Orange Key Guide Service
Princeton-Rutgers Cannon War
The Cannon (Photo by Xochiquetzal Martinez '04)
The Big Cannon

The "Big Cannon" in the center of Cannon Green dates back to the Revolutionary War, and it was probably used by Hessian troops operating around Trenton, N.J. Abandoned after the Battle of Princeton in 1777, the cannon remained near the College until 1812, when it was taken to New Brunswick, N.J., to aid in the city's defense.

Almost two decades after the war, a dispute arose between the two towns over the ownership of the cannon. In 1835, the Princeton Blues (a military company of town citizens) went up to New Brunswick to recover the cannon, but abandoned it at the side of the road after their wagon broke down. There the big cannon lay until one night a few years later, when about 100 University students hoisted it onto a heavy wagon, brought it back to campus, and dumped it in front of Nassau Hall. In 1840, it was moved and planted muzzle-down in its present location to protect it from retaliatory Rutgers raids.

Yet the "Cannon War" continued and in 1875, Rutgers students made off with the "Little Cannon," a smaller piece that now sits between Whig and Cliosophic halls. The cannon was recovered, but the war lives on to this day: Rutgers students occasionally paint the cannons scarlet to remind us that the feud is not over!