Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cannonball Run!

Hurricane Matthew was historically bad.  46 people died as a direct result of the giant storm in America and over a thousand died in Haiti as the rain and wind swept the Caribbean and headed our way.

Beside the human toll, the property damage was in the billions and billions of dollars, and it will take years  - decades - for some towns and some families to be restored.

Speaking of years... as anyone who made it through US History knows, the American Civil War (also known as the War Between The States) began when Ft Sumter was fired upon by Confederate forces. That was in April, 1861. The war did not end until The Dukes of Hazzard, a CBS documentary program that explored the post-war economy and class struggles of Civil War descendants, was cancelled in 1985.

And then, it was not until Matthew stormed through the Lowcountry of South Carolina, near Charleston, that cannonballs left over from that bombarding surfaced.  America's current armed services sent their Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit to deal with 16 unexploded munitions that turned up on Folly Beach. 

The Air Force (of course, since the bombs were on the ground) blew some of them up, and the rest were taken to the Naval Base.

It was the former mayor of Folly Beach, one Richard Beck, who found the cannonballs as he strolled along the beach, snapping pictures of the storm's sad detritus.

Civil War cannonballs today
"I knew they were cannonballs," he said. "One of them had a very distinct hole in it that went directly into it. Just knowing a little bit about the Civil War, I know that they put fuses in cannonballs for them to explode when they desired them to." He said the cannonballs were rusted together.

The ex-mayor said he remembered another find of munitions, in the basement of an old house that was being torn down. "They asked the owner of the house if he was worried and he said he didn't think God would let him live 80 years to be taken out by a Union cannonball."

As they say down South, the war never really ended.

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