Chatham Artillery's Washington Guns are two cannon that were captured from the British in the battle of Yorktown on the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and gifted to the Chatham Artillery militia company by President George Washington in 1791. They were buried beneath the Chatham Artillery armory during the Civil War and not uncovered until 1872. They now rest on Bay Street just east of the city hall. Chatham Artillery is the oldest military organization recorded in Georgia, their first official duty was to pay tribute at the funeral of General Nathaniel Greene.
On President Washington’s visit to Savannah the Chatham Artillery honored him with a 26 gun salute. The story goes that Washington was so impressed that he made the gift of what are now called the "Washington Guns" in appreciation. The Washington Guns have also been fired to salute President James Monroe on the occasion of his visit to Savannah in May 1819, and for the launching of the S.S. Savannah, the first steamship to make a transatlantic crossing, as well as in welcome to William McKinley, Grover Cleveland and Franklin D. Roosevelt. They have not been used since sustaining damage when being fired in 1961, even though repairs were eventually made.
As an important reminder of our nation’s revolutionary beginnings, located in a historically rich area, and to enjoy what is a genuinely impressive display of 18th century military technology the Washington Guns should be on the itinerary of anyone visiting the city of Savannah.