When the eight-member crew of the H.L. Hunley is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston on April 17, Riley Gunter of Shiloh Civil War Relics in Shiloh, Tenn., will fire the first salute. It’s only right for Gunter’s bronze Confederate 12-pound field howitzer to fire the initial volley. The cannon is also a survivor of the Battle of Shiloh - the battle where the life of Hunley leader Lt. George Dixon was saved by a $20 gold coin. The cannon, labeled #43, is one of only 13 surviving cannons built by the Quinby and Robinson Company of Memphis, Tenn. Only 77 were made. It was delivered to the Confederacy on Feb. 17, 1862, at a cost of $610.70. For Gunter, acquiring the cannon was a study in patience.” In 1965, there was a cannon for sale. I was 22 years old and could not afford the gun,” Gunter said.” I pleaded with the company for the man’s address. When they finally gave it to me, I wrote him a letter and informed him of my youth and interest. Should he ever sell the gun, to please give me a chance at it. He wrote back and thanked me for the letter, but informed me he would never sell me the gun.” That man was Jac Weller. Each year for the next 23 years, Gunter wrote Weller a letter asking to trade or purchase the cannon.” Each time, he would write me back, thanking me for the letter, but informing me he would never sell me the gun,” Gunter said. In 1994, Gunter received a call from Weller’s representative informing him that Weller would not sell him the cannon.” I know that. It’s been 29 years,” Gunter remembered. “I was then informed Weller had died and willed me the gun. I was shocked. After all those years of waiting, I finally had the gun, not by purchasing or trading, but as a gift.” Günter mounted the rare cannon on a beautiful reproduction carriage with limber. The cannon is now used in memorials, parades and re-enactments to honor all those who served the Confederacy.” It is an honor to participate in the artillery salute to the crew of the Hunley, with my original Confederate field howitzer that was on the battlefield of Shiloh when Lt. George E. Dixon was wounded,” Gunter said. Another piece of history will be in that cemetery in April. Günter has a cannonball that was fired at Shiloh, but never exploded. He plans to mix some of the original powder from that cannonball with modern gunpowder. When the cannon fires the initial volley April 17, it will be fired with powder from the Battle of Shiloh. . Gunter has been interested in the War Between the States since age 9. He participated in his first re-enactment at age 11 during the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads, Mississippi. He has been reenacting ever since. Günter is a 45-year member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He authored “The Artillery at Shiloh” in 2001 and is currently working on the history of Freeman’s Battery, Forrest’s Artillery. He is an avid artillerist. He allows six of his original cannons to be used in re-enactments, living history events, memorials and movies. Two of his guns were used in the movie “Gods and Generals.”

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