The bronze cannon still stands at the southern end of Fountain Square Park. A plaque on
the west side of the cannon reads:
This Cannon was captured by the United States Troops at Santiago de Cuba, on the 16th
day of July 1898. It was one of the guns which commanded the bay and harbor of Santiago at
the time of the sinking of the Merrimac by Lieut. Hobson and his brave party, and was
employed by the Spanish garrison in their effort to destroy them. And is now loaned to the
city of Chattanooga by the U.S. Government.
As a rail center, Chattanooga played a special role in the U.S. preparation for the Spanish-American War. In April 1898, the U.S. War Department located Camp George H. Thomas on land adjacent to the newly created Chickamauga National Military Park. Over 72,000 soldiers were trained in the camp; however, unsanitary conditions led an outbreak of typhoid fever. According to Livingood, a "total of 450 men died--more than the number killed in action in the war--and thousands more were stricken" (76). The citizens of Chattanooga responded promptly to the crisis by opening small hospitals throughout the city and even nursing convalescents in their homes. A permanent military installation, renamed Fort Ogelthorpe, was established on the Camp Thomas site in 1902. The influx of soldiers both during and after the war lifted the local economy from the state of depression in which it had lingered for most of the 1890s. (One local industry which was to have a profound effect on the development of Chattanooga was a direct result of the war boom. Ben Thomas established the Coca-Cola Bottling Company after noticing the soldiers' appetite for bottled drinks.)