By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District
About 70 years ago, two Civil War cannons, historic artifacts of great significance to Michigan's military and cultural heritage, disappeared from the state Capitol lawn.
It is widely believed that the cannons, which belonged to the renowned Loomis Battery, led by General Cyrus O. Loomis of Coldwater, disappeared during a World War II scrap metal drive and were melted down to support the nation's war effort.
It is unfortunate that the Loomis Battery cannons, symbols of Michigan's involvement in our nation's defense of freedom, were lost to history and no longer adorn the Capitol grounds. But this situation can be rectified, and now is an appropriate time to do so.
We are in the middle of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861 – 1865). During the next several years, U.S. citizens, including millions of Michiganders, will commemorate this anniversary.
To help memorialize Michigan's honorable involvement in the war, my colleague Sen. Steve Bieda and I are spearheading an effort to place replicas of the Loomis Battery cannons at the Capitol, flanking the walkway that leads to the front entrance of the building-where the original cannons had been placed after the Civil War.
We consider this a legacy project for the Capitol building and for the state itself. Many people don't realize that in addition to being a functioning office building where elected officials conduct the people's business, the Capitol also functions as a working museum. The building is rich with historical significance.
Restoring replicas of the Loomis Battery cannons will reestablish some of that significance. It is a fitting memorial to the brave members of the Loomis Battery and other Michigan soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields of the Civil War to secure liberty.
We must do all we can to remember these soldiers and honor their sacrifice.
The Loomis Battery was made up of local volunteer soldiers of the Coldwater Light Artillery. The battery participated in many significant Civil War battles, including the second deadliest battle of the entire war, Chickamauga, and the battles of Perryville and Stones River.
The state supplied a large number of troops and several generals to the Union forces, including George Armstrong Custer. Governor Austin Blair sent seven regiments at the beginning of the war when asked to supply no more than four. When Michigan's 1st volunteers arrived, President Abraham Lincoln remarked, "Thank God for Michigan."
Thank God for Michigan, indeed.
Sen. Bieda and I are working with the Oakland County Community Club to raise private dollars to reinstate the Loomis Battery cannons. The project will be funded solely through private donations; no taxpayer money will be expended. You may donate to the cannon project through the Oakland County Community Club, 47504 South Fork Road, Macomb, MI 48004.
I encourage anyone interested in local history and Michigan's involvement in the Civil War to help return the cannons to the Capitol grounds through a contribution.
It is a tragedy that the Loomis Battery cannons were lost. But with a little community involvement, we believe we can raise the funds necessary to replicate the battery and restore the cannons to their rightful place guarding the state Capitol entrance.
Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.
Note: This column first appeared in the Spinal Column.