp Brown was the Union camp built in 1862 in Ozark. Jehle believes that the old cannonball was a relic from that campaign.

“It is clear that the Union troops, numbering over 6,000 men, camped in the Finley River Valley near Ozark. With them were many horses, mules, wagons, and artillery pieces. Some of those artillery pieces were 12 pound Howitzers that would have fired a 12 pound cannonball. It is my opinion that the cannonball that was found in the Finley River Valley was from one of those Union batteries. It must have simply fallen unnoticed off the back of one of the wagons as the unit traveled from Ozark to Prairie Grove, Arkansas. To my knowledge, I am not aware of any other troops, either Union or Rebel, that had artillery pieces in that area during the Civil War.”

Smallin Cave has quite the Civil War background as well and Wanetta pointed to a bullet that had been found in the cave.

“This is a .69-caliber Union minie ball,” she said. “We think they were just walking around (in the cave) and it probably fell out of somebody’s bag.”

While places like Smallin Cave and Wilson’s Creek Battlefield are well known for their rich Civil War history, it’s fascinating to think about all the other places in the Ozarks where Civil War soldiers once roamed and wonder if there are other unearthed artifacts out there.

“I just thought it was cool that we had a piece of history dropped in our yard,” Nichole said. “But he (Joseph) just loved the fact that he found it and that it’s his baby.”

“I was absolutely delighted,” Wanetta said of the cannonball discovery. “Because these are traces and remnants of the past. It’s a treasure hunt. Finding those footprints of the past are immensely valuable. It was a rough time, as Missouri was the third-most-fought-over state in the union.”

osting Saturday night Lantern Tours through the end of October, We are continuing our yearly October tradition of delving deep into the fascinating Civil War legacy.

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