Missing cannon ball returned to Hancock

by Geoff Fox

In January 1862, Confederate forces under Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had captured Bath (Berkeley Springs), Va., as part of his Romney Campaign and were intent to capture Hancock.

Jackson sent a representative to demand the surrender of the town from Union forces or risk being shelled. The town was not surrendered and Jackson opened fire on Hancock for 24 hours.

While there was no loss of life, a number of buildings were damaged by the cannon fire. One such building was the Hancock Presbyterian Church.

One shot from Jackson’s cannons atop Orrick’s Hill struck the back of the church and the ball became lodged in the brick for many years.

However, the original ball was “liberated” by someone in Hancock years later, said Pastor Terry Martin-Minnich.

In the 1980s, the Hancock Historical Society added a plaque on the front of the church to mark the damage.

“The Church replaced the [the ball] with a substitute in such a way that guaranteed its permanence,” Martin-Minnich said in an email.

After so many years missing, the cannon round has finally returned to the Hancock Historical Society and the Hancock Presbyterian Church.

Martin-Minnich said a couple months ago, a member of the Historical Society was told the family of the person who had originally taken the ball wanted it returned to the Presbyterian Church.

“The Church family and I are pleased to see it returned and restored,” Martin-Minnich said. “And appreciate the family for their gift.”

During this past Sunday’s Pentecost and Memorial Day service focused on the restoration, she added.

Martin-Minnich said she used the story of the cannonball as part of her sermon on Sunday, saying the story of the cannonball brought them together that morning and how it was stolen and returned.

“Then in God’s timing it was returned, restored,” she said. “Not to glorify war. Not to turn this place into a museum. But to remind us of our story, historically in Hancock and presently at the crossroads of what has been and what God is calling us to become.”

The ball will be displayed in the Church School vestibule area and people are welcome to call 301-678-5510 and come by the church to see the artifact.