The civil war mortar is part of a bronze sculpture grouping, donated to USC in December 1936 by Mazie Bell Free in honor of William C. Free, entitled "Mortar Practice" by Levi Scofield that rested on a large wooden base in front of the reserved reading desk on the ground floor of Doheny. When the enlargement of the Doheny stack area was undertaken in the mid-1960s, the desk was closed and covered over, and the stacks opened. At that time, the sculpture was given on loan to the Natural History Museum. In 1976, it was transferred to the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, up the street on Figueroa, for display in its lobby. The City of Los Angeles took control of this in the mid-2000s when they performed a long renovation of Bob Hope Patriotic Hall and placed the sculpture in storage in 2009.
"The six men, made of bronze, representing a scene on island No. 10 in the Mississippi river, depicts an officer and five of his men loading a trench mortar. The group is composed of figures copied from the navy group "Mortar Practice" of the Cleveland monument, sculpted by Levi T. Scofield in 1888, and was exhibited in Chicago at the World's fair. The figures are one foot in height, and are represented with unusual clarity of detail. The sailors are shown loading the trench mortar and adjusting its mechanism, while the officer, standing at their side in a commanding pose, looks along the probable path of the projectile."
In 2015 the sculpture was offered to the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Los Angeles for either a temporary or a permanent loan.