A booming tribute to independence

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey Members of the New Ulm Battery fired a 6-pound cannon every half hour at the Harkin Store Sunday for Independence Day.

WEST NEWTON TOWNSHIP — The Harkin Store hosted a booming tribute to Independence Day Sunday.

The New Ulm Battery gave tribute to Independence Day at the Harkin Store with cannon fire every 30 minutes.

“We have a blast preserving and promoting history,” Secretary Bryce Stenzel said.

A 6-pound brass field gun firing blanks entertained families who came out to Harkin or simply saw the cannon as they drove past.

The brass cannon is one of two guns the battery owns. The other is another 6-pound gun but it is colored black and is rifled — meaning it can shoot further and more accurately than the smooth-bored brass gun.

Both the barrel and the carriage of the brass gun are original pieces, made in 1856 and 1851 respectively. The black gun was manufactured in 1963.

Neither is the original 12-pound howitzer sent to New Ulm by the Turnverein Society after the U.S.-Dakota War that resides with the Brown County Historical Society.

It is unclear where these guns were used in the past, but the brass gun may have been used in the defense of Fort Ridgely during the Dakota attacks on the fort, Stenzel said.

The battery was formed on Jan. 19, 1863, after two attacks on New Ulm during the U.S.-Dakota War. Its first captain was Richard Fischer.

However, the organization has never fired a shot in combat. Nor has it ever been decommissioned.

“The irony is, by the time the New Ulm Battery comes into existence, the horse is already out of the barn,” Stenzel said. “We have already fought two battles without the battery. Then the battery comes along to protect (New Ulm), and we never had to.”

He theorizes that the battery may have served to intimidate potential threats into leaving the city alone.

Nowadays the battery’s primary role is in ceremonies such as parades and symbolic cannon firing. It also participates in Civil War reenactments.

Tomorrow the battery will be at Riverside Park for the pre-Independence Day celebration. Stenzel will read the Gettysburg Address as President Abraham Lincoln.

The battery also has a sunrise salute at 5:32 a.m. July 4 at the city cemetery.

Connor Cummiskey can be emailed at ccummiskey@nujournal.com.

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