On the night of April 25, 1875, a group of students from Rutgers set off to Princeton to take back a Revolutionary War-era cannon they thought was rightfully theirs. Student tradition has it that at one time the cannon was the property of Rutgers College, but Princeton had stolen it and placed it on their own campus. It took the men two hours to drag the 1,088-pound cannon 200 yards to their horse-drawn wagon and seven hours to cart it back to New Brunswick, where it was triumphantly unloaded in front of Old Queens.
In retaliation, Princeton students raided the Rutgers Armory and stole a few muskets. To settle the dispute, the presidents of the two colleges set up a joint committee which eventually recommended that the cannon be returned. When the cannon was returned, Princeton University officials ordered it buried in the ground, encased in cement, with only a few feet of the butt end exposed above ground.
In October 1946, several Rutgers students attempted (unsuccessfully) to repeat the crime, attaching one end of a heavy chain to the cannon and the other to their Ford. Surprised by Princeton men, they gunned the engine of the Ford so viciously that the car was torn in half. The students managed to escape, but with neither the car nor the cannon.
Today the cannon is behind Nassau Hall on the Princeton campus. The cannon that stands in front of Old Queens was placed there by the Class of 1877 as a memorial of the event. To this day, spirited Rutgers students engage in midnight trips to paint Princeton's cannon with their scarlet pride.