Beachcombers Discover Civil War-Era Cannonballs Revealed By Hurricane Dorian

Not the cannonballs uncovered from this hurricane but those discovered after 2016's Hurricane Matthew. Here, an EOD technician applies C4 explosive strips to the Civil War-era cannonballs. Staff Sgt. Andrea Salazar

In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, two beachgoers combing the coast of South Carolina came upon an unexpected discovery: two Civil War-era cannonballs.

“They were digging around and pulled up a 3-inch cannonball first and thought it was a shell or old relic,” Deputy Chief Franklin Burke, from Folly Beach Department of Public Safety, told IFLScience. “When they realized what they had, they laid it back down on the ground and called experts.

When Burke arrived on the scene, he noticed another larger object measuring about 20 centimeters (8 inches) buried under the brush line.

“I recognized it as Civil War origins,” he explained, adding that he quickly called in local explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) technicians from the sheriff’s department and the joint military base who “packed up the cannonballs and left the area to safely dispose of them.”

“When people go out and find these civil war ordinances, you never know whether they’re solid steel walls or whether they’re empty mines or something else that washed up on the beach. You have to take all safety precautions and use the proper protocols and bring in the people that are trained in explosives,” said Burke.

It may come as no surprise that Hurricane Dorian – one of the most destructive storms in recent history that devastated the Bahamas and left some US leaders confused about its trajectory – also unearthed relics from America’s bloodiest battle. It’s not the first time a severe storm has brought forward centuries-old relics. South Carolina, once home to shipwreck victims and pirates alike, holds a great trove of buried American artifacts. In 2016, several Civil War-era cannonballs were found in the same location, a sporadic but not entirely uncommon occurrence in the area.

Folly Beach, South Carolina, was occupied by Federal troops during the US Civil War in 1863, according to the City of Folly Beach. It eventually held as many as 13,000 troops and their equipment before playing a key role in the notorious battle to take Fort Sumter. In 1987, construction workers found more than a dozen bodies of soldiers from the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment whose story remains a mystery to this day.

The Civil War-era cannonballs were discovered in South Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, measuring 3- and 8-inches, respectively. Image credit: Franklin Burke

 

[H/T: Live 5 WCSC

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