The American Civil War almost claimed additional casualties in the last week. In a shocking discovery, an archaeologist working at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania uncovered a live artillery round from the war.
The shell, measuring 7 inches in height, was buried under a foot of dirt and seriously threatened park employees, visitors, and motorists. The park quickly took measures to ensure safety by closing down roads and clearing the area.
Live Civil War artillery shell found at Gettysburg, 'could have killed a dozen people' https://t.co/4QIED7oAeq
— Jim (@DAYUNITEDSTATES) February 13, 2023
The discovery was made last Wednesday by archaeologist Steven Brann, who was sweeping the grounds in preparation for a work crew set to rehabilitate Little Round Top, a famous battlefield area.
Brann got a signal on his metal detector and started digging, eventually uncovering the 10-pound artillery shell, which is believed to date back to the 1863 battle that resulted in 51,000 casualties over three days of fighting.
Park spokesperson Jason Martz referred to the find as “an extremely rare” occurrence. He could not specify the last time such a discovery was made on the battlefield.
Martz emphasized that the shell, regardless of age, was still live and posed a significant threat. He added that it is unclear whether the shell was Union or Confederate ordnance, but historians would likely be able to determine its history soon.
He said, “When they put the dots together, it will tie the story together. It very possibly will have an amazing story to tell.”
The 7-inch shell would have been fired from a 2,000-pound cannon transported in a wagon by horse teams during the war.
Park rangers called in members of the US Army’s 55th Ordnance Company, who traveled 92 miles from their headquarters in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to remove the shell. The shell was taken to a local disposal area and detonated safely. The park’s roads were reopened after officials determined the site was secure.
Finding old munitions in places where combat took place many years ago continues to be a problem, not just at Gettysburg but also on old battlefields around the globe.
In February 2022, archaeologists discovered a 10-pound Civil War shell near the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield in Georgia.
In Germany, about 2,000 tons of unexploded bombs are found each year due to the thousands of bombing raids by Allied forces during World War II.