Artifacts at the Museums on the Green

HMS Nimrod, Painting by E.F. Lincoln
Gift of William L. Allison

The HMS Nimrod was a British man-of-war that patrolled New England waters during the War of 1812 in an effort to limit American shipping. At the time, Falmouth had several small cannon that it used to good effect against the British. In January, 1814, the commander of the Nimrod sent a message demanding the Town surrender the cannon or risk bombardment by the mighty ship. Local lore says that Falmouth’s response was, “If you want our cannon, you can come and get them, and we will give you what’s in them first.” Regardless of the exact wording, it is clear that the town refused to give up its weapons and that the British ship retaliated. Several of Falmouth’s buildings still proudly bear the scars of the subsequent cannonball fire, including a building that is now a restaurant called “The Nimrod.” Its cannonball hole can be found in what is now the men’s room. In June of 1814, the Nimrod crew heard that some Falmouth ships were hiding in Wareham Harbor, near the head of Buzzards Bay. The British ship attacked and burned 17 ships. On the return down Buzzards Bay, the Nimrod ran aground. To avoid being caught in a vulnerable position, the captain ordered that the cannon be jettisoned overboard to lighten its load.

Recovered Nimrod Cannon

Under the auspices of the Kendall Whaling Museum (now the Kendall Collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum), five cannon were recovered from the waters of Buzzards Bay several years ago. These cannon are believed to be the same cannon jettisoned from the Nimrod. Because of Falmouth’s part in the events of January, 1814, Falmouth Historical Society received one of the cannon. We like to say that the British never got our cannon, but we got one of theirs.

After 185 years in sea water, the cannon needs stabilization. This is being done in a bath of fresh water and sodium carbonate which is maintained at a pH level of 11. The solution is checked regularly and adjusted as needed. This procedure is expected to reverse the ionization process over the next 10 years or so. At that time, the cannon can be placed on its own carriage to be displayed in its entire splendor. Until then our cannon will be exhibited “wet” in the Cannon Shed.