Through the efforts of Bremen’s Grand Army of the Republic post (Civil War vets), led by Ben Shaffer, Bremen got its cannon for the cemetery in 1902.

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Enquirer - 16 May 1902
Enquirer – 16 May 1902

Benjamin Shaffer (1844-1912) had become the president of the cemetery association in 1904 after helping it get incorporated in late 1903. He had served in the Indiana 74th Volunteers (infantry), company F. Honoring Bremen’s old soldiers was a point of pride.

Ben Shaffer - Civil War uniform
Ben Shaffer – Civil War uniform

The cannon is not a field piece used in the war but a defensive gun from historic Fort McHenry, an 8-inch Rodman gun. As such, it arrived without any kind of carriage.

Enquirer - 13 Jun 1902
Enquirer – 13 Jun 1902

Townsfolk put together just over $300 for the freight and to build a limestone plinth. Other towns set their guns on crude concrete or wooden cradles, but Bremen’s gun sits in a custom-cast tilting carriage made by the Holland Radiator foundry in town and marked “1902” (a cost of $15.50). The limestone base was replaced in 1975 by a concrete one for unknown reasons. The whereabouts of the 8-inch shells that came with it are also unknown.

Bremen cemetery cannon - c1905
Bremen cemetery cannon – c1905
Rodman gun emplacement at Fort McHenry
Rodman gun emplacement at Fort McHenry (Wikimedia Commons)

Ben Shaffer had returned to Bremen after the war and took up farming, his father having settled here from Germany and become a wealthy farmer. He later moved to town and became assistant town marshal in the 1890s.

Ben Shaffer
Ben Shaffer – c1910

Shaffer was apparently some kind of expert at killing rattlesnakes, which we apparently had in German township until he apparently cleared them out more than a century ago.

Enquirer - 25 August 1904
Enquirer – 25 August 1904

When he died in 1912, Ben Shaffer was buried in the family plot, right next to the cannon. Having five surviving daughters, his descendants in the area today include Senffs, Ruffs, Stouders, and Jensens, including this author.