Gun from the USS Maine
Although the state of South Carolina sent fewer than 1,000 soldiers to the Spanish-American War, it is second only to the Civil War as the most-memorialized military conflict on the State House grounds. Spain and the United States fought in the Caribbean and Pacific over ten weeks in 1898, resulting in an American victory and the acquisition of the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands. The war was the first military action in which southerners and northerners had fought together since before the Civil War, and white South Carolinians used these monuments to celebrate it as a moment of national reconciliation.
This 6-pound gun was recovered from the USS Maine, an American battleship that was blown up and then sunk in Havana Harbor, Cuba in 1898. That event prompted the United States to enter the Spanish-American War. In 1910, more than a decade after the conclusion of the war, the United States Congress authorized funds for the removal of the battleship from Havana harbor. Between mid-1911 and early 1912, mementos from the USS Maine were saved by the United States Army Corps of Engineers before the ship was scuttled off the shore of Cuba on March 16, 1912.
The following year, United States Senator Benjamin Ryan Tillman (1847-1918) secured the gun for the City of Columbia. Put on public display in Irwin Park (formerly located at the southeast corner of Laurel Street and Williams Street), the gun was moved to its current location on the State House grounds in October 1931.