What happened to the Becky Phipps cannon?

Submitted to Dorchester Banner
Photo of the “Becky Phipps” cannon on Taylors Island. In the war of 1812 the local militia captured a British ship and part of the war booty was the ship’s cannon. You can see in the photo that the bottom of the cannon is missing. If you look closely you can see a seam from the restoration effort when most of the cannon parts were patched back together.

TAYLORS ISLAND — Ever wonder how the Becky Phipps cannon was damaged? It was regularly fired by islanders for almost 100 years in celebration of important events. One night more than a century ago, the cannon blew up during a celebratory firing.

Here is a news article from the Baltimore Sun dated Nov. 14, 1912 explaining what happened:
“Taylors Island’s old cannon is now nothing but scrap iron. Taylors Island is in the lower part of Dorchester County, and there was some fighting thereabouts in the War of 1812. As a result of it, a cannon was captured from the British, and until recently was fired off every Fourth of July for nearly a century and for the same length of time announced the arrival of Christmas and New Year’s and important political victories. It was kept behind a shed in the village, and as it had no carriage it was seldom moved.

“On Tuesday night of last week, when the news of the Wilson landslide filtered into the village, a number of enthusiastic Democrats decided to press it into service again and have it add its voice to the general jubilation. It was hastily swabbed out and its touch hole cleaned, and it was loaded and touched off. Again and again it was fired, the charges of powder increasing each time. When it was loaded for the fourth time with two pounds of powder it was filled up with marsh turf and oyster shells and those rammed in until the old gun was loaded clear to the muzzle. Then it was touched off.

“A roar greater than all the rest followed. The cannon rose in the air and turned a dozen somersaults and parts of it went shooting in every direction. One piece weighing about 200 pounds went sailing off and has not been seen since. The remainder of the gun was found, but it is nothing more than scrap iron. It will never be fired again.

“A large number of persons were standing around when the cannon blew up, but no one was hurt.”