Glenmoore, Pa., November 14, 2023 – French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust was joined by its supporters and local partners today at the Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve for the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of their new permanent shelter for one of the four Revolutionary War-era cannons excavated at the Preserve in 2022.
Hidden underground for over two centuries, the four cannons were finally unearthed in April and May of 2022 by a small team led by French & Pickering supporter and Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve neighbor Ray Bentley, French & Pickering Board member Jim Moore, and former Warwick Township Supervisor Jason Swinehart. According to historian and Cannon for the Defense of Philadelphia, 1776 author Daniel Graham, these cannons were cast at the historic Warwick Furnace and likely buried in the fields adjacent to the French Creek in efforts to keep them away from advancing British forces in 1777 at the height of the Revolutionary War. Today, the Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve encompasses the ruins of the Warwick Furnace.
The cannons were each over 7 feet long, over 4,500 pounds, and made to fire 18-pound cannonballs. To the surprise of the excavation crew, two of the cannons were found with a cannonball still in their barrels.
The design process for a permanent display of one of the recovered cannons commenced in July 2022. Construction began earlier this year in July of 2023 and concluded in October. With its completion, French & Pickering looks forward to sharing this important part of American history with community members. This historic discovery promotes French & Pickering’s mission of preserving, stewarding and connecting people to the land by amplifying the shared connections amongst community members to historic and environmental elements that are unique to the exceptional landscape of northern Chester County.
“We dug up these cannons that were made and buried over 200 years ago and we stand here today looking out over a landscape that is very similar to what it was then,” said Bill Gladden, French & Pickering’s Executive Director. “Our charge as an organization is thinking into the future and what the Preserve will look like 250 years from now. Because of our collective efforts, not only to conserve the land, but to help connect people to these stories within the land, our hope and goal is that 250 years from now people will stand here and appreciate the same vistas we have the privilege of experiencing today.”
French & Pickering would like to extend their gratitude to this project’s funders, Ray and Terry Bentley, the Marshall-Reynolds Foundation, and the Marjorie L. and Arthur Miller Foundation. Their support provides the Trust with the opportunity to share this unprecedented nationally significant discovery with the public. French & Pickering also gives thanks to Jim Moore, Jason Swinehart, Professor Dr. Martin Helmke of West Chester University, and all those who took part in the excavation of the cannons for their contributions.
Lastly, French & Pickering extends their special thanks to historian Daniel Graham for his partnership and expertise throughout the discovery. Daniel attended the ceremony to discuss the cannons’ history and his recently published book, Cannon for the Defense of Philadelphia, 1776. Please contact French & Pickering’s office if you are interested in purchasing the book.
For more information on the excavation of the cannons, please visit this earlier press release: https://frenchandpickering.org/post-3/