Ceremony held for Willis Park Civil War cannon

Published 5:23 pm Friday, April 24, 2015


Bainbridge City Councilman Don Whaley (left) hands R.A. “Bullet” Rykard the key to the city during a ceremony recognizing his restoration of the Civil War cannon in Willis Park. — Powell Cobb


R.A. “Bullet” Rykard was handed the key to the city and a proclamation by Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds Friday for his work on the Civil War cannon in Willis Park.

Rykard spent a month remounting and refurbishing the cannon to its original Civil War state back in February. His work was done free of charge. After being given the key and proclamation, he called the job, “a labor of love.”

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“It’s a much-appreciated thing he has done for the City of Bainbridge,” Bainbridge city councilman Don Whaley said. “It’s an amazing job.”

Rykard, from Valdosta, was in town working for Georgia Power when he noticed how rotted and worn the old stand for the cannon was. An enthusiast of Civil War history and a cannon craftsman himself, he offered to restore the cannon for Downtown Bainbridge.

The cannon, now surrounded by an iron fence, also features a plaque explaining the history of the weapon. Several authentic metal parts were used in the reproduction. The wheels were specially made in Pennsylvania and shipped to Bainbridge for use on the carriage, the plaque reads.

Cast from bronze in 1850 by the N.P. Ames Manufacturing Company, the cannon was inspected and stamped for approval by James Wolfe Ripley in 1861 before being shipped for use by the Union army.

Following the ceremony, Bainbridge city councilwoman Roslyn Palmer introduced the winner and runner-up of the “If I Were Mayor” essay contest. For the remainder of the event, the Grace Christian Academy string ensemble performed in the gazebo while visitors enjoyed lunch in the park.