Civil War Cannonball Found Near Irvine Has Heads Scratching

Could the cannon fire during a Civil War reenactment in Huntington Beach in September have reached San Diego Creek?
Could the cannon fire during a Civil War reenactment in Huntington Beach in September have reached San Diego Creek?
Photo by Eric Hood/OC Weekly

You never know what'll wash up in San Diego Creek near Irvine. An old sneaker. A gnarled piece of oak tree. A Union cannonball from the Civil War.

It's truer than the Confederate flags dangling from OC bro trucks: a cannonball that's said to date back to the U.S. Civil War was discovered in the San Diego Creek bed by a hiker recently.

"It's a real cannonball, it is really a live round," Orange-based historian Douglas Westfall told KCBS2. "It is four inches in diameter, weighs about like a 10-pound bag of sugar, so it is quite heavy."

It's got Westfall and other historians scratching their heads. "It was always just a cornfield," he said of the area where the discovery was made. "Prior to the Civil War, the only cannonballs that would have been used in California would have been during the Mexican-American War. The Mexicans never made cannonballs."

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Other than in the pools they just cleaned. ... Sorry, Gustavo, I'll show myself out.

Westfall received the cannonball from the hiker before turning it over to the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands. But he's continuing to investigate how it went up a creek. (Or "crick," to those who received Union fire.)

One theory: Union soldiers literally dropped the ball while marching toward the coastline to thwart landings by Confederates, who had many Southern California sympathizers during the war between the states.

(Not to be confused with those dangling stars and bars from OC bro trucks.)

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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