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Scarlet Pride

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Rutgers and Princeton Cannon War Login to comment

Monday, March 01 2010 11:59:59 AM

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.

very cool.

Donna Donahue


With regard to The Cannon, you left out a classic. The night before the Princeton-Rutgers game in 1971. A group went down and dug a huge hole next to the cannon, then covered the cannon with the dirt. It basically looked like someone dug up and stole the cannon. The Princeton daily rag carried the story on their front page the next day. To add to the festivities there used to be (maybe still are) huge, white Princeton crest flags on top of three of the buildings. Two compatriots and I walked up five flights of stairs of one only to find the roof door locked. How silly of the Princetonians to leave the key over the doorway. From the roof of the building you could see the entire campus. On the count of ten the flag (10' x 12') was lowered. Carried like laundry across the campus it was brought back to Rutgers after the game. That, too, made the front pages.

Peter Hawkins

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