Locally restored Civil War cannon to be publicly displayed

A piece of Civil War history that was restored in Murrells Inlet is on its way to Nashville, Tennessee to be put on public display.

It's a Confederate cannon salvaged from a shipwreck off Georgetown.

The cannon and 24 others were supposed to become scrap metal, to be melted down after the Union disarmed the Confederacy, but the cannons were on a ship that sunk about 40 miles off the coast and went unseen for more than a century.

Then, about ten years ago, a fishing boat captain found the wreck and showed it to salvager Rufus Perdue, who took a dive to inspect it.

"Thirty feet under the boat, I could see the outline of the ship and once I got down to the bottom, it was just everywhere I looked, it was cannons," said Perdue, owner of Long Bay Salvage Co. of Murrells Inlet.

After securing the rights to salvage the wreck, Perdue and a partner brought 5 cannons to the surface. The one headed to Nashville is second to be restored, using electrolysis to remove the salt and barnacles.

After that process, it took another 80 manhours of work to get it back to what it looked like when it left the Joseph Archer factory in Richmond, Virginia 150 years ago.

Today, the cannon has a shiny black surface, though there are still some visible pits and pock marks in the iron that could have been sanded out. The man who restored it said he left the imperfections there for a reason.

"We don't want it to look like a replica," said Johnny Lewis, owner of San-Glass of Murrells Inlet, "We want it to look like a cannon that was used."

Lewis fixes fiberglass boats for a living. Restoring a 13,350 pound cast iron cannon was new to him and a challenge, but gratifying.

"To find something this old and you put it back out for the public to view, know that it's this old, it's very rewarding," he said.

Two private Civil War collectors from Nashville bought the restored cannon. Perdue says he hasn't really made any money from his discovery yet, though he'd like to recover his expenses from the project. He says making a lot of money isn't exactly the point.

"I'm kind of a history buff so I think the whole thing is pretty exciting."

The cannon is a 10-inch Columbiad model that could fire a 100 pound shell more than a mile.